Elijah & Elisha Message #23, “Resurrection Power – The Floating Ax Head”, Ed Miller, 9-20-23

Listen to the audio above while following along in the transcript below, which is also available for download at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

As we come to look in God’s word, there’s a principle of study I always try to repeat, and I always need to hear it, and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  The Bible was given to us by God the Holy Spirit and only the Lord can unveil the Lord.  So, we want to have Him teach us His word, so He will breathe on us.

I want to share this verse before we go to prayer.  Psalm 18:16, “He sent from on high, He took me, He drew me out of many waters.”  I want you for now to underscore or at least know the pronoun and you’ll understand why when we come to the end, because He drew me out of many waters, we’ll be talking about the ax head that came up from many waters. But it’s, “He sent from on high, He took me, and He drew me.”  I am inadequate, you are inadequate in every direction.  No matter where we turn, He must be our adequacy, spiritually, physically, morally, socially, mentally, and whatever you think, we are a needy people, and we need the Lord.  I just see all of those areas as the many waters that He draws us out of, so that we can depend on Him.  If He didn’t reach down from heaven and lay hold of you, lay hold of men, and draw us out of many waters, we would have no hope.  We can praise God for His long arm; it’s not shortened, that it can’t save.

With that in mind, let’s commit our time to the Lord.  Our Father, we thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit; He lives in our heart, and He lives to unveil the Lord Jesus to us.  We give this session unto You and pray that we might behold the Lord.  Thank You for Your desire, Your great desire to show us Christ.  We ask now that You give us receptive hearts.  Thank You, and protect Your people; whatever You haven’t planted, then pluck up and we thank You in the matchless name of Jesus.  Amen.

We’re in 2 Kings 5 and last time we were together we did a big bulk of the story of Naaman.  We’re not quite finished with that story, but that’s what we’re looking at.  By way of review, the great principle, and there are a couple, but the big one was that salvation is not a plan; salvation is a Person, and His name is the Lord Jesus.  All through the Naaman story God illustrates the fact that it’s a Person and it’s His plan.  We don’t throw out “plan”.  His story illustrates characteristics of a person coming to know the Lord for the very first time.  For example, and I’ll rush over these, Naaman was a leper.  Leper is a picture of sin; it didn’t need to be healed; it needed to be cleansed.  That’s one illustration.

Naaman was a proud gentile, and a proud anybody needs the Lord in order to be saved.  He was depending upon human wisdom to begin.  He needed to be delivered from that.  He was proud, very proud, and he had to learn to come in simplicity and obedience and faith.  It’s all illustrating how a person comes to the Lord the first time.  There’s evidence when you read the record that he was transformed when he came, and the proud man became humble, and the unthankful man became thankful, and he had a sensitive conscience, and he knew when he would be sinning against the Lord.  His cleansing was a free gift; Elijah wouldn’t take any money.  Salvation is free. 

So, we do see that it does picture a plan, but the main point is that it’s a Person; salvation is a Person.  We looked at the same story, but we looked a little deeper; we looked behind the scene, and how wonderful it was to peek beyond the veil where God not only saved Naaman but He prepared him to be saved; He worked in advance behind the scene.  2 Kings 5:1, “Now, Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram was a great man with his master, highly respected because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.  God gave the enemy victory over His people.  That’s preparation; He was getting ready to save Naaman.  He was controlling that war.

2 Kings 5:2, “Now, the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel, and she waited on Naaman’s wife.”  Once, again, it’s preparation; God controlled the war; God controlled who lived; God controlled who died; God controlled who was taken prisoner of war.  That little girl was taken as a prisoner of war, and God controlled where she ended up, and she ended up in Naaman’s house.  God controlled her sigh, and she said, “Oh, I wish my master could go to Israel, and there’s a prophet there and he could be healed.”  Then the mistress told Naaman and Naaman told the king, and the king wrote to king Jehoram, and it’s all in control.  God is behind the scenes getting somebody ready for redemption.  We ended up by just suggesting that God is always doing one of two things; He’s either getting you ready to see Jesus, or He’s showing you Jesus.  That’s your whole life, that’s my whole life, and that’s what God is always doing.  Everything is redemptive and God is planning to redeem, and that’s what it’s all about.

