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June 21, 2022 12:00 am
Though tough times are by their nature unpleasant, they are designed by God to develop trust. We see in the life of Elisha that those who are willing to trust eventually see God's power revealed. Just because our hands are tied doesn't mean our hearts have to be.
While I usually reserve all of our application to the end.
I want to give you a couple of things right at the outset of our study on the life of Elisha facing impossible situations.
That is when your hands are tied. Whatever it might be perhaps small in someone else's mind, but great in your we need to remember a couple of things that when God is in charge. First of all a plans should not degenerate into a panic for the old adage, don't just stand there do something. Sometimes the memo from heaven is don't do anything just stand there about tough times are by their nature unpleasant, but they are designed by God to develop trust. We see in the life of Elisha that those who are willing to trust eventually see God's power revealed just because our hands are tied, doesn't mean our hearts have to be today on wisdom for the hard Stephen Devi begins a series called Elisha living the impossible life relaunch that series right now with this message entitled, when your hands are tied. Gentlemen, I read some time ago I had taken a trip to Russia. He and several other pastors had taken a trip to incognito traveling just as American tourists and had gone to assess the need for Christian radio. This was in the days before the curtain came down and they eventually made their way to a collective farm in Siberia. They were met by the commissar who is expecting these tourists and he showed them about his area had great pride in what his area offered and knowing that they were Americans. He decided to surprise them a little bit and so he asked them if they would like to see his church course. They agreed a rather confused, they said yes they would like to see the church and so he took them on a walk and eventually they rounded enough corners and they saw in the distance. What looked to be like a church building its Russian style, its onion shape Tourette's gleaming in the sun and they thought well this is kind of interesting. As they nudged each other and they got a little closer and they could see splashed across the walls of this church communist slogans. Eventually they arrived and walked through the front doors into the foyer area and it looked. I read one of these pastors telling the story like any other church foyer.
Nothing was unusual and they were still somewhat in doctrine and they walked through the doors that led into the auditorium and that's where they sort of caught their breath to their amazement and astonishment from floor-to-ceiling and many many rows that entire auditorium was nothing but one chicken coop stacked upon another filled with cackling and commissar let it sort of sink in to them and then he said we have finest chicken hatchery in all of Siberia, and then gesturing rather proudly, he said to his American tourists. Chickens are real.
God is not the biography of Elisha opens with a flurry of stories. In fact, there are six of them that I am convinced as I am studying them will have time to cover three. They are nothing more than God's way of refreshing their minds. Then in our lives as students of the word today that God is real and I might be kind of a surprising theme to address an audience that's come to church on fact, I'm convinced that many of us can share testimony that God is real and there's some testimony of God's power or Providence or sovereignty or timing in your life and maybe if we had time we could just pan the audience and one after another, could stand up and say here's how I know here's what's happened in my life maybe it's through a challenging difficulty.
Maybe a shattered relationship.
A grim a doctors report on a financial loss of the list could go on and on, that his convinced you, as God has eventually work that he is real testimony to the fact that though our hands are at times tied God's hands are at work now, while I usually reserve all of our application to the end. I want to give you suggestive a couple of things right at the outset of our study on the life of Elisha when facing impossible situations. That is when your hands are tied. Whatever it might be perhaps small in someone else's mind, but great in your we need to remember a couple of things that when God is in charge.
First of all a plans should not degenerate into a panic. You've heard the old adage, don't just stand there do something.
Sometimes the memo from heaven as I heard repeated again over the last few days sort of comes at you and it says don't do anything just stand there where we have to trust the Lord which means we have to trust the Lord's timing. Second of all, remember when God is in control trust should not dissolve in the blame. The apostle Paul told us that the history of the Israelite nation was given to challenge us from falling into the same traps that they did. That is falling into the same unbelief. If the truth were known, when we are faced with a situation where our hands are tied. Some difficulty or tragedy or horse, maybe a some impossibility are most common responses. Not surprisingly to us mirror the nation Israel to a T.
