Elijah and Elisha Message #19 “The Shunammite Woman’s Reasoning and Faith” Ed Miller May 3, 2023

Listen to the audio above while following along with the transcript below, which is also available for download in Word document at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

Once again, as we come to look into the Bible and to God’s word, we remember that we must trust the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts, because He is the One, and He’s the Life of God, and He lives in us, and He unveils Christ. 

I want to share Mark 4:34, “He did not speak to them without a parable, but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.”  So, in one sense the Bible, the written word, is a parable.  We need light, and He was explaining everything privately to His disciples.  So, if we come as disciples, He will take the written word and explain it, and we’ll get to see our Lord Jesus, the Living Word.  With that in mind, let’s bow together.

Heavenly Father, we thank You this morning that we can gather here and trust the indwelling Holy Spirit to turn the eyes of our heart, our faith again unto our Lord Jesus Christ.  We know that in Your revelation of Yourself You’ve made Christ central in the Godhead, and we just pray that we might behold Him afresh.  Thank You in advance that You’re going to guide us, and I ask You to protect Your people from anything that I might say that is not from You.  You’ve promised to root up what is not from the Father.  We’ll trust You for that.  We ask you now to be with us in Jesus’ precious name.  Amen.

As usual, we’ve gathered to get a fresh view of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In our meditations together we’re in 2 Kings 4, and we’re actually looking at verses 8-37.  That’s the longest miracle in this chapter that contains five miracles.  So, we’re studying this particular miracle, and it’s the story of the family that lived in Shunam, and we usually call it the Shunammite woman; that’s how we recall this story. 

I’d like to tell the story and get the facts before our heart, and then gradually move toward the central message of the story; in other words, why did God put it in the Bible.  Then, once we see the central message, we’ll be able to see the distinctive revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Every time you’re taught of God, you come to Christ.  Every Bible study is a revelation of Him.  It’s not complete if we don’t behold the Lord in a real way.

I want to start with 2 Kings 4:8, “There came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunam, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food.  So it was, as often as he passed, he turned in there to eat food.”  Just that first expression, “There came a day…”  When Elisha passed over to Shunam, he was off the beaten track.  That was not his general route.  According to 2 Kings 5:9 he had a personal home in Samaria.  He would go from Samaria to Mt. Carmel.  That was sort of his retreat, and you could find Elisha at Mt. Carmel very often.  On one of these trips, he decided to take a different route, and even though it wasn’t a direct route, he went from Samaria and through Shunam to Mt. Carmel.  He went by a certain house, verse 8, where there was a “prominent woman”, and she persuaded him to eat food.  The New American says “prominent” and the KJV says “a great woman”.  You’d be amazed at the commentators.  One commentator said, “Great woman means fat, a big, fat woman, a great big woman.”  I doubt that’s what God intended there.  Most think that it means well-to-do; she was prominent, she was wealthy, she had some resources.  Some, when they read chapter 8, she appears again and there she looks like she’s quite wealthy; she has an estate.  Some would suggest that it was large, and she had orchards and vineyards and farmlands and flocks and herds.  We don’t know if all of that is true.  We know from this story that she certainly had a field and there were workers there and there were servants there because one of the servants carried her sick child back to the house. 

Some think that idea of “prominent”, “great”, means that she was famous, that she was well-known and important, and that she had some influence in the area.  Some of that might be true, or all of it, but I know this, she was great in that she was a woman of character.  She was great in that sense.  I believe she was a believer, and she had some insight because of verse 9, “And she said to her husband, ‘Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually.’”  Up until this time, as far as the record goes, Elisha had not spoken to her.  I know he must have because he kept stopping in there for a meal, and I’m sure he had a lot to say, and I’m sure he probably shared some things of the Lord.  But she had the insight to see that he’s not only a man of God by profession and saying religious things, but he’s a holy man of God.  She perceived that by him passing by.  As you pass by your neighbors and as you pass by your friends, do they perceive, “That must be a holy person passing by.”?  That’s quite a testimony, and I think it’s part of her greatness that she knew that. We know that she was very generous because she always had him in for a meal every time he passed by.  You need to remember that his visits were unannounced.  She didn’t know when he was passing by, but every time he did, she just invited him in for a meal.

