2 Kings 3:4-27 – In All Situations, In All Occasions! Always!

Posted: April 12, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 3:4-27

War Between Israel and Moab

This week at the life group that we lead and host in our home on Tuesday night, during our final night in our study of Ephesians, Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, the emphasis of the lesson was on how we are connected as a body of believers through prayer. After we finished the lesson and during our wrap-up time of prayer, it really struck me that I often forsake prayer when I am rising out of a struggle.

Oh, it is very clear to me that I pray when I am in the midst of a struggle, but when I emerge from the period of struggle, God convicted me at that moment on Tuesday night that I do not pray with the same frequency and fervor when I am standing on the mountaintop having emerged from the valley and the climb up the mountain. Ephesians 6:18 tells us, “18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” The verse says to pray “on all occasions”. The verse says “always keep on praying”. All occasions. Always. That’s pretty clear. We are to pray on all occasions always. We are to pray all the time. Good times and bad times. Everything in between.

That’s how I related to this Scripture passage today, 2 Kings 3:4-27. At first reading of it, I just really struggled to find that nugget for my walk with God that He wanted me to see at this moment in time in my life. So, I read it again and then again. And then it hit me. As we read this passage, we see that the leaders of the Israelite, Judean, and Edomite armies did not come to seek God’s will until they had gotten themselves into a fix in the wilderness with no food or water for their soldiers and their supply animals. That’s what hit me. How often do we cry out to God only after we have exhausted our own capabilities? But yet we often ignore Him when making plans for future action or when we have emerged from struggle in which we have cried out to Him in the midst of it?

In the past year and half of my first full-time ministerial appointment, it has been an humbling experience and a spiritual struggle at times as I am learning to be a full-time vocational pastor. Although there have been times of great spiritual mountaintop moments, there also have been moments in which I have felt the lowest of lows as I made mistakes, learned from them, and learned just how much I have to learn about the difference between being a dabbler in part-time ministry in my past and my full-on, full-time 100% this is it, this is my life aspect of full-time ministry. I am learning about how different full-time ministry is from the corporate world. And, during this time of humbling and learning and seeing, I have cried out to God to ease the hard lessons on a daily and sometimes even hourly basis. And in the process, I have learned a greater dependence on God. I have learned that I have not arrived as a leader. I have not arrived as a Christ follower. I am still learning and to realize that important point has been necessary for me in my maturation as a pastor and as a Christ follower. To realize that you are not “all that and a bag of chips” is necessary to becoming an effective pastor. To grow, that painful growing lesson is to realize that cliché but true Christian saying, “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” What we forget is that qualifying us involves teaching us and it involves humbling us. What this experience at Calvary has taught me is that I am simply a lowly servant of God. I don’t deserve to be a shepherd of the flock but He has called me to it and given me a burden to minister to the needs of the flock. But as we learn the lessons that we need to learn, it can be some of the hardest spiritual warfare that we can encounter. To go through the learning process is painful as God chisels away at your faults, some of which you didn’t even realize that you had, is truly humbling. To have God lay you bear before yourself is eye-opening and eye-popping as He reveals your weaknesses and shortcomings. Yes, it is necessary. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it is good in the long run in my growth as a pastor and as a Christ follower. I firmly believe with all of my heart that my time here at Calvary was for this purpose for me personally. God has used us to touch a few lives along the way, but for me personally, it has been a necessary time of learning and chiseling. It was to shape me and ready me for my next pastoral appointment where I will be the solo pastor of a small church. Without this shaping, sharpening, humbling time, I would not be ready for the next season of my ministry. God would not have allowed the next opportunity without having been through this spiritual time of shaping and humbling at Calvary. It was necessary for the next season that we are about to embark on.