I was in the process of showing you how God uses all things, everything, in preparation to show His redemption.  I illustrated it with Psalm 119:91, “All things are Thy servants,” all things.  Next to my verse in my Bible margin I wrote, “medical technology”.  All things are Thy servant.  If it weren’t for medical technology, I would say that more than ninety percent of my family would be in heaven.  Praise God that all things are Thy servants!  Since God rules everything, He rules the good and He overrules the evil.  Even unworthy instruments are used by Him redemptively.

As we closed, I mentioned how God used ungodly Gahazi to minister to king Jehoram and also to provide for the woman of Shuman, all her provision.  I won’t go into that again, but I want to say a couple of more things about the Naaman story, and I want to revolve around two men.  Gahazi was an unwilling instrument used by God.  Elisha was a willing instrument used by God, and I want to show you a little bit about the unwilling instrument, no problem to the Lord, and the willing instrument, because by looking at the willing instrument, we might be able to glean a few principles.  I’m willing, and I want Him to use me; what can I expect?  So, we’ll look at those two things.  Psalm 76:10, “The wrath of man shall praise you.”  In other words, no matter how wicked anybody is, no matter how they resist, and try to thwart the ways of the Lord, they will not succeed.  The wrath of man ends up praising the Lord.

Let me begin with a few words about Elisha’s servant, Gahazi.  The entire record of his life is only in three places in the Bible.  It’s in 2 Kings 4 in connection with the woman of Shuman.  It’s in 2 Kings 5 in connection with Naaman, the prophet.  He’s mentioned in 2 Kings 8, as well, before king Jehoram as he related the miracles of Elisha.  That’s the whole record, and there’s nothing else; nothing is mentioned in the New Testament, and nothing is mentioned in any other book.  1 Timothy 2:19 says, “The firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His.’”  I love that verse, that God knows who are His.  You don’t!  God knows who are His; I don’t!  We need to be careful before we start reading hearts.

Last week I mentioned Gahazi’s name along with Akin, Annanias, Balaam, Demas and Judas.  That sounds like I could read his heart, and you’ve heard me call him “ungodly”, but I can’t see his heart.  I don’t think there’s enough in the Bible record to say whether or not we will meet Gahazi in heaven.  I don’t know that.  God has not given me permission to peek into the Lamb’s Book of Life, and He hasn’t given you that permission, either.  All we have is the Bible record, and I don’t think that it’s quite clear enough in the case of Gahazi, but the Lord knows those that are His. 

We know he was covetous.  Verse 16, he said, “As the Lord lives before whom I stand, I will take nothing,” that’s Elisha.  Then in verse 20, “But Gahazi, the servant of Elisha, the man of God, thought, ‘Behold, my master spared this Naaman, the Aramean, by not receiving from his hand what he brought.  As the Lord lives, I’ll run after him and take something from him.’”  So, we know he was covetous.  We also know that he lied.  2 Kings 5:22, he said to the Syrians, “All is well; my master sent me, saying, ‘Behold, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim.  Please, give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes.”  That was a bold-faced lie.  We know he was covetous, and we know he was a liar, and then he even lied to his master, Elisha, verse 25, “He went in and stood before his master.  Elisha said to him, ‘Where have you been, Gahazi?’  He said, ‘Your servant went nowhere.’”  I like King James, “I went no whither.”  Anyway, we know that he was a sinner.  In fact, if leprosy pictures sin, because of verse 27, “’The leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.’  He went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.”  If leprosy pictures sin, he died in his sin.  We know that’s a fact, but it’s not enough, because there’s a sin unto death that applies to some Christians.  So, we can’t judge his heart; we can’t with assurance say what his eternal destiny is.

So then, what’s his contribution to the history of redemption?  I believe that Gahazi’s contribution is that he’s a great warning against hypocrisy in the Old Testament.  There’s a warning in the New Testament, too.  This is seed form.  There were a couple of hints of his character before he actually showed his cards.  2 Kings 4:27, “When she came near,” this is the woman of Shunam after her son died, “when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet, and Gahazi came near to push her away, but the man of God said, ‘Let her alone; her soul is troubled within her, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.’”  You could see his heart there; she just falls down at the feet of Elisha, and she’s desperate; she just lost her child, and he just grabs her and pushes her away, and says, “Don’t do that.”  You can begin to see his heart.  Then in the same story, he was sent to do a miracle; what a privilege that would have been, but in verse 31, “Gahazi passed on before them, laid the staff on the lad’s face, and there was no sound or response, so he returned to meet him and told him, ‘The lad has not awakened.’”  He tried to do a miracle, and it didn’t work. You get a little hint into his heart, but that’s not enough to judge him, but he’s a great warning. 

