- Sermon Notes
Elisha and the Power of God
2 Kings 6:1-23
February 19-20, 2022
God’s response to the spiritual darkness in Israel was to send the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, Elijah and Elisha. He sent them with a message of revival. God had not given up on them, He sent these prophets to call them back, to come back to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. “Why do you need the worldly gods of Baal, Ashtoreth, Molech or Astarte when you have the God of heaven and earth? Is there something wrong with Jehovah?”
Not only does God send Elijah and Elisha with the message of revival, He makes His power known yet again. He is the same God who defeated Egypt, who parted the sea and brought Israel through on dry ground. He fed them manna in the desert for those forty years, He redeemed them with his mighty hand and outstretched arm.
What followed was spiritual conflict. It was a battle for the minds and hearts of God’s people. Spiritual darkness was drawing them away from God because the gods of the world appealed to their flesh, but God sent His great prophets to appeal to their soul. That is the nature of spiritual warfare.
The context of 2 Kings 6 is that Elisha was at that time the renown prophet of the Lord in the northern kingdom of Israel. Just before Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, Elisha asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. The story then unfolded as Elisha walked in the spirit and power of Elijah, He walked in the power of God.
There are two stories of great significance in this chapter. These events demonstrated the power of God to Israel, but there also great spiritual applications and life lessons in these stories as well.
Both stories have to do with potentially terrible tragedies, and each is answered by the hand of God moving through Elisha as God rescues and saves. God demonstrates that He is mighty to save, not by the power or might of man but by the Spirit of the living God.
The first story is centered on one of the schools of the prophets Elijah had established near the Jordan River. The place where they were living was too small for them and they wanted to expand the school of the prophets. Tragedy strikes while they are cutting down trees for lumber.
This was a spiritually dark time in Israel. Yet in a spiritually dark time, the sons of the prophets needed to expand their school. That right there should be encouraging. We are living in spiritually dark times today and it’s getting spiritually darker, but the Spirit of God is still moving on those whose hearts are turned toward Him.
The sons of the prophets invited Elisha to go with them to the Jordan River to cut down trees and carve out beams for the building of a new and larger school. While they were hard at work, one of the axe heads flew off the handle and was lost in the Jordan River.
I. Don’t Lose Your Cutting Edge
- The axe head is the power of the instrument. Without that, it’s just a stick of wood, without power, and without effect.
- Imagine trying to cut down a tree with just the handle of the axe. There is no effect, there is no power without the head of the axe.
- In the scriptures, and the Old Testament in particular, there are many symbols that teach of greater truths. Wood in the scriptures is a picture of man and of the flesh.
- Jesus died on a wooden cross, Paul spoke of the deeds of the flesh as wood, hay and straw that would not survive the judgment of fire.
- But this plain stick of wood with an ax head attached becomes very powerful. With it you can cut down a forest or build a house or carve a table to eat a meal.
Illus – Many years ago when I was a youth director, we decided to do a fundraiser for a retreat by having the kids chop wood. We soon discovered just how powerful a stick of wood was with an axe head attached to it.
A. Don’t neglect your spiritual life
- An axe head doesn’t fall off all at once, it loosens a little at a time, bit by bit, and then finally, after neglect, it flies off.
- Even if you are doing and doing and doing spiritual things, you must maintain your relationship to the Lord. It’s the Spirit that gives power in your life. It’s the head of the axe that gives power to the handle of wood.
- Paul gave great spiritual advice to his young son in the faith Timothy…
1 Timothy 4:14-16, Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the elders. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things.
Illus – There was a Christian song several years ago that ministered to me with this same message. “Oh Lord, take your plow to my fallow ground. Let your blade dig down in the soil of my soul. For I have become dry and dusty, and Lord I know there must be richer lines below. For I’ve been living in Laodicea and the fire that once burned bright I’ve let it grow dim.”
- Paul gives a similar admonition to the church in Galatia…
Galatians 3:3, Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being perfected in the flesh?
B. Where did you lose it?
- When he came to Elisha and cried out, “Alas, my master! It was borrowed!” Elisha responded, “Where did it fall?”
- In other words, “Where did you lose it?” Has something happened in your relationship to the Lord? Did you lose your cutting edge? Were you once on fire, but no more? What happened? Where did you lose it?
- Jesus gave great insight into what can happen when he gave the parable of the sower and the seeds. A sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some fell on the road, other seed fell on rocky soil, other seed fell among the thorns, and other seed fell into the good soil.
- Later, the disciples asked for the meaning of this parable and so he explained to them in Luke 8…
Luke 8:11- 15, “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. The seed that fell beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; yet they have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”
- When Jesus spoke to the church at Ephesus in the book of Revelation, He spoke to this as well.
