2 Kings 13 14-20
14 When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him. “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” he cried.
15 Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told. 16 Elisha told him, “Put your hand on the bow,” and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands.
17 Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.”
18 Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. 19 But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”
20 Then Elisha died and was buried.
Before I get to my main point of this blog I want to address verse 14. The text says when Elisha was in his last illness… This means that Elisha had been sick before, this just happened to be the illness that ushered Him into eternity. Elisha was one of the most anointed men in Old Testament history. He literally walked in a double portion of the anointing His mentor Elijah walked in. What did Elisha do to deserve this sickness that would lead to his death? Absolutely nothing, we live in a fallen world that everyone dies in. I have noticed that in more religious circles of the Church, we try to prescribe a spiritual reason for why people get sick. Something along the lines of, “Well God must be punishing that person for a secret sin.”… I just wanted to point out, that verse 14 proves that line of thinking is just plain stupid theology. Are there spiritual reasons for why people become ill? Sometimes yes, but sickness doesn't come from God, it comes from hell. Sometimes as a result of turning from God, people can open doors for the enemy to attack them with sickness. But that doesn't mean that all sickness comes with a spiritual attachment to it. Sometimes people just get sick and die as in Elisha's case. In this scenario it was just God’s time for Elisha to go home, and to no known fault of his own, sickness was the vessel that ushered him to eternal glory. Now to my main point… (In honor of Elisha, today you get a double portion of my blog!)
King Jehoash can see that Elisha is about to die and makes a comment to draw on the experience Elisha had when Elijah, his mentor, is about to step into eternity(2 Kings 2, Elijah is taken up to heaven by chariots of fire). I believe this disingenuous attempt to play off of Elisha's emotions before he died. A sentimental gesture from the king to persuade Elisha to be favorable to his request. Jehoash, like so many kings before him, just couldn't seem to get over himself and serve God. The old prophet Elisha knew better and didn't bite. He instead see’s an opportunity to teach Jehoash to trust in God over himself. The king came for a word from God, but the prophet invited him into a prophetic act to hear from God on his own. The only problem is that Jehoash has never been interested in hearing God for himself. In fact, if he wasn't in desperate need of saving from Aram, he wouldn’t have been there for a word from God in the first place.
The prophet guides the king through very specific and symbolic instructions all of which are very rich in meaning. He has him shoot a “God’s word arrow” toward Aram that Israel shall be victorious over their enemies. Notice Elisha laid his hands upon the kings as a symbol of God’s covering and blessing but had the king physically shoot the arrow himself. Portraying the message that you’ll fight the battle yourself, but under God’s word and protection. Then the prophet tells the king to grab hold of the other arrows and strike them on the ground himself. Again the arrows representing God's word in the hands of the man ordained to carry them. The prophet rebukes the king for timidly striking the ground 3 times instead of striking the ground 5 or 6 times. I don’t think the number of strikes is the actual issue. The issue is that the King is not passionate about carrying God’s word for himself as he is about receiving victory from God over his enemies. He wants the blessing without the commitment. Jesus is not our heavenly social worker. He is not looking at our case giving us what we want based on need.
In the kingdom you get what you are willing to take. The proof of what you're willing to take is found in what you're willing to give up of yourself in exchange for more of Him. Your desire for God is absolutely connected to what He does through your life. God certainly won't do more than you expect him to do. If you wont radically steward the words He’s given you for yourself, then you can expect to receive less than what He wants to give. Walking in the fullness of God’s call and promises for your life requires that you change and break whatever needs changing and breaking within you, in order for you to walk in His promises.
If I come to God expecting a word for breakthrough, I better also be prepared for that word to change, break and lead me closer to Jesus in the process. Jehoash is not so different from modern day Church folk (myself included). We come to God when we need Him, get excited about the words He gives us, and then do nothing to create radical zeal within us to see it fulfilled.
The worst examples of this are Christian conference hoppers. Going from one event to another hearing great teaching, and anointed words from anointed people, but never stewarding any of the words in a way that would change them in their day to day life. The result is just getting by spiritually. A person who is saved but lives in a perpetual state of spiritual dullness or crisis. Like Jehoash we know all the right things to say to the right people in search of another anointed word, but we never really let God’s word crucify our flesh and grow us closer to Him.
I want the opposite. I want my heart to explode with zeal for what Jesus has called me to. I want to develop a whatever it takes attitude in my pursuit for Him and His kingdom to be built in me. Like Elisha could see through the life of Elijah, I want to be focused on the point of the word and where the anointing flows from. I want to be a man who is radically following JESUS as He transforms me from glory to glory! I pray the same for all of us as we continue to steward the word for Awakening in Appalachia and beyond.