Gahazi will forever be a picture against hypocrisy; he was a pretender.  Think of his privilege; he was close to Elisha.  Later on, he’s recalling all of the miracles he did; he was a witness of all of that.  How close somebody can come!  You can be close to those who are real and genuine, and still be a hypocrite.  You can join a church and still be a hypocrite.  You can witness many miracles and still be a hypocrite.  Because he was associated with Elisha, he wanted people to think that he was a pretty good guy.  There’s a Bible expression used two times in connection with Gahazi, and it’s that little expression, “All is well.”  That’s what he said, “All is well.”  The first time it was said to him.  2 Kings 4:26, “Run out to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you?  Is it well with your husband?  Is it well with the child?’  And she answered, ‘It is well.’”  But the second time is from his own lips.  2 Kings 5:21, “Gahazi pursued Naaman, and when Naaman saw one running after him, he came down from the chariot to meet him, and he said, ‘Is all well?’ and he said, ‘All is well,’” and then he told the bold-faced lie.  “All is well.”  No, it isn’t!  He’s a hypocrite; he’s a liar.

Both Elijah and Elisha and Gahazi made this same comment. First Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1, “Elijah, the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand…’”  Elijah claimed to live in the presence of the Living God, ready to do His bidding, and that was true; he did live in the presence of the Living God. Elisha said the same thing in 2 Kings 5:16, “He said, ‘As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will take nothing,’” and Elisha, also, claimed to live before the one, true and Living God, and to do His bidding.  So, that was fact for Elijah, and it was fact for Elisha, but it’s shocking to hear that expression come from the lips of Gahazi.  2 Kings 5:20, “As the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.”  At least he left out “before whom I stand”, because he didn’t stand before Him.  But when he said, “All is well,” all was not well.

I think most of us are familiar with the wonderful hymn, Horatio Stafford’s hymn, “It is Well With My Soul”.  There’s quite a hymn story; I’m not going to tell that story, but there’s quite a story connected with that wonderful hymn.  I wonder if sometimes we take the Lord’s name in vain when we sing hymns or take the Lord’s name in vain when we pray.  I think one of the main ways Christians take his name in vain, it’s easy to sing, “My Jesus I love you.”  Do you?  Do I?  It’s easy to sing, “I surrender all,” but are we really surrendering all when we sing that?  “He is Lord, He is Lord.”  Is He allowed to be Lord in your life?  Even that child’s little song, “I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.”  Do you?  And when you sing, “It is well, it is well,” make sure that it is well.  Gahazi is a great illustration of the hypocrite, and he’ll stand forever as a warning, the same way Lot’s wife is a monument against worldliness.  God, at least, gives them the privilege to minister as a warning.

The great illustration in the New Testament is in Matthew 21:18&19, where Jesus came up to a fig tree and it had leaves on it, and because it had no figs, He caused it to wither; He cursed the tree.  We’re surprised to read Mark 11:13, “Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He could find anything on it.  When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves.”  And then Mark adds, “It was not the season for figs.”  Some might say, “Why in the world would Jesus curse a fig tree that didn’t bear figs if it’s not the season for figs.  That’s not the fault of the tree.”  But you remember there were other fig trees around and He didn’t curse those.  Why did He curse just that one fig tree?  The answer is because even though it didn’t have figs, it boasted that it had figs; the leaves were the boast.  It wasn’t the time for figs, and it wasn’t the time for leaves, but this fig tree was flashing its leaves saying, “Come to me; I have figs.”  You big hypocrite tree, and the Lord Jesus cursed that tree because it was a hypocrite; it pretended.  Of course, He was dealing with the Pharisees who were hypocrites, and they caught exactly the meaning of that illustration.

Once again, with Gahazi, we can’t see his heart, and God sees his heart, and God knows those that are His, but He will always curse unreality.  Ask the Lord to make you real; don’t have unreality in your life; don’t fake it; don’t just be religious.  Ask God to give you reality.  For perpetual hypocrites, they’re going to be separated from the Lord forever.  For Christian hypocrites they are going to be chastened, and that’s for certain.  

