Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.”
The Message Bible
“In the bitter waves of woe
Beaten and tossed about
By the sullen winds that blow
From the desolate shores of doubt,
Where the anchors that faith can cast
Are dragging in the gale,
I am quietly holding fast
To the things that cannot fail.”
“The problem of getting great things from God is being able to hold on for the last half hour.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And (Jehoshaphat) said, ‘Which way shall we go up?’ And he (Jehoram) answered, ‘The way through the wilderness of Edom.’ So the King of Israel went, and the King of Judah, and the King of Edom, and they fetched a compass of seven day’s journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them. And the King of Israel said, ‘Alas! That the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab! But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may enquire of the Lord by him?’”
“Is There Not a Prophet of the Lord?”
“We may think that we can do many things all on our own. But that is not true. Jesus taught that without Him, we can do nothing. He meant that all of life is the gift of God.”
As I look through the pages of my life, are there times that I put together what I believed to be well-laid out plans only to recognize later that these were my plans not God’s plans?
How has God reacted to my call for His help when I am in trouble?
“Life is not a do-it-yourself project. Our toolbox isn’t adequate. We need to bring in the heavy equipment. God says love Me first. Make Him Number One.”
“(God) knows that unless we honor Him as our ultimate need meter, we will entrust our needs to fallible humans who will be unable to meet them.”
Bill and Lynne Hybels
With the full weight of his country thrown in with Jehoram of Israel, we find King Jehoshaphat looking to the wicked Jehoram for instructions on how they would undertake their specific battle plans against the country of Moab.
II Kings 3: 8 tells us that the pathway toward Moab led through the “wilderness of Edom.” But that isn’t all. While Judah and Israel decided to join forces against Moab, the King of Edom decided he would jump on their bandwagon, too. And so this “trifecta” undertook the mission to defeat Moab, once and for all.
From all outward appearances, this should have been a cinch. Three against one. What could go wrong? Well, in the case of this misadventure against Moab, there was a lot of hidden danger or as we find, unplanned danger.
It began when a “host,” which the Hebrew defines as an encampment, an army with tents, formed as the three groups from Judah, Israel and Edom tried to mold themselves into a fighting machine. Dale Ralph Davis in assessing the situation describes what we might have witnessed had we been on the scene of this event:
“Jehoram and Jehoshaphat, along with the ‘King’ of Edom (probably a vassal of Judah), made their way south through Judah, turned east below the Dead Sea, and approached Moab from the south. Troops and pack animals plodded right into a disaster; they had exhausted their supply of water and there was none to be had on site.”
How do you spell trouble? Three kings, no planning, no water, and too many mouths that were dry!
I love how the author and Bible scholar F. B. Meyer sums up this situation when he notes that it was, “strange that after the terrible lesson received in his dalliance with Ahab (years before), that Jehoshaphat drifted into an alliance with his son. The lack of water (II Kings 3: 9) threatened to so weaken the armies of the three kings as to make them an easy prey for Moab.”
But here’s what happened when these three desert musketeers ran into trouble.
II Kings 3: 10 gives us the words of Jehoram who blamed God for a mess he himself designed. It was Jehoram who came up with the plan to go through the “desert wilderness of Edom.” You would have thought that with three brains combined together, someone would have said, “Do you think we have enough water for all of us?”
But rather than plan ahead, or better yet, ask God to help them, these three charged ahead until the situation was so dire, Moab could have wiped them all out. However, before we rail against these guys and call them “stupid” or “misguided” or whatever label seems appropriate, let’s take a moment to look in the mirror at ourselves because I must honestly admit that I’ve been trapped in the wilderness of Edom myself. And on more than one occasion.
I’ve put together what I thought to be an unassailable plan, down to the last detail, linking up with those who I thought would only serve to make my position stronger. What’s more, along the way a “latcher-on” like Edom, joined my ranks. Hooked right up with me and we became a host in the desert, finding ourselves stuck without water, so to speak. I remember well asking God, “What did I do wrong? Why would You lead me into this mess?”
It took me awhile to realize the plans I had thought so perfect weren’t God’s plans at all. They were my own. God’s guidance was only an afterthought when the mess became too big for me to handle. Sound familiar?
This brings us to the response by King Jehoshaphat who cried out, “Isn’t there a prophet in the land?” This was the first question that should have been asked before the “host” moved one muscle. And it is a vital point for you and me to think about before we take off, thinking we have everything pieced together perfectly, only to find out that in the end, we forgot to get God’s advice and map in the first place.
Interestingly, as we will find out tomorrow, God was not far away during this entire debacle. His servant Elisha was following along behind “the host” and when a cry for God’s assistance came, Elisha was on-the-spot and ready to step-up for God. It’s very telling to note that it was one of Jehoram’s servants who knew Elisha was close by. Even this wayward king’s subjects knew who they wanted to have on their side when they got into trouble –PRAISE GOD for that.
It gives us a lot to think about as we plod ahead with the plans we so often hastily lay out – plans that too frequently leave our heavenly Father completely out of the picture.
Let us learn today that each morning, when we arise, our first words should be, “Work Your way through me today, dear Father.” And if we will do this, we won’t find ourselves without water in the desert wilderness of Edom.
“A man (or woman’s) heart deviseth their way; but the Lord directeth their steps.”
“In some good time,
His good time,
I shall arrive:
He guides me and the bird.
In His good time!”
“A harbor and refuge You are at all times.
When the seas covered me,
Your mercy descended and drew me out.
Again let Your help lay hold on me!
Apply to my afflictions
The medicine of Your salvation,
And the passion of Your help!”
Ephraem of Syria
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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