While we are going through hard times where circumstances are shaping us or where God is chiseling away our imperfections, we cry out to God easily. It’s like in all the disaster movies you see. When things seem their worst and people are dying left and right and everything seems to be going wrong and the odds are against the main characters, it is then we often see the main characters cry out to God in prayer. In the struggles against the process of God shaping me over the past year and a half, I have cried out to God to deliver me from the struggle. When all self-confidence is gone, we often cry out to God. When we have tried everything we can try and that still seems to fail, we cry out to God. And we should, don’t get me wrong. We should go to God when we are at the end of ourselves. We should seek His face in times of trouble. We should seek His face when we have nowhere else to turn. God actually wants us to come to Him when we figure out that we are at the end of ourselves. That is when He can actually use us the best is when we learn that everything depends on Him. Our prayers of deliverance from hard times and hard lessons should be offered. When we see Him perform His miracles in our lives we can then see Him for real – when we have reached the end of ourselves and are solely dependent on Him, we can see the deliverance some much more clearly.

However, as we are fleshly people full of sin, we often forget about God when things get better. That is what struck me during our prayer time at life group at our home on Tuesday night. Don’t forget to sing the praises of the Lord when the season of spiritual difficulty is over, when the season of hard times is over, when the season of difficult circumstances is over. I know that each of you reading this can identify with that. Everyone of us is going through either (1) difficult circumstances, (2) a season of hard times, or (3) a season where God is teaching you difficult lessons about yourself. We all can fit in one of those three categories. When these seasons are upon us, we, like in the disaster movies, cry out to God with fervor. What about when these seasons are over? Often we default back to our own power and leave prayers of dependency on God behind.

That’s what struck me hard on Tuesday night. Always pray. Pray often. Pray always. When God has delivered us from circumstances, hard times, or just plain out a time of hard teaching to us, and sets us on a mountaintop. That’s when we should pray the most! That’s when we should be singing the praises of God. That’s when we should be thanking Him the most! That’s when we should be shouting from the mountaintop about what God has done in us and for us! Pray at all times about all things. About deliverance when times are tough, about celebration and thanksgiving when times are good, and about the wonders of God. When the tough seasons are over, we should emerge realizing that our mountaintop moments are by the grace of God just as much as His sustaining us through the tough times.

With that idea in mind, let us examine the passage and see ourselves in it in how this situation in this passage is handled by the leaders of Israel, Judah, and Edom. Let us think of them as us as we read it:

4 King Mesha of Moab was a sheep breeder. He used to pay the king of Israel an annual tribute of 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. 5 But after Ahab’s death, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 So King Joram promptly mustered the army of Israel and marched from Samaria. 7 On the way, he sent this message to King Jehoshaphat of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you join me in battle against him?”

And Jehoshaphat replied, “Why, of course! You and I are as one. My troops are your troops, and my horses are your horses.” 8 Then Jehoshaphat asked, “What route will we take?”

“We will attack from the wilderness of Edom,” Joram replied.

9 The king of Edom and his troops joined them, and all three armies traveled along a roundabout route through the wilderness for seven days. But there was no water for the men or their animals.

10 “What should we do?” the king of Israel cried out. “The Lord has brought the three of us here to let the king of Moab defeat us.”

11 But King Jehoshaphat of Judah asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord with us? If there is, we can ask the Lord what to do through him.”

One of King Joram’s officers replied, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to be Elijah’s personal assistant.[a]”

12 Jehoshaphat said, “Yes, the Lord speaks through him.” So the king of Israel, King Jehoshaphat of Judah, and the king of Edom went to consult with Elisha.

13 “Why are you coming to me?”[b] Elisha asked the king of Israel. “Go to the pagan prophets of your father and mother!”

But King Joram of Israel said, “No! For it was the Lord who called us three kings here—only to be defeated by the king of Moab!”

14 Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I wouldn’t even bother with you except for my respect for King Jehoshaphat of Judah. 15 Now bring me someone who can play the harp.”

While the harp was being played, the power[c] of the Lord came upon Elisha, 16 and he said, “This is what the Lord says: This dry valley will be filled with pools of water! 17 You will see neither wind nor rain, says the Lord, but this valley will be filled with water. You will have plenty for yourselves and your cattle and other animals. 18 But this is only a simple thing for the Lord, for he will make you victorious over the army of Moab! 19 You will conquer the best of their towns, even the fortified ones. You will cut down all their good trees, stop up all their springs, and ruin all their good land with stones.”

