- Sermon Notes
God’s Response to Living Faith
2 Kings 4:8-28
February 20, 2022
I don’t know if you have seen this type of scenario in a movie: The character gets himself into a tight spot. Nowhere to run. Stuff is just going wrong. Then at some point he goes on his knees and say something like: “God, this is Joe. I haven’t spoken to You in a while, but it would be great if you could help me out with this problem. I promise I will try better next time. Oh yes, and please bless my family and help my sister be nicer to me. Amen.’ This might be an overly exaggerated example, but to some degree or another many people are stuck in this type of relationship with God.
You might call this a ‘spare wheel’ Christian. Nowadays many people call themselves Christians. But what does it mean? We live in a “Christian” country. Some might say their parents were Christians and have basic Christian values. Still, when we look at the world around us, many people don’t know what it means to be a Christian, even though they might subscribe to the Christian faith.
At some stage, though, you start to feel a tugging in your spirit. A feeling that there must be more. A hunger for something more genuine and authentic.
In 2 Kings 4 we see a wonderful account written down between Elisha and the Shunammite woman. (From Shunam). In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God sporadically rested upon people, not as in the New Testament. There were specific persons though, who had the Spirit of God resting very heavily on them like the prophets. One such prophet was Elisha.
When we think of the fact that Elisha was the representative of the nearness of God, we see some interesting typology and can learn some important principles from these encounters.
At that time, it was a dark spiritual time in northern kingdom. During this dark time, there was something different and authentic about this woman.
I. Make Room in Your Heart for God
- 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.”
- She wanted to do something for God, by doing something for the prophet. She wanted the presence of God nearer. She wanted to make room for him with her family. We see that she consulted her husband and the fact that it happened infers that they were in unity with the decision.
A. God wants to be nearer
Illus. – There is quite a difference between visiting for dinner and staying with someone for a longer time. While we had to isolate before our flight to America when our kids tested positive for covid, we had wonderful friends that were gracious enough for us to stay with them. An estimated 3 days became 10 days. When you visit, you put your best foot forward. Only best behavior. But when you stay with someone, you let your hair down. The real person reveals itself with all the nuances of happiness, stress, irritation, etc.
- If someone invites you to stay with them, you are also allowed into their inner sanctum. Their daily lives. That is what God wants. He doesn’t just want to see you in your ‘Sunday best’. He wants to be intimately acquainted with the joy, wondering, pain, questions, suffering, fears, and everything else that makes up your life. And He wants you to invite Him into it.
- God wants to live with you, walk with you, go through the joy, irritations, and challenges of life with you, but many just want to visit Him on occasion.
John 14:23, Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
- Many people accept Jesus as savior, but He is just a guest in the spare room they go and visit now and then.
Illus. – There is an analogy I once heard concerning this. A person accepted Jesus as savior, but He then put Him in the guest room and closed the door. A while later, the doorbell rang. When He opened the door, lo and behold, there was Satan. He stormed in and wrecked the whole place, like Tazz the Tasmanian devil, and then went out the back door. The guy ran to the guest room, opened the door and asked: ‘Jesus, where were You?? The devil just wrecked my house!’ Jesus replied: ’You only gave me access to one room.’
- God never leaves, but many in their hearts and minds just visit Him when needed. Otherwise, they just continue doing our own thing. This woman wanted more.
She knew there must be more. For without God there is a void that no one else can fill. No amount of money, no fame, no success, nothing can compare to Him. He is the source of real life.
What about you? Have you reached a place where everything seems empty? Where you feel there must be more?
B. Desire more of God
- She built an extra room, but then she did more, she furnished it with a:
- Note that she is creating a space for the presence of God, but God can never be out ‘given’ as we see later in the story.
- These pieces of furniture speak of something. She’s doing something for God, but God this what God does:
- Bed – a place to rest. Matt 11:28 – I will give you rest.
- Table – provision. Ps 23:5 – You prepare a table…
- Chair – Love and guidance – Matt 26 – Woman with the alabaster box
II. God Will Respond to Your Heart
- She wanted God’s presence, she wanted to do something for God. God sees her heart and wants to do something for her.
- How beautiful is that? He will do the same for you.
A. God will supply your needs
- Verse 13 He said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Behold, you have been careful for us with all this care; what can I do for you?”
- There is an urgency with the man of God to be GRACIOUS to her. When you make room for God, surrendering your life to Him, you live in the Grace, or unmerited favor, of God.
- Verse 13b Would you be spoken for to the king or to the captain of the army?’ ” And she answered, “I live among my own people.”
- This is a sign of being content. This shows the heart of this woman. She is not after what God can do for her. She is after His presence. Many people go after God for what He can do for them. Some ulterior motive. But God knows the truth. He sees the heart. Do you love and adore Him for who He is, or for what He can do for you?
Psalm 16:11 In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
- The man of God saw her heart and wanted to do something for her. God is the same. He wants to be good to you. God sees your heart and your faith and will respond to you as well.
