Elijah & Elisha Message #26 “Conclusion – Elisha Weeping, Angry & Rejoicing” Ed Miller, Oct. 11, 2023

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

We thank the Lord that He’s gathered us together, another privilege that He’s given us to meet together around His word and to focus on the Son of God, the dear Lord Jesus. 

As we come to look in God’s word, there’s that indispensable principle of total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit, and in connection with that, let me just share 1 Corinthians 2:14, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they’re foolishness to him; he cannot understand them because they’re spiritually discerned or appraised.”  When you see that expression “natural man”, don’t only think of unsaved, the non-Christian; that is the natural man, but anyone who trusts nature, even a believer, if you’re trusting your own mind, or I’m trusting my own mind, I’m coming as a natural man.  If I come to the Bible trusting my own mind, or all the academics, according to the Bible, it’s impossible to see the Lord Jesus.  So, as we come to the Lord, we need to trust the Holy Spirit.  The natural man can connect truth, and compare scriptures, and actually the natural man can construct a well-ordered system of sound theology, but he cannot see Jesus without the Holy Spirit.+

Our Father, we thank You that You’ve gathered us again this morning, and we just pray that the indwelling Holy Spirit, the very One who has written the Bible, would now breathe on it again, and enlighten our hearts that we might behold in a new, fresh and living way our Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank You that Your word is designed to show us Christ, that everyone who is taught of God comes to Him.  We pray this morning that we might behold the Lord.  Thank You for the capacities You’ve given us, the hunger You’ve worked in our heart, and now meet us where we are, and take us where You’d have us.  We ask in the precious name of our Lord Jesus.  Amen.

We gather to see and behold our Lord Jesus, and as we gather this morning, that’s why we’re here.  We’ve been looking at the Lord Jesus through His servant, Elisha.  We looked at the lives of Elijah and Elisha, and for a long while now we’ve been meditating on Elisha, the man who looked like Jesus.  This morning we’re going to have our final study in this little series in Elijah and Elisha.  We’re going to look at the last records that God gives of them in the Old Testament. 

There are three Elisha stories that we’ve not looked at.  In these, as in all the others, Elisha looks like Jesus, Elisha represents Jesus.  Our general plan, as we’ve gone through this, has been, “How does Elisha resemble Jesus.”  Elisha is just a picture and just a shadow.  The reality is Jesus, and He lives in our heart.   Elisha, the man who looks like Jesus, represents Christ who is Jesus, and lives in our heart, and what does that look like?  And that’s how we’ve been going through this series.  May the Lord help me as we wrap up this series on this servant of the Lord.

As we clinch our series, I want to take those last three stories, because they’re all connected, and it actually gives one message.  Each one contains a revelation of the Lord, but taken together it’s sort of a summary of everything we’ve looked at, and a climactic look at our Lord Jesus and the heart of Christ.  I’ll first give you the references, and sort of a title to each of the stores, and then I’ll show how they’re vitally connected and then summarize the whole story of Elijah and Elisha, and then, Lord willing, we’ll look at each story in order to behold Jesus, to behold the Lord.

First of all, let me give you the references and the titles of these stories.  The first clincher story is in 2 Kings 8:7-15, and this is the story of the beginning of the story of Haziel who is the king of Syria.  In this story, Elisha, the man who looks like Jesus, weeps.  That’s important.  The second clincher story is in 2 Kings 13:14-19.  These are Elisha’s final words to Joash, the king of Israel.  In this story, Elisha, the man who looks like Jesus, gets angry.  That’s important.  Then the third clincher story is 2 Kings 13:20 when that unnamed man who had died is brought to the tomb of Elisha and thrown and touches his bones and comes to life again.  Though it’s not stated, it’s implied that in this there is a rejoicing.  The whole point is that Elisha weeps, Elisha gets angry, and this last story, though Elisha is dead, is a story about rejoicing.  What we’d like to look at is, “What made Elisha weep?” because that’s what makes Jesus weep.  What made Elisha angry, because that’s what makes Jesus angry and disappointed.  And then what makes Jesus rejoice, and we’re going to look at that, because He lives in your heart and mine to weep, and to be disappointed and to rejoice.  Those stories are going to carry that great message.

Let me show you why I think the three stories are connected, and therefore become a summary of the lives of Elijah and Elisha.  I see a connection in each of these three stories in that each one, even though they’re at the end, go back to the beginning.  Each one has a reference to how it all started, and we see a transition between the ministry of Elijah and the ministry of Elisha.  Let me show how that is so. 

