2 Kings 13:14-21 (the message)
Elisha came down sick. It was the sickness of which he would soon die. Jehoash king of Israel paid him a visit. When he saw him he wept openly, crying, “My father, my father! Chariot and horsemen of Israel!” Elisha told him, “Go and get a bow and some arrows.” The king brought him the bow and arrows. Then he told the king, “Put your hand on the bow.” He put his hand on the bow. Then Elisha put his hand over the hand of the king. Elisha said, “Now open the east window.” He opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” And he shot. “The arrow of God’s salvation!” exclaimed Elisha. “The arrow of deliverance from Aram! You will do battle against Aram until there’s nothing left of it.”
“Now pick up the other arrows,” said Elisha. He picked them up. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground.” The king struck the ground three times and then quit. The Holy Man became angry with him: “Why didn’t you hit the ground five or six times? Then you would beat Aram until he was finished. As it is, you’ll defeat him three times only.” Then Elisha died and they buried him.
When I read this scripture earlier today I immediately thought about passion. The king of Israel, Jehoash, hears that Elisha (the mighty man of God) is sick. He comes to visit and is upset and making a show of it. The king of Aram had been dominating and oppressing the Israelites and nearing his death, God uses Elisha to speak a Word to Jehoash. As Elisha instructs the king to shoot his arrow through the east window he declares that God’s salvation has come! Elisha tells Jehoash that he will do battle against Aram until nothing is left! Let’s just pause here for a moment. If you (or your people) have been brutally oppressed and the last act of Elisha the prophet is to tell you that God is about to deliver you it seems you might be excited! But, if you read earlier in chapter 13 you’ll find that Jehoash was evil in God’s sight. So, I’m not sure what was going on with his visit to Elisha and the waterworks he put on display because he was not a king who sought after Jehovah God. Regardless, in God’s great mercy He declares to this undeserving man that Aram will be defeated. So, the next part is where I think we get a glimpse of the king’s heart…
Elisha next commands the king to pick up the remaining arrows and “strike the ground.” Verse 18 says “The king struck the ground three times and then quit.” I don’t know about you, but something about that command grabs my attention! Elisha is telling the king “Strike The Ground!” Obviously Elisha expects more than what the king gives because he becomes angry with him! In my mind I can just see this king with an evil, unbelieving heart striking the ground three times to placate Elisha but without the passion and conviction that a promise of God should stir! God has just announced deliverance for the people of Israel!
If we are desperate for deliverance, for a breakthrough, in our lives and God announces that it’s on its way what is our response? Check it out: God will speak His Word over your life, He will speak a personal promise to your heart, and then He will follow up with instructions and wait for your response. See, our response to God often reflects how deeply we actually believe He will do what He speaks to us. Our response to God may even mirror the degree to which we really even want deliverance. We are quick to say we want to change or that we want certain situations to change. We cry out that we are desperate for it. And when we listen or read we realize God’s Word is full of promises for deliverance. As we get quiet with Him we may even hear that still, small voice speak direction to our hearts. But what happens next? When we ask God to heal our marriage and He shows us He is more than able and willing but then we refuse to forgive or ask for forgiveness what does that really say? When we ask God to get us out of our financial mess but then refuse to stop wasting money or tithe what does that really say? When we ask God to heal our wounded hearts but we won’t stop gossiping about our friends, family or even our Pastors what does that really say? When we ask God to use us for His glory but we won’t surrender our pride and serve Him through serving others what does that say?
I have been there and still am wading through in certain areas! I have been the one professing my needs but when it came down to it I was not really willing to strike the ground. I tapped at it here or there but the truth was I was more interested in making my husband the problem and the solution to our marriage than swallowing my own right to be right. I have been the girl whining about the way I was treated by people but the same girl who would gossip about the offenders whenever I felt like it. I have been the girl wanting to measure up and be important but unwilling to humble myself. See, God knew my need. He knew I really did need a breakthrough in my marriage and my character but He was waiting on me to strike the ground…to do whatever He was asking me even if it didn’t make perfect sense to me. Here is a simple but real life example: When my husband and I were having a lot of trouble, God would still tell me to get up in the morning and make his coffee. God would still tell me to go ask forgiveness for my part in the equation regardless of my husband’s part. Many times God would tell me to stay quiet (which was like a parting the red sea kind of miracle). These were ways in my life God was telling me to “Strike The Ground!” Striking the ground in the ways God instructs you will break off the oppression in your life. We can talk about it and pray about it and read books about it till we are blue in the face, but if we won’t obey God then we are wasting our time.
God wants to deliver us! He wants to set us free from the various forms of oppression in our lives! And He intends to do it! He encourages us through His word and He has made many promises to us! But are we like Jehoash? Do we cry about our sick lives and yet when God speaks deliverance to us and then shows us the next step we give it a perfunctory “tap-tap” kind of effort? Perhaps Jehoash wasn’t really too desperate for freedom for Israel. He was the king so maybe it wasn’t hurting him badly enough to ignite passion on the inside when God declared through Elisha that he would battle Aram until there was nothing left! God was declaring, plain as day, Aram would come to nothing! Aram would be defeated! All that was left was some ground-striking…
What’s your Aram? What has been terrifying you? Holding you back? Oppressing you? Do you hear God telling you that Salvation has come? His word says there is nothing impossible with God! Jesus defeated death, destruction and every lie of Hell on the Cross. There is a God-Victory in store for your life, but are you willing to strike the ground? Are you willing to live in faith and obedience so that God can bring about your deliverance?
Don’t tap it. Don’t give it the ol’ college try. Let passion stir and a fire ignite in your heart as you hear His declaration of freedom. Believe God and Strike the Ground.