Ditches In The Desert
II Kings chapter 3:20
Samaria is the capital of the northern nation of Israel.
Jerusalem is the capital of the southern nation of Judah.
On the other side of the Dead Sea are many other countries.
One is Moab, and south of Moab is Edom.
Mesha, the king of Moab, paid tribute to King Ahab as long as he ruled over the northern nation of Israel.
When Ahab died and his son Jehoram assumed the throne, the king of Moab said,
"I'm tired of sending 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams over to Israel."
And so the king of Moab rebels against the king of Israel.
The King of Israel said, "I'm not going to put up with this."
So Jehoram musters his army.
He also went to the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, and asked, "Will you fight with me?"
And Jehoshaphat says, "Yes I will fight with you."
They must decide which is the best route to Moab.
There are two ways they can go.
So, they decided to take the southern route.
- They can go north around the northern shore of the Dead Sea, but to do so they would have to go
through Syria to reach Moab, and the Syrians were their enemies.
- Or they could go south around the southern shore of the Dead Sea and come to Edom,
and then pass through Edom to the southern border of Moab.
There were some advantages of the southern route.
So, these two kings thought that they would go south and solicit the help of the king of Edom.
They would then have three armies to fight against one.
They would go to the less protected southern border and attack Moab.
- First, they would not have to encounter the Syrians.
- Second, they might solicit the king of Edom's assistance.
- Third, they knew that the southern border of Moab was a desolate mountainous area
that was not as heavily defended as the northern border.
It seemed to be a good plan.
But the best of man's plans can fail.
So, they went south and sought help of the king of Edom.
So, Jehoram the king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, and the king of Edom
and their armies are marching to the southern border of Moab.
The Scripture says that they had been on a march for 7 days.
When the armies in those days went out to battle they took all the livestock they would need
for food with them.
So they had all kinds of livestock with them.
These three armies have been marching for 7 days, and they ran out of water.
There is nothing to drink.
There is no water for the livestock or the armies.
They are in trouble.
People usually do one of two things when things go wrong.
They either blame God for the situation they are in or they trust God to help them out
of their bad situation.
Both of these things happened in this passage.
In verse 10, the king of Israel blames God for their predicament.
He said, "God has brought us out into this situation so that He can deliver us into the hand
of the Moabites."
He had no faith in God.
But the king of the southern nation, Jehoshaphat said, "I will trust in God."
In verse 11 he says, "Is there a prophet of the Lord in the land because he will have the word of God."
And one of the servants of the northern king said, "Yes, there is a prophet in the land.
Elisha is here - the man that used to pour water on the hands of Elijah."
And Jehoshaphat says in verse 12, "Let's go down to him."
In other words, let us go down to where the word of God is.
Let us go.
Let us go see what the word of God has to say to us, and see what God's solution is.
They go to Elisha.
Elisha has no use for the king of the northern nation of Israel and he says to him,
"The only reason I'm going to talk to you is because of Jehoshaphat.
But before I talk to any of you, I am going to listen to some music."
That is what he said in verse 15: "But now bring me a minstrel."
I know you guys are thirsty.
I know you have a problem.
I know things are not going well, but I need to hear some music.
And so, he listens to some music.
Here are three powerful kings in front of him representing three nations and three armies
and this prophet said, "I want to hear some music."
As he is listening to this music the Scripture said, "The hand of the Lord came upon him."
The Spirit of the Lord came upon him.
And what the Spirit of the Lord had him say is unbelievable.
Verse 15 it said, "Call me a minstrel. And it came about, when the minstrel played,
that the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, 'Make this valley full of trenches.' "
You won't see any wind.
You won't see any rain.
And yet, the valley will be filled with water.
You won't believe that there could ever be water here, but there is going to be water.
And you will drink and your cattle will drink.
And I just want you to know that this really is not a difficult thing for God to do.
They have been running around out there for 7 days and did not have any water.
They could not find any water because there wasn't any.
Now they are told there will be no clouds, no wind, no rain, but God says that there is going
to be plenty of water.
And just to show you that I can do it, you will also have the Moabites delivered into your hands.
So, dig some ditches!
They have been without water for 7 days.
They went to the prophet of God.
They didn't hear what they wanted to hear.
He said,"Dig ditches."
What kind of man of God is this?
To dig ditches down next to the river is one thing but to dig ditches in the valley is another thing.
And yet the whole answer to their problem, was contingent upon digging some ditches.
They were to dig ditches in the desert where there was no water and there was no indication
that there would be water.
There were no thunderheads.