In the first clincher story 2 Kings 8:7-15, the beginning of the reign of Haziel, the king of Syria, here is how this story reaches all the back to the beginning to Elijah’s ministry.  2 Kings 8:7&8, “Then Elisha came to Damascus.  Now Benhadad, king of Aram, was sick, and it was told him saying, ‘The man of God has come here.’  And the king said to Haziel, ‘Take a gift in your hand, and go meet the man of God, and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, ‘Will I recover from this sickness?’”  I call attention to the reference of the name “Haziel”.  Haziel now comes into Elisha’s life.  Remember when Elijah was recommissioned, 1 Kings 19:15, “The Lord said to him, ‘Go, and return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you’ve arrived you shall anoint Haziel king over Aram.’”  In the beginning Haziel is mentioned; now we’re more than sixty years later and Haziel walks into the life of Elisha.  So, just that name “Haziel” goes back to the beginning, and then it connects to the end.

Just so, in the second story, 2 Kings 13:14-19, Elisha’s final words to Joash, the king of Israel.  Note the comment that Joash makes in verse 14, at the end of that verse, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and it’s horsemen!”  Do you remember that comment?  See, that was also at the beginning, and now it’s at the end.  2 Kings 2:12, “Elisha saw it and cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’  And he saw Elijah no more.”  When Elijah was carried up to glory, those are the very words that Elisha said, because Elijah was going to glory.  Now, Elisha is going to glory, and those words are spoken by him.  Quite apart of what was intended by that statement, it connects the rapture of Elijah with the death of Elisha.

The third story also takes us back, but this time by contrast.  2 Kings 13:20, “Elisha died, and they buried him.”  2 Kings 2:11, “They were going along talking, and behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.”  Once again, that contrast takes you back to the beginning; Elijah goes to heaven one way, and Elisha another way. 

The fact that those three final stories in this series refer back to the beginning, I think it suggests that these stories from the beginning to the end, from start to finish, sort of summarize the lives and ministry of these wonderful servants of the Lord.  Also, I incline to think that it also gives us a clincher revelation of our Lord Jesus, and it’s a comprehensive look at the heart of God that we haven’t had before.  I’ d like to look at each story and focus on the main characteristic of Elisha, the man who looks like Jesus.

In the first story, the main presentation of Elisha is 2 Kings 8:11, “He fixed his gaze steadily on him until he was ashamed, and the man of God wept.”  Elisha stares, and then he weeps.  What does he see and what does he gaze at that causes him to weep?  In the reality that’s what Jesus who lives in my heart and yours, that’s what He sees and that causes Him to weep.  If we are living in union with Him, the Christ in us will weep. 

Let me relate the story.  First, I want to show you the relationship between Benhadad and Haziel.  Benhadad was the king of Syria at this time, and at this time Haziel was his trusted friend.  They were close; he was probably some officer in his army, but they were very close.  Remember that Benhadad was an idolatrous king; he wasn’t looking to the Lord; he wasn’t looking to the one, true and living God.  He’s the one that sent Naaman to Israel, in order to be cleansed of his leprosy.  Do you remember what Naaman said about him?  2 Kings 5:18, “In this manner, may the Lord pardon your servant when my master goes into the house of Rimmen to worship there.” Benhadad was a worshipper of the false God Rimmen.  Don’t get confused, because sometimes in the Bible it’s a place as well as a false god; it’s an inheritance that’s a city in the inheritance of Zebulon, and it’s a town in the inheritance of Judah.  Rimmen was also one of the campsites during the wilderness, but it’s also a false god, the god of fertility.  It comes from root in the pomegranate, and all, and it’s a little complicated.  The point is that Rimmen was the chief god of Syria.  In fact, he has his own house, the house of Rimmen.  He has his own temple.  It’s a main god, and Benhadad worshipped that god.

I bring that up because Benhadad worshipped Rimmen when he was healthy, but now, listen to verses 7 & 8, “Elisha came to Damascus, and Benhadad, king of Aram, was sick.”  He’s not healthy anymore.  “And it was told him, ‘The man of God is come here.’  And the king said to Haziel, ‘Take a gift in your hand, and go meet the man of God and inquire of the Lord by him, saying, “Will I recover from this sickness?”’”  It’s interesting that people will worship false gods when they’re healthy, but as soon as they face death and eternity, then they send for the man of God; then they want to inquire of the true God.  There’s no comfort in a lie; there’s not comfort in a false god and no relief.

