Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart.”
Isaiah 7: 4
“Though everything without fall into confusion, and though thy body be in pain and suffering, and thy soul in desolation and distress, yet let thy spirit be unmoved by it, placid and serene, delighted in and with its God inwardly, and with His good pleasure outwardly.”
Today’s Study Text:
And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, ‘Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell.’ And he (Elisha) answered, ‘Go ye.’ And one said, ‘Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants,’ and he answered, ‘I will go.’ So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.”
II Kings 6: 1-4
“5 Big Lessons From One Little Iron Axe”
Lesson 1 “Teamwork”
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12: 27
What does the word “teamwork” mean to me?
How do the words “church” and “teamwork” fit together?
“The special person called to do missionary work is every person who is a member of the church of Christ. The call does not come to a chosen few, it is to every one of us.”
Definition of Teamwork: Cooperative effort by the members of a group or team to achieve a common goal.
“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one to another.”
Romans 12: 4-5
Every day, as I open God’s Word to study, I find myself continually amazed at the way deep life lessons are contained in some of the simplest stories.
This week, we are taking five days to study about a piece of iron that swam, as one Biblical scholar chose to entitle this incident recorded in II Kings 6: 1-7.
I had heard this story told, in a very dramatic fashion, when I was a child. What’s more, I had read this passage of Scripture on more than one occasion as an adult. But it took some real digging in the soil of God’s Word for me to uncover the enlightening lessons contained in this story which help us focus on how we, as God’s children, can work together to accomplish God’s purpose here on earth.
Believe me, I never could have imagined how a recovery effort, put in place by the prophet Elisha, to retrieve an axe head could provide meaningful instruction on how a “church” – that unit designed by God to share His message on earth – can function, not only effectively but efficiently.
As II Kings 6 begins, we find ourselves witness to a request made by the students at the School of the Prophets in Gilgal. While this location isn’t specifically identified in II Kings 1: 1-7, scholars know that there was a school located at Gilgal, and this city was close to the Jordan River where this “miracle” took place.
The event recorded in Scripture begins with the students coming to the “headmaster” of the school, Elisha, and sharing with him the need for more space to accommodate a growing student body. The Bible words the students’ request in this manner: “Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.” In the Hebrew translation, the word “strait” means “narrow or tight.” Our common language today might call the space “cramped”. Biblical commentator, Matthew Henry shares that this description was “a good hearing, for it was a sign many were added to them.” Henry goes on to say that, “Elisha’s miracles doubtless drew in many new (students).” I think this thought has merit for in the face of the apostasy of so many in the nation, those who chose to follow Jehovah found at the Schools of the Prophet, established by Elijah and fostered in caring love by Elisha, a safe-haven from the idolatry running rampant in Israel and even touching Judah as well.
With limited quarters available to house all the students, these young people put their heads together and came up with a plan they brought to Elisha: “let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell” (II Kings 6: 2, K.J.V.).
I like the way author Dr. Leslie Hardinge describes the situation in his book, Elisha, Man of God: “A few of the eager students came to Elisha with a suggestion…Note well the plan of action. The students did not send to the big city for expert advice, or to (some bank) for financial help. They consulted the prophet and got busy in faith…This excellent proposal appealed to the prophet…The prophet’s immediate response was, ‘Go ye!’”
Before these men went to Elisha, they made the decision that it was time for all hands to be on deck – working. “Every man” is how the Bible references their desire to pitch in. “Every man” would cut a beam. “Every man” would be responsible for putting a piece of wood in place. I want to go back and reference the words of Matthew Henry for I found them to really highlight the willingness of all to join the challenge and be part of the project: “These were humble men…when they wanted room they did not speak of sending for cedars, and marble stones, and curious artifacts, but only of getting every man a beam, to build a ‘simple dwelling’. It became the sons of the prophets, who professed to look for great things in the other world, to be content with the simple things in this.”
Right here at the beginning of II Kings 6, we find an example of what the Apostle Paul shared with the young Christians in Rome – an example of unity of purpose, what I refer to as heavenly teamwork - one body in Christ. Each person working to provide a beam for the completed project.
The brilliant Scottish poet, author and Christian minister George MacDonald, provided this warning though, especially when there’s a “go it on my own” attitude present. He observed that, “division has done more to hide Christ from the view of men and women than all the infidelity that has ever been spoken.” It is the lesson of working together, as shown by the students at the School of the Prophets which provides for us our first lesson from the story of the “swimming” axe in the Old Testament, that is a reflection of the words of Jesus in the New Testament, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13: 34, 35, K.J.V.). In the words of Francis de Sales, penned in the 17th century, “The bumble bee makes no honey alone, but if it falls among bees it works with them. Our own devout life will be materially helped by connection with other devout souls.”
“So then, you Gentiles are not foreigners or strangers any longer; you are now fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of the family of God. You, too, are built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, the cornerstone being Christ Jesus himself. He is the one who holds the whole building together and makes it grow into a sacred temple dedicated to the Lord. In union with Him you too are being built together with all the others into a place where God lives through His Spirit.”
Ephesians 2: 19 -22
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He (or she) that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
I John 4: 7, 8
God Is Love
“God is love, and where true love is
God Himself is there.
Herein Christ we gather,
Love of Christ our calling.
Christ, our love, is with us,
Gladness be His greeting,
Let us fear Him, yes, and love Him,
God eternal. Loving Him,
let each love Christ in all.
When we Christians gather,
Members of one body,
Let there be in us no discord,
but one spirit.
Banished now be anger,
strife, and every quarrel.
Christ, our God, be always
present here among us.
Grant us love’s fulfillment,
Joy with all the blessed,
When we see Your face,
O Savior, in its glory.
Shine on us, O purest
Light of all creation,
Be our bliss while endless
ages sing Your praises.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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