Handle Swingers and Water Threshers, The Floating Ax Head: 2 Kings 6:1-7
Elijah was God's man of the hour! God always has someone to face each hour of crisis. Now Elijah is going to experience another miracle, a fiery chariot. Elisha entreats him, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me” (2 Kings 2:9). Don't be afraid to ask God for big things! As Elijah and Elisha were walking and talking, suddenly…what a fantastic moment! Just like that Elijah is taken up in a whirlwind. Adrenalin pumping, heart pounding, eyes as big as saucers, a lump in his throat, breathing fast, suddenly he was gone.
Elijah, Prophet of power is gone! Elisha, Prophet of double power is here and ready to be used greatly by God. He picks up Elijah’s mantle (Prophet's robe), claims the power that is now his, then he took the mantle, parted the Jordan river, and crossed over to begin his own prophetic ministry.
There is a sharp contrast between these two prophets, Elijah’s ministry was spectacular...raising the dead, calling down fire, etc. Elisha is more commonplace, healing a bitter spring, a woman in debt, the widows oil, the poisoned stew...he performed twice as many miracles as Elijah...And here is one of them.
“And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.’ So he answered, ‘Go!’ Then one said, ‘Please consent to go with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I will go.’ So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, ‘Alas, master! For it was borrowed.’ So the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, ‘Pick it up for yourself.’ So he reached out his hand and took it” (2 Kings 6:1-7).
Several facts about this lost axe head...
•They were doing a good work, building a house for the prophets.
•The axe was an indispensably tool.
•The axe head was lost.
•There was no point in going on until it is found-handle swingers.
•When they returned to where the axe head was lost-God found it for them.
Impossible you say! Remove the supernatural from God's book and you have nothing––No miracles, no atoning death, no resurrection, no God in heaven, no Holy Spirit, and no hope for us, just an empty book…and “we are among all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:7).
If this was the only miracle, perhaps God’s detractors could be bit more skeptical, but listen…
•Here’s “a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, she came up behind Him (Jesus) and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped…” (Luke 8:43). He was always doing things like that! The axe head floated.
•“One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!” (Luke 10:3:10-17). He was always doing things like that. The Axe head floated.
•Jesus is in the synagogue at Capernaum “(He) noticed a man with a deformed hand…Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, ‘Come and stand in front of everyone…’Then he said to the man, ‘Hold out your hand.’ So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! “ (Mark 3:3-5). There He is again, He was always doing things like that. The Axe head floated.
•“Jesus and his disciples went to Jericho…a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus…was sitting beside the road. When he heard that it was Jesus from Nazareth, he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me…’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him over!’ They called out to the blind man and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! Come on! He is calling for you.’ The man threw off his coat as he jumped up and ran to Jesus. Jesus asked, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man answered, ‘Master, I want to see!’ Jesus told him, ‘You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.’ Right away the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus” (Mark 19:46-52). There’s the miracle worker again. Jesus was always doing things like that.
So this miracle is not an isolated one in God’s word.
Let's draw some spiritual conclusions from this lost axe head: This lost axe head represents the power of God in the believer's life.
The Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual power available to all Christians. When we trust in Christ’s work done on our behalf, we can turn from trusting ourselves, and our spiritual life will begin. The same Holy Spirit that was active in creation, that led the Israelites by pillar of fire and smoke, that lit the Tabernacle in the wilderness, that invaded Solomon’s Temple, that sat in tongues of fire on the disciples of Pentecost is still ours today. God has not changed, but people have!
Once the church really stood for something. Once the preacher's voice was heeded as the voice of God and gave moral direction to the community. Once Christians had a real influence in government, and were very active in the directing of our nation for God. Where is that power and influence today? There seems to be little Christian influence on the job, in our government, in our schools, in the workplace, in our homes, and in life in general. “Where is the Lord God Of Elijah?” The question is, ”Where are the Elijah's of God?” People of character, people of good moral judgments, people who will stand for God on the job, in the home, in the marketplace, in school. Are we guilty of having "A form of Godliness, but deny its power?” (2 Timothy 3:5).
Verse 5, He admitted he lost the axe head.
One of the greatest problems in the church today. The power is gone, but we keep right on acting as if we still had it. This axe head was obviously loose. We tend to lose that which we are careless about! He could have gone on swinging the handle so it would look like he is working but getting nothing done. Lots of handle swingers in the church today!
