What Hard Thing Do You Need God to Do?
In this passage about kings banding together to defend their countries and God providing water, it is easy to read past the most important nugget, which is in verse 18. Take notice! If this miracle was “light” for God, imagine what He can do in your life!
I encourage you to read all of 2 Kings 3. Portions are printed below. In verses 1-8, we find that Mesha, the king of Moab, rebelled against Jehoram, the king of Israel. Jehoram was the son of King Ahab and only slightly less evil. Nonetheless, Jehoram convinced Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, and also the king of Edom to ally with him in battle against the Moabites. The Moabites were ungodly and worshiped a god called Chemosh; worship of Chemosh included offering human sacrifice.
Portions of 2 Kings 3 (ESV), emphasis mine
9 So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals that followed them. 10 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! The LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” 11 And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?” Then one of the king of Israel’s servants answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” 12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.
13 And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No; it is the LORD who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” 14 And Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you. 15 But now bring me a musician.” And when the musician played, the hand of the LORD came upon him. 16 And he said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’ 17 For thus says the LORD, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’ 18 This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD. He will also give the Moabites into your hand, 19 and you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree and stop up all springs of water and ruin every good piece of land with stones.” 20 The next morning, about the time of offering the sacrifice, behold, water came from the direction of Edom, till the country was filled with water.
21 When all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, were called out and were drawn up at the border. 22 And when they rose early in the morning and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood. 23 And they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely fought together and struck one another down. Now then, Moab, to the spoil!” 24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose and struck the Moabites, till they fled before them. And they went forward, striking the Moabites as they went.
Digging into God’s Word
- I remember praying two prayers in the fall of my 39th year: that I would glorify God and that He would bring a young mom to walk down my street and drop her baby on my doorstep. Prayers get bizarre when you’re hitting the 4-0 mark! Four months later, through miraculous circumstances, a young mom with her little baby came to live with us.
- A lovely woman was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The five-year survival rate is 7 to 10 percent. We all prayed. She was older in years, and, you know, statistics can get to you. Four years out, she is completely cancer free.
- Several friends and acquaintances, wracked by addiction, thought recovery was never possible. It is nothing short of miraculous that they are clean today.
What do you need God to do today that seems too hard even for Him?
The kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom had banded together to try to defeat the Moabites. They marched toward battle for seven days and ran out of water. They and their animals were thirsty and felt defeated before the battle even began.
The only godly one of the bunch thought to seek out the word of the Lord through a prophet. Enter our friend Elisha, who would only talk with this group because one of them was Jehoshaphat, a God-fearing man.
God promised not only to fill the dry streambed with drinkable water by morning–without rain–but also to give the Moabites into their hand.
Look at these different renderings of the first part of verse 18:
This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD. (ESV)
This is but a slight thing in the sight of the LORD. (NASB)
This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD. (NIV)
That simple thing isn’t all the LORD is going to do. (CEV; because, as in the rest of the translations, God was also going to help them defeat the Moabite army)
In the morning, water came by way of Edom and filled the pools in the streambed. The Moabites misinterpreted the red reflection of the sunrise on the water as blood from the three kings having fought each other in battle. So the Moabites came toward the camp of Israel, and the Israelites began to defeat them.
Huh. What hard thing do you need God to do for you today? What problem or situation seems too hard for you or anyone to handle? What seems impossible?
I encourage you to boldly approach God with faith, and ask Him to resolve it.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, ESV)
In a sad, sad ending to chapter 3, the Israelites did not completely defeat the Moabites that day. Sometimes we don’t let God complete the victory. Read the “Extra Info” to find out more.
You will never regret making time for God. As you are able, spend time with God, reflecting on these questions or journaling your thoughts.
1. Reread as much of chapter 3 as you can. What truths about God did you learn? Write them down or type them into your favorite software or list-making app. Possible examples include these:
- God can do anything.
- God might work in strange and miraculous ways.
- Sometimes God’s solution to one problem (lack of water) might also solve another problem (making the water look like blood to the Moabites).
2. Look at each of the truths you recorded. How do they apply to your life at this time?
3. What doubts do you have about God’s ability to deal with the tough situations in your life? You might wrestle this out a little and talk with God about your struggles:
- Yes, God is sovereign, and He may choose to not heal, but He is not incapable of healing. He is fully able, and He often does it.
- Sometimes human unwillingness puts up a barrier to the will of God (see the Extra Info below). God remains fully capable of carrying out His will, but He also lets us wallow in our own free will. It is OK to wrestle with this conundrum.
Meditate on Jeremiah 32:27:
26 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (ESV)
If you read all of chapter 3, you ran into verse 27:
Then he [the king of Moab] took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.
This passage is translated similarly in many translations, but its meaning is hard to understand. I did some digging and found two interpretations. One is that the wrath against Israel was from Judah and Edom: They were shocked that the battle had led the opposing Moabites to commit such an atrocity, and so Judah and Edom withdrew from the battle.
Another common interpretation is that although God had ordained this battle for Israel and Judah to win, they did not finish the job. They were so repulsed by the actions of the king of Moab that they “withdrew from him and returned to their own land.”
“. . . great indignation came upon Israel, they were appalled by this act so much so they turned and went home–stunned.
The king of Moab, seeing his defeated army and ransacked land, tries to flee; the Edomites prevent him. He then sacrifices his oldest son on the city wall to Chemosh, the Moabite god. The horror and consternation upon seeing this sacrifice causes the three armies to withdraw rather than to wipe out such evil and desecration of children. Moab is not brought under Israel’s domination. Later the Moabites attack Judah and Israel (2 Kings 13:20; 24:2; 2 Chron. 20). Had Elisha’s instructions been carried out, these later attacks may have been avoided.” (From Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, edited by Walter A. Elwell, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids.)
There’s a whole devotion and life lesson to be had in that!
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