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Floating Iron

“Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.”

I found myself not too long ago, praying under my breath, Lord, I wish I could really see what is going on behind the scenes.

I like to think that if I could see with my own two eyes and hear with my own two ears, the things that are taking place in the invisible world, my faith would be stronger, my hope greater, my witness more intentional. At least that is what I like to think. More than likely, I would be scared silly.

There is a story of a time when the king of Aram was at war with Israel. He and his officers had planned an ambush, but a Holy Man sent a message, warning the king of Israel. In fact, this sort of thing was quite common, and it made the king of Aram furious.

How did his enemy always know his next move? Was his bedroom bugged?

The king of Aram called his officers together and demanded to know which of them was the spy. It had to be one of them. They were his most trusted men. No one outside of that circle had any knowledge. Finally, one of the men spoke up: it’s not us king. It’s Elisha. He’s a prophet in Israel and he, “tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.”

Needless to say, the king wanted him found and he wanted him found yesterday. The king learns Elisha is in Dothan, so he sent horses and chariots and a great army. They arrived at night and the Bible says, they surrounded the city.

“When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”

Notice what Elisha says to him, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Friend, that is true for us today. This is not just a special force assigned to Elisha’s cause. No, this is still available to us today and in my mind’s eye, it is spectacular!

“Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6 13-17 ESV

Envision one horse and chariot of fire. Just one. Imagine what that must look like, the power, the force, the presence! Now picture a mountain side, 360 degrees, full of horses and chariots of fire, and only two people can see it. Elisha and his servant.

Remember, Elisha had been the pupil of Elijah. His faith had grown under the tutelage of the great prophet. Elisha had witnessed miracles first hand. He knew where his strength came from and when proof was needed for his servant, Elisha had no issue with boldly asking God to reveal the hidden to this young man.

I was very fond of the stories of Elijah and Elisha when I was a young child. I think my favorite was when the ax head floated. I remember at the age of, probably 4 or 5, knowing that ax heads were heavy and there was no possible way it could float. THAT had to be a miracle. It made such an impression on me.

The story is super short.

“And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.” So he answered, “Go.” Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.” And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it.” 2 Kings 6:1-7 NKJV

That’s it. Short and sweet. The very next verse is an entirely different narrative. What is the significance to this story?

I read several commentaries. Some very deep and thought-provoking including how the ax represents death and baptism and being buried and brought back up. How the stick represents the cross, and all those may be true!

Elisha was the vehicle for a lot of miracles.

He used Elijah’s coat to strike the waters and cross over on dry land. 2 Kings 2

He is the one that told Naaman to wash in the Jordan to be cleansed from leprosy. 2 Kings 5

He purified water by throwing salt in it. 2 Kings 2

He cursed a group in the name of the Lord and 2 female bears came out of the woods and tore up 42 boys. 2 Kings 2

He raised a husband back to life. 2 Kings 4

He raised a son back to life. 2 Kings 4

Even in his death there was a miracle!!

“Then Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year. So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.” 2 Kings 13:20-21 NKJV

Incredible story! So many incredible stories, so why the floating ax head? Why is it in scripture?

Disclaimer: I am not a Bible scholar. I have never studied Theology, but here is what I think. The story is there to show us that God cares about the little things.

Look again at verse 5, “As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!” 2 Kings 6:5 NIV

It was borrowed. And the borrower was extremely anxious. I think we can relate. Have you ever borrowed anything only to have it break while it is in your care? It’s not a good feeling. Let’s go back now to the mountainside.

The Lord opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant, and he was able to see the hills full of horses and chariots of fire. But then He does just the opposite to the army.

“As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. “Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. “After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.” 2 Kings 6:18-20 NIV

The God that showed flaming chariots on the hillsides; the God that blinded and confused an entire army so that they were led right through the gates of their enemies city by the very man they were sent to capture, the God that raises the dead to life…the God that cares about the little things…THAT God, He is our God! And we do not need to be afraid of anything on this earth. Because those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

“For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide forever.” Psalm 48:14

by Jeanette Stark – Thursday, March 9, 2023

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