It may have been a whim at first for Elijah to say, “I think I’ll take a different route and go by Shunam,” but I think once he tasted one of those meals, that became his general route.  The Bible says that from now on when he went from Samaria, he always went that way.  When you read the Bible, a meal is a picture of fellowship — breaking bread, sitting down together.  I’m sure they became great friends as he continually went in there and had meals with them.  I think that tradition today is under attack.  It’s hard to see families anymore sitting down and having fellowship meals; they’re either punching on an I-Phone or social media or something like that, and it breaks the rich fellowship.  I know one family that their children have never eaten with their parents.  That was just something that they had.  It seems very strange.  The parents would eat, and then later they would come and feed the children.  I have a hard time with that tradition.

Let me make a remark here.  You can see the providence of God in this story because if he hadn’t decided one day, “I think I’ll take a different route,” we wouldn’t be reading this Bible story.  The Lord guided in that.  Did you notice in verse 8 that she persuaded him to eat food?  The first time she invited him, he refused.  He said, “No.”  Maybe he was just shy, maybe he didn’t want to presume on her goodness, but she had to persuade him to come in and stop and eat food.  That whole story hinges on those two details.  You can see the sovereign hand of God, His providence.  If he didn’t take that out of the way route and if she hadn’t convinced him and talked him into coming in for a meal, we wouldn’t be studying this Bible story today.  How great a door sometimes swings on how small a hinge, and the Lord is in charge of all of that.

Let me get back to the story.  Part of this woman’s greatness is when she suggested to her husband that they build a special room for this holy man of God who is continually passing by.  Verse 10, “Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there.’”  Most reliable commentaries believe that was an addition on the outside of the house on the roof with its own private entrance, so that he could have privacy.  It was wonderfully furnished for the one who was a holy man of God.  He had a bed for resting and he had a table and chair for writing, and he had a lamp for studying, and it was perfect for a prophet of the Lord.

God doesn’t tell us how long he took advantage of that wonderful generosity of that man and woman, but one day it was on his heart to say, “I’d like to express gratitude, and I’d like to show some kind of thank you, so in his modesty he asked his servant, Gahazi, to address her and ask her two questions.  Those questions are in 2 Kings 4:13, “He said to her, ‘Say now to her, “Behold, you have been careful for us with all this care; what can I do for you?  Would you be spoken for to the king or to the captain of the army?”’” So Gahazi went to her and asked her.  Her response to those questions I think is part of her greatness.  In verse 13 at the end, “And she answered, ‘I live among my own people.’”  In other words, what she is saying is, “I appreciate you wanting to show influence with the king but thank you; I don’t need that.  And thank you for wanting to talk to the captain of the army but I don’t need protection either.  I’m very satisfied here living quietly among my own people.” 

Now it’s at this point that the spiritual message of this story begins to come into view and take form.  All of the rest that we talked about is sort of an introduction to get us to the spiritual part.  Elisha, when Gahazi came back and said that she has everything and that she doesn’t want protection and she doesn’t want your influence, Elisha said to Gahazi, “Can you suggest something; can you think of anything that we can do to say thank you for your kindness?”  2 Kings 4:14, “So, he said, ‘What then is to be done for her?’ And Gahazi answered, ‘Truly, she has not a son and her husband is old.’” 

As I attempted to introduce this story in our last session, it was this suggestion, this promise, that she’s going to have a baby, that she’s going to have a son, in spite of the fact that she was barren, she was childless, and her husband was old, when Elisha gave her this promise — now this is important — she read far more into the promise than Elisha stated.  Her promise is stated in full in 2 Kings 4:16, “At this season next year you will embrace a son.”  That’s the whole promise right there.  She said, “No, my lord, O man of God, so not lie to your maidservant.”  That promise, “You’re going to have a son,” even the gender was predicted.  Of course, that limits her to two, “male and female made He them.”  She was going to have a son, and only the Lord can perform that.

I want to take you through the thinking of the Shunammite woman as she was given news that she was going to have a baby.  I said already that she read more into this promise than Elisha stated and perhaps than he intended.  This is important because the spiritual message and the revelation of Christ depends on the way she views this promise.  I might even say it depends on her faulty view of this promise.  The way she looked at this promise, the whole message of Christ depends on that.  So, from her concept will flow the spiritual message.