Anyway, Haziel at that time was the trusted friend of Benhadad, and he sent him to Elisha with a question, “Ask this man of God, ‘Am I going to live, or am I going to die?’”  So, he comes, because he’s a friend, to Elisha and he’s laden with gifts.  Verses 8 & 9, “Haziel went to meet him and took a gift in his hand, even every kind of good thing of Damascus, forty camels loads, and he came and stood before him and said, ‘Your son Benhadad, king of Aram, sent me to you, “Will I recover from this sickness?”’” 

Now, the Holy Spirit focuses on the answer to that question, “Will I recover, or will I die?”  He gives a strange answer.  I heard an ethnic joke once about, “’Check if my blinker is working.’  And they went in the back of the car and said, ‘Yes – no – yes – no…’”  Well, that’s the answer he gave.  “Am I going to live or die?  Am I going to die?”  “Yes – no – yes – no…”  Listen to 2 Kings 8:10, “Elisha said to him, ‘Go say to him, “You shall surely recover, but the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die.”’”  There’s no contradiction there.  Elisha is saying that this sickness will not take his, and that he can recover from this sickness, but he’s not going to recover, and there’s a reason he’s not going tor recover, because , “You, Haziel, are going to murder him; you are going to kill him; you’re going to assassinate the king; you are going to kill your trusted friend.”

Elisha begins at that point to stare at him.  Verse 11, “He fixed his gaze steadily on him until he was ashamed.”  What’s that look; what’s that gaze?  Elisha with his piercing gaze looked right into the soul of Haziel.  He saw what was inside of him, and that made Haziel squirm.  When someone just starts staring at you, you’re going to get nervous.  You can see that he’s guilty and he’s ashamed and afraid.  It was that look, the same look that our Lord Jesus first met Peter, the first time Peter spoke to Him, John 1:42, “He brought him to Jesus,” that’s Andrew brought Peter, “and Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John, and you shall be called Cephas,’” (which is translated Peter.”  He looked at him and said, “I know who you are, and I know your father.  His name is John.  I know your family, and I know your future.”  It was that kind of a look.  Peter got that look again, you remember, in the court of the high priest when Jesus was being falsely accused.  Luke 22:61, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, and how he told him that before a rooster crows today, you’ll deny Me three times, and he went out and wept bitterly.”  It was that look that cause him to weep bitterly.

After Elisha stared at him and looked into the depths of his heart, suddenly Elisha burst into tears.  2 Kings 8:11, “The man of God wept.”  It shocked Haziel when he saw Elisha weeping, and he asked the question in verse 12, “Haziel said, ‘Why does my Lord weep?’”  “Why are you crying?”  Then Elisha spelled it out.  He said, “I’m crying because of what I saw when I looked in your heart.  Verse 12, “Because I know the evil you’re going to do to the sons of Israel.  Their stronghold you’ll set on fire, their young men you will kill with the sword, the little ones you’ll dash in pieces, and their women with child you will rip up.”  “That’s what I saw, and that’s why I’m crying.”  Of course, Haziel denied such possibilities were in his heart.  Verse 13, “Haziel said, ‘What is your servant, who is but a dog that he would do these things?’”  “Do you think I’d do these things?  Am I a dog to do that?”  But Elisha saw what was in his heart. 

Elisha could have, but didn’t, and this is also important, excused himself for a moment, “I’ll be right back; stay right here,” and he could have gone in another compartment and he could have said to his servant, “Listen, I’ve just seen things in this man’s servant, and I want you to run ahead and warn Benhadad of the treachery that’s about to come to him, and let him know that his trusted friend is not a friend and he’s going to kill him.  Let him know that.”  He could have done that, but he didn’t do that.  He could have prevented it.  That would have changed history, if he had done that.  But he just prophesied and he didn’t stop it. 

Here’s the end of the story.  Verses 14 &15, “Elisha answered, ‘The Lord has shown me that you’ll be king over Aram.’  So, he departed from Elisha and returned to his master who said, ‘What did Elisha say to you?’  And he answered, ‘He told me that you would surely recover.’  On the following day he took the cover and dipped it in water and spread it on his face, so that he died, and Haziel became king in his place.’”  He smothered him and put a wet rag over his nose and mouth, and smothered him to death.  That’s what broke Elisha’s heart.

