A Decimated Nation: Elisha’s Final Prophecy
Israel was in an ongoing battle year after year with Syria. The nation’s resources as the years of battles occur were being whittled down. Syria’s strategy was simple: Death by a thousand cuts.
It didn’t matter how many times they fought, if Israel lost just a little bit in every battle they would soon be too weakened to endure anymore. In the times of Solomon, Israel was known as a nation to have up to 12,000 men and enough chariots to conquer almost anyone. With the long war against Syria, their military had been depleted to about 50 horsemen and 10 chariots. They were losing their last line of defense. King Joash, the king of Israel, was deeply concerned and disheartened for his people.
In a moment of desperation, King Joash turned to the man of God, a prophet by the name of Elisha. Elisha had received a double portion of his anointing from his predecessor Elijah. At this time, Elisha was critically ill and on his deathbed. Elisha has one last prophecy for the nation of Israel as he is lying on his deathbed, ready to be with the Lord.
This story begins in 2 Kings 13:14
“Now Elisha had become sick with the illness by which he would die. And Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said, “O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” And Elisha said to him, “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, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the window to the east,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot!” And he shot. And Elisha said, “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria; for you will strike the Arameans in Aphek until you have destroyed them.”
The king is commanded to take up a bow, grab a quiver with arrows in it, and shoot out of the window toward the east. Why the east? Well, Syria was directly east of Israel. Elisha was commanding the king to shoot in the direction of his enemies. In the context of this time, this meant that he was declaring war against Syria.
Elisha was practically telling the king to declare war against his enemies and prophesied to him that Israel would conquer them. They would not conquer them with arrows they had shot in the past, but rather with “The Lord’s arrow of victory”. Though they would be the physical bodies on the battlefield fighting, Elisha declared that it was the Lord who would fight through them.
The only requirement was that they would have to lean into what God was wanting to do. They would have to press in to see this prophecy fulfilled. They would have to approach this word with intensity and labor to make it happen similar to a story in Luke 5:17.
In a previous sermon, “Prayer that Works”, Pastor Zane tells us about this moment that happens in Luke 5. A group of men carried their sick friend up to the top of a house where Jesus was preaching. They rip the roof right open and lower him so that Jesus would heal him. This is how the king of Israel was to respond to the promise of God from Elisha. He’s telling him not to stop until they receive the breakthrough.
Elisha gives the king a second command.
God demands partnership with humanity
“Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground,” and he struck it three times and stopped.
So the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Aram until you had destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.”
The second part of the prophecy was to be fulfilled in the striking of the ground with the arrows. The arrows represented Elisha’s declaration that Israel would defeat Syria. The king of Israel, by striking the ground, was to take the arrows and bring them to the earth! Remember what Elisha said about the arrows: This was “The Lord’s arrow of victory”. He was supposed to lay hold of God’s promise of victory and bring it to the earth.
Elisha was teaching the king that the answer was not to be found in more men and chariots. The answer was to be found by getting on his knees in a posture of prayer, intercession, and humility. The answer was to be found in partnership with God in bringing his word and promise down from heaven. From the place of relationship with Him, he was to press in and seek the breakthrough he needed.
In our lives, it’s the same way. As believers, we should be actively seeking to bring the promise that God has for our own lives down to the earth. The promise of God being fulfilled in our lives is dependent on our partnership with Him. We are to keep pressing in until we see the breakthrough.
How do we do our part? Pray His promises, sing it, and proclaim it. How do we see God’s hand of provision over our finances? How do we see God’s faithfulness in our families? We are to keep pressing in and partner with the Lord.
WATCH THE FULL MESSAGE ABOVE!