Everything from here on in is going to be around the child, the promise of his birth, the supernatural birth, the death of the child, the resurrection of the child, and her response to each stage of the revelation that we get of the child.  It’s necessary background, if we’re going to understand, and this is where our hearts are.  We want to see the message of Jesus; we want to see the revelation of Christ, and it’s embedded, and it’s fossilized in this story.  So, we’re going to do a little mining in order to see that.

To set this before our hearts, I want to mention three things I know, and I’m not guessing, she was thinking.  How do I know it?  It’s in the Bible.  I’m going in the Bible, in the word of God where I’m going to isolate that she thought this, and she thought that.  If you bring those three things together, you’re going to have the message of the Lord.  So, we’re going to look at those three things.

The first thing that was clearly in her mind is suggested in 2 Kings 4:16, “He said, ‘At this season next year you will embrace a son,” and she said, ‘No, my lord, oh man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.’”  We know from that verse and one other that I’m going to bring up in a moment, that this was I’m going to say a surprise, it might have been a shock to her to hear at this stage in her life that she’s going to have a child.  When the boy died, she called attention to the same thing.  2 Kings 4:28, “Then she said, ‘Did I ask for a son from my Lord?  Did I not say, “Do not deceive me”?’”  When she said, “Did I ask for a son?” what was in her mind is, “Remember, I did not initiate this.  I didn’t come and say, ‘Will you please pray to God that I’d have a child?’  I told you that I was content.  I was living here among my people.  I didn’t need influence from the king, and I didn’t need any protection; I was absolutely content, and I was happy living here with my husband and peacefully among my own people.  You called me in.  I didn’t volunteer.  I wasn’t praying and I wasn’t asking; this was not my idea.  That’s the first thing that’s in her mind, that the birth of her son was not her idea.  It was a gift from God, a wonderful gift from the Lord.  Maybe that was in her heart, that desire, but as far as the record goes, she didn’t express it.

To be a barren woman in the Old Testament was a heavy burden.  The reason was because right at the beginning God promised that Messiah would be the seed of the woman, and if you were barren, you were left out of that promise, that possibility that that woman might be you.  So, Jewish women took that quite seriously because they were all looking for that privilege to be the mother of Messiah.  Hold that a moment; that was an important part of her reasoning, that this was not my idea.  She didn’t say this, but she could have said, “I’m not like Hannah,” remember Hannah, the mother of Samuel.  Listen to 1 Samuel 1:10, “And she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.  She made a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor will never come on his head.’”  Hannah longed for a baby and expressed it.  1 Samuel 1:27, “For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him.”  The Shunammite woman was not like Hannah; she did not seek, she did not ask, she did not pray, she did not beg, she did not initiate.  This came to her.

There’s a second thing about her thinking that I know is Biblical, and it was expressed when her child died, and she fell at the feet of Elisha.  2 Kings 4:28, “Then she said, ‘Did I ask for a son from my lord?  Did I not say, “Do not deceive me?”’”  In that is the suggestion that if her child remained dead, that somehow the promise was broken, “You gave me a promise for a child, and now he’s dead and I don’t have a child.  You deceived me, and you’ve broken your word.”  See, that was her thinking.  Some commentators say that it’s not quite that serious, that in verse 16 when she said, “Oh man of God, do not lie to your maidservant…” some commentators think that what she meant by that is more like, “I’m going to have baby?  You’ve got to be kidding!  Don’t lie to me.  Are you sure?  Is this the truth?” and it’s just sort of that light idea, and it’s not as heavy.  But because she brings it up again after the child dies, I don’t think she was just saying, “Are you kidding?”  I don’t think she meant that.  I think she wanted to know for certain that what God was promising through Elisha would actually come to pass and continue, and that it can’t fizzle out.

Many say that the promise was completely fulfilled in verse 17; the woman conceived, bore a son at that season, the next year — alright, it’s over, and the promise has been fulfilled; she was promised a son, and she received a son, and God kept His word and fulfilled His promise; she was barren, God opened here womb, and did a miracle, she had a child, and the promise is finished; she embraced a son as promised.  But in her thinking and in her mind that promise to have a son included more than the birth of that child.  She wasn’t thinking like Job expressed, Job 21:1, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  He can give and He can take away.  She wasn’t thinking that.  In her mind, when that child died, somehow that promise was not fulfilled, “You promised me a son, and now my son is dead.  I didn’t ask for a son.  I was content without a child.  In fact, I was happier then than I am now.  If it weren’t for this promise, I wouldn’t be so sad as I am right now.  It’s worse for me now than before I even had a child.

