Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 19
“How must the pilgrim’s load be borne?
With staggering limbs and look forlorn?
Her guide chose all that load within;
There’s need of everything but sin.
So, trusting Him whose love she knows,
Singing along the road she goes;
And nightly of her burden makes
A pillow, till the morning breaks.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And the man of God (Elisha) said, ‘Where fell it?’ And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. Therefore said he, ‘Take it up to thee.’ And he put out his hand, and took it.”
II Kings 6: 6, 7
“5 Big Lessons From One Little Iron Axe”
Lesson 5 “Redeemed”
“The heart of God hungers to redeem the world.”
In what ways do I feel as though I have been lifted out of the mire and redeemed by my Savior?
“Anyone can devise a plan by which good people go to heaven. Only God can devise a plan whereby sinners, which are His enemies, can go to heaven.”
Lewis Sperry Chafer
“God doesn’t just throw a life preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up on the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive. That’s what the Bible says happens in your salvation.”
R. C. Sproul
I wanted to begin by sharing today’s study text as it is written in The Voice, a Biblical translation of Scripture which provides readers with a clearer understanding of the context of the stories. Here’s how II Kings 6: 4-7 reads:
“Elisha traveled with them, and they cut down trees when they arrived at the Jordan. While one of the students was cutting down a tree, the iron of the ax broke off and dropped into the river.
Student of the Prophets (Elisha): Oh, no, master! This ax is not mine! I borrowed it!
Elisha: Where did it drop into the river? The man showed Elisha where it had dropped into the water, and Elisha took a stick and tossed it into the river. Then the iron of the ax floated to the surface.
Elisha: Get your iron out of the water. The man then grabbed it.”
II Kings 6: 4-8
Over the past few months as I’ve studied the elements of truth that radiate from this story, it has been the last two verses – II Kings 6: 6 & 7 – which have meant so much to me. As I read and reread these two texts, I just couldn’t shake the fact from my mind that there are lessons of great eternal value buried within the words penned for our instruction and illumination.
And so it is, as we come to the climax of the story of the lost axe head, that I humbly want to share with you four special highlights that have been brought to my attention:
Highlight #1: As we found out in the past few days, the students at the School of the Prophets, went out of their way to invite Elisha to come with them as they undertook this challenging building project. Now after reading about the mishap with the axe head and its loss in the waters of the Jordan River, which I might remind us, was a river that Naaman referred to as not as clean and beautiful as the rivers of Syria, it got me to asking myself these questions: “What would have happened if Elisha had been left at home? What if the students had felt they could handle the situation on their own? What if they had come to the conclusion that their own abilities were more than enough to fix any difficulties which arose? What would the end result have been?”
Highlight #2: The Bible tells us that Elisha asked the student to identify the place where the lost piece of iron was located. Frankly, this doesn’t sound like an easy task. For all we know, the iron had sunk down into the muddy silt of the river. This problem didn’t matter to Elisha for he still wanted to know where it was that the student last saw the axe splash down into the water.
Highlight #3: We find that Elisha’s “miracle solution” was to cut a “stick” and throw it in to the area where the axe head was located. Interestingly, if we look at the Hebrew word for “stick” as used in II Kings 6: 6, it is êts which means “tree,” hence wood, gallows, timber or stock. If we go to the New Testament and look at the Greek meaning of the word “cross,” “staurôs,” we find it means “stake or post, to set upright.” Just keep this thought in your mind as we move on in the passage.
Highlight #4: When the stick went into the water, we are told that the “iron did swim.” Or as the Hebrew translation further enlightens us: it overflowed. This sounded strange to me until I looked up the word overflow in the English dictionary and found that overflowing refers to something coming to “the brim or top.” It is as if everything rises to the top so it can be seen and this is exactly what happened to the piece of iron. As it rose to the top, upright if you wish, the student was able to follow Elisha’s instructions and pick up the axe head and carry it out of the Jordan.
As I have thought about this experience, a beautiful parallel came to my mind which links together the messages contained in this Old Testament story with the arrival of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
As I’ve shared with you before, next to Jesus life on earth, no other Biblical person performed more “miracles” than Elisha. And before we close the door on the life of this “man of God,” as Elisha is so frequently referred to, we will examine more closely the similarities between the life of Elisha and Jesus and how close scrutiny of Elisha’s life in the Old Testament opens a window on the coming Messiah and Redeemer in the New Testament.
For today, I’d like to take the four highlights found in II Kings 6: 6,7 and apply these to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ in your life and mine. Like the iron axe head, we have fallen into a mire of mud and slim. Unable to be retrieved in our own power. But our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, whose message is one of a love that seeks and saves to the utmost, through His death on the cross of Calvary, has placed us “upright,” righteous, in right standing through His free gift of salvation, and in return He only asks us to, “Take up, pick up His cross and follow Him.”
Who could ever imagine, as we began to study about a lost iron axe head, that our journey would end with a tremendous reminder of the redemptive power which turned heaven inside out as every effort was made to seek and save all who were lost. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “Christ did not come to save us because we were worth the saving, but because we were utterly worthless, ruined, and undone.” Like a lost axe head, we can’t save ourselves, so heaven sent our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Praise His Name!
“Man of Sorrows what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah, what a Savior!”
Philip Paul Bliss
“O Sacred head, sore wounded,
Defiled and put to scorn;
O kingly head, surrounded
With mocking crown of thorn;
What sorrow mars Thy grandeur?
Can death Thy bloom deflower?
O countenance whose splendor
The hosts of heaven adore!
In Thy most bitter passion
My heart to share doth cry,
With Thee for my salvation
Upon the cross to die.
Ah, keep my heart thus moved
To stand Thy cross beneath,
To mourn Thee, well-beloved,
Yet thank Thee for Thy death.”
“Redeemed! How I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.”
Fanny J. Crosby
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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