2 Kings 3:5-24
A. HUMOR: PLAYPEN
1. A young mother complained to her friend about the difficulties of child rearing, especially the lack of peace and constant pestering by her small children.
2. Her friend smiled and said, "What you need is a playpen to separate the kids from yourself!" So the young mother bought a playpen.
3. A few days later, her friend called to ask how things were going. “Awesome! I can't believe how nice it is" she replied. "I get in the pen with a good book and the kids don't bother me one bit!"
B. DEFEATED BY SNOWFLAKES
1. It pays to not leave God out of your calculations! Napoleon proposed to invade Russia. A bystander said, “Man proposes, but God disposes.” Napoleon replied, “I propose and I dispose.” But that was to leave God out of the reckoning, and it proved fatal.
2. For God dealt with Napoleon through one of the tiniest, most fragile creations, the snowflake. In 1812,
Napoleon Bonaparte entered Russia with 410,000 men; within that year, he exited Russia with only 9000 men! Boasting resulted in the loss of his crown, his army, and his liberty, but God was vindicated.
5But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 So at that time King Joram….7 sent this message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: "The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?" "I will go with you," he replied.
8 "By what route shall we attack?" he asked. "Through the Desert of Edom," he answered. 9 So the king of Israel set out with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no more water for themselves or for the animals with them. 10 "What!" exclaimed the king of Israel. "Has the LORD
called us three kings together only to hand us over to Moab?"
11 But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there no prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD through him?" An officer of the king of Israel answered, "Elisha son of Shaphat is here…”12 Jehoshaphat said, "The word of the LORD is with him." So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. 13 Elisha said to the king of Israel, "What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother." "No," the king of Israel answered, "because it was the LORD who called us three kings together to hand us over to Moab."
14 Elisha said, "As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you or even notice you. 15 But now bring me a harpist." While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came upon Elisha 16 and he said, "This is what the LORD says: Make this valley full of ditches.
17 For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you. 19 You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones."
20 The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water. 22 When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked
red—like blood. 23 "That's blood!" they said. "Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!"
24 But when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and fought them until they fled. And the Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites.
D. THESIS AND TITLE
This morning we’re looking at the critical importance of prayer and how it is key to God’s interposition. The title of this message is, “Digging Ditches.”
I. FORGETTING GOD & ITS CONSEQUENCES
The reason this whole situation arose was because Israel’s kings forgot God.
A. AHAB’S LINE ABANDONED GOD
1. Joram was the son of King Ahab, whom the Bible describes as one who “sold his soul to do evil.” Ahab was the son of Omri and was married to Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon.
2. She established the worship of the Phoenician gods, especially Baal-Melcarth, and had Temples built and idolatry spread throughout the kingdom. Joram had no respect for Jehovah, despite the miracles worked by Elijah.
B. RESULT: ADVERSARY (PROBLEM) RISES
1. Mesha, a Moabite vassal king of great courage …rebelled against Joram, son of Ahab, king over Israel.
2. King Jehoram’s strategy: a). Muster all Israel, b). Enlist Judah/ Jehoshaphat, c). Enlist the king of Edom, Jehoshaphat’s vassal.
C. JEHOSHAPHAT OMITTED GOD TOO!
1. Jehoshaphat was a believer. Jehoshaphat consented to the evil alliance because:
a. The war seemed just.
b. Bond of kinship: Joram’s sister Athaliah was married to Jehoshaphat’s son. This same Athaliah later killed all of Jehoshaphat’s male descendants but one which was hidden from her.
2. The Bible warns again evil associations: in business, marriage, friendships, etc. “Do not be unequally yoked with non-believers…”
3. We don’t hear of Jehoshaphat asking God if this war was something God wanted him to become part of. All these kings were guilty of the sin of PRESUMPTION. “We got this! We don’t need to trouble the Lord with this!”
D. MEET THE PROBLEM IN THE FLESH: DISASTER!
1. Went seven days journey around the foot of the Dead Sea, it was completely desert. Hot, dusty, throats parched – NO WATER!
2. It’s amazing how our spiritual condition can become mirrored in our physical condition!
3. I don’t think we can grasp how dangerous this situation was. They were as good as dead. It was too late for any natural help. Without a miracle, most of them would die.
II. THEIR STEP BACK TO CONSULT GOD
A. GODLY COUNSEL: “SEEK THE LORD”
1. How many times have we started off without God, got in a pinch, then had to go back and get God’s will?
a. A man walked past a farmer with a cow on a rope. The farmer says, "Hey mister, where ya goin with that there cow?’
b. The man replies, "I’m takin it to town to sell it."
The farmer says, "You mean if it’s the Lords will you are."
The man says, "Well it’s my cow and I reckon I can do anything I want with it and it ain’t any of the Lord’s business."
c. A short time later the farmer looked up and saw the same man coming back the other way all bruised and cut up. "What happened to you?" the farmer asks.
d. "Oh just down the road three guys jumped out of the bushes, stole my cow, beat me up and left me for dead."
e. The farmer says, "Oh no! What are you gonna do now." "I’m going home to clean up." the man replied - "If
it’s the Lords will."
3. Jehoshaphat did what they should have done before starting; we need to “inquire of the Lord” (vs. 11).
4. Prov. 16:3 says, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” The Hymn says, “Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear; all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer!” [What a Friend we have in Jesus].
B. THE COURAGE OF ELISHA
1. The three Kings went to Elisha, not vice versa. If you get your tail in a crack just right, you will call on God!
2. It’s natural to be awed by great leaders, but Elisha was not cowed in the least. Elisha didn’t fear this Great King or his armies.
