The Lord Provides
2 Kings 6
PCC am 3/14/31
This week I saw the Lord’s providence in action. If you recall last week we looked at the storms of life, little did I know that on Monday just before noon my attorney was going to deliver an F5 emotional storm that would bring me to my knees. But Jesus has authority over the storms of life and he led me through. Along the way I found a sermon on Faithfulpreaching.com entitled the Frustrated Seminarian, for this this frustrated seminary student that sermon was God’s way of providing encouragement. It aslo led me to preach on God’s providence. So if you would please turn to 2 Kings 6 and we are going to take a look at some examples of God’s providence.
An Axhead Floats
6 The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.”
And he said, “Go.”
3 Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”
“I will,” Elisha replied. 4 And he went with them.
They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”
6 The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.
Elisha the prophet was called by the prophet Elijah to be his understudy in 1 Kings 19. When Elisha was called , without hesitation he went all in walking away from the family business trusting completely in God’s providence.
The Call of Elisha
19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Elisha slaughtered twenty-four oxen and burned his plow to BBQ them. There was no going back to the old way of life. From that day forward he was committed to service to God and trusting in his providence. When Elijah was taken up to Heaven Elisha asked for double portion of his spirit. Which he received, Elisha is credited with twice as many miracles as Elijah. In this way God provided for Elisha’s ministry.
One of the things Elisha did in his ministry was to start a school for prophets or what we would call a seminary, which is referred to in 2 Kings 6:1 as “ The company of prophets.
But this school had a few problems.
The food was lousy and sometimes there wasn’t enough. The dorm was cramped and the classrooms were too small. One contemporary preacher remarked that these conditions reminded him of his days in bible college fifty years ago! Some things never change but the Lord provides.
Elisha had been away and when he returned to the school and instructed a servant to prepare a meal for the students unfortunately things didn't go as planned.
38 Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets.”
39 One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine and picked as many of its gourds as his garment could hold. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. 40 The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.
41 Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
Unless you're at a chili cookoff “ There is death in the pot “ are not words that you want to hear. But God used Elisha to provide an antidote for the poison and the hungry men ate their fill.These men were there for a purpose. They were there to be trained by Elisha for the ministry. When you go all in and commit your life to the Lord’s work you do not need to worry , He will provide all that you need.
Feeding of a Hundred
42 A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.
But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.
Can you imagine feeding 100 men with twenty loaves of bread? This reminds me of another prophet that fed 5,000 men plus women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish. They were seeking Jesus, putting the kingdom first , god took care of the rest.
I recently listened to a preacher talking about his days in seminary. He had worked hard and saved up money to go but about halfway through the first year he was running out of money. He had written a letter asking his dad to come and get him, he was giving up. When he went down to mail the letter the posman handed him a letter and he paused and did not mail his letter home. When he opened the letter from the postmen It was a check from an old maid in his church later he received a check from a school teacher. The financial support of these women kept this young man in bible college. Sometime later things got really tight and he rented a room from an atheist for $7 a week meals included. He asked how much it would cost to rent the other room as well. She said $7 and asked why. The young man replied that he had trouble studying in the room where he slept. He went home for Thanksgiving and when he returned she had taken the bed out of the other room and put in a brand new desk and bookcase. She said here is your study. God always provides the needs of those that are committed to doing His work.
Now let’s take a closer look at the young man that lost the ax working for the Lord.
Just like Elisha this young man went all in. .
He was industrious and willing to work his way through school.
He had a team spirit and worked alongside his classmates to make the school a better place.
He doesn’t give up and turn back due to little inconveniences like a cramped dorm, not enough food and lousy cooking. He is determined to stick it out.
He doesn’t expect everything to be provided for him.
He doesn’t demand the luxury of the cedars of Lebanon , the Box Elder trees that grow along the Jordan are sufficient for him.
He was not rebellious, he and the others asked permission to go to Jordan and cut trees for a new dorm.
He asked Elisha to go with them. He wants the supervision of older men, he wants guidance.
He is creative, even though he could not afford an ax he borrowed one to do the work.
I don’t know about you but I want to be more like this young man.
So what happened to his ax? We really don’t know. Perhaps he was working too close to the river. Or perhaps he neglected to inspect the head before he started working.
What is important is his character and how he handled the loss.
He was grieved and confessed his carelessness. You see by losing the axhead he was no longer able to do his share of the work. He also jeopardized his reputation and possibly the reputation of the school. He had borrowed something and was not able to return it and could not afford to replace it. So the young man cries out and the Lord provides.
Elisha asks what happened and then throws a stick in the river causing the axhead to float, He then instructs the young man to grab it. God’s providence saved this young man from shame and allowed the work to continue.
But God does not have to do a miracle for him to intervene and enable us to do his work. When you are about the work of God there is never any need to worry about having the means to do the work. If you are seeking the Kingdom first you have the promise that the necessities of life will be provided.
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34
If we are living out the great commission all of our needs to do that work will be provided. Paul understood this well.
Thanks for Their Gifts
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Whether hungry or well fed Paul always put the kingdom first. This text also shows us that Christians helping Christians is one way that God provides. Or in the case of the young seminary student we looked at earlier, God used an atheist to meet his needs. Be sure of this, God's work on earth will be done, and if we are stingy or lazy He will still provide for His work to be done. Hebrews 6:10-12 tells us this
Do you desire to grow the KIngdom of God? God raised an axhead up out of the waters of the Jordan so it could be used for his purposes. He can do the same for you. You were lost to the service of God. You had flown off the handle and were lost to usefulness by sin. You were lost to goodness and the constructive things of God. But God is able to raise you up out of the water so you can be useful again to him and his people.
Raised axheads are nothing compared to a man that has been raised up out of the depths of sin. God can raise us up so we can be useful for his kingdom. If we are seeking the KIngdom first , we have nothing to worry about, our needs will be met.
If Princeton Christian Church is committed to growing the Kingdom , we don’t need to worry about the window sills or the boiler or the baptistry or handicap accessibility .If we are living the Great Commission , God will provide everything that we need to do the work.
Do you want to be used by God? But you’re lost in the depths of sin? He wants you to be a worker on his team. If you are here today and need to make a decision to have your sins washed clean by the blood of Christ , now is the time as we sing our hymn of invitation.