Whether she was right or wrong in that thinking, if the promise is true and not a lie, if God kept His word, if this is not a deception, then now she’s got to think, “What is going on?”  I’m not going to challenge her faith because it’s a wonderful faith.  She trusted God to raise the dead, but as I said, in her mind, it’s sort of like when God created the universe in Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether throne or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things,” and then this part, “in Him all things hold it together.”  In her mind, He’s a Creator, and now let’s see Him hold it together; He created everything, and now He’s got to preserve everything that He made.  So, in her mind, the death of the child challenged the promise, but she knew of several things.  She knew that Elisha was a holy man of God and he’s not going to lie to her, and she knew Elisha was trusting Elisha’s God.  God is not going to lie to her.  So, in her mind she has a dilemma, and in her mind the dilemma is, “God promised me a son.  That son can’t die, and I know He won’t break His promise.  I know what’s going on.  He’s testing my faith.  He wants to test my faith.  So, I’m going to trust God by faith.  God said that I would embrace a child, and I did embrace a child, and in fact I was embracing him when he died on my lap; I embraced the child.”

Let me present to you her thinking.  Now, she believed that God would not lie, and she believed the prophet Elisha would not lie.  But somehow in her mind the promise was being contradicted, so she said, “I’m going to trust God.”  Is that in the Bible?  Yes, it is.  Hebrews 11:35, this is the chapter on faith, “By faith women received back their dead by resurrection.”  There are only two women in the Old Testament that could apply to — the one Elijah dealt with, and this woman.  By faith now she says, “I’m going to trust the Lord because he’s testing my faith.  He gave me a promise, and that child must be preserved, the child died, and He’s testing my faith to see if I really believe that He’s a promise keeper.  Do I really believe He’ll keep His word?  Do I believe that He’s a covenant keeper?  So, she’s saying, and I’m reading this in, but you’ll see that it’s so, “I don’t care how much He tests my faith, I am going to trust Him until that child breathes again, until my child lives again”.  The record shows, indeed, that her faith was tested.

What I’ve done is that I’ve gone through the record, and I’m just going to mention four or five different ways her faith was tested.  How do I know that’s a test of faith?  My answer is that it’s because in the New Testament when God tested faith, He used exactly those experiences, and called it a test of faith.  I know she’s being tested by her faith.  But since the testing of her faith is not the main message, what I’m going to do is give the illustration, and I’ll give a New Testament reference, but I’m not going to read the reference.  I’m assuming that many of you will be familiar with the story.  I’ll give the reference if you’re not familiar, then later you can look it up and read it.

I’m going to begin with the first test of faith as the one we already mentioned last time.  Elisha sent Gahzi with his staff to lay the staff on the face of the dead child.  When they approached the house, he came out and basically said, “It didn’t work; the child is still dead.”  The first test of faith was failure.  Put yourself in her shoes, a mother, and Elisha says, “Go put this on the face of the child,” you are assuming that some miracle is going to take place, and when you arrive at the driveway, he comes out and says, “It didn’t work.”  I think her heart must have sunk.  The New Testament reference is in Mark 5 where Jairus’ daughter was at the point of death, and he begged Jesus to come and heal his daughter before she died.  Jesus never said a word; he just started walking with Jairus.  Then it was interrupted with the woman who touched the hem of the garment, and when they got to the driveway, people came out and said, “It’s too late; don’t trouble the master anymore.  The child is dead.”  For the first time Jesus spoke to the woman.  What did He say?  He said, “Do not fear; only believe.”  It was a test of faith.  That apparent failure was a test of her faith.

A second test of her faith —you know, we’re to live by faith and not by sight.  The temptation for her to live by sight and by emotions must have been great.  By sight the child is dead.  She can see that.  She carried that dead weight up the stairs to Elisha’s apartment and laid him on the bed; she knew he was dead.  She didn’t cave into her emotions.  I can’t imagine my Lillian, we had six wonderful children, if one of our babies died on her lap, that she’s going to be calm and cool and collected.  I have an idea that she would be shrieking, screaming and looking for me and looking for others and saying, “Look what’s happened; call somebody, call 911.”  She would be all excited.  It’s amazing to watch this woman and her apparent calmness.  She didn’t go by sight.  She wasn’t hysterical.  A baby dies on your lap.  You wouldn’t expect what you read when you read this record.

When she goes out to her husband, a husband knows pretty much (not completely) what’s going on with his wife, and her son has just died, and she carried his corpse up to the prophet’s apartment, and she goes to her husband, verse 22, “Then she called to her husband and said, ‘Please send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and return.’  He said, ‘Why will you go to him today?  It is neither new moon nor sabbath.’  And she said, ‘It will be well.’”  So, he gave her permission.  He had no clue that his son had died.  He knew that he had a headache, a sunstroke, perhaps, and that he was brought sick into the house, but now she’s wants to go, and he trusts her, and he says, “Go.” 

The same conviction that she had when Gahazi met her and asked this question, 2 Kings 4:26, “’Is it well with the child?’  And she answered, ‘It is well.’”  Her son is dead, but she’s determined; He’s going to test my faith, and I’m going to trust Him.  So, she said to Gahazi, “It is well.”  She said that by faith.  The New Testament in Acts 16, Paul and Silas were beaten up and thrown into a dungeon and put in chains; at midnight they weren’t going by sight and sense; they were trusting the Lord and singing hymns, and what a great result from that!  So, this woman said, “I’m going to trust God no matter what.  Failure is not going to stop me from trusting Him.  I’m going to trust Him to raise my son, and not going by sight, I don’t care what I see, I’m not going to believe that; I’m going to believe God.  I don’t care how I feel in my heart; I’ll suppress that.  I’m not going to go by emotions. 

A third test of her faith was the apparent refusal of Elisha to go with her.  When she came, she fell down at Elisha’s feet, and Elisha gave the staff to his servant, and said, “Go,” and expected her to go, as well.  Elisha didn’t plan to go.  2 Kings 4:30, “The mother of the lad said, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’  And he arose and followed her.”  It’s a real challenge to faith when it seems like God is resisting, pictured by Elisha. 

Remember the story in the New Testament in Matthew 15, when that dear Canaanite woman begged Jesus to cast the demon out of her child, and the outward resistance that Jesus gave?  It was a test of her faith.  At first, He said, “My ministry is to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” but she continued to pursue Him, “You’ve got to come and heal my child.”  Then He said to her, “It wouldn’t be right to take the children’s bread and throw it to dogs.”  Imagine hearing that!  Then she said, “But the dogs eat from the bread that falls from the master’s table.”  And then He commended her faith.  It was a test of her faith, that resistance.  That’s what’s happening to this Shunammite woman.  Elijah said, “I’m not coming,” and then she said, “I’m not going.  I’m waiting and I’m going to press until you come with me.”

A fourth way her faith was tested was by delay.  It must have been hard seeing someone carrying your sick child from the field into the house, and then to hold him on your lap.  We know it was morning.  We don’t know exactly what time, but she held him on her lap until noon.  The Bible says that he died at noon.  Then we read that she decided to go to Elisha.  We sort of read that la, la, la.  Shunam was about twenty miles away from Mt. Carmel.  We are talking about a five or six hour trip one way.  She’s leaving after noon; it’s going to be dark when she comes home.  We just sort of read this that she went to Elisha, but you need to understand the time in between this.  I don’t know in this time process and the process of decay may have already begun on the dead child, but delay is a huge test of faith.  I’m think it’s powerfully illustrated in John 11 when Jesus deliberately delayed with Lazarus, Mary and Martha, and He waited four days; that was a test of faith.  But this woman said, “I believe that God keeps His word, and I believe that a holy man of God would not deceive me.  God is testing me to trust Him, and to see that child raised from the dead, and I’m not going to be deterred by failure, and I’m not going to be deterred by sight, and I’m not going to be deterred by emotion, and I’m not going to be deterred by resistance, as if God is holding back.”  Time was swiftly passing away, and that was a test of her faith.

Let me give one more test of her faith.  She had to trust God in the dark, because she didn’t know how God was going to do it.  It’s very much like that centurion pleading for his servant in Matthew 8 where he says, “I’m not worthy that you come under my roof.  Do your miracle at a distance.”  When Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter, Jesus invited mom and dad to come up and watch the miracle.  They were invited in.  This woman was not invited in.  Notice in verse 33, “He entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the Lord.”  That word “both” is the only indication that the father, the husband, was back.  So, he’s involved in this, as well.  They’re both now shut outside the door, and that had to be a great test of faith. 

