When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.
—2 Kings 13:21
Elisha was old, having served as prophet of the Lord for over fifty years, and he was now dying. Even King Jehoash recognized that the real power behind the throne of Israel had not been in its kings, but in the prophet through whom God had sustained his people. Jehoash had put his trust in Israel’s military strength, but all along it had been God who watched over the land and protected his people. In this last encounter, Elisha tried to help the king understand that God is the one to trust. Elisha’s name, meaning “God saves,” had pointed to that his entire life.
Even after death, Elisha’s body pointed to God’s power when another body that was shoved into Elisha’s grave was restored to life. As prophets go, Elisha was one of the best and greatest, but even his ministry was unable to halt Israel’s descent into faithlessness. His work was able to bring only a few bright spots into this troubled time in Israel’s history.
Israel needed a prophet who could give life on both sides of the grave, a prophet for whom the grave was not a final resting place. God’s people needed not just a victory over death but victory over the grave itself.
We need that Prophet as well, the one whose name also means “God saves.” Centuries later an angel told a carpenter named Joseph, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Come, O come, Immanuel, and save your people Israel. Come, Lord Jesus, and save us from our sins. Amen.
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