20 The next day at about the time when the morning sacrifice was offered, water suddenly appeared! It was flowing from the direction of Edom, and soon there was water everywhere.

21 Meanwhile, when the people of Moab heard about the three armies marching against them, they mobilized every man who was old enough to strap on a sword, and they stationed themselves along their border. 22 But when they got up the next morning, the sun was shining across the water, making it appear red to the Moabites—like blood. 23 “It’s blood!” the Moabites exclaimed. “The three armies must have attacked and killed each other! Let’s go, men of Moab, and collect the plunder!”

24 But when the Moabites arrived at the Israelite camp, the army of Israel rushed out and attacked them until they turned and ran. The army of Israel chased them into the land of Moab, destroying everything as they went.[d] 25 They destroyed the towns, covered their good land with stones, stopped up all the springs, and cut down all the good trees. Finally, only Kir-hareseth and its stone walls were left, but men with slings surrounded and attacked it.

26 When the king of Moab saw that he was losing the battle, he led 700 of his swordsmen in a desperate attempt to break through the enemy lines near the king of Edom, but they failed. 27 Then the king of Moab took his oldest son, who would have been the next king, and sacrificed him as a burnt offering on the wall. So there was great anger against Israel,[e] and the Israelites withdrew and returned to their own land.

In this passage, we see that Jehoshaphat’s request for a “prophet of the Lord” shows how true and religious experience in both Israel and Judah had declined. In David’s day, both the high priest and the prophets gave the king advice. But most of the prophets, the true men of God, had left Israel and God’s prophets were sent from the outside of the kingly courts as messengers of doom. This miracle predicted by Elisha affirmed God’s power and authority and validated Elisha’s ministry. At the same time, it points out how the kings of Israel and Judah no longer consulted God in all that they did but rather saw Him as a God of last resort. How often are we like that? How often do we use God as the God of our fallback position, only consulting Him in the hard times or when we are desperate straits?

Then, what’s the takeaway today from our reading of this Scripture passage? Everything turns out pretty good for Israel and Judah here so it seems to validate their addressing God only in times of trouble. Most assuredly they will return to their self-centered ways. They did not seek God before going into battle. They sought God only when times got tough. And you do not see any mention at the end of the passage about them seeking God’s advice before withdrawing forces after the victory was assured nor do you see any mention of praising God after the victory. All it says is they went home. No mention of a time of feasting and praising God for their victory. They just went home. That’s all that is said.

That’s the lesson for us here. Pray at all times. Praise at all times. Good times. Bad times. Prayer and praise at all times. Especially, we must be thankful when we stand in the blessing of the mountaintop. Praise Him who gave you the victory. Praise Him who gave you the new season. Praise Him who gave you the time of rest from trouble. Praise Him who delivered you. Praise Him for the mountaintop. Let us give Him praise just as fervently when we are set on dry ground as when we are struggling in the flood. Just as fervently when a season of hard lesson learning is over.

There are three kinds of people in this world, as the old but true cliché goes. There are people who are about to enter a time of struggle. There are those who are in a time of struggle. And there are those who are emerging from a time of struggle. That’s it. We are always somewhere on that spectrum. I realize that there are going to be struggles ahead in my ministry. There will be new seasons of learning and chiseling that God will allow to happen that are necessary. You are the same. We are the same. Everyone is in one of the three phases of the struggle spectrum.

The lesson that I learned in prayer time on Tuesday night was that let us not forget to offer prayers of thanksgiving when we are standing on dry ground and we know that it is only by the grace of God that we are there. We must praise Him in prayer for the dry ground, the mountaintop, the time of rest and peace. We must seek His face in times of struggle and we find that easier I think. However, let us never forget to seek Him and praise His mighty name when we have emerged from struggle and before we enter the next struggle.

We must pray at all times. We must pray in all situations. We must always pray. In all situations. In all occasions. Always.

Amen and Amen.

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