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An axehead floats! Just an Ordinary Miracle

Updated on February 17, 2013


A careless prophet looses his axehead in the river. He panics. "Alas my master! it was borrowed." "Where'd it fall?" asks Elisha. The prophet calmly cuts off a stick and tosses it at the place where the axehead sank to the bottom. The thing floats. Life goes on.

In the Bible miracles are ordinary. Why not? The Scriptures present us with a world and life view in which the Creator stays engaged with his creatures and superintends their lives. Should we be surprised that from time to time He chooses to do something that defies the natural laws He put in place? The world is surprised and skeptical but those who know their God are not. Our axeheads float from time to time, but even when they don't we're confident that the Lord knows what He's doing.

Flint axehead
Flint axehead

Just an ordinary story?

So why is a floating axehead in holy writ? Spice up things a bit? Human interest? Accidentally dropped in by a sleepy redactor? Every word in Scripture is there to enrich our understanding of God's plan of salvation. Let's study this incident together. It's in II Kings 6:1-7, it's only appearance in Scripture.

Elisha and his understudies find that their quarters have become a bit cramped. At a time when godliness was at a low ebb, here's a bright point. New prophet recruits appear every day. So they set out for the forest to secure some logs. At their request, Elisha the prophet tags along. Prophets were raised up by God to remind his people of His ways, to teach them and to call them to account. They were mere human beings, but their office pointed forward to One who would play that role perfectly, Jesus Christ. Thus prophets were types of the coming Savior. A type is any Old Testament person, office, structure, practice, ritual, event that points to spiritual realities yet to be revealed. An obvious one is the snake in the wilderness which points to Jesus being lifted up on the cross. Understanding types is key to recognizing the integrity of Scripture.

But let's continue. The men set out to do something noble and profitable but they are hindered by a rather common workplace incident. Have we not all faced such incidents? You're driving to help your sick mother-in-law with an errand and you have a flat. You put heart and soul and time and energy into your daughter's wedding plan only to wake up the day of the wedding with the dry heaves. Our best efforts meet with resistance. These are all versions of "by the sweat of your face you shall eat your bread." (Gen.3:19)

Our axe-headless prophet models in his situation what our reflex should be in the face of obstacles. He cries out to the only one who could help, his Master. We've already mentioned the link between Elisha and Jesus.

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It's a good idea to invite the Lord along when you set out to do good. In fact, apart from his presence, you're bound to screw up. Take obstacles and opposition in stride. For now we live in a world that still suffers from the effects of the curse. Troubles don't signal that you're on the wrong path nor that the Lord has abandoned you. Rather, they provide an opportunity to seek and find his mercy.

When you do call on the Lord, remember that it's his call on whether to make your sunken axe-head float or not. He might have you go home for another or sit on the sidelines for a while. You see, it's not about getting the job done. It's all about walking with your Savior so that you see what He's up to.

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