2 Kings 6:1-7

The above-mentioned passage recounts the story of Elisha causing an iron axe head to float. Some readers may find this story perplexing. Certainly this story demonstrates God's power, God's provision, and God's care for those who serve Him. But this miracle seems very uncharacteristic. Why should God provide in such a spectacular way, when typically He works much more subtly (though no less effectively)?

The key to understanding God's actions may be found in Jesus' comprehensive characterization of the Old Testament in John 5:39: "Search the Scriptures ; for in them you think you have eternal life: and these very Scriptures testify of Me." The Old Testament Scriptures are illuminated when they are considered in the light of the coming Savior and Redeemer.

But what does a floating axe head have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? At first sight, nothing -- but upon closer inspection, many significant points of contact show up.

In some respects, the prophets son is representative of Everyman. The  situation graphically illustrates our own fallen state. He was working and sweating to build a place for himself (and others) to live. Now as a result of the curse of Adam, we all must provide for ourselves through hard labor by the sweat of our brow. We perform our work through the strength of bodies and minds whose corrupted nature was passed down to us from Adam.

As we live under the effects of the curse, performing the labor which falls to our lot as a result of Adam's sin, we unavoidably commit sin. Even if we admit the Law of God is good, even if we commit ourselves to obeying God and keeping His commandments, still because of the weakness (sarx) of our fleshly nature we cannot avoid slipping (Romans 7:14-24). Just as the axe handle could not keep hold on the axe head, so the Law, weakened by the flesh, is unable to keep us from falling/failing. And just as the axe head was heavy, hardened iron, so our heavy sinful (satanic) natures are hardened and absolutely foreign to the grace of God.

When the prophet's axe head fell in the water, what was the result? The axe head was irretrievably lost. What's more, the son incurred a debt beyond his ability to repay. Now when we sin, what is the result? It is spiritual death , meaning that we are lost and bound for eternal separation from the light and presence of God. Furthermore, the sins we commit confirms our hopeless indebtedness to the lord of death, namely the Devil. For when we sin, the Devil has a valid accusation to lodge against us, and so he can justifiably lay claim to our souls. Not only our souls, but our bodies are also condemned to die. We toil, we grow old, and we die, and the Devil can rightfully lay claim to our bodies, corrupted as they are by sin. Our bodies, like the axe head, are destined to be buried and lost without hope of recovery.

But wait! Who can save us from this body of sin and death? The Apostle Paul's triumphant cry echos through the ages, bursting from the lips of the redeemed: "Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! " (Romans 7:25) It is truly remarkable, and certainly beyond coincidence, that this same redemption is reflected in the account of 2 Kings. The axe head was resurrected when Elisha threw a stick into the water. This recalls many instances when Moses used a stick or staff to work miracles, especially the instance in Exodus chapter 15 where Moses cast a stick into the bitter springs of Marah, making the water drinkable. It may be understood upon reflection that the stick or staff in all of these cases is consistently representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. The thrown stick proceeded from the right hand of Elisha, just as the Lord Jesus proceeded from the right hand of the Father. The stick or staff is a symbol of power and authority, just as all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to the Lord Jesus. The wooden stick reminds us of the means by which the Lord Jesus gained His authority, namely, through His death on the wooden Cross (interestingly, the Hebrew word for "stick" is the same word translated "gallows" in the book of Esther, e.g. Esther 5:14). Finally, the wooden stick was thrown into the water, just as Jesus tasted death for us, in order that we might be resurrected to new life. The resurrection provided for us through Jesus Christ has both spiritual and physical aspects -- for just as spiritually we are resurrected from sin and rescued from darkness into light, so our bodies will be resurrected as transformed, spiritual bodies, like unto the resurrection body of Jesus Christ.

So, this is yet another instance where the essence of the Gospel has been embedded within an Old Testament account. May Christians everywhere recognize with new clarity and focus that THIS is God's fundamental purpose for the Old Testament, namely to bear witness to the Gospel of Christ in its many aspects. Certainly this was the New Testament view: for whenever the word "scripture" or "scriptures" is used in the New Testament, it refers to an instance or episode where the Old Testament confirms that Jesus is the Christ. And there are many more such instances, the apostle Paul for one often spent days showing, through the Scriptures, that Jesus is the Christ. Finally, we must realize that God continues to place within our lives circumstances and incidents to deal with, so just let Him be God and look for Him in every situation. Then thank Him for coming through for you. 

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