Elijah and Elisha 16
Elijah and Elisha 16.
Today we are going to look at an intriguing story; it is found in 2 Kings 3 [P]. It is a longish passage, so I will tell you the story and focus just on the portion in which Elisha figures. Time has moved on, Ahaziah is no longer king of Israel [P]; he had no son, so another son of Ahab, Jehoram, [P] took the throne. It was still the dynasty of Omri, he was still a godless idolater, but not as bad as Ahab. Moab was a country to the east of Israel [P] and was subject to it, it had to pay a heavy annual tribute. But now that Ahab was gone, the king of Moab, a bloke called Mesha [P]; decided not to keep paying the tax. As you can imagine, Jehoram wasn’t too happy not to receive this guaranteed income. So, he decided to bring Moab into line, and go to war against them. But he was canny, he didn’t just attack; he sought to strengthen his forces. Not only did he enlist men from Israel, he approached Jehoshapat, [P] the king of Judah; asking him to join forces. [2 Kings 3:7 Then he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?” And he said, “I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”] Now, Jehoshapat was a good king (black for bad, gold for good), he was faithful to יהוה. They consulted together and decided to launch their campaign through Edom, enlisting their help. So, you had the armed forced of three nations [P]. The common enemy had united them: Israel and Judah who had divided, and even Israel with Esau, the twins who had fallen out centuries before. They took a circuitous route, and had been on the march for seven days; and they encountered no water along the way. Three armies along with all their supplies, because they took livestock with them, fainting from thirst. They were defeated, dying before they even encountered the enemy! The campaign was not going well. Perhaps God was not in it, after all? They had not consulted God. Now, suddenly, when it all was turning to custard, Jehoram suddenly starts talking religious – funny, isn’t it? We have no thought of God until things go wrong, then we cry out to him. Let’s pick it up at verse 10: [2 Kings 3:10–27 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! For יהוה has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” (the godless king had a superstitious notion of God – had יהוה called them? No, it was his idea) But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not a prophet of יהוה here, that we may inquire of יהוה by him?” (Whereas to the godly king, יהוה was personal, could be consulted. It was not just fate, God could intervene) And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.” Jehoshaphat said, “The word of יהוה is with him.” (although Elisha was prophet to Israel, the king of Judah knew of his reputation, that he was a genuine man of God) So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What do I have to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” (Ahab and Jezebel. Elisha didn’t want anything to do with Jehoram) And the king of Israel said to him, “No, for יהוה has called these three kings together to give them into the hand of Moab.” (he repeated his dogma) Elisha said, “As יהוה or armies lives, (He is a living God, in contrast to the lifeless idols that Jehoram worshipped) before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you. (he didn’t want to be involved; he only did so because of Jehoshaphat) “But now bring me a minstrel.” And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of יהוה came upon him. He said, “Thus says יהוה, ‘Make this valley full of trenches.’ “For thus says יהוה, ‘You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, (they were dying of thirst, יהוה would amply supply their need. Did they deserve it? No. It was יהוה’s goodness) so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts. ‘This is but a slight thing in the sight of יהוה; He will also give the Moabites into your hand. (He did exceedingly abundantly above what they asked. They just wanted water; יהוה gave them victory. Super-abundant grace!) ‘Then you shall strike every fortified city and every choice city, and fell every good tree and stop all springs of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.’” It happened in the morning about the time of offering the sacrifice, that behold, water came by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. (just as יהוה said – how did it happen? No rain, no storm; just water – supernatural! A miracle! The intervention of יהוה! Hallelujah!) Now all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them. And all who were able to put on armour and older were summoned and stood on the border. They rose early in the morning, and the sun shone on the water, and the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood. Then they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely fought together, and they have slain one another. Now therefore, Moab, to the spoil!” But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites arose and struck the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, slaughtering the Moabites. Thus they destroyed the cities; and each one threw a stone on every piece of good land and filled it. So they stopped all the springs of water and felled all the good trees, (just as יהוה had said) until in Kir-hareseth only they left its stones; however, the slingers went about it and struck it. When the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him 700 men who drew swords, to break through to the king of Edom; but they could not. Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel, and they departed from him and returned to their own land.] This unexpected turnaround from utter defeat to retreat of attackers was celebrated in Moab. Meesha was so taken by this that he recorded it. It went down in history – it is written in stone. [P] It is known as the Moabite stone or the stele of Mesha and is in the Louvre in Paris today. A contemporary independent account of what took place. The monument records the victory over Omri – but the battle wasn’t with Omri himself; the stele is referring to the house, the dynasty of Omri: his grandson Jehoram. There is a lot in this story, we can’t deal with all of it; so, we will focus on where it involves Elisha. What have we got here? We have an unholy alliance! [P] We have a coalition of three nations: Israel was apostate, Judah was godly, and Edom was godless – an unholy alliance. Jehoram was a bad king; the Bible says “He did evil in the sight of יהוה”. He cooked up this scheme to attack Moab. It was his idea, he had no thought of consulting יהוה. Then he sought Jehoshaphat’s assistance. Jehoshaphat was a godly king. We have the godly joining with the apostate! This should not be! [2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.] And Elisha did not want a bar of it. He just didn’t want to be involved with such an enterprise. Just supposing; your cathedral is munted, it is going to cost a lot of money to fix; so, you take money from the government, the council, fundraising organisations. They now have a financial stake; and the one who has the purse strings controls the policy decisions. You are running a youth group; the government is concerned for at risk youth; they will give you a grant to support your work – do you accept it? Do you join with that which is godless? Examples can be multiplied – it costs a lot of money to run a school, your Christian school could make that education accessible to so many more; if only it would integrate. Some years ago, some Christians decided to set aside their differences and work together for the common goal of spreading the Gospel. It sounds very noble. It was called C.E.T. Catholics and evangelicals together. The only trouble is that Roman Catholics say that Jesus’ sacrifice didn’t do a good enough job; you need Mary as a co-redemptrix. It is joining with those who worship idols, images. On a personal level; you meet this really nice person, you form a relationship; but they are not a believer. It is an unholy alliance! That is what we have here; and Elisha recoiled from it. You encounter something like this and in your spirit, you go blaargh! It is spiritually enervating. It saps you. That is what Elisha felt. He did not want to be part of it: [2 Kings 3:14 Elisha said, “As יהוה of armies lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you.] What do you do? You cannot endorse Jehoram’s plans – it is יהוה’s discipline that Moab has rebelled against him. Yet, Jehoshaphat is a good man; can you let him just go to his death along with his people? How can you minister, be an agent of God in such an unholy mixture? What does Elisha do?: [2 Kings 3:15 “But now bring me a minstrel.” And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of יהוה came upon him.] It was not a spiritually conducive atmosphere; the last thing he felt he could do was speak God’s word; what did he need? To become spiritually focused [P]. It is an interesting thing that he did, and the charismatics used to make a thing of it, using this passage to justify the importance of music in creating a spiritual atmosphere. But music can have a spiritual effect – may I say, both for good and evil – one of the reasons that we need to be careful about the genres of music we adopt. I recall in the Elim church a young guy called Grant; he played the flute. Many is the time that I have seen him play in the Spirit and it immediately inspired prophecy from the congregation. And we see the spiritual power of music when David played the lyre for demon-possessed Saul: [1 Samuel 16:23 So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.] There was spiritual power in his music. However, we do not see Elisha routinely calling for a musician to get inspiration. This is the only time he did; why? I think for the very reason we have been seeing; Elisha did not want to be involved in this unholy alliance, it was not a situation that encouraged the moving of the Spirit. Have you ever been in a situation like that? You are called to minister, yet the spiritual atmosphere is not conducive. In your spirit your feel blargh. It is in that situation that you need to become spiritually focused. We come in from the business of our lives with all its concerns; then we come into the meeting: the songs and hymns, the scriptures and prayers help to focus our minds on God. When Hannah was at primary school; there was this