Many read 2 Kings 4:34&35, “He went and laid on the child and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, his hands on his hands, and stretched himself on him, and the flesh of the child became warm.  Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him,” and so on.  Many read that as it relates to Elisha, and they say, “Why did Elisha use that method?  How is that different from Elijah’s method, and why was Elijah’s immediate, and why was this one gradual, and take time,” and they try to relate it to Elijah.  I don’t know how this relates to Elijah, but the way I’m studying this, this had to be painful for the mother and father.  It’s sort of like sitting in a waiting room waiting for the surgeon to come to give a report on how the operation went on your loved one.  You just sit there, and minutes seem like hours, “When is he going to come?” and you’re just nervous — that whole suspense of being outside the room, outside the door.  We don’t know how long it took.  We know it’s late in the night now.  Elisha goes in and he prays, and then he stretches himself on the child, and then he gets up, and then he walks, and then he paces, and then he goes back on top of the child.  That takes time.  And all that time, she’s on the outside of the door.  She said, “I’m going to trust the Lord no matter what; it doesn’t matter about failure, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like, and it doesn’t matter what it feels like, it doesn’t matter how much it seems like God doesn’t want to do it, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, it doesn’t matter how deep this darkness is, God wants me to trust Him to raise that child from the dead, and I’m going to trust Him to do that.

A lot has been made about 2 Kings 4:35, “The lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.”  You’d be amazed at how the commentators approach that sneeze.  They might be right; I don’t know.  But I think, it’s just my idea, that sneeze was the final confirmation of her faith.  If she sneezed as loud as my grandmother sneezed, she could be down in a valley somewhere, and she could have heard it.  My mother couldn’t control the sound of her sneezes.  Can you imagine a mother after being tested in the ways I’ve mentioned?  You know they’re outside the door when she hears her dead child sneeze, and again and again.  I can’t imagine what took place in her heart when she had that evidence of life that, “My child is alive.”  She trusted God to do that.

Alright, all of that set aside.  Let’s look at the main message.  What’s the message, and what is the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ pictured in this story?  Again, when her son died, she had that in her mind, “I didn’t initiate, and this is all by grace, I got the child but included in the promise, that child must not perish.  I’m going to trust God all the way through until that comes to pass.”  That was her thinking.  Let me set it before you in a general way.  We won’t finish it today.  I want to get back to it because there are certain things I’m leaving out here.  I want to show you how her reasoning was, in my thinking, incorrect.  It was wrong concerning her son, but it was perfect reasoning concerning the Son of God.  I want to show you how her reasoning was perfect as it related to the Son of God.

You see, God did the same thing one time to Abraham.  He gave Abraham a promise.  He said, “Your wife is going to have a baby and you’re going to have a son,” but he added to that promise.  He said, “Your son is going to grow up and get married and is going to have children and God’s is going to use your children to bless the whole world, and Messiah is going to come through your son.  Now kill him.”  That’s what He said, but he had that promise. 

So, Abraham’s reasoning was, “God told me to kill him.  So, I’ll take a knife and kill him.  Oh, God told me to burn him, as a burnt offering.  I not only have to kill him, but I have to put him on the altar and turn my son into ashes.  But He said that he’s going to grow up, get married, have a family, bless the world.  It must be that He’s going to raise him from the dead.”  He was wrong.  Isaac never had to die.  His thinking was wrong, but he was ready to go by faith and offer Isaac as a sacrifice.  Listen to Hebrews 11:19, “He considered that God is able to raise people, even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.”  His reasoning pictured God’s reasoning, and God said, “Isaac didn’t have to die, but My only begotten Son will die.  Isaac doesn’t have to be offered as a burnt offering, but My Son will be offered as a whole burnt offering.  Isaac never literally had to be raised from the dead, but My Son will be raised from the dead.”  Abraham’s reasoning pictured reasoning, and just so, the Shunammite’s reasoning pictured God’s reasoning.  Concerning her son, I don’t think it was accurate, but concerning God’s son, it was perfect.

Job testified, as I already quoted, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.”  If her reasoning was accurate, any mother, any parent at any time could say, “God gave me a child; guaranteed, that child won’t die.”  Or if the child dies, it will rise again.  So, people pray for healing.  We’ll get into that a little deeper next time, but the whole point is that that reasoning cannot be applied literally.  But God takes her reasoning and says, “You thought that applied to your premise, but everything you thought applies to My promise,” and there’s only one covenant on the planet that her reasoning would apply to, and it’s called the New Covenant, that God will save you and give you life, that God will keep you until the end, and that you will trust Him by faith to do exactly that. 

