(Summary of Sunday Sermon, 05 July 2015)
4 Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheepbreeder, and he regularly paid the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams. 5 But it happened, when Ahab died, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.
6 So King Jehoram went out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. 7 Then he went and sent to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, saying, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?”
And he said, “I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 8 Then he said, “Which way shall we go up?”
And he answered, “By way of the Wilderness of Edom.”
9 So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom, and they marched on that roundabout route seven days; and there was no water for the army, nor for the animals that followed them. 10 And the king of Israel said, “Alas! For the Lordhas called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.”
11 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?”
So one of the servants of the king of Israel answered and said, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.”
12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.
13 Then Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.”
But the king of Israel said to him, “No, for the Lord has called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.”
14 And Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor see you. 15 But now bring me a musician.”
Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.16 And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ 17 For thus says theLord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’ 18 And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. 19 Also you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall cut down every good tree, and stop up every spring of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones.”
20 Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with water.
21 And when all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to bear arms and older were gathered; and they stood at the border.22 Then they rose up early in the morning, and the sun was shining on the water; and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood. 23 And they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely struck swords and have killed one another; now therefore, Moab, to the spoil!”
24 So when they came to the camp of Israel, Israel rose up and attacked the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they entered their land, killing the Moabites. 25 Then they destroyed the cities, and each man threw a stone on every good piece of land and filled it; and they stopped up all the springs of water and cut down all the good trees. But they left the stones of Kir Haraseth intact. However the slingers surrounded and attacked it.
26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him seven hundred men who drew swords, to break through to the king of Edom, but they could not. 27 Then he took his eldest son who would have reigned in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering upon the wall; and there was great indignation against Israel. So they departed from him and returned to their own land.
2 Kings 3:4-27
Let’s learn how to discern God’s will from an Old Testament incident.
- BE CAREFUL ABOUT FIGHTING OTHERS’ BATTLES
This is set in the time period when Israel was divided into two kingdoms – Israel and Judah. Their relationship at best was tense and testy. Jehoram was the King of Israel while Jehoshaphat, his brother-in-law was the king of Judah. One day, Jehoram found himself in a dilemma. Mesha, his debtor from Moab declared that he wouldn’t be paying his dues and taxes anymore. It was not a small amount – wool of 100,000 rams! Jehoram decided to approach his brother-in-law Jehoshaphat for help. Jehoshaphat was a God fearing man. However, in this situation, he didn’t consult God. He promised his help and got involved in a situation which was of no concern to him.
Here’s our first takeaway. Do not run to assist people whom God hasn’t asked us to. Imagine this scenario. Suppose the Prodigal Son met the Good Samaritan in the foreign land. Do you think the Prodigal Son would have ever returned to his dad’s place? In all likelihood, he wouldn’t have! Let’s be careful to not help someone in whose life God is doing business. If not, we will become a hindrance to God’s working.
- DON’T BLAME GOD FOR YOUR FOOLISH PLANS
The two kings set out and enlisted the help of the king of Edom in their mission. Now, Jehoram’s problem had become a group problem! They headed out together for about seven days with their armies only to find themselves lost and thirsty. Then they shook their heads and mutter – ‘The Lord has brought the three of us to be given into the hands of the enemy’. All along, they had thought, debated, planned and executed without any counsel from God and now when they were lost, they promptly placed the blame at God’s feet.
Many of us suffer in life because of our own selfish and unwise decisions. Then, when our decisions backfire, we blame God for it! Proverbs 19:3 says that ‘The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the Lord’. Let’s examine our alliances, relationships and paths. Do we blame God or seek Him? The difference between a person who finds a solution in a mess and a person who lives in a mess is the one who admits that he has done wrong. Maybe we have messed up, but instead of blaming God let’s seek Him. Let’s turn to Him for help.
- TURN TO GOD AND HE WILL REVEAL HIS SOLUTION
After floundering in the wilderness, Jehoshaphat sought God. He had made a terrible decision and entered into an alliance with Jehoram; but now he repentantly sought God’s counsel and advice. Then one of the king’s servants informed them about Prophet Elisha. So the three kings went to meet Elisha to enquire of God. Elisha agreed to help them. God had prepared Elisha with the answer to their problem long before the problem even arose.
Solution to our problems is provided already. But the question that arises is whether we are willing to acknowledge God and seek His help.
- ARE YOU THE REASON FOR AN ANSWERED PRAYER OR DECLINED PRAYER?
Elisha was from the Kingdom of Israel (Jehoram’s subject). However, Elisha told the trio without mincing any words, that it was only because of Jehoshaphat’s presence that he was even helping them. God’s answer to their problem came for the sake of the sole God fearing person in their company, Jehoshaphat.
As a follower of Jesus, when we cry out to God, He answers and blesses not just us but even our associates. We might have messed up; but when we turn to Him, God hears us. Just like Potiphar was blessed because of Joseph’s presence in his household, may our God fearing lives be the reason for the blessing of other people in our lives.
- BE AN ACTIVE RECIPIENT OF GOD’S MIRACLES
Elisha gave instructions on what the kings and their armies had to do in order to win against the enemy. He asked them to dig trenches! Well, that might not have sounded like the best military tactic to a crew who was tired and thirsty. It involved more hard work! But dig they did! Digging the trenches was actually a step of faith!
When God instructs us to obey Him in a particular way, do we shy away with some lame excuse? Or are we willing to actively obey Him no matter how ridiculous it sounds? While crossing River Jordan, God asked the priests to step into the middle of the swollen River Jordan carrying the ark. It sounded dangerous! But the moment they obeyed, God parted the River for them to cross over. A life of faith might often have a complicated process to follow in order to get a simple solution!
Mesha, the King of Moab realized that the enemy was drawing close. So he gathered his troops and set out. Now, as he approached he saw the water in the river was deep red in color. He quickly surmised that the enemy kings might have killed themselves and so he charged to finish them off. Little did he realize that God had caused the Sun to shine brightly that the water reflected a red blood color! Mesha and his troops galloped right into God’s trap. The three kings and their armies who were waiting saw Mesha and his men and charged to slaughter them!
Recognizing that he had lost, Mesha sacrificed his son (the regent prince who would have been his successor) as a burnt offering! This stunned the enemy kings! Their silly attack had pushed a man to sacrifice his son! Indignant, Jehoram’s allies left him and returned to their own businesses!
God may deliver our enemy into our hands but sometimes the outcome will leave us bereft of any triumph! The kings had come to solve a problem (of collecting the tax dues) but their plans and alliances that weren’t approved by God left them empty handed!
Once, I met a man who used to be a millionaire. He decided to help his brother by being a guarantor for a project. The ungrateful brother forged his signature and cheated him. Overnight, this man became a pauper and ended up on the streets! A seemingly wasted life! But God stepped into his life. He met Jesus in his desperate moment and committed his life to following Him. He might have lost fleeting, material wealth but he gained eternal, spiritual wealth.
Are you a follower of Jesus? Then be careful about your decisions and relationships. Consult God before you get going with any plan. But if you didn’t, then repent and seek God. He has already provided the answer. Of course, it might seem like a longwinded answer but let’s trust God and actively obey Him. Maybe the final solution will leave you sad and distressed. Remember what is sown in the flesh is reaped in the flesh. But, let that not discourage you. Thank God for the precious lesson that He would have taught you through that experience.
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