And I want to give you an illustration of that. Take your Bibles and turn Exodus 14 let's start there.
Will the Israelites have left Egypt they've escaped in their Exodus.
Pharaoh then has a change of heart. You may remember from the story and he realizes he's just lost his his workforce and now everybody's gonna have to start making bricks and they're not too happy about that. So he sends his army to wipe them out or if they're willing, I imagine, to return them to slavery so here the Israelites are there standing on the bank of this deep red sea and here comes Pharaoh's army behind them.
As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them and they became.
Here's the first response frightened.
That is, they panicked.
Now, to be honest with each other.
Had we been in the company and we had the mountains beside us. The deep red sea in front of us and the mightiest marching force. The known world marching toward us. We would say is my boys would say we're supposed where history second response builds on the first one that's blame.
Look at verse 11, they said to Moses that is it because there were no graves in Egypt evidently sent some kind of committee doing talk to about this that you taken us away to die in the wilderness, why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt and blame Gloucester sanctification, which I'm thinking maybe he did at that moment the third responses the verdict. Here's the committee decision based upon the data they've put it in the machine. Verse 12. The middle part.
Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians, for it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.
This is classic fact-finding group on human affairs is put all the data in and they spit out two options Moses we have two options were gonna die or were to go back into slavery. Anybody ever thought about maybe 1/3 option, the waters parting the walking across on dry land and waters, back and telling all of Pharaoh's army-when your hands in minor or tied we alternate between fear and blame and despair which is that response, there in our trouble as we say Lord I get this all figured out. There are one or two ways you choose a fee to get us out of this to take us safely through.
Now I know John this is so easy to pre-so easy to say not easy to become is not easy to practice, but there is something in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ that displaces fear with confidence there is to be something in our lives. The dissolves blame as we grow older in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
We don't grow bitter against him and others in. Here's what it is.
It is coming to know him coming to love and worship him. He said be still and what know that I am what God now with that in our spiritual briefcases. Let's go to second Kings, would you turn there second Kings in chapter 2. You remember that Elisha's just picked up the mantle and tucked it away as Elijah is swept to the heavens in a fiery caravan of steeds in that whirlwind.
No sooner does he slip into the role as God's chief spokesman for the nation that he is hit full force with some impossible situations where his hands as it were tied. Let's see how God moves in his behalf and apply what we can. We certainly can apply all we can to our lives. Verse 19 and the men of the city said to Elisha, behold now, the situation of the city that is Jericho. By the way is pleasant as my Lord sees, but the water is bad in the land is unfruitful. And he said, bring me a new jar put salt so they brought it to anyone out to the spring of water and he threw salt in it, and said, thus says the Lord.
I have purified these waters is doing the purifying Elisha or God.
There shall not be from the or their death or in fruitfulness any longer so the waters have been purified. To this day according to the word of Elisha which he spoke not a miracle was not in the salt you understand that this was not some fancy chemical reaction whereby the waters were purified at the Fountainhead in the distributed throughout know the salt was merely a symbol as it is in the Bible of cleansing and preservation in the midst of corruption and decay.
You see, Elisha is preaching a sermon in this miracle for the need for divine cleansing the people of Jericho and the people of the nation needed God and submission to him in repentance to cleanse them so that they would be preserved is also interesting to me as I studied this, that in second Chronicles chapter 13. It tells us that the throne of David was established by assault covenant and as hard as I tried to find some details on that. I couldn't find anything related to the establishment of that throne by means of assault covenant, but it's were told it that it happened salt. Perhaps then, in the story, at least in the minds of those original students and observers could have been used as a symbolic measure of telling the nation that even though it's divided even though it's corrupt even though there are tensions and wars that God is the God of the covenant and that he is still as it were, the monarch in control. Perhaps the second possibility, at least from a human perspective will emphasize another rebellion of the nation against the word. Look at verse 23 then he went up from there to Bethel and as he was going up. By the way young lads came out from the city and mocked him, and said to him, go up you baldhead go up you baldhead when he looked behind him and saw them. He cursed them in the name of the Lord and two female bears came out of the woods and tore up 42 lads of their number can't quite put my finger on it but there's something about this passage I really like warms my heart is obvious here that the passage is teaching you make fun of all that it probably got for bears right will obviously this passage is more serious here than I'm making want to give you some clues that kinda point out what's happening. First of all, it's important to recognize that this event is occurring in Bethel or near Bethel. Bethel is the chief center for pagan realism.
