Are you giving this day, and Jesus, your “best shot”? On Sabbath we took our lesson from a dying prophet, a grieving young king, and a bow and some arrows.
Rewind to 2 Kings 13:14. Elisha, the successor to Elijah the prophet, is sick and soon to die. Young King Jehoash (Joash) was on the throne in Israel, following in the evil steps of his father Jehoashaz. Though an idolater, the king still had respect for Elisha and feared his death would spell disaster for the nation.
Israel’s army had been decimated and lost most of its chariot forces to the Syrians (see 2 Kings 13:7). But Jehoash considered Elisha himself to be a miraculous substitute for their lost military power. Elisha, however, wanted the king and the people to realize it was in Jehovah alone that the nation would find its true defense and strength. Then as now, God’s Spirit is always and only our best shot.
Rewind to verses 15-17. Shooting an arrow over or towards an army, land, or city was a common way of declaring your intention to conquer it. But here the prophet and the king take the shot together. “Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.” What did that mean? Elisha, representing Yahweh, identifies himself with Jehoash in a way that let’s Jehoash know that though the victory is the Lord’s, it still requires Jehoash’s participation. If we’re to take our best shot today, we must realize that God’s hand on ours is our only guarantee of success. The arrows belonged to the king, but God set the aim. Our future success depends upon the degree to which we work in harmony with the divine directions.
That leads us to a related lesson: we take our best shot when we obey the Lord completely. The Hebrew reveals exact conformity of the king’s actions with every command of Elisha. And Elisha prophesied the sure result: “The Lord’s arrow of victory over Aram!” The conditions met, the victory was guaranteed.
God’s promises are guaranteed—the warranty on our faith. However, we can void that warranty through disobedience. If we don’t obey, God is under no obligation to do anything for us. We step out from under His divine protection and reap what we sow.
But it is way more fun to talk about obedience than to actually obey. We talk a good game, but don’t play it all that well. The result is that we don’t move forward with God. We can’t be content to talk about what obedience would look like; we must obey, or we’ll never know victory.
God’s word to you today is, “Take Your Best Shot”—right at the enemy—in prayer, in harmony with God, in complete obedience, take your best shot and declare, “The Lord’s arrow of victory over ________.” You fill in the blank.
But you can never take your best shot without devotion. We are to smite sin utterly. God wants to deliver us completely from sin, as he wanted to deliver Israel completely from Syrian oppression. But we may limit the deliverance of God by our own half-heartedness.
With Elisha’s promise of complete victory over the Arameans at Aphek, he tests the king’s faith. “Then he said, ‘Take the arrows,’ and the king took them. Elisha told him, ‘Strike the ground.’ He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.’” (vs. 18, 19)
Why did Elisha get mad at the king? After all, he didn’t tell him ahead of time how many times to strike the ground. The key is found in the promise of God in verse 17 (“You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek”), and the king’s actions in response to that promise in verse 18 (“He struck it three times and stopped”).
The point is clear, when God promises you a feast, don’t settle for crumbs. The king stopped too soon. He didn’t take his best shot, he settled for the shots he was comfortable taking. Three strikes and he was out. He lacked perseverance and determination. He was content with half measures and incomplete achievement, and therefore, the future victory over Syria would be a limited victory.
Ahab had partial victory at Aphek years earlier because he let Ben-Hadad live. (See 1 Kings 20:26-43.) Ahab didn’t take his best shot and made a treaty with the enemy. Now Jehoash was showing the same lack of resolve. He was content to win the battle but not the war. Sometimes we’re the same way. Rather than fight sin to the death, we make a peace treaty with our favorites and call it a day. But if you’re going to take your best shot, you must persist and never give up.
Jehoash already had “the Lord’s arrow of victory.” When you’ve got the Lord’s arrow, you cannot fail. So, you strike and strike and strike until the victory is yours. Taking your best shot is taking all God has and giving it everything you’ve got!
“If all were willing to receive, all would be filled with the Spirit…. We are too easily satisfied with a ripple on the surface, when it is our privilege to expect the deep moving of the Spirit of God.” (My Life Today, p. 57)
Taking your best shot means not quitting until you hit the target! Nowhere is this principle demonstrated better than in the life of Elisha’s predecessor, Elijah. Rewind to 1 Kings 18:41-42.
Elijah heard the sound of heavy rain coming. It was abundant—more than enough to end the drought. But Elijah wasn’t content with just hearing the sound. He had already seen the arrow of the Lord’s victory on Carmel and had God’s promise for rain.
So, what did he do with it? He prayed! He bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees—not one, twice, three times, but seven times. He struck and struck and prayed and prayed until the answer came. Why? Not because he doubted the word of God, but because he wanted to see the word of God fulfilled. Because hearing the sound of rain is not the same as getting wet. Don’t you want to get wet? “When a prophetic word is given to us, we are called to pray the promise’s fulfillment, believe the promise’s pledge, and obey the promise’s command.”
Don’t settle for the sound of rain in books, and stories about past revivals. Don’t get weary in asking the Lord for the blessing. Take your best shot. Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead. Let God aim you toward His target and take your best shot. –Pastor Randy
p.s. The “target” may be a volunteer position with the Experience Jesus meetings next April. Pray for God to aim you in the right direction for this. Also, continue to pray for these meetings. Prayer changes things!