The prophets under Elisha needed bigger quarters. While felling trees to make this house an axe head flies into the river. Elisha has the iron head float to get it back.
Elisha has been caring for “the sons of the prophets.” I’m going to take a guess that he is caring for them to keep them safe from the ungodly king. We saw him feed them earlier and protect them from death that was contained in that stew. They looked to him for their direction and permission. It also looks like their numbers were growing.
Outgrowing your ‘church’ is a good problem to have! It means that there are more believers being added to your numbers. God is always in favor of that; so long as they ARE believers. Don’t be making programs to grow just for the number’s sake.
The colony Elisha was protecting needed more space. Fortunately they had a plan to deal with this problem. They would build a new house but ONLY if Elisha approved of it. They were willing to do the work and knew where to go for the materials. They asked for permission then accompaniment.
Elisha easily approved of their idea and agreed to come with them. The plans were not for an extravagant home. Each man would get a log. One log is not enough to build an entire house so they were planning on sharing space. Their numbers had to be enough that a sizable home could be built with one log apiece.
The homes of Israel were not the “Lincoln Log” style cabins of the pioneers in the United States. Mud and stone were used for most of the structure. The logs were the supports. But each log had to be cut, cleared of branches and sectioned into appropriate sized pieces. An axe was essential in this process. It appears that prophets under Elisha either didn’t have any or didn’t have enough for everyone. They had to borrow tools from their neighbors.
Borrowing a tool was a lot bigger deal then than it is now. In most places today, if someone borrows your tools and either forgets to return them or breaks them you can easily get replacements; for small tools anyway. But borrowing someone’s axe during that time in history was borrowing their future.
The axe was crucial to cutting firewood to cook or keep the family warm. Animal dung could be used in the fire if necessary. The axe was used for making furniture, clearing trees or brush from fields, and building homes. If you owned an axe it was probably used every day. To be without it would be a hardship. They were expensive and not easy to replace. The person who loaned this axe to the prophets must have trusted them a lot as well as cared for them.
While chopping, an axe head flew free from its handle. It flew through the air and landed in the Jordan river with a splash where it promptly sank to the bottom. The man wielding the axe was distraught over this. He had no way to retrieve it. But he knew just where to turn for help.
He didn’t ask his friends to line up and walk the river bottom with him, feeling for the axe. He couldn’t hide the face from the man from whom he borrowed it. He could not pretend it didn’t happen. Instead, he turned to Elisha. Elisha had a personal relationship with God that allowed him to do miracles beyond belief. He had already proven he could part the waters of the Jordan. Surely he could do something about the missing axe.
We are not told that Elisha even needed to pray before performing this miracle. It is possible that he prayed while he cut off the stick. I believe that Elisha’s relationship with God was so close that He whispered in his ear the solution as soon as the problem was presented. And when God directed Elisha’s actions, Elisha could be CERTAIN they would succeed. Elisha didn’t question why he was cutting off a stick. He didn’t ask what a floating stick could possibly do to change this situation. He didn’t even hesitate a moment when God said the axe head would float back up. His spirit heard the answer and he acted on it immediately. That is FAITH! Tried and true faith.
The prophets with Elisha didn’t scramble away in fear when the axe head came bobbing to the surface. They waited until told what to do next. Elisha’s instructions to the one who lost it spurred him into action. He reached out an took it from the water’s surface without any problem.
I wonder what it would be like to live in a day when miracles such as this were common. Imagine living with Elisha. Deadly stew turned healthy, a few loaves turned into a meal for a hundred, and now a floating axe head. These are just the miracles we know about. How many more were they witness to?
With all the miracles of Elisha’s time, I’m still grateful for my place in history. The prophets had a special relationship with God but they didn’t have His Spirit living within them. To me, that is worth more than ANY miracle! But we don’t have to choose one of the other. God can, and still does, do miracles today.
Father God, thank You that You care about the daily needs of Your children. The missing axe was important to You because it was important to Your child. You care just as deeply for me. You have performed MANY miracles on my behalf. None quite so shattering of the physical laws of this world but just as important to my life. Thank You for our personal relationship that Jesus paid for. He made a way for me to ‘climb into Your lap’ each day.