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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hit 'Em With Everything You Got!

I haven’t seen the new “Star Trek,” but I’m sure that the following scene is in the movie, because this scene’s in every movie like “Star Trek.”

The hero’s ship is under attack from an enemy vessel. The enemy vessel is larger, more heavily armored, and equipped with superior firepower. Heavily damaged, the good guys are on the verge of being destroyed. The heroic captain orders his crew to arm every torpedo bay, shift all power to the weapons, commit every ounce of energy to one final attack. Looking forward at the enemy, the captain orders, “Hit ‘em with everything we got!”

They fire the weapons. Every laser, bullet, missile, arrow, rock, and bottle on board streaks forward and strikes the enemy target head on. There’s a massive explosion; and when the smoke clears----- the enemy vessel is still there.

The heroic crew is battered and wounded. Their ship is defenseless, systems are failing, smoke erupts from every corner. One more shot from the enemy will end them. This is it.

The moment that the good guys ……

Cause something unexpected happens. They try some military maneuver that’s never worked before; they execute some risky new technical operation; they discover that they’ve held out long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Something always happens after the good guys have “hit ‘em with everything they got” and they’ve got nothing left. That’s always how the good guys win.

In 2 Kings 13:14 – 19, the nation of Israel is in bad shape. The 10 tribes that make up Israel, the northern kingdom (also known as Samaria)have fallen into national idolatry, mixing worship of the true God with pagan rituals and regular sacrifices to false gods. And they are dominated by the superior military power of their enemy Syria (Aram). The Syrians raid at will, demand tribute, and harass the Jewish people at every turn. Syria’s army is a larger, better equipped, and seemingly unstoppable power. It has been only the intervention and intercession of powerful prophets like Elisha that have kept Syria from completely destroying the kingdom of Israel. And Elisha is dying (verse 14).

Joash, king of Israel, goes to see Elisha before he passes away. When Joash arrives at Elisha’s bedside he weeps over him and says “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!” This touching statement is an exact quote of what Elisha himself said when his predecessor Elijah was parted from him and translated into Heaven. This would be a touching scene of grief and piety but for one small detail.

Joash isn’t a true believer. Verse 11 says that Joash did evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, but walked in them.

Point? Joash knows how and when to quote the Word of the prophets. He’s religious, but he’s not faithful.

Like us, Joash isn’t really, truly, in his heart-of-hearts interested in submitting to God by faith, but he is very interested in getting God’s favor. He’d love a blessing, preferably without having to do a bunch of obeying and stuff. (Sound familiar?)

For the sake of His people and His promises to His people, God offers Joash a chance to be blessed. Elisha orders the king to take a bow and shoot some arrows into the ground. He explains that the arrows represent God’s deliverance (verse 17).

Joash fires. One arrow. Two arrows. Three arrows. Then he stops.

He probably stopped and looked at Elisha, trying to gauge the prophet’s reaction, read his expression. Probably trying to see if he’d done enough. That’s us.

We want to know when we’ve done enough of the religion thing.

“How many times, Lord, do I have to pray before You answer?“
“How many months do I have to tithe before you pay off my student loans?”
“How often do you expect me to witness to so-and-so before I can give up on his hard-headed tail?”
“Exactly how much church do I have to attend to make up for the dirt I did this past week?”

Joash shoots 3 arrows and stops. And Elisha is maaaaaad! He says in verse 19 , “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”

Now let’s be fair to Joash. It’s not like Elisha told him to fire 5 or 6 arrows and he just decided not to. How was Joash to know how many was enough? How could he know (and, by extension, how can we know) how much of our time, how much of our energy, how many of our prayers, our resources, our “arrows” God expects us to throw at our situation? Simple.

Elisha said, “Take the arrows…Strike the ground”

Joash should have asked himself what we must ask ourselves: How many arrows do I have?

Instead of trying to find the minimum acceptable level of religion, Joash should have targeted the ground and hit it with every arrow he’d got.

When we seek deliverance from God, we are to seek the Word not just as a means of appearing religious, but in a desire to be truly and totally obedient. We must take up whatever arrows are available. Look around in your church, in your home, in your life. What talents are there? What financial resources? What gifts? What time not obligated to work? What knowledge? What connections and contacts? What ideas unshared? What labor unperformed? These are your arrows.

We make the mistake of trying to give the least we can give, do the least we can do and still be acceptable to God. Target the ministry needs, opportunities, and challenges in front of you and instead of trying to calculate how little you can do, hit ‘em with everything you got!

Joash had 3 arrows worth of faith, so God gave him 3 victorious battles. Sometimes the reason we get only temporary deliverance instead of full victory is because we only believe for temporary deliverance.

We sin and then pray that God will deliver us from the immediate consequences, but we don’t believe He can free us from the addictions and sinful habits that led us into sin.
We believe God will keep our children from getting expelled, but we don’t believe and obey Him to deliver them from the sins that underly their expulsion-worthy behavior.
We pray for this month’s rent, but we don’t believe and obey to see total deliverance from the bondage of debt.
We walk in sin everyday and pray for forgiveness every night, but we don’t commit to full repentance and the ultimate deliverance of our soul from sin and Hell,

We have partial deliverance because we attack our issues with some of our faith, some of our resources, some of our “arrows.” God commands us to commit all to His work. (Matthew 22: 37; Deuteronmy 26: 16; Ecclesiastes 9: 10) Target what God has placed and allowed in front of us and hit it with everything we got. And when we do, guess what?

It won’t be enough.

The problems in our lives may very well prove to be more than we can overcome with the resources available. The sins in our heart may very well prove to be to deeply entrenched for our single will to excise. The history of bad decision-making in our families may be to commonly reinforced. After all the smoke clears the enemy may still be there.

But… something will happen.

Joash probably wondered, "How can a bunch of arrows fired into a dying preacher’s yard defeat the great Syrian army with it’s superior armor and overwhelming firepower?
I need more than all these arrows in my hand.”


When we have the faith to hit the work of God with everything we’ve got, then God will make something happen.

If Joash had kept firing, after 5 or 6 shots God would have provided complete victory over the Syrian army. Just as David chose 5 smooth stones to throw at Goliath and found that he only needed one (1 Samuel 17: 40), so we, if we go all out for God, will discover that the resources already given to us will be enough, more than enough to do the work to which we’re called.

When we’ve exhausted every resource, God will give us a new idea, revive an old one, send us help from an unexpected area, …He’ll make something happen. That’s how the good guys always win.

Stop waiting for more. Stop procrastinating. Stop excusing ministry-lessness because we don't have enough resources.

By faith, commit to His work, take up whatever God’s put in our hands and
“Hit em with everything we got!”

2 Kings 13: 14 Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!”
15 And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows.
16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. 
17 And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” 
18 Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped. 
19 And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.”