RAISING THE SPIRITUALLY DEAD
People come for counseling because they have experienced some sort of death. It may be the actual death of a loved one, the loss of a meaningful relationship, or lost dreams. It may be the death of hope that things can change in their lives, or they may be experiencing the terrors of the spiritual death of sin.
The Bible provides an excellent example that is applicable to counseling, in that it provides strategies for raising the spiritually dead to new life. The story is found in 2 Kings 4 where the Prophet Elisha raises a young boy from the dead.
Elisha was a frequent guest in a special room prepared by a Shunammite woman and her husband. Despite the fact that this woman did not have a child and her husband was elderly and beyond child-producing years, Elisha prophesied that she would conceive and bear a son (2 Kings 4:16).
Just as Elisha declared, the woman gave birth to a son. Years passed, and then one day when the boy was out in the field with his father, he became sick and died. The Shunammite woman took her dead son to Elisha’s room and laid him on the prophets bed. She quickly saddled a donkey and set out with her servant to go to Elisha at Mt. Carmel. Imagine the thoughts that flooded her mind: AWhy had this terrible thing happened? Why had God allowed the son He had given her to die? Very often, similar questions are asked by hurting people: “Why did God allow this to happen to me?”
Although she knew her boy’s lifeless body lay upon the prophet’s bed, this woman did not focus on her tragic circumstances. She believed that if she could just get to Elisha, the prophet of God would be able to help her. She hurriedly prepared for her journey and told her husband, All is well, in answer to his questions regarding her journey (2 Kings 4:23).
When Elisha saw the woman coming at a distance, he sent his servant Gehazi to meet her and ask if everything was alright. The woman told the servant that all was well, but when she saw Elisha she ran to him and fell at his feet. Gehazi tried to push her away, but Elisha told him to leave her alone.
Did I ask you for a son? Didn’t I tell you, ‘do not deceive me’, the woman cried out in anguish as she shared her tragedy with Elisha (2 Kings 4:28). Elisha immediately commanded Gehazi to take his staff in his hand and run to the Shunammite=s house to minister to the boy, but the Shunammite woman refused to settle for that. She was desperate! She was determined to persevere until Elisha agreed to go with her. He was the prophet of God and she wanted him to cry out to God for the life of her boy (2 Kings 4:30). When Elisha saw her determination, he finally agreed to go with her.
THE POWER OF PERSEVERANCE
This Shunammite woman was determined to persevere in behalf of her son regardless of the seemingly impossible circumstances. There may be tremendous obstacles standing in your way or the way of your counselee, barriers blocking you from receiving help. You must identify and eliminate these through the power of God.
Whatever need you or a counselee may face–whether it be a personal issue, an emotional problem, a financial need, or a physical challenge–you must focus on the faithfulness of God instead of the circumstances. Your faith must not be limited by the need, your own limited abilities, or by what you see with your natural eyes. You must persevere in the Spirit to receive a miracle.
Jesus taught that we should believe we have received what we have asked for when we pray. He said, Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24). By eyes of faith, look beyond the natural circumstances into the supernatural realm where all things are possible with God–including your own deliverance and that of those you are counseling.
The servant, Gehazi, arrived ahead of Elisha and the mother, entered the room where the lifeless body lay on the bed, and placed Elisha’s staff on the boy’s face. Nothing happened. Gehazi went to meet Elisha and told him that the boy had not awakened (2 Kings 4:31). This did not discourage Elisha, however. He did not reverse his direction to return to Mount Carmel. Elisha knew God’s power was stronger than death–and that same power is greater than any need you or your counselee may be facing.
When Elisha reached the house, he went into his room and shut the door. Alone in that room, facing the boys corpse, he began to cry out to God with great fervency. Then Elisha spread himself over the boys body and the life of God began to flow through him into the boy. The child’s body grew warm, but was still lifeless. Elisha got up and walked back and forth in the room.
A second time Elisha stretched himself on the boys lifeless body and suddenly–the power of God broke the chains of death. The life of God entered the boy, raised him from the dead, and the child sneezed seven times as the breath of life entered into him. Elisha immediately sent for the Shunammite woman and presented her son to her alive and well.
New life. That is the purpose of biblical counseling.
RAISING THE SPIRITUALLY DEAD
The Bible says the soul that sins will die, that the wages of sin is death, and that sinners are dead in their transgressions. People coming to you for help are dead in sin, have buried dreams, lost hope, and dying relationships. The following spiritual applications, drawn from this account of Elisha, may be applied as you provide counsel to raise the spiritually dead.
Have faith. The mother did not just accept the child’s death. The normal response would be to weep, call professional mourners, and prepare the body for burial. Instead, she laid him on Elisha=s bed, shut the door, and went to get the prophet. Taking the dead child to the prophet’s chamber was an act of faith in itself, as she most likely recalled the well-known miracle previously done by the Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24). This woman did not wait for the prophet to take him into the room. She took him there, expecting a miracle. God has raised spiritually dead men from the beginning of time. Your privilege, as a biblical counselor, is to take unsaved and troubled people–just as they are–to the place of a miracle.
Note this woman’s faith when she responded to her husband’s questions, “It shall be well” (verses 23-24). When you begin to act by faith, your faith multiplies. By the time she neared the prophet’s dwelling place, her faith had increased (verse 26). When Elisha sent Gehazi to question her, she no longer said, “It shall be well.” She said, “It is well.” It is not only important for you, as a counselor to have faith, but you must instill faith in the counselee that things can change. Prepare them to receive a miracle!
Make haste. Note in 2 Kings 4:22 that the woman said, “That I may run.” You must make haste to raise the dead because souls are perishingBright now, today, this very hour. Relationships are shattering. Homes are breaking up. Bondages are engulfing people in a death-like grip. Someone is at the point of suicide. There is no time for years of extended counseling. The miracle is needed now!