2 Kings 4:28, “Did I ask a son from my Lord?”  It begins with, “I didn’t initiate this.”  Ephesians 2:8&9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  You are sitting here as a believer, as a Christian, and you didn’t choose Him.  He chose you.  You didn’t love Him first; He loved you first.  You didn’t come to the Father; you were drawn to the Father, by grace.  The Lord does it all.  That was her reasoning, “I didn’t ask for this; I didn’t initiate it.”  God says, “Boy, that applies to My covenant.  That’s how I did it.” 

For the woman’s reasoning to come to pass there had to be a resurrection.  Resurrection here is a picture.  What’s the principle?  We always looks for the principle.  If you wanted to see the power of God in the Old Testament, you’d study creation.  If you want to see the power of God in the New Testament, you study resurrection.  Resurrection is God’s picture of power.  Listen to Ephesians 1:19,” What is the surpassing greatness of His power forward us who believe?  These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead…”  It’s resurrection.  Philippians 3:10, “..that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. ”The woman said, “My son must be kept by resurrection.”  The principle is power.  So, we read in 1 Peter 1:5, “Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

This whole reasoning introduces us to that debated question of the security of the believer.  In God’s reasoning in the New Covenant, when a person is born of God, will he be kept by the power of God?  I don’t want to get into all the in’s and out’s of what has been called “the doctrine of eternal security”.  I dealt with that when we were in the book of Hebrews in some detail, but I’ll say of that doctrine, and I’m not going to clear my throat when I say this, but you might have an issue with it, and it’s what I say of all doctrine, I will not put my faith in any doctrine.  I will not, not in any doctrine!  A doctrine is just man’s attempt to take God’s truth and put it into some kind of a dogmatic order.  There is no life in doctrine.  There’s only Life in a Person.  The natural mind is capable of forming a doctrine.  The natural mind can go in the Bible and trace things and relate them and put this with this, and then come up with some dogmatic statement.  But the natural mind, though it can formulate a doctrine, cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God.  It’s not possible.  No matter how logical or how accurate the doctrine is, there’s not Life in it.  The doctrine of eternal security has never secured a flea, and it never will.  It cannot. 

In the hour of my death, and I have an idea that’s not far off, I am not going to cling to some doctrine called “eternal security”.  When my spirit is leaving my body and I know it’s going into eternity to live forever, I’ve got to rest on something more substantial than a doctrine, no matter how true that doctrine might be.  In the hour of my death, and as I said, I think I hear the hoofbeats of the pale horse, but it doesn’t matter.  In the hour of my death, I want to trust a Person; I want to trust somebody who said, “I am with you always, even until the ends of the earth.”  When I’m passing through the valley of the shadow of death, I want to hear a voice of someone saying, “Fear not, for I am with you.”  It’s a Person, and not a doctrine.  I’m safe not because of a doctrine, but because I’m being kept by the resurrection power of the Lord.  I have a Keeper; you have a Keeper.

Some people say, “Do you believe in the perseverance of the saints?”  No; I believe in the preservation of the saints.  You might end up in the same place but we’re being kept; we’re being preserved.  Listen to Jude 1:24-25, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.   Amen.”  That was the Shunammite woman’s faith; that was her reasoning.  God used that faulty reasoning to say to us, “You are saved by grace; you are kept by the mighty power of God.”  That story presents this great New Covenant.

Let me close with this wonderful passage from Psalm 121:5-8, “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will protect you from evil; He will keep your soul.  The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”  That going out and coming includes the last going out and the first coming into heaven.  The Lord is your Keeper.  So, the revelation of Christ; He is a covenant Keeper, and it’s all pictured in this marvelous story.

Heavenly Father, thank You for this wonderful record, not what we think it means.  Work in our heart everything You inspired it to mean.  We do thank You, Lord, for the suggestion that we’ve been by saved by grace, for the knowledge that we’re being kept for Christ, by Christ, by the might power of God unto a salvation, and that we’re going to live forever with You, and it’s because of You.  Thank You for her reasoning and Your application of that to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Work these things in our heart.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.