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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

April 25, 2024

Rēad to Read …Again

Daily Reading: II Kings 12-14


II Kings 13:19

And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, 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.


The man of God was Elisha, this would be his last prophecy that he would speak. He was speaking to was Joash (also referred to as Jehoash), the king of Israel. Elisha told the king to take arrows in his hand and smite the ground. The man of God did not tell Joash how many times to smite the ground, and Joash smote the ground three times. Because he only smote the ground three times he would only defeat Syria three times in battle. If he had smitten the ground five or six times he would have completely consumed (defeated, conquered, dominated) Israel’s great enemy, Syria. The man of God’s prophecy came true after he died (II Kings 13:25).


This story has many threads to pull. One is this: the importance of zeal. In the New Testament children of God are told to be zealous of spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 14:12), zealous of good works (Titus 2:14), they are to have a zeal for God coupled with knowledge (Romans 10:2), they are to provoke many with their zeal (II Corinthians 9:2), and in Revelation 3:19 the Lord Himself told the church of the Laodiceans this; As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Yes, being zealous is a good thing.


One time to illustrate this need of zealousness this story of Elisha and Joash was used. To demonstrate it I had a pinata on the platform hanging about five feet high. I asked a lady to come up and smite the pinata, she hit it once. No candy came out. A man was invited up to the platform, he too hit it only once. No candy came out. About five people had a chance. Then a Bible college student was invited up. He beat that pinata to a pulp. He kept hitting it until it broke away from the rope, it fell on the ground, and he kept beating it like the proverbial “rented mule.”  The pinata broke open and he filled his pockets with candy.


His zealousness was rewarded with candy. The lesson? Keep on until told to stop. Joash could have eliminated Syria from the face of the earth, but did not. He did defeat them three times, but he could have consumed them. In ministry, marriage, at work, and at play, sometimes it is zeal and zeal alone that makes the difference between some results and overwhelming results.


As an example, remember Christ. After he cleansed the temple of the merchants the disciples remembered that it was written; The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. (John 2:17) That was a quote from King David as found in Psalm 69:9 which was written about nine hundred years earlier. There is something to be said for zealousness. It’s like a fast golf swing. Fast is good (if controlled), too fast is bad (it’s uncontrollable), but too fast is much easier to fix than not fast enough. Likewise, zeal can be tempered, but lack of zeal is almost impossible to fix.


Dr. William T. Howe


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