Break with tradition. In verse 23, the woman’s husband questioned, “Why are you going?” It was not a traditional time to go to the prophet such as on the new moon or the Sabbath. To counsel biblically, you will have to break with tradition. People may tell you, “This is not the way we do things.” They may claim your methods are faulty and unscientific. But if your counsel is based on God’s Word, it will work! Guaranteed success!
Show compassion. The dead will never be raised by “Gehazis” who have no compassion (verses 25-27). When this woman came in search of life, Gehazi wanted to send her away–which is what many church leaders are doing today–referring people with needs to others so they do not have to deal with their problems. But the Prophet of God did not send her away. He showed concern and asked, “Is it well with you and your husband and the child?”
There are people who have struggled “up the hill” to get to you and are falling at your feet with great needs. Do not thrust them away. Do not refer them to unbelieving counselors, or suggest secular rehabilitation programs. Have compassion for them and do not turn them away. You have the Holy Spirit within you–the same spirit and power of Elijah–and you can minister life to their desperate needs.
Become personally involved. Elisha first sent his staff with Gehazi to raise the child from the dead. But you cannot send powerless men (like Gehazi) or substitute measures (represented by the staff) and expect a miracle. We take practical ideas of secular psychology and lay them upon the spiritually dead, but they have no more effect upon a needy soul than did Elisha’s staff. New life will not flow as long as you are placing an indifferent hand upon spiritually dead men and women. Hurting people can settle for nothing other than the power of God that is able to breathe new life into dead souls.
Follow the master’s example. In 1 Kings 17:17‑24, the Bible records the story of Elijah, who was Elisha’s mentor, setting the example for raising the dead. If Elisha had followed that example, he never would have sent Gehazi with his staff to try to do the job. Elijah had personally ministered to the dead child, and Elisha must do the same. In order to raise us from the death of sin, Jesus Christ came into this world. He came where we were. We too must go to hurting people with the message of new life. If you are to raise the dead, you must come into contact with death and the dying. You must go where they are–the streets, the drug houses, the jails and prisons. You must become personally involved with the spiritually dead.
Recognize the seriousness of the condition. Gehazi did not really believe the child was dead. He reported back that “The child is not awakened.” Gehazi spoke as if the boy was only asleep, but Elisha knew the child was dead (verse 32). Unbelievers lost in sin are not just sleeping. It is a serious condition. People who are blind to their conditions are dying spiritually, and they will never be raised to new life until you recognize this fact and lead them to recognize and deal with it themselves. Anger is not just a trait passed down from your Uncle John. It is wrong. Abortion is not a personal choice. It is murder. Adultery is not just an affair–it is a deadly sin. If you will raise the spiritually dead and minister to needy people, then you must be able to acknowledge the reality of their desperate conditions.
Do not be defeated by failure. The first attempt to raise the dead child by using Gehazi and the staff failed. When you fail in one attempt at counseling, do not give up. Do not infer from failure that you are not called to the task or that the Word is insufficient to meet the need. The lesson of failure is not withdrawing from the mission, but persevering and changing your methods to follow the Master’s example.
Resurrect life in the inner chamber. Elisha went into the inner chamber, the place where he regularly prayed to God. You must go into the “inner chamber” of prayer, shut the door, and intercede for hurting humanity. Prayer is a vital part of preparing for and providing biblical counsel.
Know the source of your power. As he entered into that inner chamber, Elisha already knew the source of his power. The mantle of God’s anointing rested upon him and he knew it was tried and proven. The reason counseling sometimes fails is that some counselors do not believe miracles are for today. If you want supernatural answers, you must believe in a supernatural God who can save, heal, and deliver. God’s Word has not changed (Psalm 119:89). Jesus Christ has not changed (Hebrews 13:8). The promises of salvation, healing, deliverance, and miracles are still in effect today.
Know the objective. Your objective is not to cleanse a dead body, embalm it with spices, or cover it with fine linen. These are all improvements to a decaying corpse, but you still have a dead body. Your objective is not improvement. Your objective is new life through Jesus Christ!
Be willing to be stretched. One would think a grown man would have to contract himself on a child, but instead the scripture says he stretched himself. Reaching out to hurting men and women is a stretching experience. You must stretch yourself to step out of your comfort zone in order to counsel and help others. When Jesus would raise us from spiritual death, He came into this world of sin and died Himself–arms stretched out upon the cross.
Be alive spiritually. Dead men can=t raise the dead. Elisha stooped over the corpse and placed his mouth upon the mouth of the dead child. He placed his eyes upon the boy’s eyes, his hands upon the child’s hands. The warm body of the man of God covered the cold body of the child. As Elisha covered death with life, the warmth of his body entered the child. If you are dead yourself, this will not happen. Placing one corpse upon another is hopeless. It is vain for dying people to gather around another dead soul and expect resurrection. If you are to counsel effectively, you must have life yourself!
Settle for nothing less than life. The flesh of the child became warm, but Elisha did not just settle for this promising sign. He would settle for nothing less than true life. It is not improvement you are after, but new life! Not mere emotionalism, but true change! Elisha walked back and forth, waiting and no doubt calling upon God. Then he stretched himself upon the child again. This time, the child sneezed seven times. The word “sneeze” as used here actually means “gasped”. As the child gasped for breath, new life entered his body and his eyes opened. The young man was resurrected to new life.
When dead men and women gasp into their beings the transforming Word of God and the breath of the Holy Spirit through biblical counsel, they too will experience new life. Using the Word of God, the power of prayer, and the mantle of God’s supernatural anointing–you too can raise the dead!