How many times have you wanted to ask God for a ‘do-over’? It seems too often the case that when I don’t pay careful attention to walk by faith in this life I end up missing precious opportunities to trust and obey God my Savior. I can look back over my response to certain things and realize… I didn’t really care to understand or believe that my actions would have such very real consequences… implications.
I wonder if Joash, king of Israel, was impacted by this reality. In 2 Kings 13:14-19, an event is recorded for my good. Joash goes to see Elisha, who is dying. Elisha instructs Joash to take up a bow and arrows and to shoot an arrow through the window eastward. Joash obeys and Elisha exclaims “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.” Now Syria had been oppressing Israel for a long time and here is Elisha telling Joash that they will fight and make an end of Syria’s oppression of Israel. Elisha then tells Joash to “take the arrows” and “strike the ground with them”. So Joash obeys. He strikes the ground with the arrows three times. Pretty good obedience right? But look at Elisha’s response. “Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “you should have struck the groung five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”
How can I not take away anything less than the truth that I am guilty of “joashian obedience”… tepid obedience. I know I have come to God’s word in the past and read it, heard from the Lord how I should respond to something in my life and then gone away and responded with dispassionate obedience to the situation. What have the consequences been? What might have happened if I had taken the instruction of the Lord with a zeal and careful obedience?
This record of Joash’s response in 2 Kings reminded me this morning of another place in God’s word where ‘lukewarmness’ is mentioned. It’s in the book of Revelation(ch3), in the letter to the church of Laodicea…
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
The LORD, our God and Savior, stands ready to bless and strengthen us. He comes in love to reprove and discipline us as sons.
“…so be zealous and repent.” I should not be satisfied with striking the ground just three times… I should be zealous in strking the ground five or six or… however many times He permits my obedience and trust to be offered in worship.
May God in His mercy not spit me out of His mouth… may He in His grace empower my heart to fear him and treasure Him above all else.