Last month, we considered Elisha’s two miracles recorded in 2 Kings 6. In 2 Kings 7–9, the prophet Elisha continues with words of judgment, blessings of restoration, and the anointing of a king. Yet we will skip to the end of Elisha’s life described in 2 Kings 13. After Elisha gives King Joash one final message (vv. 14–19), we are told simply, “Elisha died” (v. 20). Then we read the fascinating epilogue in verses 20–21.
When bandits come upon men preparing to bury a corpse, they quickly throw the body into Elisha’s grave as they flee. A miracle then occurs. In verse 21 we are told, “As soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.” What an amazing event. The miracle reminds us of the resurrection theme found throughout the accounts of the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. The miracle also directs our thoughts to the source of resurrection.
The accounts of Elijah and Elisha continue to point us to the resurrection. Remember how Elijah raised the widow’s son in one of his earliest miracles in 1 Kings 17. Similarly, when Elisha’s miracles began, he raised the Shunammite’s son in 2 Kings 4. Also, in 2 Kings 2, we came to Elijah’s unique end. A resurrection did not take place, but we find a similar message. Death was defeated as a whirlwind took Elijah up into heaven (v. 11).
Now we come to Elisha’s unique end in 2 Kings 13. Elisha is dead. His body is in a tomb, and it has decayed to bones. Yet life is still miraculously given through these bones. The epilogue confirms the resurrection theme seen throughout the lives of these two prophets.
The final miracle also shows us the source of the resurrection. Elijah’s whirlwind ascent could not be attributed to his power. The Lord brought him up in a divinely produced whirlwind. Similarly, in Elisha’s epilogue, the resurrection could not be attributed to his dead bones. If we attribute power to his bones, then we fall into the error of making his dead bones sacred artifacts or mystical tools. Rather, the epilogue teaches us that Elijah and Elisha did not raise the dead by their own power (even in 1 Kings 17 and 2 Kings 4). The power of the resurrection always came from the Lord Himself. The Almighty could perform this miracle to bring life from death through His prophets or even through their dry bones.
When we understand the origin of these miracles, we also understand our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the power of His resurrection. He did not come to be an instrument of resurrection like Elijah and Elisha. He came to be the resurrection. Before He raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11:43–44, Christ had proclaimed: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (v. 25). He came as One greater than Elijah and Elisha. He was not merely a prophet who could raise the dead. He is the divine source of victory over death and eternal life. The question for us is the question that He asked Martha: “Do you believe this?” (v. 26).