1 John 4:4 (King James Version) — “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD.” Mixed media on canvas by Georgia artist Mark Lawrence.
2 Kings 6 (NIV)
An Axhead Floats
1 The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.”
Elisha’s School of the Prophets is growing and needs a bigger dorm!
And he said, “Go.”
3 Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”
“I will,” Elisha replied. 4 And he went with them.
They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”
This was a significant loss. Iron was certainly present at this time in Israel, but it was not common enough to be cheap.
6 The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.
from Morning and Evening
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
GOD MAKES IMPOSSIBLE THINGS POSSIBLE
2 Kings 6:6 — The iron did swim.
The axe-head seemed hopelessly lost, and as it was borrowed, the honor of the prophetic band was likely to be imperilled, and so the name of their God to be compromised. Contrary to all expectation, the iron was made to mount from the depth of the stream and to swim; for things impossible with man are possible with God.
I knew a man in Christ but a few years ago who was called to undertake a work far exceeding his strength. It appeared so difficult as to involve absurdity in the bare idea of attempting it. Yet he was called thereto, and his faith rose with the occasion; God honored his faith, unlooked-for aid was sent, and the iron did swim.
Another of the Lord’s family was in grievous financial straits, he was able to meet all claims, and much more if he could have realized a certain portion of his estate, but he was overtaken with a sudden pressure; he sought for friends in vain, but faith led him to the unfailing Helper, and lo, the trouble was averted, his footsteps were enlarged, and the iron did swim.
A third had a sorrowful case of depravity to deal with. He had taught, reproved, warned, invited, and interceded, but all in vain. The stubborn spirit would not relent. Then came an agony of prayer, and before long a blessed answer was sent from heaven. The hard heart was broken, the iron did swim.
Beloved reader, what is thy desperate case? What heavy matter hast thou in hand this evening? Bring it hither. The God of the prophets lives, and lives to help his saints. He will not suffer thee to lack any good thing. Believe thou in the Lord of hosts! Approach him pleading the name of Jesus, and the iron shall swim; thou too shalt see the finger of God working marvels for his people. According to thy faith be it unto thee, and yet again the iron shall swim.
Elisha Traps Blinded Arameans
8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Do we believe it? HERE is “Greater Is He That Is In Me (that he that is in the world)” sung by the Talley Trio.
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
“Chariots of Fire” by Darlene Slavujak
“Open my eyes that I may see
glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unlock and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
ready, my God, Your will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!”
from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings,
edited by Barbara Owen
This is the church of the saints, the new creation of God, our brothers and our friends, in whom we see nothing but blessing and nothing but consolation, though not always with the eyes of the flesh but with the eyes of the spirit. Whose heart will not be lifted up, even in the midst of great evils, when he believes the very truth, namely, that the blessings of all the saints are his blessings, and his evil is also theirs?
Therefore, when we feel pain, when we suffer, when we die, let us turn to this thought, firmly believing and certain that it is not we alone, but Christ and the church who are in pain and are suffering and dying with us. Christ does not want us to be alone on the road of death, from which all people shrink. Indeed, we set out upon the road of suffering and death accompanied by the entire church. Actually, the church bears it more bravely than we do. Thus we can truthfully apply to ourselves the words Elisha spoke to his fearful servants, “Fear no, for those who are with us are more numerous than those with them. And Elisha prayed and said, ‘Lord, open the eyes of the young man that he might see.’ And the Lord opened his eyes and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.”
All that remains for us now is to pray that our eyes, that is the eyes of our faith, may be opened that we may see the church around us.
18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
God gives spiritual sight to Elisha’s servant, and physical blindness to the enemies.
19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.”
A great English idiom! And here’s another funny idiom ( in translation!): When I taught English to 9th-grade girls in a private Turkish school in Izmir, one student told the class about her sister who had “dropped” in love!
23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
Famine in Besieged Samaria
(Warning: The following story is not for the faint of heart.)
24 Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. 25 There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of a cab of seed pods for five shekels.
26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!”
27 The king replied, “If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”
She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”
Deuteronomy 28 contains an extended section where God warned Israel about the curses that would come upon them if they rejected the covenant He made with them. Part of that chapter describes the horrors fulfilled in this chapter: They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you. You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you. (Deuteronomy 28:52-53)
These terrors came upon Israel because they disobeyed, rejected God, and abandoned the covenant He made with them.
30 When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and they saw that, under his robes, he had sackcloth on his body. 31 He said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!”
The king was deeply grieved and angry – but not with himself, with Israel, or with their sin. The king’s anger was against the prophet of God.
32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. The king sent a messenger ahead, but before he arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Don’t you see how this murderer is sending someone to cut off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold it shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?” 33 While he was still talking to them, the messenger came down to him.
The king said, “This disaster is from the LORD. Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?”
I read the king’s remark as in the same vein as Job’s wife’s remark — “Curse God and die.” If the devastation is coming from the Lord, how can I expect the Lord to help alleviate it? The king has lost sight of some important things. First, he has forgotten the history of Israel and how God had proved Himself over and over to them with great acts of salvation! Second, the king has forgotten the sin of the people, and his own sin in particular in leading the people, with the worship of idols. Finally, the king has forgotten the Lord’s lovingkindness and His longing for the people to be His trusting children.
The message is the same today. Do we blame God for what goes wrong in our life? Do we secretly think He could have done a better / kinder / richer / smarter job in our life? If so, we and the king are standing side-by-side.
Images courtesy of: