PART 8 THE FACETS OF DEATH

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 8:00am

PART 8 THE FACETS OF DEATH

8

WHY WOULD A MAN OF GOD ASK SOMEONE FOR THEIR LAST REMNANTS OF FOOD WHEN THEY HAD MADE IT KNOWN TO HIM THAT WAS ALL THE FOOD THEY HAD LEFT?                     

This is an interesting title. What would our response be if someone in leadership said, give all the money that you have to the church, and God will bless you 100-fold? What would our response be if someone in leadership said, give the church your real estate holdings, and God will bless you with a high-paying job? Is there someone or something that you could be offered in return for blessings from God by the pronouncement from a church leader that would cause you to give what he/she asked?

In the story that follows, we find a woman and her son who are in dire financial straits. They are asked by a man of God to give something to him so that both of them will, in turn, benefit. Will they do what he asked?

Please open your Bible to the book of 1 Kings.

 

Suggested Reading: 1 Kings 17:1-24

This story centers around a prophet named Elijah, a poor widow woman, and her son.

Why did Elijah visit her in the first place?

At this time, the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The king of the North named Ahab and his wife Jezebel, unfortunately, both got involved in the idol worship of Baal. Baal is a god of lightning and [storm] and responsible for the fertility of the land.28 Elijah was sent by God to go before this king and announce to him that because of the apostasy of himself and the people of Israel, a judgment from the Lord of no rainfall would be imposed on them for three and half years.

6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.

Following this pronouncement to the king, the Lord instructed Elijah to hide by a brook called Cherish and remain out of sight from King Ahab, whom it was perceived that once the effects of the drought kicked in, he would seek to take Elijah’s life. As for the prophet’s physical nourishment, God provided a unique source. Ravens would come to him in the morning and evening with bread (grain) and flesh (meat). I can’t imagine what form these food products were distributed to him, let alone what they tasted like, but in this instance, it was important to be thankful to the Lord no matter what the discomfort might have been.

9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

Eventually, because of the drought, the brook dried up, and the Lord gave him the direction to go to a particular place, where he would meet up with a widowed woman, whom He had commanded ahead of time to provide for his physical sustenance. Whether this woman believed in Jehovah is not clear. However, when Elijah found her and engaged in conversation, what he learned from her about her physical well-being, he had already been aware of through conveyance of such to him by the Lord. Keep this in mind because later in this story, something is going to happen, of which Elijah was not forewarned ahead of time.

12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

Sometimes, I think God has a sense of humor, which we don’t necessarily recognize due to the reality of the circumstances at hand. Elijah had made a pronouncement of a drought before an idolatrous king; he had fled to reside at a brook being fed by ravens; and now he is on his way to a town called Zarepheth, where when he arrived at the gate of the city, he saw a woman gathering sticks (probably to provide fuel for a fire). He asked her to bring him water and a small portion of bread, to which she replied that she had nothing baked as a cake but only a little flour and olive oil, the use for which she had already planned as being the last meal for herself and her son.

13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

Elijah knew of God’s provision for her situation. He simply said to her, fear not, go and do as I have said, bring me what I asked for and after which you and your son will be taken care of. Elijah received a Word from the Lord, but this would do this woman no good if she acted contrary to the instructions given to her. She’s in a tough spot. Do I listen to this man whom I know nothing about who wants to take from me and my son our last remaining food provisions, or do I believe what he is telling me even though reason says if I give him of my limited supply, nothing will be left and we will perish? How does she know whether this man will simply eat and run?

14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.

And then Elijah made this astounding statement. My God will, if you comply and follow-through, not allow the barrel (the small vessel) of meal (of flour) nor the cruse (the pitcher) of olive oil to fail (to run out) until the drought is over (during the remaining three and a half years). She could have said to him in response, is this a joke? You’re telling me that by obeying your instructions, my son and I won’t have to be concerned about food provisions until the drought is over. She didn’t appear to reason this out.

She didn’t seem to question the prophetic Word. She just did what he said. On the other hand, we might ask, what did she have to lose? Even if its’ right that the food provisions that she was about to give to Elijah might have been all that remained, she would have run out of physical sustenance if she didn’t comply one day later.

So, lo and behold, what happened? She did what he said. And the prophesied miracle became a reality. Elijah, this woman, and her son were provided for by the Lord with physical nourishment replenishing the flour and olive oil miraculously on a day-to-day basis for three and a half years. 

Here she was in a desperate situation where she was asked by Elijah to respond to his request by faith. As for the scenarios I presented earlier about church leadership asking for its members to give all of their material wealth for a greater benefit of material wealth from God, albeit these requests would have left the respondents financially bankrupt. It’s one thing to ask church members to prayerfully consider giving to such and such, but it’s another thing to demand from them all that they own without concern for their financial well-being.

17 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.

But wait, something else was going to happen that would reveal to us the hidden secrets about her belief system concerning sickness, death, and her perception of this man of God. Unfortunately, her young son became severely sick and died. We don’t know how long of a period of time this sickness lingered on. However, there was no mention of Elijah, who must have known about this sickness because he lived in this woman’s house, telling her that he would pray to his God for her son’s wellness.

18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

The mother freaks out and is now focused on the accusation game. She decided to put the blame for her son’s death on the prophet, which is evidenced by her own words when she said to him, art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, i.e., to bring my sin before your God, who has decided to punish me for it by killing my son? In those days, it was assumed that if something bad happened to someone, it was perceived as punishment from God for a sin they had committed in the past.

What surprised me is that she didn’t ask Elijah if there was anything that his God could do in this instance. There was undoubtedly an ongoing miracle of continuous replenishment of food supply that she was aware of unless somehow, she might have reasoned that trickery was involved. It’s also possible that the cultural sentiment was that once someone had died, there would be no reason to think they could be brought back to life.  

What was Elijah’s response to her accusation?

20-21 And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.

It seems he wasn’t too thrilled with the Lord as to what had taken place. He could have thought something like, “Why Lord did you send me here to provide physical nourishment for this widow and her son during the drought and then allow him to die during my stay in her dwelling?” This untimely death seems to even have tested Elijah and reveal his misperception as to the purpose of this occurrence.  

What he did next was immediately pick up the woman’s dead son in his arms, brought him upstairs to the upper room, laid him upon the bed, cried unto the Lord with displeasure, stretched himself out upon him three separate times, cried unto the Lord again with the proper approach of confident prayer, and requested that He would bring the child’s soul back within him. When I read that he prostrated himself three times over the dead body, I wondered if, as he prayed did God reveal to him this approach he was to implement in order for the boy to be raised from the dead? Or was there some other significance to this three-fold repetition?

Did God answer his prayer?

22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

God not only brought this boy back to life again but revealed the purpose of the illness. What was it, you ask? Elijah picked up the resuscitated boy and brought him downstairs to his mother, and said to her, see, your son lives.

24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

The woman responded to him by saying, now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the Words of the Lord you have spoken are true. This seems to suggest that the miracle of the daily food provision didn’t convince her that he was a man of God. Thus, was revealed one of the purposes of this miracle, which was that she became convinced that Elijah was a man of God. And the other meaning of this miracle was that she believed that the Word of the Lord in his mouth was true, i.e., if you believe the Word, then you believe in the one whom the Word was from, the one true God, Yahweh.    

What can we learn from this story as relating to our study? What we have learned is that death can occur at any time, anywhere, and even when a man of God is in our midst who has been given by the Lord to provide a miraculous gift for someone else’s benefit. God not only did not convey to Elijah instructions for healing the boy when he was alive, but neither did He convey to him instructions after he died.

Before we go on to the next story, here is my question for you to consider. Do you believe that the miraculous can still take place today? If you are an unbeliever reading this study, then wouldn’t you want to know in a personal way this same God that Elijah believed in?

In the age that we currently live in, this God of Elijah has given us a more unveiled understanding as to who He is and how He has chosen to reveal Himself in the Old Testament. There is still only one God, but He evidences himself now through the unveiling of progressive revelation in this dispensation, the Church Age, through three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is otherwise known as the Trinity.

One of the persons of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, left heaven and came to earth being born of a virgin. He lived a sinless life, heard instructions from God the Father, obeyed them, and fulfilled the purpose for which He was sent, which was to be the substitute for every member of the human race paying the price or ransom for the debt owed as the result of sin that came into the world as the consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. He died on a cross, paying the debt owed and canceled it, rose from the dead after three days, never to die again, and ascended into heaven. 

Scripture tells us that if any person repents (acknowledges that they are a sinner and desires to turn from their sinful life) and believes in this Jesus, then they will receive into their life another member of the Trinity called the Holy Spirit, Who will provide for them a new nature, a new power source, and a guarantee of eternal life to a place called heaven upon physical death. As this woman’s little boy received his soul life on earth back again for however long, how would you like to receive this new divine life for yourself so that upon physical death, you will live in a destined place to dwell with God and fellow believers forever and ever? If you would like this new life, then repeat the following words quietly in your mind or out loud.

I acknowledge that I have sinned in many areas such as: slandering others; having sexual relations outside of marriage; being jealous; having participated in alcohol or drug abuse; having sex with others of the same gender; having committing adultery; taking money from others in a deceitful manner; having committed rape; having engaged in pedophilia; etc. I don’t want to continue in these mental, verbal, and overt sins. I need a new nature.

