2 Kings 3: God Causes an Optical Illusion to Fool the Enemy of Israel

Elijah was the prophet of fire. He brought down fire on those who went against God. Elisha, however, is the prophet of water. He does several water miracles. Today we have one of them. Here we see God do a miracle, but the people had to do something first before the miracle could happen. As God will show, He expects us to have faith first, then He’ll deliver. Let’s dig in….

2 Kings 3

Now Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel at Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not like his father and mother; for he put away the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he persisted in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; he did not depart from them.

Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheepbreeder, and he regularly paid the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams. But it happened, when Ahab died, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

So King Jehoram went out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. Then he went and sent to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, saying, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?”

And he said, “I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” Then he said, “Which way shall we go up?”

And he answered, “By way of the Wilderness of Edom.”

So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom, and they marched on that roundabout route seven days; and there was no water for the army, nor for the animals that followed them. 10 And the king of Israel said, “Alas! For the Lord has called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.”

11 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?”

So one of the servants of the king of Israel answered and said, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.”

12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

13 Then Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.”

But the king of Israel said to him, “No, for the Lord has called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.”

14 And Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you, nor see you. 15 But now bring me a musician.”

Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. 16 And he said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’ 17 For thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you, your cattle, and your animals may drink.’ 18 And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand. 19 Also you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall cut down every good tree, and stop up every spring of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones.”

20 Now it happened in the morning, when the grain offering was offered, that suddenly water came by way of Edom, and the land was filled with water.

21 And when all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to bear arms and older were gathered; and they stood at the border. 22 Then they rose up early in the morning, and the sun was shining on the water; and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood. 23 And they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely struck swords and have killed one another; now therefore, Moab, to the spoil!”

24 So when they came to the camp of Israel, Israel rose up and attacked the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they entered their land, killing the Moabites. 25 Then they destroyed the cities, and each man threw a stone on every good piece of land and filled it; and they stopped up all the springs of water and cut down all the good trees. But they left the stones of Kir Haraseth intact. However the slingers surrounded and attacked it.

26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him seven hundred men who drew swords, to break through to the king of Edom, but they could not. 27 Then he took his eldest son who would have reigned in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering upon the wall; and there was great indignation against Israel. So they departed from him and returned to their own land.

2 Kings 3 NKJV

Points to Ponder

  • Jehoram, king of the northern kingdom of Israel, wasn’t as bad as his brother. He tore down the pillar of Baal, however, he kept worshiping the golden calves that his father, Jeroboam, introduced to the kingdom. Paganism is still idolatry. It’s like if the Catholics stopped worshiping all the patron saints, but just kept praying and venerating Mary.
  • On the other hand, Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, worshiped God, but he let the people keep their pagan worship habits. So he was godly to a point, but way more godly than his northern kin.
  • When they ran out of water for the army and their animals, Jehoshaphat asks if there’s a prophet of God in the area and one of Jehoram’s men mentioned Elisha. Now, Elijah had been sent to be God’s prophet in the northern kingdom and Elisha took over when Elijah was raptured. Elisha at first didn’t want to help, but because he respected godly, King Jehoshaphat, he agreed to assist them.
  • Why did Elisha call for a musician? He wanted to praise God first before asking for Him for a favor.
  • It’s interesting that in some Bible translations — NIV and NLT — they don’t mention the soldiers having to dig ditches or water canals first. I opted to use the NKJV because they do mention them. I imagine that the kings thought the task to be a bit ridiculous. Nevertheless, they did what they were told and God provided!

It’s all about FAITH

I’m going to borrow from a Bible Study Plan I found in the FREE YouVersion Bible App, “Elisha: A Tale Of Ridiculous Faith”….

This story is all about faith. Only God can send the water, but he wants you to dig the ditches. If you want to see some water in your life, then dig a ditch. Real faith works and believes big, but you must be willing to start small. The size of your vision isn’t intimidating to God. Many don’t think big enough, but even more won’t start small. How do you dig a ditch? Take your “shovel” and hit the ground one “shovel” at a time. You can’t expect God to give you big things if you won’t start small. Believe big. Start small. Put your faith into action by digging some ditches. What’s a big vision you have that you need God’s help in accomplishing? What small ditches might you need to dig to begin the process of making that vision a reality?

‘Elisha: A Tale Of Ridiculous Faith’

The Optical Illusion

Petra, in Jordan, Photo by Jose Aragones on Pexels.com

The water not only was to drink, but to fool the Moabites. Interestingly enough, it was Jehoram who chose to go via the Wilderness of Edom. “Edom” means “red”. They were the descendants of Esau, Jacob/Israel’s twin brother. Today, that area is Jordan and where Petra is located. The mountains are red. With the water, in the morning, it caused an optical illusion. This made the Moabites think that it was the blood of the Israelites. Consequently, they thought they had all died and they went to plunder for the spoils and to their surprise, the armies of the three kings were ready to ambush them.

The Moabites worshiped the god Molech who “desired” child sacrifice. Unfortunately, we see how horrible paganism is when the Moabite king sacrifices his son and heir to the throne. Disgusted, the Israelites leave. The Moabite king probably thought the sacrifice worked.

A God of Surprise Endings

Our God is a God of surprise endings. When Jesus came into the world, the people, even His disciples, thought He came to free Israel from Roman rule. It’s clear to us now, that was not His purpose for coming to earth as a human. God’s plan is to save us from our sin. Having said that, even after Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, even ate with His disciples, they still didn’t get it. We see that in Acts 1….

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

Acts 1 NLT

The disciples had to wait. They had to be patient. Clearly, the Gift that God gave them was worth the wait! Once they had the Power of the Holy Spirit, they knew what God wanted, needed them to do. To spread the Good News of the Salvation of Jesus Christ.

God Keeps His Promises!

“The way of faith and the road to the blessing is this:
God promised it – we will get ready for it.”

Charles Spurgeon

To receive God’s blessings AND the Holy Spirit, we have to take the steps in FAITH.

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
  • Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Top image by Richard Gunther from FreeBibleImages.org. (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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