teacher who watch-cry was “Focus!” When you are spiritually dull, feel dry in your spirit; you need to become spiritually focussed. It may be worship music that helps, it may be meditation on some Scripture, it may be the encouragement of a fellow believer, it may be talking to the LORD. Praying in tongues was a way that Paul said builds yourself up: [1 Corinthians 14:4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.] Do you remember David returning to his base at Ziklag to find it on fire and all their families captured by the Amalekites? His own men wanted to kill him! What did David do?: [1 Samuel 30:6 Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in יהוה his God.] The minstrel enabled Elisha to focus, not on the discouraging situation, but on יהוה; and hear from יהוה he did! Hallelujah! [Jeremiah 29:13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.] Jesus Himself said: [Matthew 7:7–8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.] It no vain thing to seek יהוה, to become spiritually focused. So, Elisha heard from יהוה! What did He say?: [2 Kings 3:16–17 He said, “Thus says יהוה, ‘Make this valley full of trenches.’ “For thus says יהוה, ‘You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts.] Two words from יהוה: there was something that they had to do, then there was something that יהוה would do. And that is how it usually is. God acts, we can do nothing to resolve our situation; but, there is still something that we must do. God only acts when we take that step of obedience that is our faith in Him and what He has said put into action. Faith acts: They had to dig trenches! Why? For all the water! But there was no water! Remember? They were dying of thirst! Their digging trenches showed that they believed that God was going to fill them [D.P shoes]. What they needed was water! Without water things die! Water gives life! [P] They needed the Water of Life: They were thirsty! [Isaiah 55:1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.] It is the same promise made in: [Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.] There is the offer of the water to the one who is thirsty. It is free; but there has to be the desire, the thirst; you need to be aware of your absolute need of the water that gives life. We used to sing “There is a river that flows from God above …..” [Revelation 22:1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, Revelation 21:6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.] Jesus offers this water, water of life, water that gives life, living water: [John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:13–15 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water (that is the water from Jacob’s well) will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (not just to quench your own thirst but a source to supply others. That is what Elisha needed in this spiritually dry scenario) The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water.”] But Jesus wasn’t talking about the water that was at the bottom of Jacob’s well. What was this “living water” that Jesus was talking about? We find out a few chapters on: [ John 7:37–39 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.] This was the same water that Isaiah was talking about: [Isaiah 44:3–6 ‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land (that is what He did here for these three armies) and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants; (what was that water? It was “My Spirit”) and they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.’ “This one will say, ‘I am יהוה’s’; (what makes you יהוה’s; the seal of His Holy Spirit) and that one will call on the name of Jacob; and another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to יהוה,’ and will name Israel’s name with honour.] Water gives life; it is the Holy Spirit who gives life: [John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.] When we are in a spiritually sterile environment, an unholy mixture, we need to become spiritually focused, we need the Spirit to give life because that unholy alliance is of the flesh, that produces death. We need life and only the Spirit can give life. If we try to sort the situation in our own strength, by our own efforts; all that we will produce is death, futility. If it is not of the Spirit of God it profits nothing! But they had to dig the trenches, to prepare for the water. They did their part, the act of faith; and God did His part: [2 Kings 3:20–22 It happened in the morning about the time of offering the sacrifice, that behold, water came by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water!] Abundant water! Did it rain? No. Where did the water come from? It was from God! It was a miracle! A supernatural act of God. And that is the only thing that will quench our thirst, give life when all around is facing death. But God said that this was nothing! He did over and above all that they asked or could conceive: [2 Kings 3:18 ‘This is but a slight thing in the sight of יהוה; He will also give the Moabites into your hand.] יהוה did more than they requested, He would also give them victory. How was He going to do that?!: [2 Kings 3:22–24 They rose early in the morning, and the