In my last post, we explored The Obedience of Eliyahu and the Faith of a Goy in 1 Kings 8-16. In this post, we learn of A Miraculous Resurrection in 1 Kings 17:17-24.
A Miraculous Resurrection
“17 A while later, the son of the woman whose house it was fell ill; his illness grew increasingly serious until his breathing stopped. 18 She said to Eliyahu, ‘What do you have against me, you man of God? Did you come to me just to remind me how sinful I am by killing my son?’ 19 ‘Give me your son,’ he said to her. Taking him from her lap, he carried him into the room upstairs where he was staying and laid him on his own bed. 20 Then he cried out to Adonai: ‘Adonai my God! Have you brought also this misery on the widow I’m staying with by killing her son?’ 21 He stretched himself out on the child three times and cried out to Adonai: ‘Adonai my God, please! Let this child’s soul come back into him!’ 22 Adonai heard Eliyahu’s cry, the child’s soul came back into him, and he revived. 23 Eliyahu took the child, brought him down from the upstairs room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Eliyahu said, ‘See? Your son is alive.’ 24 The woman replied to Eliyahu, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of Adonai that you speak is the truth.’” ~1 Kings 17:17-24 (CJB)
This is the first recorded instance in Scripture of the resurrection of a dead person. The evidence seems clear that the widow’s son actually died and didn’t just faint. He stopped breathing, and his soul left his body. According to James 2:26, when the soul departs, the person is dead. The great distress of both the mother and the prophet would suggest that the boy was killed, and both of them used the word “killing” concerning the event.
The mother’s response was to feel guilty because of her past sins. She believed that her son’s death was God’s way of punishing her for her misdeeds. It isn’t unusual for people to feel guilty in connection with mourning, but why would she point her finger at Eliyahu? She recognized Eliyahu as a man of God, and perhaps she thought his presence in the home would protect her and her son from trouble. Her words remind us of the question of the talmidim asked Yeshua, “Rabbi, who sinned — this man or his parents — to cause him to be born blind?” ~ John 9:2 (CJB)
Eliyahu’s response was to carry the boy to his upstairs room and to cry out to the Lord for the life of the child. He couldn’t believe that the Lord would miraculously provide food for the three of them and then allow the son to die. It just didn’t make sense.
Eliyahu didn’t stretch himself out on the boy’s dead body in hopes he could transfer his life to the boy, for he knew that only God could impart life to the dead. Indeed, his posture indicated total identification with the boy and his need, and this is an essential factor when we intercede for others. It was after Eliyahu stretched himself on the child for the third time that the Lord raised him from the dead, a reminder that our own Savior arose from the dead on the third day.
The result of this miracle was the woman’s public confession of her faith in the God of Israel. She now knew for sure that Eliyahu was a true servant of God and not just another religious teacher looking for some support. She also knew that the Word he had taught her was indeed the Word of the true and living God.
During the time he lived with the widow and her son, Eliyahu had shown them that God sustains life (the meal and oil didn’t run out) and that God imparts life (the boy was raised from the dead).
This miracle teaches us three crucial lessons:
- not all illness is the result of sin;
- God has power over sickness and death; and
- the purpose of the signs is to produce faith in the God’s Word.
Eliyahu hadn’t been in public ministry for a long time, yet his private ministry to the woman and her son was just as essential both to the Lord and to them. Eliyahu had proved the power of God in Ba’al’s home territory, so he was now ready to challenge and defeat Ba’al in the kingdom of Israel.
During these three years as an exile and a hunted man (18:10), Eliyahu has learned a great deal about the Lord, about himself and the needs of people. He has learned to live a day at a time, trusting God for his daily bread. For three years, people have been asking, “Where is the prophet Eliyahu?” Is he able to do anything to ease the burdens we carry because of this drought? But the Lord is more concerned about the worker than the work, and He has been preparing Eliyahu for the most significant challenge of faith in his entire ministry.
In my next post, we will continue to explore the Biblical story of Eliyahu in 1 Kings 18:1-15. In this passage, Eliyahu is ordered by God to return to Ach’av and meets up with ‘Ovadyah, who oversaw Ach’av’s palace.