Today’s passage describes the reign of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel. Verses 10-13 read,
“In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years.11 He also did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, but he walked in them. 12 Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, and the might with which he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 13 So Joash slept with his fathers, and Jeroboam sat on his throne. And Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.”
It would seem that that is all that will be written about this Jehoash or Joash (the two names are interchangeable, like Michael and Mike refer to the same person). He walked in the way of Jeroboam and led Israel in sin, meaning he not only encouraged Jeroboam’s false religion which displaced true worship in Samaria, he practiced it. But even so, The Lord did not forsake Joash nor did He forget Israel. In fact Joash was a mighty warrior king for Israel because The Lord refused to relinquish His people.
Verse 14 turns from Joash to Elisha.
“Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”
Elisha was ill and he was going to die. Joash came to see him and he was distraught over losing this man, the father to the sons of the prophets, father to a nation and better for Israel’s security than an army of chariots and horsemen. When Elijah, Elisha’s mentor was taken to Heaven, Elisha cried out the very same thing as The Lord allowed him to see His army take Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-13). Although Joash did not worship The Lord in the way The Lord had commanded, he still turned to Him, he still trusted The Lord to protect Israel and be their God because of Elisha. God would not abandon His people even when they turned from Him. Verses 15-19 read,
And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Draw the bow,” and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king's hands. 17 And he said, “Open the window eastward,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he shot. And he said, “The Lord's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.” 18 And he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped. 19 Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”
Elisha was not angry that Joash had only struck the ground three times, he was angry that the people he loved would not completely eradicate their sin and would not completely overcome Syria. Joash would lead his people in victory against Syria three times, but he would not eliminate the threat for future generations. Joash did not give his entire heart to The Lord, only part of it. If he had loved The Lord with all his heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:6), he would have taught the people of Israel to worship The Lord in truth and he would have torn down the false temple. Real faith results in real works which results in real effects. James 2:14-22 explains it this way,
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;”
Even so, The Lord did not desert Joash and Israel, He kept His covenant with them, He is their God and they are His people and they will know He is The Lord (Exodus 6:7). They didn’t keep the covenant, but God did. And He extended that covenant to believers in Jesus Christ who have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel (2 Corinthians 6:16-18, Romans 11:17-23).
After Joash said goodbye to the beloved prophet, Elisha died. Verses 20-21 read,
“So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.”
Even after his death, Elisha’s life was life-giving to people who remembered him, to people who heard and read what was recorded about his life and deeds, and literally to a dead man thrown into the grave with him. Elisha’s legacy continued to glorify The Lord, his legacy saved lives. He spoke the Word of God. He never backed down from that. God was always with Him. The Spirit of God was on Elisha from the moment he put on Elijah’s mantle and never left him.
God used Joash even though he did not worship Him in spirit and truth. But look how much more The Lord used Elisha who was totally ‘sold out’ to Him. Israel and Judah were saved numerous times, countless people came to faith in The Lord, the sons of the prophets learned, and people were raised from the dead even after his death. Consider how much more The Lord will use you and me, Brothers and Sisters, who have the Holy Spirit not just on us but within us! Consider the impact we can make for the Kingdom of God because we love The Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Consider the lives that can be saved, the people snatched from death because we have Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior. You and I can make a difference if we let God use us fully. Ephesians 1:15-23 reads,
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
Unlike Joash, Jesus conquered the enemy and made us victors with Him. He completely wiped Satan out, and one day soon Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. But there is more to do. There are people blindly following Satan to Hell, they must be rescued. In Matthew 10:7-8 Jesus commanded his disciples,
“And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”
He would not tell us to do something and not make it possible for us to do it. Elisha had the Spirit of God on Him and he did all these things for The Lord. We have the spirit of God in us, we can do all the things that Jesus did. Together and the unified body of Christ, the impact we could and should make on this world should be huge! In John 14:11-17 Jesus said,
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[ anything in my name, I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
The Lord did not abandon Joash or Israel, His special possession. He did not abandon Elisha, His prophet. He will not abandon us, His sons and daughters. Do not be afraid to glorify The Lord and do the works that prove your faith to the world.