But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.” So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it. – 2 Kings 6:5-7
This is a fascinating story here, recorded in 2 Kings. I read this story as I was going through my normal Bible reading plan. After I read through it (it’s short), I kind of shrugged and said, ‘That’s pretty cool,” and kept reading. But I felt the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit: “Read it again.” So I did. But I didn’t get anything different out of it. Just a cool story about an ax head that was supernaturally made to float. So I read it again. Still nothing. I attempted to read on again, but once again I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to go through the story again. I figured there had to be a deeper meaning that I was missing, but I was not getting it. I wish I could say that I was Mr. Spiritual and finally was enlightened by heaven with supernatural revelation, but, alas, I was not. So I looked the scripture up in a commentary. With the commentator’s words, the cap of that revelation was busted off, and revelation began to flow!
In this story, we read of a man who lost his iron ax head to the bottom of the Jordan River. He was swinging his ax at a tree when the head slipped off (apparently, this wasn’t too uncommon of an occurrence -see Deut 19:5). Being that the ax was borrowed, he was upset! He probably borrowed the ax in the first place because he couldn’t afford his own. And it was unlikely that he had the money to replace this one. The law of Moses required that full restitution be made for anything that was borrowed (Exo 22:14), so he turned to the man of God in his distress. Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in the water where it had fallen. When he did, the ax head floated up to the top so that the young man could reach in and grab it. And he did.
This story is not just an interesting tale of God’s power, but it’s a picture of our lives and the work of Christ in our lives. We are like this ax head. We get selfish and angry and fly off the handle into muddy waters of self-importance and carnal lusts. Like an iron ax head, we quickly sink down to the lowest depths of depravity, wallowing in our sin. It is there that we become stuck: stuck in sin, stuck in addictions, stuck in self-loathing, stuck in lusts. It is there that we are without hope. By all accounts, we are lost forever. Who can find an ax head at the bottom of the muddy Jordan? And who can save our lost souls?
Remember that you…at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world… – Ephesians 2:11-12
The answer was a stick cut off and thrown into the water.
This stick cut off represents Jesus and the Cross. The water represents the world. It was Jesus, who was cut off from heaven to come live in this filthy world. He was cut off from His throne in heaven to walk among the lowly. And not only cut off from His throne but for a time cut off from the living to bear the sins of the world.
He died, was buried, and was raised up so He might raise us up with Him!
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins … we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 2:1-6
What better news could there be!? We were like the ax head, dead at the bottom of the river, lying in the mud, covered with the filth of this world. But Jesus made that ax head float!
A Changed Heart
This ax head represents our hearts. Just like an ax head naturally sinks to the bottom the river, so our hearts naturally love and pursue sin. It’s just as natural and easy to love sin as it is to sit on the couch and eat potato chips and watch TV. Sin feels good at first, but it always leads to misery. Our hearts are so trained in the practices of sin (some obvious and some not so obvious) that it’s impossible for us to love and serve God the way that we should. It’s just as easy for a natural man to love and serve God as it is for an iron ax head to swim.
But there is hope!
Just as God completely changed the fabric of that ax head, enabling it to supernaturally float, so God is in the heart-changing business. Jesus preached the necessity of this change when He said, “You must be born again.” In other words, that old heart has to go, a new heart must be had.
Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? – God (Ezekiel 18:31)
God can so thoroughly change your heart that you will be a completely different person. Your love for the world will be changed to disgust, and your indifference toward God will be changed into great affection. Your new heart will desire nothing more than to love God, to please God, to follow God, and to serve God. You will begin to see God in the true light of who He is–a loving heavingly Father. At each glimpse you get of His love for you, you will be overwhelmed. At every word from His lips, you will be invigorated. You’ll be filled to overflowing with joy and peace in His presence. You’ll truly have a joy that no man can give, and no man can take away. If this has never been your experience, then I would suspect you’ve never truly been changed, that you haven’t yet been born again. True Christians won’t always have a spiritual high, but the deep parts of their hearts will always be to please Him.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
God can make your dead heart live. He can make your ax head float. How? I don’t know how. But I do know how to get it: submit your life to God, cast away your sin, trust fully in Jesus Christ and His work for you on the Cross, forsake EVERYTHING else. When you do, God will do His work. Your heart will be made new. Amen!
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