The saddest part in the Gahazi story is the fruit of a hypocrite.  You notice in chapter 5 verse 27, “The leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants.”  When you’re a hypocrite, that goes down to the family; that affects your kids; that affects your relatives.  That’s a terrible thing.  Ask God to put in your heart a hate for all unreality.  I love Psalm 119:29 in this connection, “Remove the false way from me; graciously grant me your law.”  That’s a wonderful prayer; remove the false way.  And then it’s even stronger in verse 128, “I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything; I hate every false way.” 

Ask God to make you hate all the unreality.  We can be real with the Lord; you can be honest with the Lord.  He knows your heart, anyway; you can’t fake it.  He sees inside; His eyes are sharp and divide the soul and the spirit.  As far as I know, there is no Bible record of anyone who came to the Lord honestly and was cursed or rebuked by the Lord.  Abraham questioned the Lord, Moses complained to the Lord, Elijah argued with the Lord, Jeremiah accused the Lord; he said, “You duped me.”  Habakuk tried to correct the Lord, “You’re making a mistake here,” he said.  Jonah resisted the Lord.  John the Baptist had his doubts about the Lord.  In no case did the Lord ever curse them.  Be honest with the Lord.  He knows your heart; if you’re feeling guilty, tell Him.  If you’re feeling sad, tell Him.  If you’re confused, tell Him.  If you’re angry, tell Him.  If you need help, tell Him.  He won’t get angry with you.  He deals with us as we are and where we are, in order to bring us to the place that He wants us.

I want to wrap up the Naaman story with a few words about Elisha.  This is the man that wanted to be used.  God used Gahazi in spite of Gahazi, and now God is going to use Elisha.  The main principle that we’re discussing is that God works behind the scenes to reveal Himself as a Redeemer, whether it’s a war, He’s in charge, or a prisoner of war, if it’s a wicked man like Gahazi, God is in control.  Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven, in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”  If you ever get light on “in all deeps” let me know.  I don’t know what that means because He covered it, seemed like everything—the heavens, the earth, the seas and in all deeps.  Maybe caves.  If there is a cave in your life, He’s in charge of that, too.    God uses the willful instruments and Naaman illustrates that.

I want to give four simple characteristics of a willing instrument, illustrated by Elisha in this story.  The first is that the Lord chooses to use those who have the answers that no one else can provide.  2 Kings 5:7, “When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes.  He said, ‘Am I God, to kill, to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?  But consider now and see how he’s seeking a quarrel against me.  It happened that when Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king saying, ‘Why have you torn your clothes?  Now, let him come to me, and he’ll know there’s a prophet in Israel.’” 

Naaman’s need, he had leprosy, and he needed a mighty miracle of God, and it was out of man’s hands.  The king said, “I’m not God; I can’t do this; nobody can do this; this is out of man’s hands,” but Elisha said, “Hey, wait a minute, don’t say nobody can do it; send him to me.  I can do it because I am in union with the Living God.”  Elisha knew that he had the answer; he knew he had the solution; he knew a mighty miracle could take place through him.  It’s not pride to admit that you have the truth.  You know it and you have it!  Don’t say, “Oh, I don’t know what can be done.”  You do, too!  You have the Lord; you know the answer. 

It’s amazing to me how the world always tries the answer that doesn’t work.  A great illustration is Daniel.  Daniel 1:20, “As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in his realm.”  They examined Daniel and those three men, Shadrach, Meshak and Abendego, and found them ten times wiser than all the magicians in the whole realm of Babylon.  When it came time, there was a problem and they had to choose.  Nebuchadnezzar needed help.  Daniel 2:2, “The king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dream.  They came and stood before the king.”  Nebuchadnezzar knew there were guys that were ten times smarter, but he didn’t call them up.  He didn’t knock at their door.  He went through everybody else who didn’t have the answer.  Finally, Daniel 2:16, Daniel went in and requested of the king that he’d give him time in order that he might declare the interpretation.

Let me just ask this.  I think most of you are pretty wise.  If you had some kind of illness, and you knew of a doctor ten times smarter than any other doctor, would you call the others first, or would you go right to the doctor?  My goodness, it just seems like wisdom.  If you needed a plumber or an electrician or a mechanic, and you knew one that was ten times better and more skilled than everybody else, who are you going to call?  And yet in the world, they always try the wrong answer.  They’ll go to this psychologist, and this psychiatrist and this counselor and that counselor, and they’re going to try everything.  Finally, they’re going to find a man of God, a woman of God that has the answer, and they’re going to point them to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

That was the first thing.  Brother and sisters in Christ, don’t hem and haw and be silent and self-depreciating and think that you don’t have the answer; you have Christ, and you know the answer.  They need it, and don’t be shy.  You just tell them that you have it.  You don’t need a degree or some kind of an ordination certificate and you don’t need to have a church membership or baptismal certificate; you have Him; you have the Lord.  They need Him.  Who is God going to use?  Elisha illustrates that it’s the one who knows he has the answer; that’s who He’s going to use.

