2 Kings 13:14-19




It was a time of war.

And Israel was in trouble.



Syria had invaded in the West.

And Syria was winning.



The Jews needed God’s help.

But they were worshiping false gods.



They needed to pray fervently.

But they were lukewarm.



It seemed almost certain that Israel was doomed.

God couldn’t work through them.



He refused to be a part time God to people who worshiped


If God is going to be our God, we have to be faithful.



But the Jews weren’t faithful.

And they were in war.



God had a prophet in the land.

He was faithful.



His name was Elisha.

God made Elisha a blessing to the people.



He used Elisha to perform miracles and wonders.

He gave Elisha wisdom and popularity.



Kings often sought Elisha’s advice.

But now it was a time of war.



And the great prophet Elisha was eighty years old.

Many said his ministry was over.



He was on his deathbed.

He would soon be gone.



King Joash heard about Elisha’s condition.

He believed Elisha’s death would be a great loss to Israel.



He wondered who would take Elisha’s place.

So King Joash rushed to Elisha.



Verse 14 tells us he, “wept over his face.”

He said, “O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horseman        




King Joash was quoting the very words that Elisha said just before Elijah was         

taken to heaven.

He was telling Elisha, “You’re more valuable to Israel than chariots and         




“If we lose you, we’ll lose the strength of Israel.”

“And we’ll lose the war.”



“When Elijah was taken from earth thou didst exclaim that the defense of      

Israel was gone.”

“How much more it must be true now when you are at the point of death.”



“He left thee as his successor; thou leavest no one” (2 Kings 2:12).

So King Joash was crying.



He was saying we’re in a war with Syria.

We can’t defeat the Syrians without you.



You’re dying and there’s no one to take your place.

King Joash said that.



But it wasn’t true.

The defense of Israel didn’t depend upon the dying prophet.



The defense of Israel depended upon God.

And the people.



But Elisha was moved by the weeping king.

And he began to prophecy.



His prophecy showed the king what the situation really was.

It came in what theologians call a prophetic action.



In other words, the prophet asked the king to do something.

And the king's response would reveal the future.

So Elisha began to prophecy.

He told the king to take a bow and arrow.



The king obeyed.

Elisha said, “Put thine hand upon the bow.”



The king obeyed.

Then, Elisha laid his hands upon the kings hands.



This was a symbolic action indicating the transfer of power.

Elisha was symbolically saying, “The power of God will be with you when   

you shoot the arrow.”



“His power will be in your hands when you pull the bow.”

Elisha said, “Open the windows eastward.”



And the king obeyed.

Elisha said, “Shoot.”



The king aimed.

He released the arrow.



And as it sailed out the window Elisha prophesied.

He said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance  

from Syria for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek till thou have        

consumed them.”



Elisha was saying, “That arrow was for God.”

“God will do His part.”



“He will give you a great victory over Syria at Aphek.”

That should’ve been enough for King Joash.



He shouldn’t have been afraid to fight the Syrians.

God would give him a victory at Aphek.



God is faithful.

But a question remains about this war and it’s a very important question.



God would do His part.

But would the king and the people do their part?



So Elisha continued, “Take the arrows.”

The king obeyed.



We don’t know how many arrows there were.

There were at least five or six.



Perhaps more.

Elisha said, “Smite upon the ground.”



“The king smote thrice and stayed.”

King Joash had five or six arrows.



But he only struck the ground three times.

And he stopped.



He thought he had done enough.

But he hadn’t.


Remember, this is a symbolic act that’s suppose to come true.

When Joash shot the arrow out the window that was symbolic of a victory    

that God would give Israel at Aphek.



One arrow for God meant one victory for Israel.

Now, Joash has all of the remaining arrows which were probably at least five or six.



He was told to smite the ground.

And what he did would symbolize what Israel would do to Syria.



He had many arrows so Israel could have many victories.

But the king struck the ground three times and quit.



When Elisha saw this he was angry.

He didn’t like what it symbolized about Israel’s future.



He saw a good beginning.

And a bad ending.



The campaign would begin in victory.

But it would end in defeat because the people wouldn’t go far enough.



Elisha said, “Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times;”

“Then hadst thou smitten Syria til thou hadst consumed it, whereas now thou         

shalt smite Syria but thrice.”



Elisha saw that Israel would start out with God.

But Israel would become lukewarm and quit.



The unsmitten arrows meant that a weak half-hearted Israel wouldn’t win the


And history reveals that Syria defeated Israel.



But what does that have to do with us?

Just this.



We’re in a war too.

But our war is one that many know nothing about.



They know nothing about it because it’s a spiritual war.

But our spiritual war is just as real as the war Israel was in.



It’s even more serious than Israel's war because the consequences are so      


They’re eternal.



Who are our enemies?

One enemy is called the flesh.



Some people seem to think that everything will go well for us when we get    


They expect life to get better and better.



But just as sure as we’re breathing, suddenly and without warning, we’re      

tempted to sin.

Sometimes we fall.



Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of flesh is flesh” (John 3:6).

We can be born again spiritually, but we cannot change the fact that we still   

have fleshly desires.

The Bible says, the flesh is enmity against God.

It says the flesh is not subject to the law of God---neither, indeed can it be    

(Rom.7:18; 8:7).



We cannot change the nature of our flesh.

We still have it.



And because we still have it, we’re in a war.

