Summary: It describes how the life of Elisha is applicable to us
2 Kings 6: 1 - 7 - Eleventh sermon on the life of Elisha
Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on 7 October 2012 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey
This seemingly insignificant passage tells us much about God.
In context, the problem was that the place where the company of the prophets assembled with Elisha was too small. It had been flourishing under Elisha’s leadership, which was evidence of God’s blessing
Elisha was not just a man who lived pious life, but also his relationship with God was unique at that time.
Prophets had married and raised families (cf. 4: 1, where one of the widows had been left destitute).
The solution was that they were determined to build more adequate facility, possibly the first college campus mentioned in the Bible. The Jordan valley (a heavily forested area) was the natural place to find wood, the most likely trees were to be willow, tamarisk and acacia.
However, the word in passage means that one of the prophets had to plead or beg for the use of the axe before the misadventure occurred. Iron axes were rare in 8th century BC so the items were very expensive – beyond the resources of the prophet. The process was that the handle was split at the place where the axe head was put and tied down with leather, and then the leather was soaked with water, which would cause it to shrink and tighten down. The more it was used, the looser the leather became. It was common for axe heads to become loose and fly off.
The loose axe heads were such a danger that God made a special law where if one flew off and killed a man, it was to be regarded as an accident or manslaughter so the person using the axe could run to a City of Refuge for sanctuary (Numbers 19: 4 – 7).
1. God is interested in all of us
He is Interested in our whole life as He has created us - spirit, body and mind.
There are three basics: love, food and shelter; although some have added a fourth: music.
How often do we consider that God has given us the basics? An example is time. Nelson Mandela stated : ‘We must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right.’
It is in those basics that we should trust God – everything else will fall into place.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6: 25 – 34), Jesus told us that God will provide sustenance and clothing, just as He has for the birds and flowers. We are told that ‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?’ (verse 27) – indeed, we will reduce our lifespans by worrying, as it can even lead to suicide and self-harm.
The entire company of prophets cutting down trees for the houses on that day, but God was concerned about the one with the problem.
God is the God of the individual. This is seen in parables of lost sheep, lost coin and the forgiving father (aka as the prodigal son) for we are created in His image.
He wants to bring us up for the Bible states in 1 Peter 5: 6 – 7: ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’
Paul also exhorted us ‘to give thanks in all circumstances.’
2. He deals with our needs
Please note: God supplies our needs, not our wants.
It is not for us to summon God with our whistling for attention, but we are to approach Him humbly on bended knees.
Paul Tournier wrote: ‘God is not at our service. To claim to penetrate His secrets, know his signs and have His power at our beck and call is not faith, but magic.’
After becoming bankrupt and failing at elections to be a senator and then the President of the USA, Abraham Lincoln: ‘I have been driven to my knees several times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’
God works in amazing ways, as hymn goes ‘His wonders to perform.’
He knows when we have lost that vital item/skill that would enable the work to be done: e.g. axe, needles, cooking utensils, keys – there is no secular or spiritual: all work is for God who wants to restore to us that what we need: which does not need to be an axe!
The student might have been relieved for the lost axe would have been an excuse to stop working altogether. But God has plans for us.
God has the wherewithal to make things happen. Elisha’s question is like us when we lose things: ‘where did you last see it?’