In today's key passage we read that the enemy of God, the Moabites, were holding back, and stealing what belonged to God's people. The Moabites were to supply Israel with 100,000 lambs and with the wool of 100,000 rams but rebelled and stopped supplying. So the King of Israel called upon the King of Judah to join forces to go to battle against the King of Moab.
The king of Judah responded in verse 3:7: "I will go with you...I am as you are... my people as your people, my horses as your horses." Together these two kings and their armies decided to go through the Desert of Edom to engage the Moabites, and en-route were also joined by the King of Edom and his army and so, together, the three armies joined forces to go and fight against the Moabites. Verse 3:9 tells us that after marching 7 days the combined army ran out of water!
Verse 3:10-11 tells us what happens next: "What...exclaimed the king of Israel. Has the Lord called us three kings together only to hand us over to Moab?" But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there no prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of the Lord through him?" An officer of the king of Israel answered, "Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah."
Verse 3:12 Jehoshaphat responded: "The Word of the Lord is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him."
The armies of the three kings were in a real predicament because suddenly they were about to die of thirst. What a sad state of affairs. Here was an army claiming to be called by God which now was about to die in the middle of the desert due to lack of water.
This is a sad picture of the church today. We simply think that all we need to win the battle against the enemy is to muster up a big army. A big church, a big building, a big budget, a big pastoral team, which is nice but size alone can never guarantee a victory. All we have to do is look at the war in Iraq, the war in Iran, and in Afghanistan. The U.S. have sent in great armies of men and all the latest equipment but after several years they still have not won the war.
Likewise the size of a church doesn't guarantee that we will win the war. What the army really needed before setting out to this battle was to be sure that God had sent them and that God was
Realizing they had missed God, Jehoshaphat calls out: "Is there no prophet here that we may inquire of the Lord through him?" Finally in desperation the three kings look to Elisha, the man of God, and when Elisha sees the king from Edom, he says in verse 14-18 "As surely as the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not even look at you or even notice you. But bring me a harpist. While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha and said: "This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord. He will also hand Moab over to you."
In this passage we have a portrait of the church today. Like these three kings we know that the church is called to do battle with the enemy. We think we have it all together. In fact our army is composed of many different denominations. Each has their own denominational title, own doctrines and confessions of faith, but in reality the only true thing which these three kings have in common, which we the church have in common, is that we have a common enemy who wants to destroy the church of Jesus Christ.
In our passage we have the church of the Samaritans, and we have the church of the Edomites, but we also have the church of Judah which realizes that there is really only one answer. How does this passage apply to the church today? We believe that if we can just muster up a big enough army that this is all we need to win the battle against the enemy. We have all kinds of Bible schools pumping out trained leadership, we have all kinds of trained pastors, we have all the cattle, we have all the horses, we have all we need to win this battle. But, like these three kings, we are lacking something...WATER!
We're like these three kings. Great armies marching to the same beat of the drum. However, somewhere in the midst of this march there is a thirsty church calling out, "Is there a Word from the Lord!" And the Holy Spirit cries out, "Yes! I have a WORD!"
But nobody wants to hear it any more. They say it's not right for today. They say it's out of style. They say it's out of date. They say, 'don't preach about the cross, don't preach about the blood and don't preach about hell.' They say it offends people. We don't want anyone to get offended. They say don't preach the baptism of the Holy Spirit; that was for a different time.
This is the dilemma of the church today. We have run out of water, we have run out of the water of the Holy Spirit, and the church doesn't even realize it. Instead of going to the true source of water most churches are trying to produce their own water.
The question is: "Is there any hope for the church?" The answer is YES THERE IS!
Like the king of Judah who recognized that Elisha was a man filled with the Holy Spirit, God is looking for an army that He can fill with His Holy Spirit.
Let us read how this story ends: 3:20-24: "The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there was water flowing from the direction of Edom...and the land was filled with water. Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms, was called up and stationed at the border. When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red like blood. "That's blood!" they said. "Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!" But when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and fought them until they fled. And the Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites."
Before the return of Jesus I believe that the Holy Spirit wants to fill the church with a new level of anointing. This new level of anointing is not something money can buy like Simon the magician tried to do in Acts 8:18. This new level of anointing will not function simply because we copy the methods of someone else, as the sons of Sceva tried in Acts 19:14. Nor can this new level of anointing be received simply because we read books about church growth.
The only way we can get this anointing is to seek the water of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of God is that He will fill us. Therefore, it all begins by getting back to prayer. It begins by getting back to preaching the message of the Cross. It begins by getting back to seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit, because without the Holy Spirit the church will always be dying of thirst.
And I am fully convinced that when we get back to doing these things, then the final thing that the church needs to do is to start digging the ditches . . . BECAUSE THE FLOOD IS COMING!!