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Raising The Dead (1 Kings 17)

It was in a widow's home God provided for His prophet when the rain was withheld for three and a half years, but while he was staying there the widow's son fell sick and died.

Elijah could not understand why God had allowed this great sadness in the life of the woman whom He had commanded to care for him. However, he took the dead body of the lad to his own room and laid it on his own bed, and he stretched himself upon it three times and prayed "0 LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come

into him again". The Bible record says "the LORD hearkened unto the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived" (vv. 21,22).

This is the first instance in Scripture of resurrection from the dead, and Elijah was the instrument God used. It contains important lessons, for we live

in a world where many around us are spiritually dead, described as dead through their trespasses and sins, and therefore completely insensitive to God and to His claims upon them.

Elijah did not give the lad life. Only

God can give life. But Elijah was used in the process, as we long to be used as men and women, boys and girls are brought to the experience of the new birth, to receive eternal life through faith in Christ.

What lessons can we learn from this incident that will help us in our deep desire to be used in this way? Two points stand out clearly. Firstly, Elijah was a man in contact with God, and secondly, he was willing to make contact with the dead boy, unpleasant though that must have been. In regard to the first point, Elijah was a righteous man and James says "the supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working" (5:16). He prayed the prayer of faith. Hebrews 11:33,35 distinctly says "through faith

women received their dead by a resurrection". We are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus "all things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and of course it's true, but how can we believe and pray this prayer of faith unless we are assured of the will of God? So we must link the Master's promise with the further word in 1 John 5:14 "this is the boldness that we have toward Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, he heareth~us". Must we not ask therefore that the Lord the Spirit, our great

prayer-helper will guide us into the will of God, putting a burden of prayer into our hearts, and then we can present that prayer in the assurance that God will answer it to His glory.

Further, we notice that Elijah prayed persistently. Three times he stretched himself on the lad and prayed his earnest prayer. God could have given life the first time, but lie chose to do so on the third occasion so that Elijah might prove his earnestness. Men ought always to pray and not to faint the Master said, and lie went on to teach us about the importunity of prayer (Luke 18:1-8). From Elijah we learn these lessons, that prayer is to be simple, specific. earnest and in faith, and then we read, "the LORD hearkened unto the voice of Elijah". Wonderful words! G(xi in heaven answering a man's prayer. How we long that that might be true of us.

However, it was not by p~ayer alone that new life was brought to the lad. Elijah had to make contact with him, and that is our second point, and he did 50 in his own room and on his own bed. It touched Elijah personally. It cost him something. He had to put aside any feelings of revulsion he may have had. "I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some" (1 Cor. 9:22) and that will cost something.

We remember the Lord Jesus said "Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men". What is involved in coming after Him? "If any man would come after Me, let him

deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). Saying "No" to ourselves is perhaps one of the hardest things we have to learn. How shall we learn it? A careful study of the master Soul-winner, working with individuals, as for instance, in the early chapters of John's gospel, will introduce us to some of the things involved.

He was not upset about being disturbed at night by the Jewish ruler. He was glad to rise and talk with him, to meet the need of his burdened heart. He was prepared too for the long and weary walk to Sychar in the heat of the day, for that was the only time He could meet the Samaritan woman at the well. And the pool at Bethesda did not repulse Him, for lie knew the man who had been there for thirty eight years desperately needed His help.

How deeply He cared. He was making contact with souls who needed Him urgently and He Himself was the great Life-giver. From heaven He had come, vacating its throne for a little while so that sinners dead through their trespasses might be brought to new life through Him. It cost Him everything. He was on His way to Calvary where He was "cut off, having nothing". "The Son of God ... loved me, and gave Himself up for me". And one way we shall show our love to Him is by reaching out to those whom He died to save. May God help us to maintain that vital contact with Him through faith and prayer and to make contact with as many as possible whom we can introduce to our Saviow and Lord.' It will cost us something, but through eternal ages we shalt be ~lad we did.