I believe in you Jesus Christ as one of the members of the Trinity, who as God pre-existed time; came to the earth and took on the form of a man, being born of a virgin (no sin nature); lived a sinless life; listened to and obeyed the directives of his Father; went to the cross and paid for the penalty of and forgave the sins of the whole world; rose from the dead after 3 days, never to die again; walked the earth in his resurrection body for 40 days witnessing to over 500 people, and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father.

Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to indwell me, giving me a new nature, and guiding me along the way in this new life you have given me.

God never ceases to amaze me. As I was re-reading over this chapter for editing purposes, my son called me on the telephone. Of my three children, he is the only one that has not responded to the gospel of Christ. He said that he wanted to get my opinion on an article that he read from the internet which pertained to a married Christian couple whose daughter had died and for whom they decided to start a Go Fund Me account with the intention of obtaining money so that their child could be raised from the dead. He was upset, thinking that this money would be used for the couple’s personal financial benefit and that it was a scam.

I told him that I had never read of any biblical account where money was used in this manner. I did, however, tell him of a topic known as indulgences that were adopted by a particular faith as a means to release someone from their stay in a place called purgatory, where allegedly they were suffering for not confessing known venial (small) sins while he/she lived on earth so that he/she could get to heaven quicker. This, I told him, was definitely a scam. With this in mind, I went on the internet, found this article pertaining to our subject of death, to read it for myself, and have left it here below for you to also read for yourself.                                                                                       

 

GOFUNDME CAMPAIGN FOR CHRISTIAN COUPLE WHO ARE SEEKING TO RESURRECT THEIR DEAD TWO-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WITH PRAYER RAISES THEM MORE THAN $50,000

A GoFundMe campaign created by church leaders for a devout Christian couple who are attempting to resurrect their dead two-year-old daughter through faith and prayer has raised more than $50,000.

Andrew and Kalley Heiligenthal's two-year-old daughter, Olive Alayne Heiligenthal, died early Friday morning after she stopped breathing in her sleep in Redding, California

The family called 911, and paramedics rushed Olive to a hospital, where she was declared dead. Her body was transferred to the Shasta County Coroner's Office, a spokesman from the couple's church told DailyMail.com. 

On Sunday, Kalley wrote a heartbreaking post on Instagram, calling for 'bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in [the] belief that He will raise this little girl back to life'.

Since then, more than 1,000 donations have poured in on the GoFundMe campaign, which the church says will go entirely toward the family's unexpected expenses. 

Kalley’s initial Instagram post quickly found support from the congregants at Bethel megachurch in Redding, where Kalley is heavily involved with the church music group and has produced her own albums of Christian music.

'Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe [boldly] and with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for. It's time for her to come to life,' wrote Kalley, who has more than 240,000 followers on Instagram.  

Kalley continued her calls for prayers for resurrection in Instagram posts on Monday, [Tuesday,] and Wednesday. 

'Since that night, and at the continued request of the Heiligenthal family, Bethel Church has hosted prayer and worship gatherings which consist of singing and prayer,' the church said in a statement.                                                                                                                                                            

On Tuesday night, hundreds gathered at Bethel Church for prayer and worship at a ceremony calling for Olive's resurrection.              

A church spokesman said that this was the first-ever public prayer gathering that the church has hosted to pray for a resurrection…

Although Christianity teaches of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, attempts to literally resurrect dead bodies are unusual in the religion.29

Just for clarification, the money that was raised was not to be used in any other way but to pay for the couple’s medical expenses. As for the attempts by the church members to bring her back using prayer, music, and singing, unfortunately, this was unsuccessful but not unprecedented.   

There are two examples of individuals who were raised from the dead by two of the apostles in the New Testament. One of them was named Tabitha, who was a disciple of the Lord. After she died, the apostle Peter was summoned to where her body remained. When he arrived, he asked everyone to leave him alone with her limp body. When he turned to the body, he said arise, and she opened her eyes. Acts 9:36-42 The second instance involved a believer named Eutychus. As the apostle Paul was preaching, he went to sleep, and when he slouched over, fell three stories and died. Paul immediately went down and embraced him and let everyone know that his life had returned to him. Acts 20:6-12 It’s interesting to note that only two occurrences are recorded of raising someone from the dead in the Epistles, and yet there are countless instances of many people being healed of physical diseases. Why was this the case? Only God knows.

This brings us to the next intriguing question. Was there ever anyone who believed in the Lord that was aware of a future event that would definitely spell his death who subsequently asked God for direction and was rejected by Him from providing council? Yes, there is. We’ll find out about his story in the next chapter.

 

Endnotes

28IVP Bible Background Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, Access Date

˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

29Keith Griffeth, “GoFundMe campaign for Christian couple who are seeking to resurrect their

dead two-year-old daughter with prayer raises them more than $50,000”. 2019. Daily Mail.

<https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7810615/Christian-couple-seek-resurrect-dead-daughter-raise-43-000-GoFundMe.html>.

 

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