Summary: God acts more often than not in accordance with our faith. Jehoash missed a golden opportunity because he didn’t act in faith. Don’t you do the same.
A Golden Opportunity
4/24/05 p.m. service
Lighthouse Assembly of God, Mt. Juliet
Pastor Greg Tabor
Read: 2 Kings 13:14-19 NIV
I. A Golden Opportunity
King Jehoash wept over Elisha who was on his deathbed. He used the same statement Elisha had used of Elijah in 2 Kings 2:12. Saying “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” was recognition of the important role Elisha played in the defense of Israel. Israel’s strength was not in chariots and horses, but in the power of God displayed through His prophet. King Jehoash, though a wicked king, was not ignorant of the great loss Elisha’s death would bring to the kingdom. Jehoash had inherited a weakened kingdom from his father and was undoubtedly aware that he needed a miracle to defeat Syrian forces.
Though he recognized the mighty ways in which Elisha had been used, Jehoash was not known for serving God. 2 Kings 13:11 says that he did evil and continued in Jeroboam’s sins, the worship of the golden calves. But who do desperate people come to in desperate times? The man or woman of God; the church, or people in the church; a godly neighbor they know prays; a friend who’s been witnessing to them for years. They know you have a hotline to God. Jehoash recognized that God had used Elisha mightily in Israel, therefore he wept over the coming loss.
But in the midst of his despair, God handed King Jehoash the opportunity of his lifetime. The opportunity to terminate the Syrians once and for all.
Elisha responded to Jehoash’s words by giving him specific instructions of what he was to do. Jehoash was to take a bow and some arrows. Elisha then put his hands momentarily on the king’s hands signifying the power of God moving through the prophet of God into Jehoash to perform this great feat. Then the king was to shoot an arrow out the window in the direction of the Israelite territories held captive by Syrian armies. When he did this Elisha explained the action by saying that the arrow represented the victory God would give to the armies of Israel over Syria at Aphek.
While looking at this story it cannot be stressed enough that throughout God’s Word we learn that the victory in any battle that God’s people are in will not be won through physical, intellectual or political might, but by the power of God.
Psalm 20:7 NIV says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”
The Lord told governor Zerubabbel: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6 NIV
Mighty Samson was only might when “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him”(Judges 14:6 ESV). He found this out the hard way when the Spirit of the Lord left him.
And who could forget Gideon in Judges 7. God purposely whittled down the size of the army to a mere 300 so that Israel would recognize the deliverance coming from God not Israel’s military might.
Our story today of Jehoash and Elisha is no different. The symbolic laying on of hands and the declaration concerning the arrow were to show Jehoash that the victory would be won by God’s power, not Israel’s might or Jehoash’s skill as a leader. God was giving Jehoash the opportunity of a lifetime.
II. A Lost Opportunity
After the initial firing off of the arrow, Elisha now wanted Jehoash to take the remaining arrows and “Strike the ground with them”(v.18 ESV). Many of the sources I consulted took this striking the ground as using the bow to shoot the arrows into the ground rather than taking them by the hand and tapping the floor. After being instructed by Elisha to strike the ground with the remaining arrows, Jehoash shot only a portion of the arrows and then stopped. If we stopped here we probably wouldn’t think anything of it, except for the fact that the text says that Elisha became angry.
Why do you think Elisha was angry? We can assume that Jehoash flippantly or half-heartedly shot the arrows simply going through the motions possibly doubting that this symbolic exercise would produce any desirable results. In other words, a lack of faith. Perhaps he didn’t know why he was shooting the arrows, but after shooting that first one and hearing the result of his doing so, you’d think if he truly believed what Elisha was proclaiming then he would quickly fire off every arrow he had eagerly awaiting the prophet’s next message. Alexander Maclaren wrote, “Here is all the power for a perfect victory, and yet the man that has it has to be contented with a very partial one” (Expositions of Holy Scripture, Vol. 3, p.31). His lack of zeal and faith resulted in his receiving much less than what God desired to give him.