Now if you’ve been reading with me each day, you’re going to realize that 2 Kings is not exactly in chronological order. In the last chapter the famine was in full swing and it was all the way back in chapter 5 that Gehazi’s greed disgraced him and caused him to leave Elisha’s service. Today’s passage begins before the famine and ends with Gehazi still serving Elisha. But this short story was important enough that the author knew he needed to fit it in to the history.
Israel, God’s treasured possession, His very own people often turned to sin. So God in His love was constantly disciplining her and calling her back into a right relationship with Him. It is that way in the world today as well. The world is filled with more lost people than Christ followers. God loves people and He sends out judgements and discipline to call them into relationship with Him. He disciplines us as well by allowing us to go through trials. But for those of us who love God and who are in fellowship with Him, He warns us and gives us a way to make it through. And so was the case of the Shunammite woman who had built a room for Elisha and whose son Elisha had brought back from the dead. She was a faithful woman who had been extraordinarily kind to the prophet. Verses 1-2 read,
“Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years.” 2 So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God. She went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years.”
The Lord speaks to the faithful if we are faithful to listen. He warns us and prepares us for the trouble ahead. If we obey we can go through the trial easier, or even skip it. Obedience wasn’t easy for the Shunammite. She was wealthy and would have to leave her home. She would have to be a sojourner, a traveler in a land that was not like Israel. She would have had a hard time trying to live as God stipulated, celebrating feasts, moons, and making sacrifices among a heathen people. But God told her to go and so she went. We are like the Shunammite, a people out of place in a place that is not our home among people who do not know who Jesus is. Our citizenship is in Heaven, not in America, the UK, or China (Philippians 3:20). We can feel peculiar among people who do not love Jesus. We are! We are distinctive, appointed, and anointed children of God and citizens of Heaven. We are part of the God’s family, His sons and daughters. We are part of the church, the body of Christ. We are not wanderers. We are citizens of Heaven. Ephesians 2:18-22 says,
“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
I look forward to going to my home one day. I am sure the Shunammite woman did as well. So when it was time to go home again, she returned immediately. Verses 3-6 read,
“And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went to appeal to the king for her house and her land. 4 Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.”5 And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”
She gave up everything to obey God and go to Philistia. But when she returned, Gehazi and the king just happened to be talking about her. The Lord made sure the king would show her favor by letting him know, not through her lips but through Gehazi’s, the good she had done for Elisha. So the king not only restored her house and land to her but he appointed his representative to ensure that she also receive all the profits from the land.
God is so good to us. Sometimes we will have to lose earthly possessions for His sake. Sometimes we will have to go places we do not want to go. But He is God and He truly does love us. When the trial is over, He gives us so much more than what we lost. He assigned His Son to make sure that we receive our inheritance. Deuteronomy 30:1-5 reads,
“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 5 And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers”
This is a taste of Heaven now. When our physical lives are over and we enter into New Jerusalem we will lack nothing. Whatever we gave up on earth will be a treasure in Heaven. Revelation 21:1-4 describes it,
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
God does not leave us alone to suffer. He prepares us and He is with us. When we suffer we only have to remember that and remember that one day we will go home and everything we lost will be restored. We will be kings and queens (Revelation 21:4). I look forward to going home, but I live now in obedience and hope always keeping in mind that God is my God and I am His daughter, my home is waiting for me but God has prepared me to live here and glorify Him.