Let me comment a little more on verse 11, “He fixed his gaze steadily on him until he was ashamed, and the man of God wept.”  As Elisha, the picture of the one who looks like Jesus, was broken-hearted over what he saw, in the reality the Lord Jesus is broken-hearted over what He sees; what He sees and allows.  He doesn’t stop it.  We know the Lord will not violate a will, not a personal will, not a corporate will or a national will.  He’s going to overrule the evil, and He’s going to get glory in the end.  Psalm 76:10, “The wrath of man shall praise you.”  He’s going to get the glory that He deserves, but when He sees what the wrath of man can do and will do, it breaks His heart.  John 16:2, “Jesus warned his disciples, ‘They’re going to kill you and think they’re serving the Lord.’”  Do you remember Palm Sunday, when the people were singing and the children were singing and dancing and throwing palms in the way, and singing out “Hosanna to the Son of David”?   Luke 19:41, “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and He wept over it.”  Everyone was singing and dancing and rejoicing, and Jesus weeps.  It tells you why in Luke 19:43, “The days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they’ll level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”  Jesus wept because He saw what was coming to His people, and what He had the ability to stop but couldn’t stop because of His redemptive purposes.  He saw the heart of man. 

Brothers and sisters, as I address you today, we know where we are in our society, and don’t you think for moment that the Lord Jesus is not weeping over what Hamas is doing to His people.  He’s weeping.  To the degree you allow Him to live in your heart, you’ll be weeping, too.  He lives in you, and He wants to manifest Himself, and He weeps in us.  When He saw Haziel’s heart, and the cruelty and hate and the violence and the destruction and the inhumane treatment that he was going to give to God’s people, he wept, and he didn’t stop it; he had to allow it.  It’s redemptive, somehow.  You’ll be weeping and I’ll be weeping, not only for what’s happening in Israel, but God’s people are being persecuted all over the world.  We ought to be allowing the Lord to let us see that, so that He can weep through us.  It’ll end up to His glory, but, oh my, right now, if we’re living in union with Christ, He will express Himself that way.  John 11:33, another illustration of when Jesus wept, “When Jesus, therefore, saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ And they said to Him, ‘Come and see.’  Jesus wept.”

Remember, in only five minutes He was planning to raise Lazarus from the dead.  That’s an amazing thing.  I speak as a fool, but if that were me, and I really speak as a fool, if I were Jesus walking with Martha and Mary, and they’re weeping and the people are weeping, and their hearts are broken and their brother has died, I think I would have leaned over and said, “Hang in there; give five more minutes.  You’re not going to believe what I’m about to do.  You are now weeping, but in five minutes you’re going to be rejoicing and you’re going to leave this cemetery singing and glorifying God,” but He didn’t.  He wept with them, even though He knows what is going to come at the end, as they go through it.  He’s the high priest that’s touched with the feelings of our infirmities.  We don’t know the end; He does, and it’s glorious and victorious, and He’ll be glorified, but don’t be afraid to cry and don’t be afraid to weep and don’t be afraid to be hurt and don’t be afraid to agonize; Jesus is doing that with you, even though he knows the glorious end.  As you go through it, He’s touched with the feelings of your infirmities and mine.

The Christ in me, the Christ in you, the Christ in us will be manifest as Elisha.  We’ll be greatly affected as we see God’s people suffer.   Sometimes it’s for testimony sake, and sometimes it’s chastening, but either way He must allow it, and He’s not going to stop it, but it’s all redemptive.  Elisha weeps, Jesus weeps, Jesus weeps in me.

That brings us to the second clincher story, 2 Kings 13:14-19, Elisha’s final words to Joash, the king of Israel.  Of course, we want to focus again on the emotion, verse 19, “So, the man of God was angry with him.”  That’s where we’re headed; that’s what we want to see.  In the first clincher story, the man of God wept.  In this story he gets angry, and he was disappointed.  Let me tell the story of what led up to that anger, and then relate it to our Lord Jesus.

The occasion of this story is stated in verse 14, “When Elisha became sick with the illness with which he was to die, Joash, king of Israel, came down to him and looked over him and said, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and horsemen.’”  Let me give you two little observations of background that I think are helpful.  The first is this, that Elisha is now a rather old man; he’s sick and he’s on his deathbed.  As far as the Bible record goes, you might be surprised at this, the last time we heard about Elisha was in 2 Kings 9 when he gave a command to one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu, the king over Israel.  That was a long time ago.  Jehu reigned for twenty-eight years, and after he died, his son, Jehoahaz took over, and he reigned for another eight years.  After him, now we’re deep into a new king, Joash. 

