Has God ever answered your prayer in a way that differed entirely from what you had in mind? I have asked God for things and pictured all the many ways He could bring the answer to pass, but God chose something I would never have even imagined. I recall the time He allowed our only vehicle to burn to the ground in our driveway and then provided us with the vehicle I had crooned about for years. I never saw that one coming! Then there was the time when a financial blessing quickly turned into a nightmare, and then, at the last moment, turned back into a blessing. What a whirlwind!
I’m guessing the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom would understand what I’m talking about. They experienced God’s unusual ways of dealing with problems firsthand. Second Kings 3 tells the story, but I’ll give you the setting. Jehoram, the king of Israel, was the son of Ahab, and according to the Bible, he wasn’t as evil as his parents, but he was far from being a saint. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, feared God and lived right. The king of Edom is unnamed in this passage, but it’s safe to assume, he was probably more like Jehoram than Jehoshaphat based on the customs of his kingdom.
Jehoram discovers the Moabites are preparing to attack Israel, and he convinces the kings of Judah and Edom to join him in the battle. So the three kings lead their soldiers and cattle into the wilderness, but along the way, they discover they have another problem. There is no water.
At this point, Jehoram, the king of Israel, falls apart. “This is just great! Not only is the army of Moab coming to destroy us, but now we don’t have any water either. God just led us here to destroy us!” Jehoshaphat—obviously the more mature of the two kings—interrupts Jehoram’s tantrum.
I don’t have time to get into Elijah’s witty retorts toward the wicked king of Israel, but I encourage you to read them. It’s worth the time! In the end, he calls for a minstrel to come to play music. That was probably enough to send Jehoram over the edge. “Hello!!! We need help from the Lord. We need answers. We need deliverance. We don’t need a song!!!” (Oh, Jehoram, why are your impatience and unbelief so familiar?) As the minstrel played, Elisha received a word from heaven.
Let’s break that down into pieces so we can experience the full impact of what the Lord is asking these frightened and weary kings to do.
First off, dig a bunch of ditches. Of course! It seems so logical. They were thirsty and about to be overcome by an enemy probably three times their size, so what better way to spend their strength and energy than digging holes in the valley? (Sarcasm implied!) Seriously, though, it didn’t seem like the perfect solution to their dilemma, did it? But God wasn’t through yet.
Next, Elisha informed them though they wouldn’t see wind or rain, all those ditches would be filled with water. Not just some water, but enough for them and all their cattle and all their other animals to drink and be satisfied. That’s a lot of water which means they needed to dig a lot of ditches. Where was the water going to come from if not from a massive storm? Well, that was God’s little secret, now wasn’t it?
Elisha continues his speech, and I love this little tidbit he throws in here. He reminds the three kings that the miracle about to take place was a light thing in the sight of God. It was no big deal. The Almighty God would not have to expend any energy to fill the valley with enough water to meet their needs. It was nothing! (We discussed this concept a few weeks back in our series, The Negatives in the Bible). What a comfort to know our biggest obstacles are little things in the eyes of God.
Elisha finishes his message from the Lord, but the last phrase comes out almost as an afterthought. “Oh, and the Lord will deliver the Moabites into your hands too. Just saying.” How funny is that? It proves how insignificant the army of Moab was in the sight of God. He’s like, “Whatever!”
I have to wonder if the three kings looked around and asked, “Is there anyone else here that can speak to the Lord for us? This makes no sense at all! This isn’t a battle plan.” But whatever their initial reservations, they followed through with the Lord’s directions, and watch what happened.
Whoa, that’s priceless! The Moabites look out and see the water that looks like blood. Assuming the three kingdoms had turned on and slaughtered each other in the night, they march down to the valley to collect the spoil. But because they weren’t on guard, they were easily attacked and sent running all the way back to Moab where the slaughter continued. God’s ploy led to Moab’s destruction.
While it may not have been the plan the kings had in mind, no one can doubt its effectiveness. They didn’t have to understand. They only needed to obey, do their part, then stand back and watch God do His. And that lesson applies to us today. God’s ways are not our ways and rarely do they make sense to us. That’s okay. We don’t have to understand. We need to trust and obey. And in the end, we’ll stand back and marvel at what God accomplished and how He performed it!