Summary: An unusual message on something we do (or supposed to do) every day -- praying for others. See what God can do in answer to our prayer for others!
Text: 2 Kings 3:6-19
I don’t know how many people here have heard about the infertility option of paying a woman to carry a baby for you, and after she believers, she gives you the baby. According to Surrogate Mothers, Inc. , there have been 2,000 such babies born in this country. While, I have serious moral issues with this practice, I find in our text, this mourning, another kind of surrogacy – surrogate supplication.
I. It wasn’t Jehoshaphat’s Problem (v.6 – v.8)
In verse 7 we find Jehoram (Jehoram is also known as Joram. The NIV always translates his name Joram as to prevent confusion to Jehoram king of Judah.) coming to Jehoshaphat requesting his help. The Moabites had rebelled against him. Jehoram wanted to re-subjugate them, however; he needed the help of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah.
Jehoshaphat readily agreed to join him on this military expedition. What I find so interesting in this is that Jehoshaphat had little to gain in this endeavor. Jehoram would have received the tribute money and the land. There may have been some spoil for Jehoshaphat’s soldiers, and, perhaps, a stronger alliance with the Northern Kingdom. However, even this would mean little to Jehoshaphat, because, according to Josephus, he would die shortly after he returned to Jerusalem.
There is a principle here that we, as Christians, need to heed. We should offer our help to those who need it, regardless of their spiritual condition. Jehoshaphat was holy, while Jehoram was wicked before the Lord. Despite this, Jehoram helped his unbelieving friend.
This reminded me of Mark 2:1-5, where a man who was sick of the palsy was brought to Jesus for healing. This man was a sinner, an unbeliever. How do we know this? Jesus said, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Mark 2:5) That man left justified before God because his friends brought him to Jesus, but what if they hadn’t? What if they hadn’t had faith for their friend? What if they had thought it too much trouble? They could have said that since they didn’t know the results of the efforts, that they shouldn’t put forth the effort. “Let’s wait for a ‘sure thing.’”
Those men could have made all those excuses and more, but they believed in Christ and they loved their friend. Is that our position? Have we not a host of family and friends that are carrying burdens, go through difficult times, or could use a helping hand?
The problem that we so many times have is that we keep asking ourselves the question, “What’s in it for me?” The Bible tells us, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” (Ecc. 11:1) Another way of saying it is, “He that giveth much receiveth much.” The people, who are the biggest givers of themselves and of their resources, when they find themselves in need, often find that there are many willing to give to them.
We found this out when Dad got sick with leukemia. My father, who often “cast his bread upon the waters,” found that when we were in desperate need, there was an abundant supply for his family. Our biggest Christmas, as far as gifts are concerned, was his last Christmas. People we never met were sending money, gifts, and prayers on our behalf.
II. It wasn’t Jehoram’s Prayer (v.9 – v.14)
After Jehoshaphat agreed, the two kings along with the king of Edom decide to go through the wilderness, the around about way, to get to Moab. However, according to Josephus, their guides got them lost. What should have only taken them a few days has now stretched out to a week. Their water was gone. Jehoram had given up hope, but Jehoshaphat asked for a prophet of God. A servant replied that Elisha was there. So the two kings went to see him.
When Elisha saw the king of Israel, he was filled with indignation at the apostate king and said, “Go and ask the prophets of the gods of your parents to deliver you.” However, Elisha sought the Lord on behalf of righteous Jehoshaphat and not for wicked Jehoram.
Here is a powerful lesson for us. We know that God has promised to hear the prayer of the righteous, but there is no promise that He will answer the prayers of the wicked, save the prayer of repentance. In fact, Proverbs tells us that “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight” (Proverbs 15:8) and “The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.” (Proverbs 15:29)
Our loved ones who cannot pray need someone to pray in their stead. They need to see the power of God in their lives. I Corinthians 7:16 tells us that, if we are married to unbeliever, we should stay with them so that they might be saved. Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), Paul tells us to pray our leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-2), and Job prayed for his not-so-wonderful friends. (Job 42:7-9)