The account of King Joash and the Prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 13 is the story of a missed opportunity. The Lord had given the king a chance to secure the fate of Israel against the Syrians. All he had to do was to “strike the ground” with his arrows to signify victory, and the Lord would do the rest. But Joash’s lack of faith cost him. He used only three arrows which weren’t enough victories to destroy the enemy completely. Recently, this story came to life for me. I believe God has given me a similar chance to shoot arrows (and maybe He has for you too). That’s when effort, in relation to faith, can move the hand of God.
King Joash and Elisha
The story takes place about the time that the prophet Elisha was about to die. King Joash may have done evil in the sight of the Lord by following in the steps of Jeroboam, but he understood Elisha’s power and connection to God. He was afraid that when the prophet left the earth, he would take the Lord’s protection with him. (Remember that Jeroboam was the one who set up a golden calf for worship in Dan in the north and Bethel in the south instead of encouraging his people to travel to Jerusalem to properly worship God His way).
Joash came to Elisha and cried. Elisha told him to take a bow and some arrows. Then he put his own hands on top of Joash’s hands and told him to shoot an arrow out the east window toward Syria. Now, in that time, there was a custom for someone to shoot an arrow or throw a spear into the country in which an army intended to invade. It was symbolic, like a declaration of war.
Then Elisha said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria. For thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them” (2 Kings 13:17b). Here the prophet was assuring Joash that just because Elisha was dying didn’t mean that God’s power would be gone from Israel too. The connection between Joash’s arrows and a strike against Israel’s enemies, the Syrians, was clear. All Joash had to do was shoot in faith and God would bring the victory.
Then Elisha told Joash to “strike the ground.” He wasn’t asking him to pound arrows into the floor. He wanted him to shoot through that same window at no particular target so that the arrows hit the ground. The arrows represented Israel’s victories against the Syrians, and the shooting represented Joash’s faith that his efforts would mean something in the greater scheme of things.
Joash struck three times and stopped. Was he thinking about the futility of his actions? Was he worried about looking silly or afraid he would lose his arrows or have to waste energy picking them up later? Whatever the reason, when the Lord through the prophet Elisha presented him with an open window and an explicit connection between his actions and the results the Lord would bring about on his behalf, Joash stopped short.
Elisha was angry and told him, “Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times. Then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice” (2 Kings 13:19). Joash would receive the reward of his faith, or lack thereof. God had given him a clear opportunity to use his efforts according to his belief in God’s process as outlined by Elisha, but he had missed the mark. Both he and his people would pay for it, and there were no second chances after that.
My Opportunity from God
Recently, God has called me to a “fasting ministry.” I had never even heard of one before He spoke to me about it. For me, it involves fasting a certain number of days per week and praying a set number of times for a set number of weeks. With input from my pastor, the Lord helped me come up with the prayers I pray for my church as well as my own needs.
Not long after it started, I got a strong desire to pray those same “fasting prayers” even on days when I wasn’t fasting. So, seven days a week, whether fasting or not, I wake up at some point between 3 and 6 in the morning, head into my closet, and pray those prayers. So far, most times when I have found myself in my closet on those non-fasting days, the same thought has occurred to me. “I want to shoot ALL my arrows.”
See, God has given me an open window of opportunity. I have no idea how exactly He will use my efforts, but He has made it clear that those efforts are required. I have a part to play in order for Him to move. So, I keep shooting. Sometimes it gets hard. Sometimes my arm gets tired. And a lot of the time I feel like a terrible archer (because I don’t seem to be hitting anything). But by God’s grace, I believe in my heart of hearts that God has a purpose for me. He called me, He equipped me, and if I will just keep shooting, I will receive the reward of my faith.
Strike the Ground
Has God also given you an open window, a ministry or calling to fulfill for such a time is this? Did it come with His help and instruction, equipping you for the job? Be assured that even when God calls and equips, much of the outcome still rests with our decisions along the way. Joash’s minimum effort allowed only God’s limited rewards. As for us, if God has given us an opportunity for victory by faith, we can’t stop shooting until the Lord says, “Enough!”
Do you like analogies? Try reading Our Labor is Not in Vain. It’s an analogy involving an episode of the show I Shouldn’t Be Alive. Or, try Born Again: All About That Butterfly Life. An article about being born again using the analogy of metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly. Or, Check out my YouTube Channel where I will read all my posts to you while you do something else.
4 thoughts on “Strike the Ground According to Your Faith”
This is so powerful on many different levels. You will not know how the verses you mentioned have changed my life. The year was 1986 and I was a backslider sitting in the back of the church on a Sunday morning.
The minister that day was a visiting missionary from Malaysia & Singapore and the text of his message were these verses. I had been coming to church for 3 weeks after an absence of 12 years, and ready to give it up. For the breakthrough I needed wasn’t happening. Until I heard these verses.
I can still see the man of God today as he spoke in front of the church, mimicking King Joash’s “striking the arrows to the ground”. That sparked something in me. It sparked a desire to keep fighting. And that small flame provoked me to a 3 day fast of only water. I had never done that before up until this time.
The following week (a Wednesday evening) another minister visited. God spoke in that service through the gift of prophecy & brought me to the alter as a totally broken and empty young man. It is what I needed and God in His great love and mercy refilled me with the Holy Ghost. There is more to tell of this story, after what happened later that night. But that’s for another day.
Anyway Angela, as I read your blog and was proked so as I write this before 4 am our time, it is not only about faith, but it is also about “passion”. The King should have taken the opportunity God gave him, and with everything he had in his being, laid it out before God as a living sacrifice.
God is calling you. He is trusting you to venture into areas not many are willing to go. Please. I’m not coming off as a prophet here or some wacko, super spiritual guru. But Jesus is doing the same to me. Time is running out. Jesus is about to do something on this planet never before seen or heard, and he needs his people to lay the spiritual foundation that will prepare the hearts of people, lost people, to receive the riches of his salvation, his love, his mercy, and his grace.
Prayer, sincere, deep-reaching prayer that touches the heart of The King, is the only way it’s going to happen. The kind of prayer you just wrote about is the only thing that will change this world. Yes, we know we must put “legs” on those prayers, but it has to start with moving the “heart of God who moves the universe”.
I apologize for this lengthy response. But, man, why not tell the truth when it’s in your heart to tell it.
May God richly bless you & keep on sticking those arrows to the ground! 🙂
I so enjoyed your “lengthy response” and was riveted to the last sentence! I’m so thankful that God is so loving and merciful and gives us what we need even when it may not be what we want. Thank you for sharing your story and giving me encouragement too. Few things in this world excite me more than the prospect of being used by God – in this life and the next. Your comment has blessed me so much! It is so funny because I watch the blog numbers, and this one hasn’t had very many “clicks,” but you are the third person since yesterday to say God touched them greatly through this blog. You are also the second person to point out what I didn’t necessarily connect: it is about giving our everything. Thanks again for your testimony and encouragement!
🙂 5:00 …… https://youtu.be/wHupNTJrrvU