There’s a second characteristic of a willing instrument.  Elisha did not seek his own personal glory.  Remember in verse ten, Elisha sent a messenger to him.  He didn’t go out himself.  You know you have the answer, but you’re not looking for glory or for someone to pat you on the back.  We know what he expected.  Verse 11, “Behold, I thought he’d surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord His God and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.”  They’re looking for something dramatic and something spectacular.  A humble servant of God is not looking for personal glory.  I like what Jesus said in John 7:18, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory.”  That’s why I love that indispensable principle.  I want to know what God says.  If I’m just trying to speak out of my own mind and tell you what I think, I’m looking for my own glory.  Elisha wasn’t like that.

The third characteristic of a willing instrument is that it’s an instrument of pure grace.  Once again, verse 16, “As the Lord lives before whom I stand, I will take nothing.”  He urged him to take it and he refused.  I’ll tell you, God’s people today have a black eye because so many people have their hand in your wallet and in your pocketbook and in your bank account, and they’re always looking for something.  Not the man God uses; not the woman that God uses.  “As the Lord lives, I will take nothing.”  It’s free, and it’s a marvelous thing.  Verse 26:5, when he’s rebuking Gahazi, he said, “Did not my heart go with you when a man turned from his chariot to meet you?  Is it a time to receive money, to receive clothes, olive gardens, vineyards, sheep, oxen, males and female servant?”  Brothers and sisters, this is the willing servant of the Lord, the one who knows that they have the only answer, the one who doesn’t seek his own glory, the minister of pure grace.  He’s out to feed the sheep and not fleece the sheep.

There’s a final characteristic illustrated here in verse 18 that I want to emphasize.  “In this matter,” the newly cleansed leper is speaking, “may the Lord pardon your servant.  When my master goes to the house of Rimmon to worship there and he leans on my hand and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.”  Naaman was a new Christian.  Elisha didn’t give him a bunch of rules.  Some may have given him a lecture, “You’re going to go down and bow down to Rimmon, that false god?  You’re a Christian now, and you need to take a bold and rugged stand, even if you’re persecuted and even if you’re killed.  Take a stand.  You can’t bow down in the name of Rimmon.  Be a testimony, no matter what the cost.”  But what did Elisha say when he said, “The Lord forgive me when I bow down?”  Notice verse19, “He said to him, ‘Go in peace.’”  Isn’t that an amazing statement?  “Go in peace.”  Was Elisha compromising?  Was Elisha giving bad advice?  Did Elisha condone the worship of Rimmon when he said that? 

I believe Elisha did not give a stamp of approval on the behavior.  Clearly, Naaman already had a guilty conscience.  He knew it because he said, “May your Lord forgive me when I do this.”  He wouldn’t ask for forgiveness if he didn’t know it was wrong.  He already knew it was wrong, but Elisha, as an instrument of God, was waiting for the Lord to deliver him from that, not some rule that you give.  Elisha knew that as Naaman grew in the Lord, certain things would fall away.  It’s automatic; you look to Christ, and you’re going to walk in the path that He wants you to work.  The willing instrument of the Lord depends on the Lord to complete the work that the Lord began. 

There’s an interesting verse in Ezekiel where Ezekiel condemns some women, and here’s the condemnation.  Ezekiel 13:22, “Because you disheartened the righteous with falsehood when I did not cause him grief.”  Don’t’ give anybody grief until the Lord gives him grief.  That’s a wonderful thing.  There’s an illustration in David’s life.  Again, I’ll just refer to the verse and you can read it.  It’s in 2 Samuel 5:24. Two times the Philistines attacked David.  The first time he prayed, “Lord, should I go and attack them?”  And God said, “Go, and you’ll have victory.”  The same people and enemy attacked a second time.  Wouldn’t you think the first time he said, “Boy, I’ve got God’s will.”  No, he prayed again.  He said, “Lord, they’re attacking again.  Should I go?”  God said, “No, not this time.  You just go down as far as the bushes and you wait, and you are going to hear the sound of My angels in the top of the trees.  When they go, and you hear that, then you go, because I don’t want you to go before I go.  I want to go first.”  I think it’s a wonderful illustration of “go in peace”.  A willing servant waits for the Lord.

I remember when I first got saved way back in 1958.  I don’t have it on paper but I remember.  “Alright, you’ve accepted the Lord, now.  No more dancing.  You’ve accepted the Lord, and you’ve got to quit smoking.”  I never smoked, anyway, but I carried in my shirt, you know.  I had a pack of cigarettes because I wanted to be one of the guys.  “No more lottery tickets, and no more going to movies, and no more drinking.”  One guy told me I couldn’t wear any more jewelry.  One guy said, “No more contact sports.  You can’t play football.”  You get that big list.  Nobody told me to go in peace.  I should have just gone in peace and looked to Jesus, and some of those things that He didn’t want would fall off.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, if you want to be used of the Lord, don’t give people a bunch of rules and regulations, “Don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t listen to this music, don’t go here, don’t go there.”  It’s separation unto, and not from; it’s unto the Lord, and the Lord will deal with it.  It’s not in the Bible, but I think Elisha had a big smile on his face, “I’m going to go and I’m going to bow down and I don’t have a choice; oh, the Lord forgive me..”  “Go in peace.”  He just smiled and said to go in peace.  Don’t put unnecessary burdens on believers.  2 Thessalonians 3:4, “We have confidence in the Lord concerning you.”  I have no confidence in you, and I hope you have no confidence in me, but we can have confidence in the Lord concerning each other, and we can trust God to do it.

I just wanted to mention those four characteristics of an instrument willing to be used.  He knows he has the answer; he’s not trying to be proud and seek personal glory; he’s not mercenary and he’s not out to gain any advantage for himself, and he lets the Lord do the follow-up.

As we come to the end, I want to look at this miracle of the floating ax head in chapter 6:1-7.  Sure enough, I’m going to read the text.  “Now, the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Behold, now, the place before you where you were living is too limited for us.  Please, let us go to the Jordan, and each of us take from there a beam, and let us make a place there for ourselves where we may live.’  So, he said, ‘Go.’  Then one said, ‘Please, be willing to go with your servant.’  And he answered, ‘I shall go.’  And, so, he went with them and when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees, but when one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water.  He cried out and said, ‘Alas, my master, for it was borrowed.’  Then the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’  When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float, and he said, ‘Take it up for yourself.’  So, he put out his hand and he took it.”

Once again, we’re here to see the Lord Jesus.  So, how does this wonderful story reveal the Lord Jesus?  Let me isolate three what I believe are prevailing emphasis, and then we’ll put them together and that will show us our Lord Jesus.

The first emphasis is ministry, Christian service.  There were schools of the prophets, like Bible schools, like seminaries.  There was one in Bethel, one in Jericho, one in Gilgal and several other places.  It’s not mentioned which one this was, but we’re pretty sure it was Gilgal because that was closest to the Jordan River, and wherever they’re building is close to the Jordan River.  Evidently the facility was too small, so they were going to enlarge the dormitory, so these students could attend these schools of the prophets.  So, it’s ministry; that was their mission.  They’re going to build a larger place, a bigger facility.

The next emphasis is in verse 5, “Alas, master, it was borrowed.”  This story not only emphasizes ministry, it emphasizes stewardship; it was borrowed and didn’t belong to him.  In order to be the servant, they had to be good stewards; they had to deal with something belonging to somebody else.  We’re not going to see the distinctive revelation of Christ without that detail, “Alas, Master, it was borrowed.”  That’s essential to the revelation of our Lord.

The third emphasis is in verse 6, “He cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float.”  The King James says, “The iron did swim.”  Well, you get the idea.  Clearly, it’s a mighty miracle.  Iron can’t float and iron can’t swim, especially from the depths of the Jordan River.  Some Christians call the Jordan River the “River of Deaths”.  They have songs about that.  “When you die you cross the Jordan.”  Do you remember, “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wistful eye, to Canaan’s fair and happy land, where my possessions lie.”  The idea is that I’ve got to cross Jordan when I die and go into the Promised Land.  There’s a gospel song, “I have to cross Jordan alone.  When I get ready to die, He’ll be with them.”  “Michael rowed the boat ashore,” that’s Jordan, “the river Jordan is chilly and cold, it chills the body and not the soul.”  It’s a picture of death.    The word doesn’t mean “death”.  Some people say that Jordan means death; it doesn’t.  It means “descending,” and probably because the Jordan descends down to the Dead Sea.  That’s where they get that idea. 