Revelation 2:4-5, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first;”
- King David of Israel knew something about the necessity of returning to the Lord which is why he wrote these words…
Psalm 51:12, Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and renew a right spirit within me.
- “Do the deeds you did at the first,” is a great insight. If the worries of this world are choking the spiritual life out of you then you need to remember that Jesus promised to walk with you through every trial in trouble.
John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
C. Reach out and take hold of it
- Elisha cut off a stick, and threw it into the Jordan, and made the iron float. But then he said, “Reach out your hand and take hold of it.”
- There was something for the man to do. God did the miraculous work of it. The power is truly His. But there is something for us in it as well.
- “How much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?” Jesus said. He wants you to ask, he wants you to desire the things of God; to seek and to knock.
Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Illus – When the Israelites were ending their 40-year journey in the desert and were ready to cross the Jordan River and enter the land God had promised them, they had to first step foot into the river before the river would be open for them.
- There is in this an understanding of how much we need the strength of God in our lives. There are some people who think, “I can handle it myself. I don’t need the power of the Spirit in my life.” That would be like thinking that you could cut down a tree with just the handle of an ax.
Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.
Psalm 127:1-2, Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for it is He who gives to His beloved even while he sleeps.
II. You are Surrounded in the Spiritual Realm
- The next story that follows also demonstrates the great power of God working through Elisha, but also speaks to another important spiritual truth filled with life lessons. It’s about spiritual warfare.
- One aspect of spiritual warfare was the spiritual training God was giving the sons of the prophets to increase their faith in the power of God. That was a lesson lived out before them with the floating axe head we just studied.
- But another spiritual insight comes to us here so that we would understand that we are in a spiritual battle, and that we should strengthen our faith in the midst of it.
A. Greater is He who is in you
- The king of Aram sent an army to surround the city of Dothan in order to capture Elisha. When Elisha’s servant woke up early in the morning, behold, the city was surrounded with horses and chariots. “What shall we do?” He exclaimed.
- Elisha responded with a spiritual foundational truth, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
- In light of the spiritual condition of things happening today, this is a spiritual truth we must absolutely understand. We are seeing before our eyes the arising of many enemies, not just enemies of our country, but enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Take hold of these scriptures and understand the nature of spiritual warfare.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.
1 John 4:4, You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
Romans 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
- These are truths which we must absolutely understand. What did Jesus say? “If you abide in my Word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
- Lies have power only if you believe them. Lies are the main weapon of the enemy.
Ephesians 6:10-14, Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against powers, against world forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day. And having done everything to stand firm, stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth…
B. God opens eyes that are spiritually blind
- There is an interesting parallel that unfolds in the story. Elisha’s servant has his eyes opened to see into the spiritual realm.
- The army of Aram is given spiritual blindness and follows Elisha into the city of Samaria, the capital of northern Israel.
- It’s interesting that in one case eyes are opened so that the servant can spiritually see then in the other case eyes are closed, a reflection of their spiritual condition. But they do not know that they are blind; that is a powerful truth itself.
2 Corinthians 4:4, The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
- The men follow Elisha into Samaria. There, their eyes were opened, but what is it they received? They received a lesson in the grace of God.
- For what Elisha instructed the king to do was to prepare a great feast for them; and when they had eaten, he sent them away to their master.
Psalm 34:8, O taste and see that the Lord is good;
1 Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “Behold now, the place [a]before you where we are living is too cramped for us. 2 Please let us go to the Jordan, and let us each take from there a beam, and let us construct a place there for ourselves, to live there.” So he said, “Go.” 3 Then one of them said, “Please agree and go with your servants.” And he said, “I will go.” 4 So he went with them; and when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But it happened that as one of them was [b]cutting down a beam, [c]the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Oh, my master! It was borrowed!” 6 Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And when he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7 Then he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it.
8 Now the king of Aram was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, “In such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, saying, “Be careful that you do not pass this place, because the Arameans are coming down there.” 10 And the king of Israel sent scouts to the place about which the man of God had told him; so he warned him, so that he was on his guard there, [d]more than once or twice.
11 Now the heart of the king of Aram was enraged over this matter; and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not tell me which of us is for the king of Israel?” 12 One of his servants said, “No, my lord, the king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” 13 So he said, “Go and see where he is, so that I may send men and take him.” And it was told to him, saying, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent horses and chariots and a substantial army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.
15 Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “This is hopeless, my master! [e]What are we to do?” 16 And he said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are [f]greater than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “Lord, please, open his eyes so that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this [g]people with blindness.” So He struck them with blindness in accordance with the word of Elisha. 19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria.
20 When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men, so that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 21 Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, “My father, shall I [h]kill them? Shall I [i]kill them?” 22 But he [j]answered, “You shall not [k]kill them. Would you [l]kill those whom you have taken captive with your sword and your bow? Set bread and water before them, so that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.” 23 So he provided a large feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel.