The Prophet Series: Elisha, part 8
The Prophet Series: Elisha part 8
We left off at the place where Jehoram, the king of Israel, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, and the king of Edom joined in an unholy alliance to fight the king of Moab. This all began because Moab refused to pay taxes to the new king of Israel.
The kings decided to lead their army from the south, which was more dangerous due to the hilly terrain and arid conditions. It was also longer than the northern route. Soon enough they ran out of water.
The evil king Jehoram despaired, concluding that God was going to kill them. Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, determined 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?" One of Jehoram's servants knew that the prophet Elisha was nearby and so begins the second phase of this event.
You worship Baal? Go ask him for water!
When the alliance first arrives at Elisha's tent. There is the proud, idolatrous Jehoram, the abashed, pious Jehoshaphat, and the wondering, perplexed ruler of Edom. The prophet addresses Jehoram first, knowing him to be the son of the infamous Ahab and Jezebel who constantly sought his master Elijah's life. Elisha sarcastically encourages him to go to the prophets of Baal for his needs. 2KI 3:13 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."
If your religion had been real, let it help you to the end; if otherwise, why hold by it? Truth should always be spoken plainly and not timidly as if we are apologizing for it. We don't have to yell or be aggressive, but truth should always have confidence behind it. It is noteworthy that in trouble and in the hour of death men often change their views on religion.
Though I worship Baal, I know he cannot give water.
Jehoram and his court had derided the word of God, but now he demands its consolation. 2KI 3:13 And the king of Israel said to him, "No, for the Lord has called these three kings together to give them into the hand of Moab."
Jehoram will only acknowledge Jehovah as judging him. Though that may be correct, why not acknowledge Him as Provider. After all, Jehoram is the king of Israel, a land that was given to God's elect people by grace. God brought water from rocks in the past, why not trust Him now? Under the pressure of adversity, the real character of a man appears. He is not confident or boastful now. He is only full of fear in believing that Jehovah led them out there to die. Yet, this is perfectly illogical. If Jehovah alone has the power of life and death, why not worship Him alone? Deep seated paganism in this terrible king makes him blind to the host that continually surrounds Israel.
Jehoram and others like him will not give up the worship of Baal, but that for the time when they are in grave danger they are anxious to propitiate Jehovah and then quickly move away from Him. Jehorah didn't come to seek God's mercy and forgiveness. He only came to seek water.
You're lucky you brought Jehoshaphat.
2KI 3:14 And Elisha said, "As the Lord of hosts 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.
It was for the sake of Jehoshaphat that the prophet was sent to them. How gracious is the watchful care of the Lord over His people? The king of Judah made a bad decision in going along with this party, but God was with him and comes to deliver him. Jehoram and the king of Edom are delivered only because they are with him. When the ship carrying the apostle Paul to Rome was sure to sink, the whole ship's company "was given" to Paul.
Find a place of quiet rest so as to hear the voice of the Lord.
2KI 3:15 But now bring me a minstrel." And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.
Music calms and focuses the mind. Elisha is likely just distancing himself from the many distractions around him so that he may single mindedly listen for the voice of the Lord. Soft, gentle music sooths the mind. The word of God does not thrive in an atmosphere of excitement. Some churches work to lather up the people with great emotional excitement, but the word of God can only be learned in a quiet, contemplative mind. The living word pierces deep down between soul and spirit and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Truth strikes its roots far and deep into the inmost recesses of the heart. It is far too deep to be discovered in heightened emotions.
It should be noted that Elisha sought calm and focus in the sooth music and once accomplished he listened to the word of God. A church service is not to be all song and little teaching of the word. The music for Elisha was a means to an end, but not the substance. The substance was the message from the Lord. Proper spiritual emotion is always a response to the truth and not the excitement of nerves in the body.
The word of God is 33% poetry. One out of every three chapters is poetry. Poems mainly speak through dense creative language, linking images in order to help us see things differently. Linear thinking and logical thinking have their place, but poetry pushes the mind towards something it's not used to. Metaphor, rhyme, meter, all combine to evoke the imagination. It can be an escape from the linear details that clunk along one after another in life. Good songs are poetry mixed with appropriate music and we might imagine Elisha using it to take a vacation from the chaos that has stormed into his tent from the desert.
"You dig the hole and I'll fill it," says the Lord.
2KI 3:16-20 And he said, "Thus says the Lord, 'Make this valley full of trenches.' For thus says the Lord, '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. And this is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord; He shall also give the Moabites into your hand. 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.'" And 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.
The army must dig in faith. It would seem ridiculous to be digging holes in the burning desert for trapping and accumulating water. So it is that God's deliverances come in the strangest ways and from the strangest places. We have to prepare for them in faith. Success is not in the most likely means but in the Lord. We pray, "Give us this day, our daily bread," and we trust God that it will be so. We admit that the bread is at the supermarket in vast quantities, but we would be remiss if we didn't know that God put it there and gave us the means to get it. If we know this fact, then we will always be thankful.
The water flowed down the rocky sides of the steep and barren mountains of Edom and rushed along into the dry river-beds and right into the newly dug ditches. It was greedily drunk by man and beast and as the sun rose over the horizon, it reflected its rays at such an angle as to turn the color of the water to the shade of blood. When the scouts of Moab witnessed it they concluded that the kings of Judah, Israel, and Edom had turned on each other and slain each other's armies. All they had to do was ride in and soak up the spoil, and thus God delivered them right into the hand of the allies.
2KI 3:21-25 Now all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them. And all who were able to put on armor and older were summoned, and stood on the border. And 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, until in Kir-hareseth only they left its stones; however, the slingers went about it and struck it.
The land was filled with smoking ruins, devastated fields, and scattered dead. Desperate, the king of Moab turns to the highest form of worship he can give to the god Moloch, who was the god of his neighbors the Ammonites, but likely adopted by him at this most hopeless time. This demon has been worshipped for generations and what the demon craves the most is the sacrifice of their sons. It is a deplorable spectacle and reveals the great contrast between the fallen world of demon with their human worshippers and God who would give His only begotten Son for the redemption of the world. One is the greatest display of grace and love ever envisioned and the other is the most debased exhibition of a self-serving, ignorant, and lustful nature of evil.
2KI 3:26-27 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.
There are various opinions as to why the text states that God brought wrath upon Israel. Personally, I think that this whole episode reveals the degradation of Israel, meaning the Northern Kingdom, who had sought taxes from such people. They didn't care what abominations they committed. The just wanted their wealth. How defiled is that wealth? What kind of hands made it? Israel should have nothing to do with the wealth of Moab or any of its people. Their demon worship is of the most depraved nature.
We never have to accept wealth or any materialism from evil and corrupt sources. God will provide our needs and we can then use that providence for His glory. God gave them water. He would give them all they needed. Nothing should be taken from the hand of an idolater.
In His strength and courage,