Because that ax head actually rose from the bottom of the Jordan, river of death, to the top, at first, I thought that the great principle in this story is resurrection life, because it’s down there and it comes by a miracle to the top, so that’s resurrection rising up, resurrection life.  I saw resurrection in 1 Kings 17:18 when Elijah raised the son of the widow of Zarephath.  I saw resurrection in 2 Kings 4 when Elisha raised the son of the woman of Shuman, but with this ax head I don’t see resurrection life because the ax head is iron; it’s heavy and there was no life in the ax before the miracle and there’s no life in the ax after the miracle.  Then what’s the principle, if it’s not resurrection life? 

I’m going to suggest this; I want you to entertain “resurrection power”, and not resurrection life.  Resurrection was the illustration of the power necessary to raise that ax head.  If you want to see power in the Old Testament, God’s illustration is creation.  That’s His picture of power all through the Old Testament.  The New Testament illustrates that, Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand the worlds were prepared by the word of God.  So, what was seen was not made out of things which are visible.”  Romans 1:20, “Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.”  Psalm 148:5, “Let them praise the name of the Lord.  He commanded; they were created.”  If you want to see power, just look out there.  Even though Habakkuk called this great creation with all of it’s galaxies, “the hiding of His power,” and yet, that’s His power out there.  But in the New Testament you’ve got a different illustration of power.  Philippians 3:10, “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection.”  Resurrection is the picture of power in the New Testament.

When this ax head floated to the top of the Jordan River, that wasn’t an act of nature.  There’s was no earthquake there, and there was no storm, and there was no volcano causing that thing to rise to the top.  This is not nature working with nature or against nature; this isn’t evaporation overcoming gravity; this is not the law of aerodynamics overpowering the law of gravity.  This is completely against nature; there’s nothing natural about this.  God is overruling things natural.  Since the ax head was raised from the depths of the muddy Jordan, it illustrates to me the mighty power of God; iron can’t float; Peter can’t walk of water.  That takes a miracle of God.

I want to take those three facts and bring them together.  It’s a story about ministry, it’s a story about stewardship, it’s a story about resurrection power.  You can’t read that and not see those three things.  Bringing them together, you’ll see the spiritual message of the story and, hopefully, the great revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is why we gather.

The story proclaims, God is now going to put the principles together, God’s wonderful provision to be the steward I ought to be, to be the servant I ought to be.  It takes resurrection power to be the steward God calls you to be.  It takes resurrection power to be the servant that God calls you to be.  We know it was borrowed.  Stewards, you’re not your own; you are borrowed.  1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God; you are not your own; you’ve been bought with a price.  Glorify God in your body.”  You have to be a steward of what’s not yours, and you are not yours.  1 Corinthians 4:1, “Let a man regard us in this manner, servants of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God.”  We have to be stewards of His mystery.  1 Peter 4:10, “Good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 

Do you honestly believe that you need resurrection power to be a good steward of your body, a good steward of the mysteries of God, a good steward of the manifold grace of God?  I’m not my own, and nothing I have is my own, and I’m living on borrowed time.  Everything we have is borrowed; we have nothing that’s not borrowed, like that ax head.  But I don’t want you leaving this Bible study crying out for something called “power”, or something called “resurrection power”. 

There’s another detail in this story.  2 Kings 6:3, “Then one said,” now he’s talking to Elisha, “’Please be willing to go with your servant,’ and he answered, ‘I will go.’”  They asked Elisha, the one who looked like Jesus, who represents Jesus, “Will you come with us.  We’re going to serve, we’re going minister, we’re going to build, but please come with us.”  Do you know if he didn’t go, there would have been no miracle.  It’s the presence of the one who looks like Jesus; it’s the presence of the Lord.  It’s not just power or resurrection power, it’s a Person who is giving that wonderful power.  Many Christians still have to learn Philippians 3:10, “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection.”  Power doesn’t come first; He comes first.  To know Him is to know His power.

