Summary: This story from 2 Kings 6:1-7 is an Old Testament illustration pared with a New Testament admonition from Revelation 2:4-5 about losing your first love. If you lose your cutting edge, how can you get it back?
The Floating Axe head
Last week, Richard preached the last sermon in our 30-week series called The Story. That series took us all the way from Genesis through Revelation. In our last Pueblo group we were discussing the last lesson … from the book of Revelation.
We read what Jesus said to the church in Ephesus: Yet I hold this against you: You have lost your first love. Consider how far you have fallen! Revelation 2:4-5
The next verse says, Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp-stand from its place. Obviously, this is an important thing. It got us talking about, “What does it mean to lose your first love … and what can we do about it?”
Today I want to follow up our series by addressing that question. One thing that we saw from The Story was how the whole Bible … Old and New Testament … tells ONE story in an amazing way. So today, I want to use an obscure story from the Old Testament to answer the New Testament question, “What can we do if we’ve lost our first love?”
The Old Testament story is found in 2 Kings Chapter 6. If you look it up, you’ll see the caption above it says, “An Axe Head Floats.” I’m curious … How many of you remember the story of the floating ax head? Well, after today, you’ll all remember it!
This is an account of something that happened to the Prophet Elisha and one of his disciples. Elisha had a sort of “seminary for prophets in training.” 2 Kings 6:1-2 sets the scene: The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get wood; and let us build a place there for us to meet.”
The seminary had outgrown its dormitory space, so … They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axe head fell into the water. “I’ve lost it!” he cried out. “Oh no, my lord, it was borrowed!” The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. “Lift it out,” Elisha said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it. 2 Kings 6:4-7
Now, I would have been impressed with an axe head that floats, but the King James Version actually says, the ax head “did swim.” How many of you ever saw a swimming axe head!
Today we’re going to examine 3 things about that swimming axe head story: What was lost? How was it lost? and How can we get it back?
1. What was lost?
You could say that “what was lost” was the “cutting edge.” How many of you have ever used an axe? (Introduce my axe.) I have just one problem with this axe. I can’t figure out which side is the dullest.
Well, when Elisha’s seminary student lost his axe head, he had lost his cutting edge. In a spiritual sense, this is the same problem we read when Revelation 2 says – “You have lost your first love.” In just one generation, some of the churches had lost their cutting edge.
And for the church, love IS our cutting edge.
Jesus said, “Everyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23
LOVE is the center of the Gospel. If we’ve lost our first love, we can do nothing. It’s not a matter of us working harder and harder for Jesus. Obedience is not the starting point - it’s the OUTCOME of our love for Him.
If we’ve lost our love, we’re like the seminary student who lost his axe head. You can polish the handle all you want, and swing it with all your might, but you won’t cut any wood that way.
Our human effort will never accomplish God’s will.
Have you ever felt like you’ve lost your cutting edge? You want to do great things for Jesus, but you can’t get any motivation going. You do what’s expected of you, but you’re just going through the motions. You want to tell your friends about Jesus, but you seem to have nothing to say.
The solution is NOT to try harder. If you don’t believe it, take a nice sturdy axe handle (missing its axe head.) Swing it with all your might at a tree trunk. You can spend all day that way, but you’re not going to cut any wood.