The point is this, we haven’t heard from Elisha or about Elisha for forty-five years.  We think that he worked miracles right up until the end.  No, he was out of the picture for forty-five years.  I don’t know if he still did miracles.  I’m saying this is according to the record.  He might have still been doing miracles that we don’t know about, but as far as the Bible record is concerned, for the last forty-five years nobody hears about Elisha.  And then God opens the curtain again and we see him as an old man, probably late eighties or early nineties, if you judge by the kings and all of that.  He’s a sick old man and he’s on his deathbed.

The second fact that’s helpful to know, not only that he’s been out of the picture for forty-five years, but the king that came to visit him, Joash, is also very wicked.  He’s not looking to the Lord.  2 Kings 13:11, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord.  He did not turn away from the sin of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel sin, but he walked in them.”  He’s a wicked man.  In the context it looks like he’s Godly, because in verse 14 when he sees the king, he weeps over him, and then he says that wonderful sentence, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and it’s horsemen.”  He acknowledges that Elijah is the defense of Israel.  That’s the idea of the chariots.  When a man of God dies, the defense of the country dies, and he’s acknowledging that.  But I think this visit is more of a courtesy call. 

He was a very famous prophet, sort of like Billy Graham; he met with Truman and he met with Eisenhower, and he met with Carter and he met with Clinton and he met with Bush and he met with Trump.  These guys aren’t looking to the Lord, but they’re acknowledging this famous guy.  Anyway, I think it’s more of a courtesy call.  Elisha is dying and the king comes and acknowledges that. The words were spoken when Elijah was carried to glory, and now I think the king is saying, “We know you’re on your deathbed, and remember those words, and now we know you are the defense of Israel.

That’s all we need for the background, that Elisha has been out of sight for forty-five years, and this is a wicked king.  The story will be understood in terms of an object lesson.  Elisha, the old man ready to die, now gives an object lesson.  Verse 15, “’Take a bow and arrows.’  So, he took a bow and arrows.  Then he said to the king of Israel, ‘Put your hand on the bow.’  And he put his hand on it.  Then Elisha laid his hand on the king’s hand.  He said, ‘Open the window toward the east.’ And he opened it.  Then Elisha said, ‘Shoot.’  And he shot.  And he said, ‘The Lord’s arrow of victory.’”

The object lesson; I’m going to give you the principle.  The object lesson to this wicked king is, is there a possibility of victory for Israel?  The answer is, “Yes, but it must be the Lord’s victory.  This is the Lord’s arrow of victory.  The victory will not depend upon the strength or skill of men or the weapons of man.  It’s from the Lord.”  2 Kings 13:17 says that in plain words, “The Lord’s arrow of victory.”  To enforce the fact that it was the Lord’s victory, and man had, I can’t say no part, but a very simple part, that man had no meaningful part in this victory, there was another part of the object lesson.  2 Kings 13:16, “And he said to the king of Israel, ‘Put your hand on the bow.’ And he put his hand on it, and Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hand.”  Try to picture that.  He’s got the bow and arrows, and now Elisha, the man who looked like Jesus, puts his hands on top of the man’s hand who is holding the bow.  It’s a picture, I think, of union with the Lord.  It’s not your battle.  You might say, “Yeah, but I’ve got to fight him; it’s my bow.”  “Yeah, you hold the bow, and the Lord will hold you.”  That’s the idea.  It’s illustrated here as an object lesson.  I like in that connection the benediction to Joseph, Genesis 49:24, “His bow remained firm; his arms were agile from the hands of the mighty One of Jacob.”  I hold the bow and the Lord holds me.  You hold the bow and the Lord holds you.  It’s His victory; it’s not yours.  Psalm 18:34, “He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”  It’s just the Lord’s victory, and it doesn’t depend on me. 

There are other things in this object that illustrate that double truth.  It’s His victory and not mine.  It’s my bow but His victory.  It’s my arrows but it’s His victory.  It’s my hand but it’s His hand on top of mine.  To illustrate this even further, that it’s not from man, he gives Joash a target, “Here’s your responsibility; here’s your target.”  Verse 17, “He said, ‘Open the window toward the east.’  He opened it, and Elisha said, ‘Shoot.’  And he shot.”  What’s the target?  The east; toward the east.  That’s the target.  Joash did not realize at this point until after he shot.  In his mind he’s got one target, east, “I’m going to shoot east.”  The prophet’s mind had a particular target in verse 17, “And he said, ‘The Lord’s arrow of victory, even victory over Aram; you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you’ve destroyed them.’”  In the prophets mind, Syria was the target, but he didn’t know that.  For him it’s just a direction, “Just shoot east.” 

