“And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us. Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell.
And he answered, Go ye.
And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants.
And he answered, I will go.” ( II Kings 6:1-3)
In the post Academic Training Versus Practical Experience from II Kings 2:15-25, I discussed the sons of the prophets in some detail. Essentially they were what would be called a para-church organization today, meaning they had no scriptural mandate for their existence but were an organization of prophets to help develop young prophets.
While they were very sincere about serving God, as so often happens, the focus moved from trusting God to promoting the organization. While several of God’s prophets worked with them, and encouraged them, none of them seem to have been deeply involved in the organization.
When they needed larger quarters, they decided to work together with each one donating a beam for the structure. It is very similar to many of the groups today. When they asked Elisha about their plans, and he told them they should go ahead with them. When they asked him to take part, he agreed to do so. After all, as Jesus told his disciples in Mark 9:40, “For he that is not against us is on our part.”
In II kings 2:15-25, Elisha had stood against their decision to go search for Elijah as an evidence of a lack of faith. While we have the right and even a responsibility to help those who are trying to do right, we must never get so involved with an organization that we overlook things that are wrong. We will be called on to give an account to God for everything we have done.
Such organizations are to be supplemental to the Lord’s work. They are not to become the primary emphasis. Unfortunately, Bible colleges, missions boards, and other associations tend to draw the focus away from the local church which God established and focus on the organization, which has no God given mandate.
“So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood. But as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.” (II Kings 6:4-5)
Constructing the new buildings was a cooperative effort. Each one was to provide a part. Because he didn’t own his own axe, one of the men had borrowed one. The head was loose and came off as he was chopping wood, falling into the river. The man was panicked because he didn’t have the money to replace it, and according to the law, in Exodus 22:14, he was obligated to do so. “And if a man borrow ought of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.”
“And the man of God said, Where fell it?
And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.” (II Kings 6:6-7)
Unfortunately, in the effort to do their part in organizations such as this, some are encouraged to over extend themselves, borrowing more than they can afford, convinced it is God’s will. Frequently they are asked to borrow the money and trust God to be able to repay it. That overlooks the command in Romans 13:8, to “Owe no man any thing…” When things don’t go as expected, they find themselves panicked because they were depending on human wisdom rather than depending on God. Faith is obeying God's commands and letting him produce the result.
Fortunately Elisha was there and could redirect their attention to God’s miraculous power. Many times there’s no Elisha there to lead them back into faith, and as Romans 14:23 says, “…whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Hebrews 11:6 warns, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Only when the focus and faith is centered on God will he receive the glory he deserves for what is accomplished. He doesn’t need our human efforts. We don’t make miracles happen, contrary to what many believe.