3. Why? Elisha was used to a presence greater than theirs: “As the Lord God liveth before whom I stand…” In prosperity you sought false gods and despised Jehovah. Why don’t you go to them now? No, now that you’re in distress, you appeal to the Lord.”
4. ILLUS: UNEXPECTED ARRESTS.
a. People often see New York state police vehicles driving in Canada because one of the finest dog training facilities is in Canada and the New York police dogs are brought over to be trained.
b. One day, near the training grounds, a burglary was in progress. A call was put out for the local police, but there were no Canadian police units available.
c. Some fine police officers from New York State volunteered to apprehend the thief. They were given the proper authorization and made the arrest: "Hands up! Don't move!"
d. You can only imagine how confused the criminal must’ve been -- did a double take -- “Did I cross over into the United States? No! I'm not in New York! Or am I?”
5. Sometimes we Christians have to make some arrests, confront people because God gives us that jurisdiction. Be bold about it and don’t flinch!
C. GOD’S REVELATION TO ISRAEL & JUDAH
1. We probably think of the Prophet Elisha as always in tune with God, but he wasn’t. I’m glad this happened, because we too are often not ready for spiritual work. But we can learn from Elisha how to yield to the Spirit and get to where we can hear the voice of God.
2. Elisha called for a HARPIST, who probably began to sing and play, “They that wait upon the Lord….” If you want to hear from God, you’ve got to get quiet. Get still. “Be still and know that I am God” Ps. 46:10.
3. The word of the Lord came to Elisha; “Make this valley full of ditches. For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water.” (16-17)
III. THE SOLUTION: PREPARE YOUR HEARTS
A. WE FIGHT A SPIRITUAL WARFARE
1. There they were, arrayed in full armor, swords in hands…they were ready on the outside, but NOT on the inside! There’s no way we can win a war without water/ the Holy Spirit!
2. There are 3 DIFFERENT LEVELS OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE: THE BATTLE WITHIN, THE OUTWARD BATTLE WITH OTHER HUMANS, AND BATTLING THE INVISIBLE SPIRITUAL FORCES OF DARKNESS IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS.
3. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” 2 Cor. 10:4. To fight a spiritual battle, we must get our own house in order! A house divided against itself can’t stand!
B. SYMBOLOGY BEHIND DIGGING DITCHES: THE CONDITION OF THEIR HEARTS
1. The desert symbolized the condition of their hearts: dry, barren, lifeless, dead, unsown, unrepentant. How could water penetrate such stony ground? How could the seeds be sown in such unyielding ground?
2. Today’s church is in the same condition. We need the Holy Spirit but He won’t come. The pride and self-will in us must break before the anointing will flow!
3. The church is like a ship stranded on a beach; only the tide returning can lift her. Or like a ship frozen in the ice; not until the Spirit of God thaws the chilly coldness of our natural estate will there be a change.
4. THERE’S ONLY ONE REMEDY: “Break Up Your Fallow Ground!” There must be GODLY SORROW for sin, indifference, disobedience, selfishness, and negligence. All this represents spiritual preparation.
5. Breaking up your fallow ground is an effort to become more spiritually aware. Imagine if your heart stopped and someone used a defibrillator on you, and you found yourself becoming conscious. That’s what needs to happen to many of us! We’re dead and need a defibrillator to shock us back to life!
C. UNUSUAL METHODS OF GOD
1. “You shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain, yet this valley shall be filled with water…” The normal signs/heralds of rain (revival) may not be visible: wind and clouds.
2. Someone might ask, “If water is going to come, why not let it just come? Why dig ditches?”
D. PREPARATION ALWAYS PRECEDES BLESSINGS
1. If we wish to receive blessings from God, we must make room for the Holy Spirit! We need to make this whole church full of trenches. How?
a. By prayer/ intersection.
b. By entering into worship.
c. By Fasting. Fasting is like digging ditches in our soul. It prepares us to receive the waters of the Holy Spirit.
d. By bringing in the lost.
2. Prepare largely – “make this valley FULL of ditches!” If you make a “few” ditches, you’ll get a small anointing. If you want a large anointing, make your valley “full” of ditches, and you’ll have an abundance!
1. Several years ago engineers building a new bridge over the East River in New York discovered a wrecked hull of a ship, sunken many years before, lying right where the center piers were supposed to be built. Powerful machinery was brought in to remove the ship, but it wouldn’t budge.
2. Then, one of the engineers had an unusual idea – why not have the tide raise the ship. Some strong cables were attached to the hull when the tide was low. The other ends were fastened to the barge above.
3. As the tide came in, the barge gradually lifted the sunken ship up. It was then towed out into the ocean and sunk at a spot that would not cause future problems.
4. Our problem is the same: we are stuck in the muck of this world. We cannot lift ourselves out of it. What we must do is to connect ourselves to the mighty power of the Holy Spirit.
5. Then, like cutting the ballast loose from a hot-air balloon, we’ll be enabled to soar into the heights in power and freedom.
B. END OF STORY
1. The refreshing waters proved to be the means of victory. The enemy rushed to see their defeat and were themselves defeated.
2. God gives plentifully: “The country was filled with water.”
C. ALTAR CALL
1. Are you willing to dig some ditches in the VALLEY of your despair? Your financial lack? Your family’s salvation? Valley of your Health problems?
2. So how do we dig them? By Prayer, intercession, fasting, crying out to God, worship, minister to someone else’s need, etc.
3. Are you getting ready for your miracle?
4. Are you here this morning and are not sure of your relationship with God? Do you want to get right with God?