Summary: This sermon illustrates the truth of the power of God to change that which seems unchangeable to us - be it a person or situation.
As I’ve mentioned to you I’ve been spending some time in reading/thinking through Kings/Chronicles. In 2 Kings 2 I was struck by a very simple & straightforward incident. It is not hard to understand. You do not need to know Hebrew to discover its meaning. It is a short quick episode in life of the prophet Elisha. But if you were someone assigned to preach this passage you might be puzzled at how to preach it. In one sense there is not a whole lot in it. Let’s read it – 2:19-22…
So what are we to do w/ this little story? Are we just supposed to say, “Oh, that was a neat miracle. It is good to see God using Elisha like He did Elijah.” What are we to do w/ this story? What can we glean from it?
It is interesting to read how many of the commentators chose to address it. Many chose to use it as basically a parable illustrating the problem of bitterness, represented by the bitter or polluted waters & how to go about dealing w/ bitterness. You have to go to the source as Elisha did. That has merit. Another addressed it in the sense of talking about the polluted water (spiritually speaking) in our country today. And that has merit, but I saw something in this little incident of 4 verses that is quite exciting & which I pray will greatly encourage you.
In this story I want you to be reminded of a very basic truth about God. A truth I would not be surprised if some of you need to hear this morning. It is a truth we all know & believe but I find we need to be constantly reminded of it because it is easy to grow doubtful of this truth in certain situations. So I pray the Lord will use this in your life as He has in mine.
Let’s take this story & use it to illustrate the power of God to change the unchangeable. The power of God to change the unchangeable as people seek Him for the solution, for the answer. But not only that, we also see in this story the power of God to change the unchangeable to the extent that there is a permanent, lasting result. And frankly that is a truth we need to continually keep in front of us.
Let’s look at this truth illustrated in terms of the story in 2 Kings & then from some other biblical examples.
2 Kings 2:19-22 - Some of the men, possibly the leaders, of Jericho came to Elisha w/ a problem. Jericho was a pleasant city the text says. Although the location of the city of Jericho was good, the city had a serious water problem. The city was in the Jordan River valley, approximately 5 miles west of the Jordan River, & a few miles north of the Dead Sea. And at 1st glance, things looked prosperous. There were probably nice buildings & much activity but there was a serious problem, one the real estate agents would not have wanted to mention to prospective clients. The problem was the land was unfruitful because of the water. The waters of the spring at Jericho were “bad”. The result was that the water was not drinkable, & the land was barren & unfruitful. Things grew, but before they produced fruit, the fruit would drop off or the plants would wither.
These men recognized the authenticity of Elisha as a prophet of God. He had just, that week probably, walked across the Jordan as the waters parted just as Elijah had done. And now w/ Elijah miraculously taken up to Heaven, Elisha was recognized as having the spirit of Elijah upon him & therefore the power of God at work through him. So they came to Elisha & requested help for their problem.
Elisha requested a new jar filled w/ salt. He goes & throws it into the spring, & by a miracle of God, not by Elisha’s scientific knowledge or by the addition of salt, but by a miracle of God the water was purified w/ permanent results. Evidently, the spring to this day is okay. Please note in 2:21, Elisha gives God the credit. It was not Elisha & it was not the salt--it was God. Elisha was only a representative agent of God & the salt a symbol.
So here you have an unchangeable situation. The spring was putting out “bad” water. I’m sure present & past leaders of Jericho had brainstormed over the situation many times trying to come up w/ a solution, but had found none. The situation could not be changed. It was unchangeable.
• Unchangeable from a human perspective.
• Unchangeable in terms of human ability.