Shortly before the prophet Elisha died, the king of Israel, Joash, came to him in panic. Panic seized him because he was under attack by the Arameans, and he grew terrified that he was not prepared to win the battle. The scent of defeat and disaster wafted on the winds from a distance. A pure analysis of the numbers told him quickly that he was on the losing side of this battle. Everything that was available to him was not enough to win this war. So, in desperation the king went to Elisha for help. Though the king was facing a physical, tangible military crisis, he needed and sought a spiritual solution.
Elisha responded by telling the king to take his bow and arrows and place his hands on them. When he did, Elisha then placed his own hands on top of the king’s. By doing such, he merged the spiritual with the physical, inviting heaven’s viewpoint to bear on earth.
Next, Elisha instructed the king to open the window that faced toward the east—where his enemy waited—and shoot an arrow out of it. When the king did, Elisha said, “The lord’s arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them” (2 Kings 13:17).
In this passage, we read that Elisha gave the king a prophetic word. He gave him exactly what he needed in the midst of a crisis, and that is to see the spiritual side of the issue. Because if all you see is the issue itself, you inevitably will see defeat. When you are able to see what God sees, it gives you the opportunity to conduct yourself in light of the truth. Keep in mind it is only an opportunity, though, because God never forces you to have faith. If He did, it would negate the very faith He forced you to have.
After this, Elisha told the king to take his remaining arrows, so he did. “Strike the ground,” (2 Kings 13:18) Elisha instructed, which the king did. Then came the problem. In the king’s fear-induced haste or due to self-preservation—we don’t know—he did not act on the prophetic word Elisha had just given him, which declared his victory. Rather, the text tells us that, “he struck it three times and stopped” (2 Kings 13:18).
This made Elisha very angry as he rebuked him by saying, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times” (2 Kings 13:19).
Fellow pastor, the lesson of King Joash teaches us this: Most of the time, God’s promises are within your reach. They are not in your hand. Similar to Joshua, who had been promised every place the sole of his foot touched, you have to go and get them. God’s promises for you and your ministry don’t come about by you simply sitting around and waiting for them. They require you to act in faith, to live out the principles taught in His Word, and to align your life intentionally and actively under God’s kingdom agenda.
The king’s problem was real. His problem was big. I know that whatever you might be facing in your ministry right now is real, as well, and that it might also be big. Don’t quit. Don’t let the struggles of yesterday negate your tomorrows. Commit your all to God in total faith. Your answer is already in your hands. Now it’s your time to let faith fly.