sun shone on the water, (the water that God had miraculously supplied) and the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood. Then they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely fought together, and they have slain one another. Now therefore, Moab, to the spoil!” But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites arose and struck the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, slaughtering the Moabites.] The water appeared as blood! And it was through that “blood”, or the illusion of it, that victory came to the Israelites. Victory came through the blood. [P] It says in: [Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him (that is satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.] It says there in Revelation that the means of overcoming satan was by the blood of the Lamb. What does that mean? How does that work? How do you overcome by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God? Now there are some funny ideas in the church about “the blood”; some of them are mystical and downright superstitious. You may have heard about: “claiming the blood”; putting things “under the blood”; “covering something with the blood”. What people mean by these things, I don’t really know, because the Bible does not mention them at all. The “blood” of Jesus is not magic – some mantra we speak in a dire situation. The Bible is very clear and prosaic about what the blood of Jesus is all about. Jesus died on a cross, His side was pierced and blood and water flowed out. The New Testament tells us what that shed blood accomplished. I don’t have time to go into this fully; but here is a summary of what the New Testament tells us what the blood of Jesus actually does; [P] (with references for note-takers) notice no covering, no claiming, no magic: [P] 1/ covenant – this is the most frequent connection with Jesus’ blood. The covenant, the relationship we have with God is based upon Jesus’ death, His blood shed. Jesus said in [Matthew 26:28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.] [P] 2/ we are purchased with Jesus blood; [P] 3/ His blood propitiates, turns aside God’s just wrath; [P] 4/ It justifies, it makes us righteous; [P] 5/ Jesus’ blood redeems; [P] 6/ by it we are brought near to God; [P] 7/ by the blood peace is made with God, we are reconciled to Him; [P] 8/ Jesus’ blood cleanses us; [P] 9/ forgiveness is through Jesus’ blood; [P] 10/ we enter God’s presence through the blood; and [P] 11/ Jesus’ blood sanctifies. Now if you look at all those 11 things that Jesus’ blood does, you will see that they all have to do with one thing, and only one thing: DEALING WITH SIN [P]! That is what the blood of Jesus does! He, the righteous One, who had no sin, bore our sins in His own body to the cross. He bore the penalty due to my sin and you sin. The sentence has been carried out. Our sins are no more! Hallelujah! The penalty has been paid! He removed our sin as far as the east is from the west. Hallelujah! He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Praise His Name! That is what the blood of Jesus did and does! It is all to do with sin! It is not magical protection; some death ray or impenetrable shield. It is a death of a perfect sacrifice in the place of filthy rotten undeserving sinners. So, to get back to my question: How do you overcome by the blood of Jesus? [P] Our adversary is satan. He is against us. He has one very effective weapon: DEATH! He is not the judge, he does not have the authority to impose the death penalty; rather, he is the prosecutor! He accuses us! That is what his name means: “the accuser”. In the Divine court he brings his case against me: he says, “Paul did such-and-such. He is guilty! The sentence must be the death penalty.” And he is right! I have no leg to stand on, no defence! I have no power over death! Death gets us all because we are all sinners! Without exception! You may think that your big problem is your finances, your kids, some relationship, your job. No, no, no! Our big problem is SIN! In fact, all our trouble can be traced back to this one issue: SIN! I have an adversary, a very powerful one, one with a weapon I cannot counter. How can I overcome him?!! By the blood of the Lamb! Hallelujah! He accuses me, he says, “Paul has done such-and-such” but God says, “I have no record of that! According to the record, the death penalty for that crime has already been carried out!” It was carried out by Jesus! Praise His name! By His death, by His shed blood. We overcome satan by the blood of Jesus, because it deals with the issue of sin. He can no longer condemn us! The one and only thing that our adversary has against us! We testify to what Jesus’ blood has done, and satan is defeated. The issue of sin has been dealt with. Jesus defeated him! [P] [1 John 3:8 The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.] That is the reason that He came. When we face the enemy; we need to be devoid of unholy mixture and to be spiritually focused. Even Jesus Himself came by both water and blood [P] [1 John 5:6]. It is God who supplies His Spirit supernaturally and in abundance; and the blood of His Son which overcomes our adversary. We need the water and the blood.