2 KINGS 6:1-23
1Now the company of prophets said to Elisha, “As you see, the place where we live under your charge is too small for us. 2Let us go to the Jordan, and let us collect logs there, one for each of us, and build a place there for us to live.” He answered, “Do so.” 3Then one of them said, “Please come with your servants.” And he answered, “I will.” 4So he went with them. When they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5But as one was felling a log, his ax head fell into the water; he cried out, “Alas, master! It was borrowed.” 6Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick, and threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7He said, “Pick it up.” So he reached out his hand and took it.
8Once when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he took counsel with his officers. He said, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Take care not to pass this place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10The king of Israel sent word to the place of which the man of God spoke. More than once or twice he warned such a place so that it was on the alert.
11The mind of the king of Aram was greatly perturbed because of this; he called his officers and said to them, “Now tell me who among us sides with the king of Israel?” 12Then one of his officers said, “No one, my lord king. It is Elisha, the prophet in Israel, who tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.” 13He said, “Go and find where he is; I will send and seize him.” He was told, “He is in Dothan.”14So he sent horses and chariots there and a great army; they came by night, and surrounded the city.
15When an attendant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. His servant said, “Alas, master! What shall we do?” 16He replied, “Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed: “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18When the Arameans came down against him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, and said, “Strike this people, please, with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. 19Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.
20As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O LORD, open the eyes of these men so that they may see.” The LORD opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria. 21When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” 22He answered, “No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.” 23So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.
Elisha is overshadowed by Elijah in the eyes of Bible readers since the latter is a far more dramatic figure. But Elisha is Elijah's equal, if not greater. If we were to count the number of miracles performed by the two, Elisha actually doubles Elijah's number of miracles, suggestive of the "double portion" that Elisha receives from Elijah as Elijah is taken up to heaven by the Lord's chariots of fire.
Which is to say: Elisha is Ha Ish! Translation: Elisha is The Man! Or, let's say, Elisha is the Heavenly Man! (Sorry, Brother Yun, Elisha came first.)
Three miracles are described in the passage above. The strangest is the miracle of the floating axhead. As we read, an axhead comes off of its handle when someone was felling a tree. The person says to Elisha that the iron axhead is borrowed. Now we wouldn't make a big deal of this fact, but at the time of this episode an iron axhead was an expensive tool. To pay back the lost axhead entailed that the person who lost it would have had to indenture himself to the owner as a bondservant (our equivalent of doing dishes at a restaurant if we don't have the money to pay for our meal. Piles and piles of dishes for many, many nights).
What does Elisha do in response? He cuts off a stick and throws it into the water, making the iron axhead float. Of course! A freshly cut stick in water changes the buoyancy of the H2O, thus forcing the iron to float to the surface of the water! Not quite. It's like Jesus making a spit-mud-mask for a blind man's eyes to give the man's sight back. The freshly cut stick has no direct bearing on the floating axhead. It's simply a prophetic act on the part of Elisha.
The other two miracles -- Elisha's servant seeing the horses and chariots of fire on the mountain and the striking of the Arameans with blindness -- need no further explanation beyond what the text says.
What about the axhead?
Here's the best interpretation of the miracle: The Lord cares for the welfare of his servants. Miracles are not just for Big Needs. Miracles are for Medium Needs and for Small Needs. It's like Bloomingdales bags:
God's care for us cover the whole range of life needs. Whatever the dimensions of our needs, we can approach the Lord with our needs. In faith, we ask for help; in faith, we receive. And sometimes a bona fide miracle is in the offing. "Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time" Hebrews 4:16.
Let's pray: Father God, we thank you that you care for your servants. Grant us childlike hearts and faith to approach you with whatever needs we might have, however large or small. May our dependence upon you bring you glory. May you give evidence of your greatness in our lives as miracles and wonder attend our walk with you. In Jesus' name, amen.