Thursday, December 18, 2014

Increasing your influence in Spreading God's Kingdom

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

14 Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, z“My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” 15 And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Draw the bow,” and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king's hands. 17 And he said, “Open the window eastward,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he shot. And he said, “The Lord's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.” 18 And he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped. 19 Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”

20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.

22 Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. 23 But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now.

24 When Hazael king of Syria died, Ben-hadad his son became king in his place. 25 Then Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again from Ben-hadad the son of Hazael the cities that he had taken from Jehoahaz his father in war. Three times Joash defeated him and recovered the cities of Israel. (2 Kings 13:14-25...ESV)

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)

Have you wondered if it were possible to increase your influence in spreading God's kingdom? Or, like me, have you ever lamented how little an impact you seem to be having in the sphere in which God has placed you?

First, it is abundantly clear in Scripture that the Lord expects every true Christian to be have a significant impact on those God has placed around us.He would not expect nor  command something of us unless He had equipped us to accomplish it. Despite our weakness and sinfulness the Lord wants us to have a significant role in the spread of the Kingdom of His dearly beloved Son.
Yet, again and again, it seems that I fall woefully short. The text below has always gripped me with the simple but profound insights it gives in being more fruitful in mirroring to a dark and broken world the loveliness of Christ and His gospel. Stated differently, there is a very important principle in being a more than conqueror in spiritual warfare and growing the kingdom of heaven.

Nobody believes in the absolute sovereignty of our Tribune God more than myself, but that does not imply passivity on our part. If we are to be significantly more influential in kingdom expansion we have to enthusiastically desire it! Starting with our families, and moving out from there, adopting a passionate/enthusiastic attitude is vital.

In the text below, Elisha is about to die and is visited by the king of Israel. The prophet has the king open the window eastward. Why? Because that is the direction Joash's enemies will come from in their attack.After firing an arrow, Elisha asks the king to do something that may seem kind of odd--he commands the king to strike the remaining arrows on the ground. But note the preceding verse (V.17) in which Elisha passionately predicts that the Lord will smash the Syrians, but He will do it through Joash, the king of Israel.This is like Elish's dying plea for this king to significantly extend God's kingdom by destroying His enemies.It is not a laid back philosophical debate! One can hear Elisha almost shouting with God-intoxicated fervor for the king to strike the ground with his arrows.

But the text says Joash struck the ground three times and STOPPED (V.18 CAPS ADDED) and this displeased Elijah. Now remember Elijah was there, and along with prophetic insight into Joash's mindset, he could see the lack of enthusiastic obedience.In v.19 we hear the Lord through Elijah tell the king the sad consequences of his perfunctory obedience to smashing the arrows.Elijah was angry, saying he should have smashed the arrows more times on the least 5 or 6 times. Yes Joash would attain 3 victories over his enemies (see v.24), but had he been more enthusiastic, then an end would would have been made of the dreaded Syrians. This one simple act of slack-hearted obedience severely diminished Joash's influence in spreading God's kingdom. Joash obeyed the prophet--but given the context--he should have smashed the arrows into the ground repeatedly until his hand froze on the arrows or they snapped in half! The 5 or 6 times mentioned by Elisha, in my opinion, was the bare minimum that was appropriate given the occasion.

God has chosen to use us in the expansion of His kingdom. As is intimated above, when God's kingdom expands, Satan's kingdom diminishes.

Do you wish to have greater influence on your loved ones? Then picture yourself with a quiver of arrows and smashing them into the ground until your arm is immobilized. That is, plead with passion on a daily basis that the Lord would significantly increase the effectiveness of your witness--both with your life and words...that the Lord would adorn the gospel to your loved ones through you. Smash the arrows..SMASH them!

We don't fight against flesh and blood as Joash did...we don't have arrows, but the point is this--we can and should express to the Lord how passionate we are that He use us to touch those we love. We have but a short life and I want to impress upon you that how we "smash the arrows" makes a huge difference. Plead with the Lord to significantly increase your influence in spreading His Kingdom. Don't settle for a faithless attitude re: how He will work supernaturally through you. No matter how poorly we may have done in the past, please don't  let the devil to deceive you into thinking you've blown it. The Lord delights in "making up for the years that the swarming locusts have eaten." Plead with Him to use open up doors, and HE WILL!!

Lastly, the Lord Jesus passionately observed the law every second of His earthly life, "and zeal for His house consumes Him." His perfect life and righteousness has been imputed to us. IN CHRIST the Father sees us as perfect.

Maybe the arrow imagery did not connect with you as it did with me, but certainly we should have the mindset of more-than-conquerors!

Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.