There is a particularly interesting incident that takes place prior to the death of Elisha. We read about the King of Israel, Jehoash (not the Joash/Jehoash of Judah whom we read about in the previous chapter, the surviving son of Ahaziah). Jehoash makes a trip to pay respects to the prophet Elisha before he dies. Elisha’s ministry is not yet over. On his deathbed, he is still prophesying. He tells Jehoash to take arrows and open the east window. The east window would be facing Israel’s enemies, the Aramean kingdoms, but also the rising sun. The King was told to shoot arrows from the window to the ground, east of his residence.
The prophet’s words are very important. “Take the bow in your hands” (2 Kings 13:15). The prophet’s actions are also very important. “Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands” (2 Kings 13:16). This reminds us that we are called to accomplish victories in our lives and experience the gracious ministry of God’s hand being placed upon the work of our hands. There is a balance between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. God is 100% sovereign. We are 100% responsible. God gives us opportunities and provides what is needed for victory, but we can limit our experience of victory by our lack of desire, our lack of persistence, and our lack of follow-through.
The meaning of the prophetic action is clear. Elisha tells the king what the arrows represent before he shoots the arrows. These represent something beyond what is conventionally known in the world of archery. This was not a mere act of sportsmanship. What will you do with the arrows God gives you? What will you do with the opportunities He gives you to have victory over the enemies that war against your soul?
“Take the arrows and strike the ground!” King Jehoash takes the arrows but only strikes the ground three times. The prophet knew Jehoash had more arrows in his quiver that went unused. The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times, then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.” (2 Kings 13:19). These are Elisha’s last recorded words. How sad. He is telling the King of Israel that his lack of desire, persistent effort, or vision of spiritual realities has left him and his nation falling far short of their potential, even suffering defeat.
What about you? Have you stopped short of gaining victory by resigning to a lack of spiritual desire, distractions, or discouragement?
Of course, Israel was still in a state of disobedience and undeserving of any favor from the Lord. However, because of God’s faithfulness to His covenant, He still made His voice known through the prophets. Elisha gave King Jehoash an opportunity to experience God’s hand upon his hand and obtain victory over the Arameans. He struck the ground with the arrow of God’s victory three times and was able to defeat Ben Haddad of Aram three times (2 Kings 13:25).
Whereas all the kings of the northern kingdom (Israel) did evil in the sight of the Lord, there were kings in Judah who did what was right in the Lord’s eyes, yet with still some areas of idolatry not removed (2 Kings 14:4). Amaziah is an example of this kind of king.
King Amaziah of the southern kingdom, Judah, sent messengers to meet with King Jehoash of the northern kingdom of Israel face to face in battle. King Jehoash warns King Amaziah with a parable and tells him to stay at home. King Ahaziah ignores the warning and pays dearly.
Jehoash captures King Amaziah at Beth Shemesh and then proceeds to attack Jerusalem, destroying a 600-foot section of the city wall (the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate), seizing the articles of the temple and treasuries, as well as taking hostages from Jerusalem to Samaria.
Amaziah outlives King Jehoash by 15 years, but he has forced him to flee Jerusalem to Lachish, where conspirators kill him. His body is taken back to Jerusalem and buried.
King Jehoash of Israel is succeeded by his son Jeroboam, not to be confused with the first renegade king of Israel as a northern breakaway kingdom, Jeroboam, son of Nebat. He restored the boundaries of Israel to the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea – Joshua 3:16), fulfilling a prophecy given by Jonah. (Jonah was not the only prophet active at this time, but this prophecy was known by the writer, even though not found in the Book of Jonah.) This Jeroboam mercifully saves Israel through his military achievements.
We learn of Apollos and his ministry at Ephesus. He had a partial understanding of the ministry of Jesus, not understanding the finished work of redemption that Jesus accomplished on the cross. Remember that throughout Jesus’ teaching ministry, many who heard him traveled throughout the Roman world. They told people about Jesus’ baptism by John, his teaching, and miracles, yet not realizing that Jesus had fulfilled the Scriptures as the Redeemer living, dying, and rising as a substitute for the penitent believer. They did not have the full story of the gospel!
Apollos was from Alexandria, the second most important city in the Roman Empire. It was a center of education and culture, a great commercial city in Egypt in North Africa named after Alexander. Apollos was known as a powerful communicator. However, he only communicated what he had learned from the early years of John the Baptist’s ministry. John focused on repentance of sin. He did not understand the good news that forgiveness, reconciliation, regeneration, and being put into the community of the Spirit through faith in Christ were to be available gifts when one trusts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Priscilla and Aquila filled in the blanks in Apollos’ understanding of the gospel message, telling him about the significance of Christ’s cross and the gift of the Spirit given to the church at Pentecost.
It is no wonder that when Paul gets to Ephesus, those that he met were only partial believers. They had yet to hear the message of truth and therefore were not yet sealed with the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). When Paul preaches the gospel, this party from Ephesus believe, are baptized, and experience the same manifestation gifts that were experienced by some of the believers at Pentecost.
Paul preached Christ for three months in the synagogues before he hired the lecture hall of Tyrannus, where he could teach without the resistance of the Jews who were publicly maligning him.
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, even including people being healed and delivered from demons by just touching his handkerchiefs and aprons that people were bringing to them.
This Psalm reminds us that the plans of men that are not related to the kingdom of God will die with them (Ps. 146:4). God’s kingdom lasts forever, for all generations! (v. 10).
Do you want to be involved with a cause that will never die or disappoint? Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
The Lord acts on behalf of His own, especially considering the needs of the fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner who might have no other person to care for them.
This Psalm calls us to praise the Lord OUR WHOLE LIFE LONG! (Psalm 146:1-2, 10) and not to put our trust in earthly leaders who cannot save (Psalm 146:3).
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 18:2-3
Proverbs 18:2-3 2 A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind. 3 When a wicked man comes, contempt also comes, and with dishonor comes scorn.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- Pray for Delhi, India
PRAYER: Lord God, we want to focus on Your eternal plan. We do not want to live for worldly treasure but want to lay up our treasures in heaven. Thank You for the revelation of the finished work of redemption, that we can know that our sins are forgiven and that we have a right standing before You and a new identity “in Christ Jesus.” Thank You for showing us the truth about the way to live and giving us the life to live it. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.