The Prophet Series: Elisha, part 7
The Prophet Series: Elisha part 7
Elisha spent some time alone with the Lord on Mt. Carmel after his experience of having to establish his authority through strict judgment at Bethel. From Carmel he goes to Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom, at the close of 2Ki 2, but we are not told of his exploits there. In 2Ki 3 we find Elisha far from Samaria and in the area of the wilderness of Edom, across the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The occasion that brought the prophet there, likely led by the Holy Spirit, was that the king of Israel had joined forces with the king of Judah in order to attack Moab. Their plan was to approach Moab from the wilderness of Edom to the south since Moab would not suspect an attack from this difficult place. They successfully convinced the king of Edom to join them in the attack, but as they move through the mountainous and treacherous terrain with their army, they miscalculate their supply and run out of water.
Compromising the truth in order to make partnerships.
Our first terrible partnership is between Jehoram, the new king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. Though Jehoshaphat was sometimes weak in application of truth, he was a worshipper of God. To the contrary, Jehoram was an evil man. He wasn't as bad as his father and mother, Ahab and Jezebel, since he attempted to remove the worship of Baal from the land (in which he was unsuccessful), but he did adopt the worship of the golden calves, a counterfeit worship that was instituted by the first king of Israel, Jeroboam. When Jehoram asked Jehoshaphat to join him in a war against Moab, the king of Judah should have turned him down flat, but he was sentimental, thinking that they could find unity.
2KI 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."
The first unholy alliance is between Jehoram and the golden calf worship. The second is the partnership of the two kings. The third is their added partnership with Edom (descendants of Esau). The fourth, which has the greatest consequences, is with Moab.
No matter how good the form of it may look, there is no benefit in partnering with evil. How often have Christians entered into similar alliances, as in marriage for instance, and speak of "hopeful signs" and "spiritual tendencies" in the other when in fact they are no more spiritual than Jehoram? Because of desire, we see the marks of the Holy Spirit when they are not there. We put the "signs" there ourselves and then counted them as divine.
When Ahab was king, Moab paid him tribute every year.
2KI 3:4-5 Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and used to pay the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. But it came about, when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.
Though this sounds like a heavy burden to pay, it wasn't a large portion their assets. Moab contained wonderful feeding grounds for livestock and could easily afford to pay this many. What bothered them most was that they had to pay anything at all to Israel.
The first thing to be understood is that there never should have been a tax from Israel upon their neighbors. Israel was never commanded to receive any tribute from other nations. All of Israel's blessings were to come from God alone, and by following God their storehouses wouldn't have been enough to hold the extent of the production. But as we know, Ahab was a Baal worshipper though a Jew. He did not care for the ways of God and neither did his son Jehoram. When Ahab died and the king of Moab stopped paying the tribute, Jehoram decided that he would fight to get it back. We can understand that line of thinking coming from him, but for Jehoshaphat to join him is a tragedy. It is a compromise of divine principle for the only reason that they are both Israelites.
MAT 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
Unholy alliances always end up with bad plans. It was Jehoshaphat's idea to approach Moab from the south rather than the north as the enemy would have expected. It's good to gain the element of surprise, but not at the cost of your army's supply. Either way, north or south, they have to go around the Dead Sea, but the southern route is longer and far more dangerous. It was a mountainous region with difficult ascents and descents, especially with an army.
The united army of the three unwise kings marched around for seven days and found themselves in the deep rocky valley of Ahsy. They expected the wadis in the area to have water but they were dry.
Ok, so you made a mistake. Now what?
There's no water. The evil king Jehoram despairs. 2KI 3:10 Then the king of Israel said, "Alas! For the Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab." There is an incredible amount of folly in the coward monarch. He is the first to suggest the expedition and the first to despair. He is the first to ignore Yahweh and the first to tremble and anticipate long merited doom from Him.
Jehoshaphat determines to ask the Lord. 2KI 3:11 But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?"
This reminds me of the Exodus experience when there was no water and calm Moses was harassed by the faithless mob. The godly but weak man, as Jehoshaphat is, can recover from a mistake. This is a grave difference between the people in the world. We all err, but there are some among us who can march forward in the grace of God and still greatly mature spiritually throughout their lives. Outside of grace there are too many hindrances that so easily entangle us and the race is never run.
Waiting for opportunity.
So you've been faithfully following God and no one seems to notice. Maybe you're surrounded by godless people who wouldn't give you the time of day and could care less about how much love you have for the Lord. You witness and no one hears or sees. Are you wasting your time? God will promote every faithful believer at the proper time.
We all will get our opportunities. God always has His instruments in readiness. We never need to advertise ourselves as witnesses and servants of Christ. So many churches in the history of our age have vastly diminished their spiritual life in order to be taken notice of in the world.
One of Jehoram's servants is a servant of Yahweh. He is surrounded by calf worship and he continues to worship the Lord like Daniel in Babylon. God has placed him in the right place at the right time. Little do we know the purposes of God. God has foreordained our works and they often come at times we least expect and in ways we never imagined. The same is true of the effects of our work. The word you gave, the lesson you shared, the comfort you imparted, the service you rendered may affect in ways unimagined. Even after you have died the effect of the work may go on in ways unforeseen. How do we know the way in which the seed will take root? This servant's opportunity has come, an opportunity that he never saw coming, and he will boldly proclaim the name of the prophet of God and thus save the expedition from complete ruin.
2KI 3:11-12 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." And Jehoshaphat said, "The word of the Lord is with him."
Even for this unholy band of kings, it is never too late to go to God. At no matter what hour his weary feet seek the long-neglected path and his trembling fingers anxiously rap at the door, the Lord will open and greet the carnal man with love and comfort.
What kind of testimony did the two kings of Israel convey to their new partner, the king of Edom? He sees one king fully despair and the other make foolish and weak decisions. One has not faith and the other has not works. What is hidden in the soul will eventually shine forth and it will become our witness. We exhale what we secretly love when circumstances force it to come to the surface. If deep in our hearts is the love of the Lord, His word and way, then from within us He will always reveal Himself when called. The treasure that each believer contains in his earthen vessel will pour out. If it is the Holy Spirit you love and depend upon then rivers of living water will gush forth. If it is self that your love then that darkness will show its ugliness. Darkness tries to hide, but it can't always hide. The servant of the king loved the Lord, and when it was time that love spoke out. The weak king and the evil king showed their true colors when enough pressure weighed upon them. They were poor witnesses. But when the king of Edom comes to Elisha, he will see the God of Israel. The contrast between the ungodly character of the three kings and Elisha's strength in the Lord is quite intense. Next time Elisha deals with them and Israel's old enemy, Moab.
Be strong and courageous,