Lessons in Service
2 Kings 6:1-7
The Old Testament is written for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages is come. Its chief message is Jesus Christ. However, there is an abundant display of spiritual truths of all sorts found in its messages.
We come, today, to the story of one of the outstanding miracles of the Old Testament; a miracle which broke the power of the law of gravitation into shreds. It is useless for ungodly scholarship to seek to explain the miracles upon any scientific basis. While ungodly wisdom cavils and complains, many of the wisest of earth take off their shoes and worship the God who worketh out His will, in all things, according to the greatness of His power.
Iron does not naturally swim, for iron is heavier than water. Nevertheless this iron did swim. A ball shot high into the air by the bat of a league-hitter may sail far along, but it is surely destined to fall to the earth. Is it? Perhaps a league-catcher may stand on the tip of his toes, and throw up his hand and hold the ball in mid air. If he does he breaks the law of gravitation to shreds a ball destined to sink to the ground, does not sink. So also can the God, who made a law we call gravitation, temporarily check its sway.
We need to get back to the God of the miraculous. Why seek to explain the wonder workings of the living and eternal Jehovah? It is not in man to understand God, nor to comprehend His power. We need to get back to a God who is before all things, and by whom all things consist the creative God. To deny God is to deny the miraculous. To deny the miraculous is to deny God.
I. A CALL FOR ENLARGEMENT (2 Kings 6:1 )
The sons of the prophets said, "The place where we dwell * * is too strait for us." Should they have been satisfied with their circumscribed quarters? We wot not.
There came a time when the Lord said to Moses, "Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount." Once more God was saying, "Go forward."
Jehoshaphat said, "Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not?"
Paul wrote, "Having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, to preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hands."
1. Is there not room for enlargement in our Christian experiences? Are we satisfied to dwell where we are? Where we are, is where we have been for the most part, since we were saved. The Spirit wants us to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. The Spirit wants to transform us each day, more and more, into the image of our Lord. Shall we remain babes, whereas we should have been past the milk age long ago? Shall we eat milk, when strong meat should now be our portion?
2. Is there not room for enlargement in our service for the Lord Jesus? Are we diligently serving? Are we buying up every opportunity? The field of the slothful soon grows up with weeds. Shall we be slothful? The Word says, "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."
The gifts which God has given us, are for use. If we have the gift of prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith. If we have the gift of ministering, let us wait on our ministering. If we have the gift of exhortation, let us exhort; or, the gift of giving, let us give .
3. Perhaps there is room for enlargement in our Young People's work. Are we growing in numbers? Are we growing in spiritual fervor and power? So many Societies are no larger, and no more effective, than they were months ago. They are satisfied to eke out an existence. They are willing to have the same fifteen and twenty present, when there are scores of young people roaming the streets uninvited; and, so far as they know, undesired.
We trust that it is different with you we trust you are saying to your pastor, "The place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us." We trust that you are so alive to your opportunities, that you are going out into the highways and byways, into the jails and hospitals, and to many places where you are increasing your quarters, by enlarged service.
II. CO-OPERATIVE SERVICE (2 Kings 6:2 )
How delightfully does this verse present to us unity in the work of Christ. "Let us go," they said to the prophet: "let us make us a place."
Far back in the beginning God saw that it was not good for man to dwell alone; therefore, He gave man an helpmeet When the Lord Jesus Christ sent out His Apostles, He sent them out two by two. When Paul traveled on his missionary journeys, it was Barnabas and Paul; or, it was Paul and Timothy; or, it was Paul and Silas.
Our study today, however, goes beyond dual cooperation. It reminds us more of that verse which describes Pentecostal scenes, "And all that believed were together." Again, They "had all things common"; again, "They continuing daily with one accord." This is real co-operation.
We remember the little quotation, "United we stand, divided we fall." The days of Ezra and of Nehemiah give great examples of united service. In Ezra 3:1 we read, "The people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem." Then, " they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them." "They kept also the Feast of Tabernacles." " They gave money." " They sang together." "All the people shouted with a great shout."
III. A CALL FOR COMRADESHIP (2 Kings 6:3 )
The sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, "Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants," and he answered, "I will go." "So he went with them." If the Lord labor not in the house, they labor in vain that built it. If we go forth together, and yet without the Lord's presence, we go in vain. The great army may be united, but it must have a leader. The general goes with his army. He shares their case, with them. Our Lord Jesus Christ is called in Hebrews 12:1-29, "The Author and Finisher of our faith." Someone has translated that verse, the File-leader of the faith. The file-leader not only goes with his people but he goes before them. The shepherd not only knows his sheep, and calls them by name, but he goes before his sheep and leadeth them out.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "All [authority] is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go * * and, lo, I am with you." Thank God for this hallowed presence of the Son of God! He never has asked us to go anywhere, or to do anything, that He will not go with us, and aid us. On the other hand, He has said, "Without Me ye can do nothing."
When the prophets dwelt in their narrowed quarters, Elisha dwelt with them. For, to him they said, " The place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us." When they went forth, they asked him to go with them, and he went.
Have we asked the Lord to tarry with us, when we are at home and, to take up His abode with us? When we go forth by day, do we ask Him to go with us?
IV. A MANIFESTATION OF HUMAN FAILURE (2 Kings 6:5 )
This brings us to the most striking thing thus far. The sons of the prophets went with Elisha, and "when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood: but, as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water."
