“Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land.” – 2 Kings 8:5
The time came for the Lord to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal, and on the way, Elijah said to Elisha “Now stay here, the Lord has ordered me to go to Bethel”. But Elisha swore by the living God that he was not going to leave him, so they both went to Bethel.
Once they got to Bethel, a group of prophets asked Elisha if he knew that Elijah was about to transition from the earthly to the heavenly, and Elisha told them that he knew, but would rather not talk about it. More than once Elijah tried to persuade Elisha not to follow him to other places, but Elisha was determined to go wherever Elijah went.
It was when they got to the River Jordan, followed by the group of 50 prophets, that Elijah was taken up by a chariot of fire and threw his mantle to Elisha. In his grief, he struck the waters of the River Jordan with Elijah’s cloak twice and the waters divided and he went over to the other side.
From there on, the miracles of the prophet Elisha are filled with intrigue; he cleanses the water in Jericho so that it was good for drinking and commanded water where there was none. Then a widow of a number of a group of prophets went to Elisha and said, “Sir, my husband has died, he was a God-fearing man, but now a man he owed money to has come to take away my two sons as slaves in payment for my husband’s debt.”
Elisha asked what she had in her house and she said nothing at all, except a small jar of olive oil. Elisha told her to go to her neighbors and borrow as many empty jars as she could and then she and her two sons should go into the house, shut the door and begin pouring the oil into the empty bottles. Every empty bottle was filled with oil. Elisha told her to sell the oil, pay off her debts and keep the rest of the money to live on.
One day, Elisha went to Shunem where a rich woman lived. She invited him to a meal, and every time he went to Shunem, he would have his meals at her house. One day she told her husband that she perceived that Elisha was a prophet and asked her husband to build a small room on the roof and furnish it so that whenever he came to town, he would have a place to stay.
When he visited Shunem again, he told his servant Gehazi to go and call the woman, and when she came, he asked her what he could do to show his gratitude for her kindness. Maybe, he said, ‘she would like me to go to the king or the army commander and put in a good word for her’; but she declined and told Elisha that she lacked nothing and was happy among her people.
Elisha asked Gehazi, what he could do for her. He told him that she had no son, and her husband was an old man. Elisha sent for her again and told her that by the next year she would be holding a son in her arms. She told Elisha not to lie to her as he was a man of God. So said, so done!
Many years later the young lad was out with his father at a job site and became ill with a severe headache. The father instructed a worker to take him to his mother and she held him in her lap until noon at which time he died. She took him up to Elisha’s room and laid him in his bed.
Then she called her husband and requested that he send a servant with a donkey as she needed to go and see the prophet. The prophet seeing her in haste from a distance said that it appeared to be the Shunammite woman. She told him her mission and requested that he come to her home as she told him long ago that she asked for nothing and he said that she would have a son.
Elisha came to the home and saw the young boy dead on his bed. He closed the door, stretched himself on the lad, and his body began to warm up. He did the process again and the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. Elisha then called Gehazi and told him to have the boy’s mother to come into the room and he presented her with her son, alive and well!
Some years later Elisha told the Shunammite woman that the Lord was sending a famine on the land which would last for seven years and that she should leave with her family and go and live elsewhere. She followed his instructions and went with her family to live in Philistia for the seven years.
After the seven years had ended the famine, the Shunammite woman returned home but found that it had been possessed, so she went to the king to ask that her house and land be returned to her. She found the king talking with Gehazi, Elisha’s servant who at the king’s request was asking him about Elisha and his miracles. It was while he was telling the king about the miracle of raising the dead son, that the Shunammite woman came to the king to make her appeal for her house and land.
In answer to the king’s question, she confirmed Gehazi’s story. The king called an official and told him to give back to her everything that was hers, including the value of all the crops that her fields has produced during the seven years she had been away.
What a powerful message our text brings for mothers on this upcoming Mother’s Day. The story of the Shunammite woman is the story of the virtuous woman. God knows that we need more Shunammite women in our nation and indeed the world.
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