What did He do? He shut down the business...Everything stopped until the axe head was returned. There’s the story of a second century pastor who sat in front of his congregation for three hours until he was sure he had heard from God about what to say to the people! The electricity went out one Sunday in church. The Pastor told the people, “The service will resume once the power is on.” Perhaps we need to stop and wait for the power to be turned on, before we try to go on! Let's be certain that our message is from God and has the power of God on it. God instead of just swinging handles...I'm tired of being a handle-swinger!
If the power is not there, admit it! “I’ve lost God’s power.” If the church is not showing spiritual results, wake up! “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…”(Acts 1:8). “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
Verse 5, He acknowledged it was borrowed.
We have no power of our own...we try, advertising, gimmicks, promotions, and manipulations trying to look like we’re cutting down trees, but God knows and so do we. The power is just not there! The power is gone from our lives and from the church. Besides we never possess God's power His power possesses us! If it were ours we would try to prostitute to our own purposes. All of God's mighty men have worked with borrowed axes. We only hold the handle, God possesses the cutting edge that will cut through the laxity and purposelessness of our lives. We need to get back to the place where God can use us...Get back to facing our besetting sin.
John said, “Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:9).
Verse 6, He was willing to return to where he lost it.
Where is the best place to start looking? Where he lost it! Did you hear about the man who lost a contact lens? When asked where he lost it he pointed to a place several yards away. When asked why he wasn’t searching there he replied, “The light is better here.”
The Prophets didn’t all jump in the water, frantically searching. They were searching intelligently. They were not just Water Threshers. So much of the time we try by frantic activity to find God’s power. If we just go to church more often, be kinder to our family, give more to the church, and work harder, the power will come, and we run around like one of those proverbial chickens missing a head.
If you are not experiencing God’s power, where did you lose it? We don’t usually lose God’s power suddenly, our lives gradually become powerless. We don't usually fall into lethargy all at once.
The symptoms are:
•Neglect of God’s Word. “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow” (1 Peter 2:2). Are you longing, desiring God’s Word? All of our spiritual strength comes from the word of God. It’s time to grow up! 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” We need to be like the Bereans, “For they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11).
•Neglect of prayer. “Scripture makes it clear that the answer to everything in our lives is prayer mixed with faith. The apostle Paul writes, ‘Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Paul is telling us, Seek the Lord about every area of your life. Paul’s emphasis is clear: Always pray first! We aren’t to pray as a last resort, going to our friends first, then to a pastor or counselor, and finally ending up on our knees. No Jesus tells us, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Matthew 6:33). I believe God is deeply wounded by the neglect of prayer among His people today. Jeremiah writes: ‘Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number’ (Jeremiah 2:32)…Here is my big question the one thing I simply cannot understand: How can God’s own people who are under constant attack from hell, facing trouble and temptations on all sides go week after week without ever seeking Him? And how can they claim to love Him and believe in His promises, yet never draw near to His heart?” (David Wilkerson).
•Neglect of responsibility to church. It usually starts with a little absenteeism, then a lack of giving (Give only when we are there-don't make it up), then a critical spirit (trying to justify staying away), then too busy to come at all. And we try to justify it by saying, “I don't need to go to church to be a good Christian.” Why do we attend church? We draw strength from each other.
•Priorities are all wrong. A sure sign of powerlessness with God is when something in our life becomes more important than God...Family, house, lawn, job, vacations, sports, et al. Oh, we would never say that's the reason for our lethargy, but by our practices we prove what is important to us! Every Christian has to ask the question, “What is my top priority?” If our answer is anything other than God, then our priorities are wrong. God should always be the number one priority in our lives. We as Christians have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. There is absolutely nothing in this world that is more important than God and His
kingdom, yet so many believers have failed to give God His rightful place in their lives.
Having wrong priorities gives the enemy a foothold to come in and wreck havoc in the believer’s life. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). King David knew the importance of seeking God first above all else. His heart’s cry should also be ours as well: "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple” Psalms27:4).
•Lack of separation from the world. “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you” (1 John 2:15 NLT). The dictionary definition of “worldly” is “relating to, or devoted to the temporal world.” Worldliness, then, is the condition of being concerned with worldly affairs, especially to the neglect of spiritual things. The Bible has a much to say about worldliness, none of it good.