Secondly, these lads are actually young men.
These are little children playing a prank. These are young men steeped in vandalism who are old enough to understand their responsibility and to be responsible for their actions before God and the reference to Elisha is critical. It it's more than just an insult. It isn't so much an insult about the way he looked is about what he did in fact you notice in verse 23 the word look at their insult, they all begin with the words go up, go most that I have researched believe this is a reference to the up going up. Elijah supposedly Elijah has gone up in some miraculous signs arise well of that be the case.
We got rid of our Academy of vandalism get out here to get lost. God is no idle threat. In fact, you'll notice again in verse 24. The two bears tore up 42 of their number. In other words, there were more than 42 were not told how many but it could be as many as 100 maybe 150 maybe 200 who have surrounded perhaps behind him there coming in mass to insult this prophet of God, perhaps moving closer may be screaming louder.
This is a mob whose end action may have been harmed, maybe even deaf.
What's Elisha turns around and delivers a sermon in the God moves is when minarets suggested it would take the Bears to rescue Elisha from lynching to bears came out and literally mall and tell us that they even killed many of them they mauled 42 of them.
While it doesn't say any of them were killed.
I fairly convinced that there were 42 conversions to Judaism that afternoon. Chapter 4 opens with another impossible situation.
Chapter 4 verse one now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, your servant my husband is dead. You know that your servant feared the Lord and the creditor has come to take my two children to be slaves. Imagine being Elisha heathen have any money.
The way the system operated the got it established. If you are indebted to another Israelite you if you are unable to pay would be an indentured servant, as it were, to that person, at least until the year of Jubilee when all debts would be canceled. Maybe there were as many as seven years were her boys would be his slaves.
Now, according to some rather ancient Aramaic scrolls the date before the time of Christ, Targum. They give an interesting insight that this woman was the wife of Obadiah of the book of Obadiah Josephus first century Jewish historian informs those who read his writings that she was not only the wife of Obadiah, but that Obadiah had borrowed money to provide food for the 100 prophets. He was hiding in the cave from Jezebel. Evidently he unexpectedly died.
It evidently happened so fast that his financial affairs for his family were not cared for. He borrowed the money, probably thinking that over a period of years he be able to pay it back. Will something happened. Obadiah died and now the sons of this widow are in danger of being taken into slavery until the debt is paid, and she just sort of gashes this story out onto Elisha as he appears this is an impossible situation.
Our hands are all tied before we go any further, let me throw into extra thoughts here. That struck me as I studied and reflected later in the week for civil even the most committed Christians experience most difficult of times.
Godly wife of a godly man. Second of all, interesting from this study many times a solution from God does not arrive until after the darkest moments. Our experience can you feel the urgency of this story back again in verse one climb into the scene and I want you to notice the details.
She says your servant my husband is dead and you know that your servant feared the Lord like to say that perhaps in other words, this shouldn't be happening to me. I feared God. Obadiah feared God and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves here in this statement.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have fear. I think you have blame and I believe strongly you have despair.
Elisha is God real Iressa question Elisha said to her, verse two, what shall I do for you. Tell me what you have in the house.
She said your maidservant has nothing in the house except the jar of oil stop.
The word jar.
