No matter what we are called to do in life, there are two things we all need to walk in daily: humility and honor… Because the Lord resists the proud, and because honor is the currency of Heaven.
Join us as we discover what one biblical king learned about the importance of humility and honor and how his story is important for us today.
There is a story in 2 Kings which, while displaying the mighty power of our God, also teaches us two keys to walking with God. Keys of humility and honor. That, depending on if we choose to implement them or not, can determine the levels of blessing, authority, favor, and prosperity demonstrated in our lives.
Joash and Elisha:
“Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. …”—2 Kings 13:14
This is perhaps an unusual place to begin the narrative, and yet, it puts the priorities of the players in place. Firstly, it shows us that Elisha is not worried. Secondly, as the rest of 2 Kings 13:14 tells us, Joash does not care…
“…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!’”—2 Kings 13:14
It is true that Joash wept, but his words tell us the underlying reason. He is not distraught over Elisha nor even the diminishing number of anointed prophets. No, Joash is weeping because of what is about to befall himself and the land and people of Israel at the hands of Hazael, king of Syria—due to God’s judgement against Israel.
Joash did not seem to care that Elisha was dying. He burst in on him and expected Elisha to somehow help… and yet, Elisha still answered the plea. He explained the way out that God offered. An offer which required simple obedience… striking the ground by bow and arrows.
“And Elisha said to him, ‘Take a bow and some arrows.’ So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king… ‘Put your hand on the bow.’ So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, ‘Open the east window’; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, ‘Shoot’; and he shot. And he said, ‘…you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them… 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. 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.’”—2 Kings 13:15-19
King Joash struck the ground only three times, angering Elisha who was at that moment referred to as, “the man of God,” symbolizing how his anger was righteous and of the Lord. Joash understood that he needed to shoot enough arrows to have victory over his enemy, Syria, but because of the way he viewed the situation, he underestimated the enemy, and overestimated himself…
As a result, just as the prophet Elisha spoke, Joash would only defeat his enemy, Syria, three times, delaying the inevitable destruction of Israel due to her many sins.
This was the last prophecy from Elisha written in the Word, and had Joash fully listened to the instructions, humbling himself as he honored the prophet and God… this prophecy would have had a favorable outcome. One where the Lord’s children might have returned in humility as they honored Him.
Humble Yourself Before God, Honor His Name
There are many reasons why Joash chose to only strike the ground three times, but two which stand out are a lack of humility and honor.
Now, it is true that Joash was not provided with a specific number of times that he was to strike the ground. However, Elisha was clear that Joash was to strike the ground until the enemy was completely destroyed…
Elisha never said to Joash, “stop.” On every step, down to the picking up of the bow, the prophet gave clear, specific instruction about what to do, when to do it, and when to switch his actions. Not only that, but Joash knew his enemy was beyond his ability to win against. He understood that he needed someone who had the ear of God to provide the Lord’s way out. But Joash’s actions spoke of the heart problem within him, even within Israel itself…
Joash did not humble himself. He thought that the problem he faced was only slightly beyond his ability to conquer. To overcome. Because of this lack of humility, Joash saw himself as only needing three encounters with his enemy to completely destroy them… But as the prophet Elisha spoke, it would have taken five or six encounters! Nearly twice what Joash convinced himself was needed.
Joash was not the only king or man in Israel to lack the humility needed to walk with God, or the honor that accompanies such humility. Joash was not even beyond saving, for he did seek the Lord more than many who served as king, but the season of half-measures that worked for previous kings was over. Enough was enough! The grace of God was the only thing that provided Joash a temporary victory against the enemy.
“… ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.’”—Exodus 34:6-7
Joash was a king of Israel, imperfect like all of us, yet still set in charge of God’s people. Examining the story of Joash and Elisha is not intended to smear his memory, but instead teach us a lesson…
Throughout our lives we are given promises—in the Word, through prophets, and through the voice of God. No matter how God gives us these, we are also given choices… we have the option to listen and obey, or not. Sometimes, like Joash, we decide to view the instruction our own way. Answering with half-measures the promise of God, and thereby creating barriers which slow or even stop our progress.
We are living in a time when half-measures can no longer support promises. Not because God is not all-powerful, but because to everything there is a season. Joash was sitting in a season where the half-hearted repentance and return of past seasons was no longer enough. He needed to be sold-out to God! He needed to walk as if he were in a new season! Unfortunately he answered the instruction in the manner of the prior season and not the new. He acted out of season and received last season’s results. Ones which once were enough…
We, as the Body of Christ, as Believers who say we follow after God, can no longer be satisfied with half-measures. All of us, Believers and non-believers alike, have crossed into a season where we either follow God or we do not. Where we strike the ground in faith over and over again until the prophesied promise comes to pass… or we might as well not strike the ground at all. Humility before God and Godly honor will be needed for each of us to strike the ground until it is finished. To stand in faith that His Word and promises are true, even when what we see in the natural does not appear to stand with it.
“To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under heaven:”—Ecclesiastes 3:1
Why Settle for Less?
What is written in our books in Heaven—God’s perfect plan for each of us—includes blessings and purpose beyond our imagining. But we do not have to accept it. We can choose to accept it all, partially, or do our best to ignore it completely.
For sons and daughters of THE King to settle for something other than His perfect plan is absurd… but God loves us enough to let us choose.
“…But now the Lord says: ‘…those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.’”—1 Samuel 2:30
When pride dictates our actions, we lose the Godly humility and honor that brings life. Humility and honor that pull us into the habits and patterns needed to open our books in Heaven. To choose the plan God has for us!
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.”—Proverbs 22:4
Yes, humility and honor are only part of the package. Only two keys out of many. But their importance cannot be denied. And when combined with the foundational commandment of our God, to love, and those which accompany it, faith and hope, we begin to look more and more like our Father. Our actions begin to echo His. And the desire we who follow God all share, that of hearing ‘well done’ from our Father when our time comes… that starts to lead our actions.
“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”—Revelation 4:11