There was no wind.
There was no forecast of rain.
It was just like it had been for the past 7 days.
But they are told to dig ditches.
The solution to their problem was to be obedient to the Word of God -- irregardless of what
the circumstances were.
If Elisha had said, "Drill a hole deep enough and you will hit water."
That would have been one thing, but to dig ditches -- and not just one or two or three,
but fill the whole valley full of ditches.
That meant that all three armies were digging ditches.
The whole valley was to be full of ditches.
This word "valley" in the Hebrew is "wadi",
which is a "dry riverbed".
They were to dig ditches until the whole valley was full of ditches.
Talking about digging ditches was one thing; digging ditches was another thing.
Digging ditches was hard work, and they had no water to refresh them in their work.
It would be even harder to dig when it seemed crazy to dig them, and there is no water to drink
when they dug the ditches.
Digging ditches makes you thirsty and that was the problem to start with - they were thirsty.
And God said through Elisha, "Dig ditches."
Can you imagine the three kings going back to their armies, and the armies have been waiting
to learn what the word of God was.
They were waiting for some good news from the man of God.
And the three kings came back and told them that they must dig ditches.
Can you imagine some of their conversions?
"We would be better off just moving forward.
Maybe we will find some water.
What in the world does digging ditches in the desert have to do with being victorious over Moab?
This is the craziest thing we have ever heard of."
Digging ditches is not only humbling work, it is hard work.
What God asked these kings to do was in harmony with His character and His Word.
Throughout God's Word, we find that man must be prepared to experience the blessings of Almighty God.
Noah spent 120 years of preparation.
He spent 120 years of sawing boards, nailing nails and he had never seen an ark.
He had never seen rain, let alone a flood but he kept on building.
Those armies were probably complaining:
"Why do we have to work?
Why do we have to dig?
Why do we have to sweat?
Why do we have to dig ditches?
It doesn't make sense!
If we could only see us a cloud.
Or if there was some wind.
Show us something."
God said, "You will see nothing. Just dig. And water will come."
Digging the ditches was an obedient response which was the prequiste to receive the promised water.
Digging the ditches was an obedient response to receive the promise of deliverance.
Digging the ditches was an obedient response to receive the promised victory.
Digging the ditches was an obedient response to receive the promised blessings.
A real gully washer is coming.
He says, "Dig trenches.
Dig ditches and when it comes rushing down, it will run off into these ditches
and into these reservoirs and be a blessing to you."
If they had not dug the ditches, and had not prepared for the miraculous, all they would have seen
was a torrent of water.
Preparation for blessing is absolutely essential.
The digging of ditches in our life is absolutely essential to prepare ourselves to receive the showers
of blessing that God would bring to us.
How do we dig ditches in our life?
We must have a need to hear God's Word in our life.
That is what Jehoshaphat did.
Jehoram the King of Israel said, "God just brought us out here to kill us."
Jehoshaphat said, "Is there a man of God around here because he has the word of God."
Jehoshaphat knew he needed to hear God's Word.
We need to feed regularly on God's Word.
We need to go to God regularly in prayer.
We must listen to what He has to say to us.
We need to be obedient to His Word.
If God tells us to dig some ditches -- pick up the shovel and start digging.
If we dig when and where God says, "Dig!" -- we will experience the blessings.
Now look again at our Scripture passage.
Back in the mountains of Edom, was a tremendous thunderstorm and the water began to rush
down those mountains and gather in those valleys and flood the dry riverbeds, and fill the ditches.
If they had clouds and rain the Moabites would have known what was in the ditches.
But the Moabites did not know what was in the ditches because they had not seen any cloud or rain.
When the Moabites saw the water in the ditches, it was red because of the red earth.
The sun reflected on it and they thought it was blood.
They knew there had been no rain; so it must be blood.
They thought the three kings had killed each other and their armies and the ditches are full of blood.
So, the Moabites decided to go down and collect the spoils.
When the Moabites arrived, they discovered that it was not blood in the ditches --but water.
Then, the three kings and their armies killed the Moabites.
If the Moabites would have seen a rainstorm, they would have never gone down.
So God did something in the mountains that affected the ditch diggers in the valley.
We need to get ready for the gully washer.
We need to dig ditches!
God can cause a storm anywhere.
If we will dig the ditches, we will receive the blessings of God.
So get your shovels!
Get busy digging ditches.
Dig out those things that fill our lives and then our souls will be flooded with the bountiful,
blessings of God.
The pick and the shovel are just as vital as the sword and the spear.
Do you need to dig some ditches?
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White