A Great Prophet in Our Midst!
2 KINGS 4:8-37; LUKE 7:11-17
The Ministries of Elisha and Jesus
A. Elisha’s Ministry in Shunem (2 Kings 4:8-37)
1st. The birth of a child (4:8-17)
NOTE: The village of Shunem rests on the southern slopes of the hill of Moreh. Prior to the time of Elisha, this city had known terror . . . and honor. The Philistines captured the village and used it as their base when they gathered to fight against Saul and the Israelites (I Sam. 28:4). Later a woman from Shunem named Abishag was chosen to take care of King David in his old age (I Kings 1:3-4)
1. The woman’s kindness to Elisha (4:8-10)
2. Elisha’s kindness to the woman (4:11-17)
NOTE: In the Old Testament, barrenness was a sign of cursing. The woman displayed faith in recognizing Elisha as prophet, and she displayed compassion in providing for his needs. God blessed her with fruitfulness for her kindness.
2nd. The “second birth” of the child (4:18-37)
NOTE: After the miraculous birth of the child, one expected the family to live “happily ever after.” The sudden death of the child was a severe test of the woman’s faith, but her quick, decisive response revealed her depth of trust.
1. The child’s death (vv. 18-21)
NOTE: The child went out to his father who was “with the reapers.” This would place the event in the spring during wheat or barley harvest. The sun can become brutally hot in the late morning, and the cooling breeze from the Mediterranean Sea doesn’t usually arrive until the early afternoon. The child may have been overcome by the intense morning sun because he died at noon (v. 20).
2. The woman’s journey to Elisha (vv. 22-30)
NOTE: The woman rode across the Jezreel Valley from Shunem to Mount Carmel in the heat of the day to summon Elisha.
3. Elisha’s miracle of restoring the boy to life (vv. 31-37)
NOTE: After raising the boy, Elisha gave him back to his mother. “Then she took her son and went out” (v. 37).
The scene now shifts forward in time nine hundred years to another small town on the hill of Moreh.
B. Jesus’ Ministry in Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
1st. Jesus’ arrival in the village (7:11-13)
NOTE: The village of Nain rests on the northern slopes of the hill of Moreh, approximately two miles from Shunem. The parallels to Elisha’s miracle in the area are obvious . . . and intentional.
- The event takes place on the slopes of the hill of Moreh
- The dead child is an only son
- The account focuses on the response of the mother
- Each account focuses on a man of God recognized as a prophet
2nd. Jesus’ raising of the widow’s son (7:14-15)
- Jesus restored the boy to life (v. 14)
- Jesus gave the child back to his mother (v.15)
NOTE: Jesus’ actions paralleled those of Elisha. Elisha summoned the Shunammite woman and commanded her to “take your son.” Jesus gave the boy “back to his mother.”
3rd. The crowd’s response to the miracle (7:16-17)
NOTE: The crowd understood the significance of Jesus’ miracle when they shouted, “A great prophecy has appeared among us.” No doubt they saw the connection between Jesus’ miracle and the one performed by Elisha on the same mountain nearly nine hundred years earlier.
Conclusion: Much of Jesus’ ministry focused on visibly reminding the people of Israel that the God who had delivered them in the past was now at work in their midst. The miracles validated His claims to be God’s Son, Israel’s Messiah, and “the Prophet” promised by Moses. This particular story gives us a glimpse into God’s compassion for those who are hurting. Just as Jesus’ “heart went out to her” in her time of grief, so today Peter admonishes us to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
All material in this section comes from
The Christian Traveler’s Guide to the Holy Land
by Charles H. Dyer and Gregory A. Hatterberg, Published by: Broadman & Holman Publishers; Nashville, TN 1998