It’s true that the last victory Syria had over Israel was when they captured Gilead and that was east from where he was, but to Joash the target was east.  To illustrate further that victory is the Lord’s and it’s not yours, he gives him a new target.  “In case that’s too complicated for you to short east, I’m going to give you another target.”  Verse 18, “And he said, ‘Take the arrows,’ and he took them, and he said the king of Israel, ‘Strike the ground.’”  That was a great target.  I think even I could hit that. 

Before I home in on that, let me just say a word about “take arrows and strike the ground”.  Commentators have different ideas about it.  Some think that he took a bundle of arrows from his quiver and he just hit the floor, but they have a problem because it says “the ground”.  Then they say, “Well, maybe he went outside, left the sick man in the room and then struck the ground, and struck the ground three times.  According to those who know Hebrew and the scholarship, we learn that “strike” is “shoot”, shoot the bow, “shoot the arrows and hit the ground, strike the ground.”  There’s no indication in the record that Joash ever shut the window facing east, and there is no indication that the prophet Elisha ever took his hands off of the hands of Joash.  The only thing that changed was the target, “shoot east, shoot the ground.”  “Shoot east,” there might be someone as clueless as I am on direction; I wouldn’t know east from a barn door.  So, he says, “Shoot the ground.” 

Some might say, “You know, this Christian life is just too difficult for me; I’ll never be able to live in victory.”  Can you face east?  If you can’t, can you hit the ground?  Great day, you can’t miss the ground!  The Christian life will never be more difficult than facing east and hitting the ground.  That’s the simplicity of the Christian life, “Face east, and leave the rest to the Lord.”  “Hit the ground and leave the rest to the Lord.”  I like that “hit the ground” because I can face in any direction and hit the ground; I can’t miss the ground.  So, that’s my part and your part.

Now we come to the chief point, verse 19, “The man of God was angry with him, and said, ‘You should have struck five or six times.”  Why did he get angry?  Verse 18, “Take the arrows, strike the ground.”  He struck it three times and stopped.  “You should have struck it six times and then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it.  Now you shall strike Aram only three times.”  Elisha got angry, not because of what Joash did, but because of what he didn’t do, not because he struck it three times, but because he didn’t strike it five or six times.  God wanted him to have complete victory, total victory, and he settled for less than a perfect victory.

I’m going to give an illustration.  My grandsons live right next door to me, and we have a basketball hoop in our yard.  Very often they come over and shoot hoops in our yard.  My Lillian and me, we have outlived our youth, and we have outlived our energy, and we have outlived many ways that we used to be of service to our family.  If they’re going to move from one house to another, we used to help them move and carry furniture.  We can’t do that anymore.  I used to play sports with the kids.  I can’t do that anymore.  I thought I could.  I took a football in my hand and I said, “Go out, out,” and they just sort of turned around, and I said, “Go, go, run, run, out, further, further, go, go,” and then I just dropped the ball.  I thought I could throw the ball.  I couldn’t even throw the ball.  We’ve outlived our ability to be a blessing, but we still want to be a blessing.  Sometimes, people don’t realize that you’ve outlived what you used to do and you only have what you have left, and so, sometimes all we have left is a little finances and we’d like to buy you a meal or we’d like to do something like that.  Some people resist because they don’t realize that you’ve outlived your other possibilities, so even trying to serve the Lord is difficult.

Anyway, I picture my grandsons out there, and in this illustration let’s say I went to them one day and I said, “Boys, there’s a hoop.  You stand over there, and I’m going to give you five dollars if you take that basketball and shoot in the direction of the hoop.  You don’t even have to get it in; just shoot in the direction of the hoop, and I’ll give you five dollars.”  So, they do, and I do; I give them five dollars.  Lillian frowns and says, “It should have been three.”  Then I point to a rack of balls; there are other balls on the rack.  Now I say, “I’ll tell you what, there are other balls there, and you’ve got eight balls.  I want you to shoot those, also, and this time you don’t even have to aim at the basket.  Just shoot it somewhere and hit the ground.”  Then, how many would you shoot?  Would you shoot one, two?