We are usually ready to admit that we lost the axe head...but are perfectly willing to go right on swinging the handles. We blame: the changing times, the pressures of life, or the spirit of the age. We say things like, “You've got to make a living” In other words, “I got myself into a mess, so I have to neglect God and the church to get out of my mess.” We blame long weekends, vacations, business, job, family, pressures, the weather, and sickness. Why not just be honest...say I lost the axe head, otherwise you will never find God's power for your life.
Perhaps the most telling characteristic of a Spirit-filled person is wanting to see others come to Christ, or a genuine care and concern for fellow Christians, a general grief over the sins of the world...and a genuine caring attitude toward the less fortunate of the world...God's power is not just to make me feel good, actually it may make me more miserable...
Verse 6, He showed him the place where he lost it. Go back to where you lost God's power Find that point in your life where you first started to feel the loss of God on your life...God will help you to remember.
Verse 6, He was willing to trust in divine power for recovery. Everyone jump in the water for a frantic search, hence the “Water Thrashers,” Water Thrashers are not much better off than the "Handle Swingers"-no power! How often we try to recover by human force what we have lost by
Verse 7, The best way to end a human mess is with a divine miracle. “The axe head floated.” Every believer has miracles in his life every day, but we must be spiritual enough to recognize them.” The story of the three chairs. The first chair is occupied by Abraham, who saw miracles in his life, the burning bush, water from a rock, parting the Red Sea, et al. Isaac, Abraham’s son, is in the second chair. He saw miracles in his father’s life but did not experience them himself. And in the third chair, the Bible says, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord…” (Judges 2:10). In which chair are you? Miracles every day? Observing miracles in others? Or are you part of a generation who does not know the Lord?
Back to Elisha. “So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.” Here's where it gets even more interesting, the Hebrew word translated “stick” is literally “tree.” Elisha took a tree and threw it into the river. What difference does that make to our story? Well, remember, the axe head was inaccessible, it was surrounded on all sides by an impenetrable barrier, the rushing Jordan river. That's the way our problems always seem to us, isn't it? A stick isn't going to do us any good, but a tree will, a certain tree. The tree on which Christ was killed - the cross. As the apostles said, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree” (Acts 5:30). If we take the tree, the cross of Christ, and place it in the middle of our difficulty, the barrier is breached. And either the Jordan will dry up, or what we need will float to the surface. Either way, it is accessible to us again.
Verse 7, “Elisha said to the man, ‘Pick it up for yourself.’” So he reached out his hand and took it” The impossible was suddenly possible! As Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). Put the cross into the middle of your distresses and difficulties, and even the heaviest iron will rise above them.
Verse 7, “He put forth his hand and took it.”
The story ends here, but I know what happened...He firmly attached the axe head to the handle and went back to work...
There are always those who find God's power, then sit back and look at it, admire it, enjoy it, brag about, afraid if they use it they might lose it again.
Elisha asked for a “double portion,” immediately parted the river.
Conclusion: How can I make the iron float? How can I have God’s power in my life?
You must be certain to the point of conviction that God's power is available to you. If you doubt, if someone has told you it is just some super-charismatic experience, do not ask God to fill you with His power until you search the Scriptures to find out.
You must be certain to the point of conviction that you want God's power in your life. Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to give up that part of your life that prevents you from having God's power and fullness? Are you certain that you want to be like Jesus and demonstrate Him to the world around you?
Are you certain that you want to be completely obedient to God's Word? Everyone of us has as much of God as we desire to have! “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
You will have to deal with self-sins...Ingratitude, pride, criticism, gossip, resentment, worldliness, self-love, self-confidence, self-aggrandizement, self-indulgence, self-righteousness, those all add up to one word, SELF! “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NKJV). “And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me’” (Luke 9:23). “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
Is there anything in your life bigger than your desire to be used by God?
Here’s the formula...
Present yourself to God. God cannot fill what He does not possess. Here’s a simple prayer. “God I want to give you me!” “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1,2 NLT)
You must have the proper motive––to lift up Jesus. To glorify God. “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20, 21). Here’s the prayer, “Dear God, get glory from my life, may I glorify you in all I do.”
You must be willing to pay the price...submission, surrender...to be a spectacle for Christ in the world...To saturate your life with the things of God. “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own” (Luke 14:25-34 NLT).
There must be a humble asking, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13).
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