1. The lost ax head. So much of the work which we do seems covered with blunders. It is spoiled by accidents which measure in effect this accident among the sons of the prophets. Just as everything seemed to be running smoothly, and progress is being made, something happens to mar our activity. The loss of an ax head put the activities of one of the men out of commission. In fact, we are sure that all of the others came running in response to the cry of this one young prophet to bemoan his loss. Thus the work was hindered. It proved worth the while, now, that the Prophet went with them. He was able to solve the difficulty as we shall soon see. If we travel alone we will not only lose our ax head, but we will be unable to restore our loss.
2. The lost ax head was borrowed. When the young man met his accident, he cried, "Alas, master! for it was borrowed." Are we laboring for Christ? If so, we are laboring with the gifts which He has given, or loaned us. We need not boast anything that we possess, for it is borrowed. The prodigal boy who wasted his substance, was, in fact, wasting that which was given him by his father; just as truly as the young prophet who lost his ax head, lost that which was borrowed. The Christian graces are all called spiritual gifts. Gifts may be diverse, but they are all from the same Spirit.
This is the way the Bible reads: "To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit." All of these things are not only given by the Spirit, but the selfsame Spirit is the one who worketh these gifts and makes them effectual.
V. WHERE WAS IT LOST? (2 Kings 6:6 )
When the young prophet went to Elisha with the cry that he had lost his borrowed ax head, the Prophet asked, "Where fell it?"
The lesson for us in this statement, is this: Where is the place that we lost our testimony? Where was the place that we departed from the Lord? If we would regain our loss, we must go to the place where we stepped aside, and begin afresh, from there. It may be easy to wander into forbidden paths, and to travel quite a distance away from God and duty into paths of worldly pleasures. It is not pleasant, but it is necessary to retravel the same paths, back to the point of departure.
Peter left the Lord when he said "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I." On and on Peter went, until he cursed and swore, and said, "I know not this Man of whom ye speak." With what sorrow did Peter retrace his steps, until at last he came back to the place where he departed! The second time he refused to boast his own love and fidelity, as superior to that of the other disciples. Christ said, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?" Peter confessed no love beyond John, or Thomas, or Thaddaeus, or Bartholomew; he simply said: "Thou knowest that I love Thee."
Samson left the Lord, as with his head pillowed in Delilah's lap, he told that his power was in the Nazarite vow, made sure by his long hair. After months of suffering and shame, Samson found his power, once more, just where he had lost it. When his hair was once more long, and his vow renewed, his power came back to him.
Let us not think for a moment that we can pass by the place where we lost our power and our fellowship with the Lord. We must go to that place and say, Here is the place where I sinned. If we remember that our brother has ought against us, we must first go to that brother, and become reconciled; and then come, and offer our gift.
VI. THE IRON DID SWIM (2 Kings 6:6 , l.c)
When the son of the prophet had shown Elisha the place where the ax head fell, the Prophet cut down a stick and cast it in thither and the iron did swim.
We have before us one of the outstanding miracles of the Old Testament. However, the restoration of the lost ax head was no more a miracle, than is the restoration of a backslider's lost power.
We should remember that there are mighty forces at work to undo a believer, and to rob him of his power. In Zechariah we are told that one named Joshua stood before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan stood at his right hand to resist him. "Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and stood before the Angel." Satan is always there to resist the cleansing of saints; and it takes power, mighty power, to rebuke such an one.
There is a verse in Ephesians where Paul prays that we may know the power that God wrought toward us, in Christ, when He raised Christ from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the Heavenly places. That was a mighty power, and a power toward us, because, we were quickened together with Him and raised together with Him, and made to sit together with Him in the Heavenly places. Which is more miraculous? Causing the iron, which by nature would lie in the bottom of the water, to swim; or causing us, who by nature would wander in the murk and the mire of evil communications and corrupted manners, to live with Christ above the clouds?
For our illustration today we are quoting a beautiful little poem by Annie Johnson Flint, which aptly explains the beauty of a life raised (like the iron was raised) by power Divine from the bottom of the murky waters of sin and shame.
"When first I woke to life,
Deep down in the river's bed,
I could not breathe for the stifling ooze
And the blackness over my head.
In darkness I longed for the light,
Prisoned, I yearned to be free,
In dreams I pined for the sky and the wind,
For star and bird and tree;
And I said: 'I will rise to that upper air,
And the life that draweth me.'
The twining weeds of the water-world
Reached out and held me fast;
The lithe reeds wove a tangled net
To catch me as I passed;
The creeping things of mire and mud
Beckoned and bade me stay;
In the treacherous current, swift and strong
I felt my weak stem sway;
But through them, over them, past them all
I took my upward way.
Till, white, white,
Brimmed with sunshine and steeped in light,
I lifted up my fragrant cup
Bloom of the daytime and star of the night
In rapture I gazed at the heavens blue
And knew that all my dreams were true.
And pure and fair my white leaves bear
Never a trace of slime and mold,
And the crawling things of the underworld
Have left no taint on my heart of gold.
In peace I rest on the river's breast,
And living, I love, and, loving, live,
And breathing deep of that upper air,
My life to the world in sweetness give."
May God help us, even as the iron was raised from the depths, and the water lily was lifted from the mire, that we may be raised and made to sit with Him in the Heavenly places.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Kings 6". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
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