Yesterday I came home and two of my grandsons were playing in the yard.  I didn’t tell them why.  I gave them this scenario.  I said the same thing.  “Would you be happy if you shot in the direction and got five dollars?  There’s a rack of eight balls, how many would you shoot.”  My first grandson said, “I’d shoot all eight.”  My second one said, “I would shoot two.”  I said, “Marcus, why would you shoot two?”  He said, “I hate taking advantage of you.”  So, I had to change the illustration.  I said, “Okay, so I’m a billionaire.  Now, how many would you shoot?”  He said, “I would shoot everyone.” 

“This is the Lord’s victory, Joash, and I’ve identified it.  The arrow is the Lord’s victory, and you know it.  Now, take the arrows and hit the ground.”  And he only took three; incomplete surrender. Joash knew that the arrow represented God’s victory, and what disappointed the man of God, and what made him angry was that someone would settle for less than all.  God was offering him complete victory, and he only decided to give 50%.  We know he had six arrows, because he said he could have shot five or six, but only shot three.  Many Christians have only given the Lord 50%.  I can’t take more than God offers, but I can opt to take less.  You can’t take more than God offers, but you can opt to take less.  Unbelief disappoints the Lord.  Remember Matthew 13:58, “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.”  We can actually keep the Lord from giving us complete victory.  It’s His victory, and it’s in union with Him and He holds our hand and He doesn’t require anything of you but a direction and an easy target.  You say, “I’m nowhere near the real enemy.”  “He says, ‘I’ll take care of that.  You just hit the ground.’”  Anybody, even me, anybody can do that.

That brings us, then, to our final story, and it’s only two verses; verses 20 & 21, “Elisha died, and they buried him.  Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year.  As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha, and when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet.”  All earnest Bibles students who have studied this, have asked the same question, “Why did the Holy Spirit take a story, insert a verse, and then continue the story.  Why would He put that verse right in the middle?”  It breaks up.  In 2 Kings 13:14-19 we have God’s promise that He will give three victories to Israel over Syria.  Then, suddenly, in verses 20 & 21 we have this record of the dead guy being thrown into Elisha’s tomb and then being raised again, and then the story resumes in verses 22 & 23, “Now Haziel, king of Aram, had oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz, but the Lord was gracious to them, and had compassion on them, and turned to them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and would not destroy them or cast them from His presence until now.”  Verse 25, “Three times Joash defeated him and recovered the cities of Israel.” 

So, the story continues, “I promise,” and then at the end, the fulfillment of the promises, but stuck in the middle is this wonderful, glorious story of being raised from the dead.  Let me suggest a possible reason for the Holy Spirit inserting this story where He did.  I told you that the message of the previous story is, “It’s God’s victory, and not mine; it’s His and not mine.”  The illustration He gave, of course, are two pretty simple targets—just a direction and hit the ground.  That’s as easy as you can get.  But now God is going to reinforce that.  Let me ask this question, “What part did Elisha have in this miracle?”  He’s dead, and he’s been dead quite a while because there are only bones left.  He’s dead, and there are only bones left.  When a dead body touches dead bones and somebody rises from the dead, who did that?  Well, you know the answer.  That’s the Lord; it’s the Lord’s victory.  Just like I can have a certain direction and I can shoot and hit the ground, here He requires me to be dead, and if you’ll accept it, free from the flesh, and just bones, and somebody touches me, they live.  Who gets glory for that?  The answer it’s glory to the Lord.

Before I home in on the final revelation of Christ, let me just describe this scene.  It’s only a couple of verses but it’s a funeral procession.  They’re carrying a dead body.  I don’t know if the family is involved in this procession or if the friends are involved or if there are hired mourners or something like that.  The Jewish mode of burying was not a coffin; they would just take a linen wrappings and wrap them up and put them in a cave and roll a stone in front of it and so on.  There were plenty of caves in this particular area.  Now, whether they were heading for a designated cave for this particular corpse, the Bible doesn’t say.  We know it was a formal procession.  Suddenly, they eye a band of Moabite bandits, and the funeral procession is attacked.  These people come down and they’re attacking, so everybody scatters and are running in every direction, and the pallbearers are carrying a body.  They see this tomb, this cave, and they move the stone and they throw the body in, and that’s sort of what took place.  When that body touched the bones of Elisha, you know what happened; that man came to life.  I don’t think they had any idea that was Elisha’s cave/grave.  2 Kings 13:21:  “They cast the man into the grave of Elisha and when the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.”  My guess is that after that he began to run, as well, as they were still being attacked.  What a miracle, and Elisha gets no glory at all.