Paul once said “I delight in the Law of God after the inward man;”



“BUT--I see another law in my members WARRING against the law of my   

mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my     


“O wretched man that I am;”



“Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:22-24).

Paul's body was warring against his spirit.



He wanted to do good.

But he was in a war.



He wanted to obey God.

But a power within him was making it difficult.



We’re like that.

Just about the time we think we’re living for God, we sin.



That’s why the Scripture say, “Make not provisions for the flesh, to fulfill the         

lust there of” (Rom. 13:14).

Don’t make it easy for your flesh to defeat you.


Be careful about the things you desire;

About the clothes you wear;



About the books you read;

About the movies you attend;



About the TV programs you watch.

Don’t provide your flesh with things that feed your sinful desires.



You may think I’m being extreme.

But the Bible tells us to, “Abstain from all APPEARANCES of evil”

(I Thess. 5:22).



In the days of Moses, the Jews were in a war with Amalek (Ex. 17:8-16).

He was a descendant of Esau, a type of the flesh.



When Moses raised his hands, the Jews started winning the war.

When Moses put his hands down, the Jews started losing the war.



God did this to show the people that victory depended upon Him not them.

The Jewish army couldn’t win without God’s help.



This is the point.

If we try to run our life without God, we will fail.



Our flesh will defeat us.

We can’t overcome it without God’s help.



A second enemy is called the world.

The world is a mighty foe that attacks us in many ways.

1st---The world tries to defeat us with things;

Boats, guns, golf clubs;



Things to keep us out of Church;

Things to keep us from reading our Bible;



Things to keep us from having an effective prayer life.

2nd---The world threatens us with fear.



It makes us afraid of what others might think;

Afraid to share our testimony;



Afraid to teach and witness;

Afraid to take a stand for Jesus.



3rd---The world tells us that we should conform to society;

That we should wear the latest clothes to be in style;



That we should give our children more than we had when we were growing   


The world keeps us busy trying to conform to those around us.



4th---The world offers us temporary pleasures:

Alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.



Temporary pleasures that quickly turn into depravity and defeat;

Temporary pleasures that rob us of the ability to control our lives.



5th---The world offers us money.

Striving for money can enslave us.

A former Church member told me she denied herself food and clothes for    

many years to save a little money.

But she had a stroke and the nursing home got everything she saved.



She said, “I spent years denying myself for money.”

“And someone else wound up with it.”



Another enemy is called the Devil.

The Bible says, “he goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may         

devour” (I Peter 5:8).



But most of us underestimate him.

We shy away from talk about the Devil.



Several years ago the Church of England had a catechism that said, “I shall   

renounce the devil and all his works.”

Then a bishop got the Church to change it to, “I shall renounce all that is      




He didn’t want to admit that the Devil exists.

He got the word “Devil” dropped from the catechism.



That may be politically correct.

But it’s not enough to declare that the Devil doesn’t exist.



He’s a dangerous adversary.

We have to wrestle with him or we won’t make godly decisions;



Wrestle with him or we will go back on our commitment to serve God;

Wrestle with him because we’re creatures of God and Satan is trying to        

overthrow God.

One time there was a hunter who thought he needed a fur coat to keep him    


He took a gun and went bear hunting.



He stumbled upon a huge grisly bear.

The grisly bear said, “I’m hungry and I’m going to have you for lunch.”



The hunter said, “I have a gun and I’m going to have you for my winter        


The bear said, “Let’s compromise.”



“Put down your gun.”

“I can tell you how I can have a lunch.”



“And you can have a coat without firing a shot.”

So the hunter put down his gun.



The grisly bear grabbed him.

The bear had his lunch.



And the hunter had a coat.

The Devil is like that bear.



If we try to compromise with him, he’ll tear us up.

Now, I want to summarize what I’m saying.



Israel was in a war.

King Joash was worried about the outcome.




He went to the dying prophet Elisha.

He learned that God was willing to help Israel.



But ultimately Israel would lose the war because the people were lukewarm.

In like manner, we’re in a war.



We won a great victory when we started attending Church.

But enemies such as the flesh, the world, and the Devil still come against us.



If we don’t fight, they’ll overcome us.

It’s very easy to be lukewarm, to neglect our prayers and Church attendance:



Very easy to sink into a state of sin and be content to stay there.

Because of enemies like the flesh, the world, and the Devil many Christians   

are ignoring the fact that we should be growing in Christ



That we should be growing in wisdom and stature and knowledge of the       

Word of God.

Some have the same form of godliness they had several years ago.



Some are not as godly as they were several years ago.

God asks us to know that we’re in war;



But some are squandering the good start they made.

It was 1944.



WW II was raging.

Thousands of Americans had been sent to England.




God had given the Allied forces some major victories.

It was time to move our troops across the English Channel;



Time to land our troops on the beaches of Normandy.

But there would be great opposition from the Nazis.



We could stop fighting and save many lives.

Or we could continue to fight and many would die.



What would we do?

The true test of an army is what it does when it’s under fire.



Our forces crossed the English Channel, won the war and liberated


The true test of a Christian is what we do when we’re under fire.



We will choose to give in to the temptations that beset us.

Or we will choose to remain committed and put up a fight.



We don’t accomplish very much, if we enter a race and stop before we get

to the finish line.

Paul said, “Put on the whole armor of God.”



And stay in the fight.