I think you know some of my testimony.  I tried for seven long years, and I wanted to be a good steward, and I wanted to be a good servant.  I had no clue that the ax head fell off, and I was trying to serve the Lord with an ax handle.  I just tried to swing that all over the place.  I didn’t even know that it was gone, and what a failure I was!  Imagine chopping with an ax handle for seven years, and that’s what I did.

If you notice how he performed the mighty miracle in verse 6, “He showed them a place, and he cut off a stick and threw it in there.”  He cut off a stick.  This is Old Testament and this pictured; that stick represents the cross.  Nothing else is going to make you rise from the dead.  That stick is just a picture.  100% everything depends upon the atonement; everything depends upon the blood.  That stick, that piece of wood, represented the cross, the finished work.  Nothing but the finished work can raise that ax head from its watery grave.  I began this lesson with Psalm 18:16, “He sent from high, He took me, He drew me out of many waters.”  The cross is the reason He can do it, but the power is always in the Person; it’s always in Him.

Are you familiar with the very last promise that the Lord Jesus gave before He ascended to His holy Father God?  The last promise is in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”  It’s exactly right, connecting the power with the Person; it’s in the Life of God. 

I want to call attention to how the story ends, and then we’ll wrap it up.  2 Kings 6:6, “The man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ and he showed him the place.  He cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float.”  He showed him the place.  Brothers and sisters in the Lord, if like me you’ve been chopping with an ax handle, remember the place where you first had confidence in the flesh; identify it.  When did you lose it?  To say it another way, when did you fly off the handle?  To say it another way, when did you end up over your head?  To say it another way, when did you say, “I’m sunk.”  It’s all pictured in this marvelous, marvelous story.  Mark that place and confess it to the Lord.

Look at the last verse in the story, verse 7, “He said, ‘Take it up for yourself.’  He put out his hand and took it.”  The power of the Lord is placed within our reach.  That’s the illustration He gives here.  He does a mighty miracle and puts it within your reach.  Notice that it’s the resurrected ax head that he tells him to take.  It’s not the one that’s down in the dumps.  I know I’m borrowed, and I know all I have is borrowed and I know the time I’m living is borrowed, and the message I proclaim is borrowed; I need to be a faithful steward.  I need to be a faithful witness.

We’re often taught that if I’m going to be a faithful steward, if I’m going to be a faithful witness, then since I’m borrowed, I need to surrender what was borrowed, give it to the Lord, commit it to Him in total surrender, dedicate yourself, more surrender, more dedication, die to yourself, consecrate yourself, give yourself…  We keep trying to surrender the borrowed ax head, and we keep giving the Lord..  Here’s how it works in my life; here’s how it worked, past tense, in my life.  “Dear Lord, here I am again.  I’m a broken mess.  I screwed up again.  I failed again.  I’m nothing but a failure.  I’m a fool.  I messed up.  My life is rotten to the core.  Please, take these broken pieces.  Here I come, Lord.  Take me, take me; I’m no good.  I’m worthless.  I come to You again.  I rededicate myself.”  And I hear God saying, “Will you stop doing that!  Why in the world are you giving Me that junk.  I took that two thousand years ago.  I took it to the cross.  It’s done, it’s over.  Stop giving Me that mess.

Rather, Romans 6:13, “Do not go on presenting the members of your bodies to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.  Present yourself to God as those alive from the dead, your members as instruments of righteousness.”  Reach out; it’s in your reach.  Take that resurrected ax head that was raised by the power of God, and then surrender that to the Lord.  Give yourselves as those alive from the dead.  Your prayer will go something like this, “Lord, thank You for letting me die with You.  I have been risen with You and I’m seated with You in heavenly places.  My life is hid with Christ in God.  I’m filled with the Holy Spirit.  I know that You are my Lord and You are my Master.”  I surrender that to the Lord.  Give yourselves as those alive from the dead.  It’s within your reach.  It’s within my reach.  He has given us supernaturally every provision to be the steward that He’s called us to be.  He’s given us every provision to be the servant that we ought to be.  He’s not going to force you or me.  He raises it from the depths and says, “Take it; it’s in your reach.”  By the simple step of faith just reach out and take that resurrection power, that I might know Him and the power of His resurrection.

Father, thank You for Your precious word, again everything You’ve inspired it to mean.  Work that in our hearts.  We thank You, Lord, for these wonderful stories that illustrate such wonderful truths, but Lord we want to see Jesus.  Thank You that You’re the One that gives the resurrection power, and so we live by Your Life.  Work this in us we pray.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.