One of the things that struck me when we moved to Nebraska was the vitality and life of our downtown.
Our downtown has stellar coffee shops, re-gentrified architecture that houses local businesses, eclectic stores with retro clothes and gorgeous items to add color to your home. There are festivals, music, and of course, food…farm-to-table, international, hand-crafted baked scones, and the occasional food truck. It’s really pretty fantastic.
This seems pretty rare to me— life in the downtown. The death of the downtown is found all over the place— from tiny farming communities to urban sprawl. I would venture to say that is the norm, not the exception. Towns, villages, and cities are all filled with their “questionable sections” and what that really means usually is not kept up, fewer resources put in, and higher crime rates.
2 Kings 13:20-21 is an obscure Old Testament account of resurrection in the one of these “questionable sections” where decay is the norm, but God brings in life:
20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.
This grave, maybe a cave along the side of the road, according to my study Bible, or a tomb of some sort outside of town, this was burial place of Elisha the prophet. There were probably others buried there, in keeping with the custom of communal burial places at that time in the nation of Israel. So, decay seems obvious on that level—death comes and bodies become bones relatively quickly.
“Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the Spring of the year…”
Add a questionable roadway, evidently a questionable time of year, and you end up with a funeral ended hastily wrapped in fear and more decay than the participants bargained for on an already cruddy day.
And all it takes is two verses.
It’s not that Elisha’s bones hold more power than the average prophet guy. It’s not that this section of village life was miraculously resurrected. Rather, it is that our God is so filled with Life that He can bring it any where, any way, and at any time He wants.
Healing and restoration aren’t dependent on our small minds and timelines. Resurrection in our lives takes place when God wants it, where God wants it, and how God wants it. It’s not God-puppetry, but freedom found in God’s promises and plans. Knowing He can do it, and knowing that He has a plan when He doesn’t, or doesn’t do it our way.
Haven’t seen resurrection for your “questionable” places and spaces?
I know. It’s not easy. Moabite marauders exist and evil finds its way in, especially on the cruddiest of days.
Not all healing and resurrection comes when we expect it, want it, or as we think it should be. When life looks like this reality, we cling to the promises of the mysteries of what God in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58:
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
The perishable will put on imperishable. God will bring Life to every last decaying thing one day. He will. He says so. It will look so much more shocking and wonderful and amazing than a few bones bringing life on the side of a road. It will scream Life and Healing and Restoration in every last corner of Creation and of our spirits.
It’s win-win for Christians. Resurrection or resurrection.
It doesn’t make it easier. 1 Corinthians 15:58 calls it labor, actually. But it does make it more hopeful.
Win-Win. Resurrection or resurrection.