I want to close by just making a couple of observations and come to the revelation of our Lord Jesus.  I already pointed out the way Elijah went to heaven, and the way Elisha goes to heaven.  They were both heading for the same place; they both went to glory.  One died a sick old man, and the other was caught away in that chariot of fire.  2 Kings 13:14, “Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die.”  That verse shows us that sometimes in the will of God, some die of sickness.  Some people teach that it’s a sin to be sick, and it’s unbelief if you are not healed, and they claim that Christ died for sickness as well as for sin.  Just like by faith you can claim forgiveness because He died for sin, so you can claim healing because He died for sickness, and they say that the doctrine is that there is healing in the atonement.  But the fact of the Bible is that healing is not in atonement; it’s based on the atonement; every good thing God has ever done is because of the blood of our Lord Jesus.  They use the verse, “By His stripes you are healed.”  But they don’t go back to the source.  Isaiah 53:5, “He was pierced for our transgression; He was crushed for our iniquities.  By His stripes we’re healed.”  In has to do with iniquities; it has to do with transgressions.  That’s the healing; it’s a spiritual healing.

Anyway, Elisha didn’t die because of lack of faith.  2 Timothy 4:20, “Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.”  My question is why?  Paul, why did you leave him sick?  Why didn’t you heal him?  Galatians 4:13, “You know it was because of a bodily illness I preached the gospel to you for the full time.”  Paul got sick, and he was carried to Galatia to recover, and that’s when God used him to found that church.  You would not have Galatians 2:20, “I’m crucified with Christ…” if Paul didn’t get sick.  Praise God that he got sick; he gave us this wonderful thing!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, leave your journey to heaven to the Lord; He can cast you away suddenly, or you can go victoriously to a bed of sickness like Elisha did.  Leave that to the Lord.  Elijah escape the grave; Elisha conquered the grave.  You say that Elijah went to heaven without dying.  So did Elisha!  They both went to heaven without dying.  When a person dies, he doesn’t lose consciousness; he’s present immediately with the Lord, fully conscious.  His body dies and falls into the grave but your loved one can’t die.  Remember the wonderful words of our Lord to Martha, John 11:26, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live, even if he dies; everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”  Do you believe this?  I might succumb, my body might fall over, and if it happens right now and I have a heart attack and I just dropped over, you better believe I didn’t die.  I left and I changed address and I moved but I didn’t die. 

Of course, the primary application applies to Jesus because of His death.  A dead person can touch Him and come to life, spring to life.  John 12:24, “I say to you, ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.’”  Do you understand why God has told us to reckon ourselves dead?  It’s because that’s when He gets the most glory, when we’re out of the picture completely.  We reckon ourselves dead and God will allow dead people to touch us.  The application is for Christ who lives in us, but our influence goes on.  Hebrews 11:4, you remember what was said of Abel, “Though he’s dead, yet he speaks.”  He continues to speak.

I’ll close with this.  I shared this with you before, the end of Hebrews 11:39-40, “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.”  Our loved ones when they die, we say, “They went to their reward.”  Yes, but they didn’t receive their rewards.  This verse teaches that we’re all going to be together when the rewards are handed out.  Do you know why?  It’s because they’re still earning rewards.  The influence of their lives goes on, being dead they speak.  He can’t reward them now because they’re still earning the rewards.  Those loved ones, and there are people in this room who have lost loved ones, they haven’t lost them; you don’t lose it unless you don’t know where it is.  If you know where it is, it’s not lost.  They’ve seen loved ones go to glory, and I promise you that they’re still earning rewards.  Praise God for that!   God has promised that we’ll all be rewarded together.

Let me summarize, and then we’re done.  Jesus lives in you, and he wants to weep through you, for things that He must allow, as painful as they are, for His redemptive purposes.  Let Him weep through.  Jesus is disappointed and grieved when you don’t give Him all the arrows in your quiver.  Give Him all the arrows.  He’s given you gift; give it all to Him; don’t settle for a partial victory, because that grieves His heart.  Jesus rejoices when you are completely dead and free from the flesh, and He can bring others to life through you.

Father, thank You for Your precious word, not what we think it means, but all You’ve inspired it to mean.  Work that in our hearts.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.