There is a reference to the anointing flask which is almost so pitiful. All she has is her husband's flask he used for ceremonial anointing. Then he said go borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors even empty vessels. Note this do not get a few given her a big clue here just in case you didn't catch it. Verse four and you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons and pour out into all these vessels and you shall set aside what is full value to slip in her sandals for a moment, God is about to give you as much as you are prepared to receive, how prepared are you and I to receive at that moment, reminds me of the fable of the king who invited all of this, royal guests, his knights and his ambassadors princes and princesses come to a royal banquet and he gave them an interesting stipulation in the invitation. He asked them to bring to him some salt which was precious in his day and rare and he asked them to bring it in a vessel of their own choosing. No measure was prescribed to them for their gift. The night arrived and we came to the castle and they were depositing their gifts of salt, some bringing little pouches dainty small others out of gratitude for their king were bringing big vessels salt and then he did what he had planned to do after they had emptied their salt.
He replaced in the vessel they brought gold as his gift to them only so much as would fit in their vessel know the difference between that fable in this true story is that she's in on the fact that whatever she brings is going to be filled up that this would be fun. Oil was gold.
It's as good as cold hard cash family vessels would you bring, I know what I do I go down here this new Walmart and I buy out the tub or department.
I probably borrow the offering plate side date everything I can get. I take the big trash cans in an only so far as I believe that God produce what he promised really. Evidently she believed look at verse five so she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, and they were bringing the vessels to her and she poured you got to get this assembly-line look. Her kids are probably too small to be responsible for pouring so they're just bringing these vessels in this line is she's pouring from this little bitty flask and it never runs out and it came about verse six when the vessels were full that she said to her son bring me another vessel and he said to her there is not one vessel warrants like we claim the job. There's nothing laugh in the oil stopped or seven that she came and told the man of God. He said here's the plan.
Go sell the oil and pay your debt and then you and your sons and live on the rest magic that she has enough oil to pay off the debt and now she has enough oil to live for the rest of her life without fear of hunger or physical need.
Again, what an impossible situation that revealed the power of God and I tie the strings together with a couple of different thoughts number one predicaments are designed to develop trust. When your hands are tied.
God is inviting every one of us in those situations, the call unto me and I will answer the and show the great and mighty things, which what thou knowest not. I get 1/3 option. Second of all those willing to trust in him talking about those in the Christian community. Just because your believer doesn't mean you're going to develop trust doesn't mean are you gonna learn anything from your predicaments, your possible situations. But if you will trust him, you will eventually see God's power revealed here the Israelites on the bank of their deep red sea and Moses comes to them and he says I got the option from God. Here's the plan. Great Moses, what is it standstill and see the salvation of the Lord go back and get another one and then he continues on the Lord will fight for you while you keep silent. So the advice of God is when your hands are tied. Sometimes don't do anything to stand there white trust those willing to trust eventually see God's power revealed and you know it's exciting as a believer, you probably have a story or two that God uses to remind you that he will move in for you when you have a C in front the mountains beside the Army back third when God's solution is revealed. Our ultimate response is praise can be anything else. Can you imagine the frustrated farmers in Jericho now rejoicing that their water is clear and clean rash. Can you imagine that widowhood gone through agony. The unexpected death of her husband. The godly profit now being reduced to fear that her two little boys will be taken away and their other creditors stands but Elisha moves in the end God works.
Can you imagine what it's like in her home that when our hands are tied. Hands of God. So, we should never panic blame despair. In other words, ladies and gentlemen. When your hands are tied. Your heart can try by because the hands of our God who is slow to help is an ever present time feels as if your hands are tied. Today, your heart can triumph as you rest and trust in God. I hope today's Bible message has encouraged you. This is wisdom for the heart. What you just heard his lesson one in a series called Elisha living the impossible life. I hope you'll be able to join us in the days ahead as Stephen Devi looks at the life of this extraordinary man from the pages of Scripture.
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