- Verse 14 So he said, “What then is to be done for her?” And Gehazi answered, “Truly she has no son and her husband is old.” 15He said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16Then he said, “At this season next year you will embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.”17The woman conceived and bore a son at that season the next year, as Elisha had said to her.
- He sees her need, even if she does not ask for it. God does it anyway. He sees the heart.
B. God speaks to your troubles when you stand in faith
- This story takes a strange turn. This miracle son dies. Have you ever experienced the death of a promise or a gift from God? What was your response?
o Did you get bitter towards God?
o Did you give up and put it down to fate?
o Did you question God’s character?
- She knew the heart of God and did not give up.
- Verse 21 – She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God and shut the door behind him and went out.
- She took the promise to the secret place where God’s presence rested. She lay it down before the Lord. We should lay down our worries before the Lord.
- 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.” 23He said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.”
- You only run to God when you believe it will help. Many will not. Many will give up. She did not. And she didn’t have time to try and explain her actions to others. She knew that only God could help.
- Verse 23b – And she said, “It will be well.”
- What a difficult thing to say when things go wrong. To have faith in the midst of the problem.
- 27When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to push her away; but the man of God said, “Let her alone, for her soul is troubled within her; and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.”
- I wonder why God did not reveal the problem to Elisha? Elisha would have run to her to help. I believe God wanted her to take a step of faith. An action of taking hold of God and not letting go.
- Verse 32 – When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. 33So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the Lord. 34And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. 35Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.
- She gave the promise/gift of God back to God. This echoes of the story of Abraham and Isaac. The first miracle of her getting pregnant could have been chance. The second miracle can only be God.
- Sometimes it looks like our promise/gift from God is dead. When we the surrender it to Him and breathes life into it and revives it, all glory can only go to Him, because no man would have been able to do it. It is interesting that the boy sneezed 7 times. The number 7 signifies God’s completed work. The boy was raised and redeemed by God. It is the same principle with our promises. Now it is good.
- When God and God alone can bring the resurrection, it becomes a testimony of His glory and goodness.
C. God restores abundantly
2 Kings 8: 1 Now Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise and go with your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn; for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will even come on the land for seven years.” 2So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God, and she went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3At the end of seven years, the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went out to appeal to the king for her house and for her field. 4Now the king was talking with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, “Please relate to me all the great things that Elisha has done.” 5As he was relating to the king how he had restored to life the one who was dead, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and for her field. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, this is the woman and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.” 6When the king asked the woman, she related it to him. So the king appointed for her a certain officer, saying, “Restore all that was hers and all the produce of the field from the day that she left the land even until now.”
- God warns her of impeding danger. Still, she has to believe it and act upon it. The questions in her heart had to arise: what about my land, security, possessions, legacy…. Everything that I had built up? We see that she immediately moves in faith on the word of God.
- After the completed time, God immediately restores her. He even restores the profits from her land WHICH SHE DID NOT WORK FOR!
- It all started with her hungering for God, longing for intimacy and standing in faith, trusting in His goodness
8 Now a day came when Elisha went over to Shunem, where there was a [a]prominent woman, and she urged him to eat [b]food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, that he turned in there to eat [c]food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I am aware that this is a holy man of God passing by us repeatedly. 10 Please, let’s make a little walled upper room, and let’s set up a bed for him there, and a table, a chair, and a lampstand; then it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there.”
11 Now [d]one day he came there, and turned in to the upper room and [e]rested. 12 Then he said to his servant Gehazi, “Call this Shunammite.” And when he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Behold, you have taken trouble for us with all this [f]care; what can I do for you? [g]Would you like me to speak for you to the king or to the commander of the army?’” But she [h]answered, “I live among my own people.” 14 So he said, “What then is to be done for her?” And Gehazi [i]answered, “It is a fact that she has no son, and her husband is old.” 15 He then said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 Then he said, “At this season [j]next year, you are going to embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your servant.”
17 Now the woman conceived and gave birth to a son at that season [k]the next year, as Elisha had told her.
18 When the child was grown, the day came that he went out to his father, to the reapers. 19 And he said to his father, “My head, my head!” And his father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had carried him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her [l]lap until noon, and then he died. 21 And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door behind him and left. 22 Then she called to her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may run to the man of God and return.” 23 But he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” So she just said, “It will be fine.” 24 Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Drive the donkey and go on; do not slow down [m]the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she went on and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her at a distance, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Behold, that person there is the Shunammite. 26 Please run now to meet her and say to her, ‘Is it going well for you? Is it going well for your husband? Is it going well for the child?’” Then she [n]answered, “It is going well.” 27 But she came to the man of God at the hill and took hold of his feet. And Gehazi came up to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for her soul is [o]troubled within her; and the Lord has concealed it from me and has not informed me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask for a son from my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not give me false hope’?”