Summary: Our unchangeable situations are an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord to handle.
Today I want to continue to examine & illustrate the truth we studied last week which was: the power of God to change the unchangeable. It is so important to keep our focus on the Lord & His ability instead of the complexities of the situation or the hardness/coldness of the person’s heart. Many of you came forward last week to lift your petition to God asking Him to change that which seems unchangeable. How have you done this week in keeping that petition before the Lord & in keeping your focus upon Him instead of the person or situation? I trust this story today will simply strengthen & help keep your focus on God.
The story today basically states the same truth as last week’s but it adds a warning – a warning of the danger of getting your eyes off the Lord & His ability to do the impossible by focusing our eyes on seemingly powerful displays by the enemy which are destined to distract & divert our focus. And when we get distracted like that, it keeps us from experiencing & seeing God’s complete victory.
-3:1-3 – Here we are introduced us to Jehoram, who was the son of Ahab. He has now become king after the death of his brother, Ahaziah. He, like all the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel, did evil in the sight of the Lord & lived in idolatry.
-3:4-6 - Shortly into his reign, he faced a crisis. Moab had been a vassal state of Israel since the time of David. They had been forced to pay tribute to the king of Israel in the form of 100,000 lambs & the wool of 100,000 rams. But w/ the new king on the throne Mesha, king of Moab, saw this as his opportunity to break away from Israelite domination & to avoid further payments of tribute. So we read in v.5 that the “king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.”
Naturally, this could not go unanswered by Jehoram so he gathered his troops for war (v.6). But he recognized there is strength in numbers so he enticed Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah to join him – 3:7. There is no indication that Jehoshaphat sought the Lord’s will before making this alliance w/ an ungodly king. Jehoshaphat had a history of doing this. He should have known better from past experiences but we all know in our own lives how frequently we fail to learn from past mistakes.
So an alliance is formed along w/ a 3rd king, the king of Edom. The alliance is in place, now comes the strategy – 3:8...
Geography lesson: picture the Dead Sea – NNW – Israel; W – Judah; S – Edom; E - Moab
So notice their strategy - the king of Moab would most likely be expecting them from the north around the top end of the Dead Sea, but instead they decided to take their troops down through the wilderness around the southern end of the Dead Sea through Edom & up into Moab from the south which was probably not as heavily armed. By this strategy they thought they would surprise & thus be able to defeat the Moabites.
I am not surprised to read in v.9...
Now notice the 1st words out of Jehoram’s mouth in response to their dire circumstances – v.10 – (NIV) “What!" exclaimed the king of Israel. "Has the LORD called us three kings together only to hand us over to Moab?" Isn’t it interesting that this is the first time he’s spoken about the Lord – and the only thing he has to say is negative? It is not amazing how often we blame the Lord when we find ourselves in an unpleasant situation of our own doing & then call upon Him to rescue us from it. “Why did the Lord let us come into this miserable position?” we bemoan, when we did not seek His guidance in the first place. All I can say is thanks be to God that He is a longsuffering God.
Well, it was a good thing Jehoshaphat was there. Jehoshaphat was a follower of God even though he made foolish alliances at times. Refusing to accept Jehoram’s assessment, he asks (11), “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Lord by him?” Why had he not thought of this before? Why don’t we, before we act?
“Is there not a prophet of the Lord here?” A nameless servant replies, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.”
Let me take a few moments & draw out of this section some characteristics I see here in Elisha that would be greatly desirable to have in our lives during a time when people become desperate for answers as we see here w/ Elisha.