Posted in old testament, theology

Dead bodies and live bodies

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m reading through 1 and 2 Kings this month. There are certainly many interesting and strange things happening in those books of history. Remember, the events in those Bible books really happened. Elijah really slew 400 prophets of Baal. God really threw down fire and consumed the sacrifices in the showdown with the prophets of Baal. Wars happened. In 1 Kings 20:29 we read that the Israelites killed 100,000 Aramean foot soldiers in one day. I looked up the slaughter at Gettysburg, well-known to be one of the bloodiest battles, and about 50,000 died. The same with Waterloo. Can you imagine, twice as many Arameans dying on one day?

Here are two other unusual happenings:

In 1 Kings 17:19-21, we read of the prophet Elijah raising the Zarephath’s widow’s son, who had died.

He said to her, “Give me your son.” Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed. 20He called to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, have You also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?” 21Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.”

In 2 Kings 4:18-37 we read of the prophet Elisha’s raising of the Shunammite’s son, who had died. Here are verses 32-34,

When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. 33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. 

The prophets laid outstretched on the dead person and the LORD graciously used their body as a vehicle for life-giving resurrection power.

It reminded me of the same but opposite historical punishment. Paul was probably thinking of this punishment when he wrote in Romans 7:24,

“Who will set me free from this body of death?”

As John MacArthur explains the punishment:

In the ancient times, one of the ways they punished murderers was to take the victim, the dead corpse, and strap them to the back of the murderer. And eventually the rotting body would cause the rotting of the murderer…a horrific way to suffer for your crime.

The corpse was used to bring death to a living body. The bodies of the prophets were used to bring life to the dead.

The wages of sin is death. Only God can resurrect life, both physical and spiritual.

As I read along, I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition. It’s what I was thinking about.

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Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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