2 Kings 6:1-7
In the eighth century B.C., Israel was split between the Northern and Southern kingdoms. Elisha followed the flamboyant prophet Elijah as the spiritual leader in Israel. He was told that if he saw Elijah depart he would receive a double portion of the Spirit of God and he did. He was the leading prophet in Israel for 50 years. He parted the Jordan River, he raised a widow’s son from the dead, he smote greedy Gehazi with leprosy and temporarily blinded the Syrian army. So this incident seems rather insignificant in comparison, but God cares about the smallest details of our lives. This event affected only a few people, but God recorded it in Scripture for our reflection and application. Have you lost your cutting edge? Is your witness and service for God ineffective? Do you know your way back to recovery and power?
Observe the significance of a loaned ax head. “It was borrowed.” (6:5) These prophets-in-training had next to nothing and no means to repay the owner. The Lord’s testimony was at stake. We often pride ourselves on our accomplishments and forget that all we are and have we owe to the provision of our Heavenly Father. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17). God expects an accounting for every talent and ability that he has conferred upon us (Rom 11:29). The cry of this man indicates he was under obligation. He was not only responsible for the task, but accountable for the tool. The prophets’ training center had become too small; construction was an urgent necessity. Generally, where the Spirit works unhindered there will be expansion. Every believer is made responsible and accountable to heaven for the way he uses, misuses, or even abuses his time and talents. Daniel Webster, the great statesman of earlier years, was once asked, “Mr. Webster, what is the most sobering thought that ever entered your mind?” Without hesitancy, he replied, “My personal accountability to God.”
Next we see the lost ax head. When I was a boy, my brother Charlie and I were going to cut and sell firewood from the woodlot on our farm. While chopping, the axe head flew off and cut my leg! My brother carried me home and washed me up, hoping we wouldn’t have to go to the hospital. Axe heads do come loose! It is possible to “fly off the handle,” to lose our cutting edge or our usefulness, and the Spirit’s empowerment for service! This man didn’t lose his ax head through laziness or idleness; it happened while he was diligently working. What a warning to us! The fact that we are busy in the Lord’s service is not proof that we have God’s power. Much Christian activity is nothing more than noise without power, motion without progress, and show without reality. This young prophet is to be commended because he admitted he had a problem. He could have sat down under a shade tree and said, “Well that’s the end of my work.” This young man was so focused on productivity that he lacked the sensitivity to be aware that the ax head was slipping from the shaft. He lost his axe head in the dark, muddy waters of the Jordan River. Jesus told his disciples to “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” (Mark 14:38). More spiritual breakdown can be traced to a neglected devotional life than to any other cause. Beware of losing your power with God and the cutting edge of the Spirit! It can happen while you are diligent in working, yet negligent in watching.
Lastly we see a located ax head. “Where did it fall? And he showed him the place.” (6:6) It is a principle of Scripture that the place of departure is the place of recovery. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). It is obvious that a miracle was performed here. The axe head not only overcame the law of gravity, but also the strength of the current. Note the action of the man of God— “he cut down a stick” (6:6). The Lord Jesus is referred to in Scripture as “the branch” (Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5). The “cutting off” speaks of his death. Christ’s “cross-work,” the application of the atonement, is always the answer to human need. The waters of Jordan were no match for the application of divine power. Thank God, in the cross of Christ there is restoration for every backslider, every defeated Christian, every fruitless believer.
Remember, your ax head is loaned. Through neglect it can be lost but thank God it can be recovered. Although a believer can never lose the person of the Spirit, he can lose his presence and power.