And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood.
After the death of Solomon the empire of Israel was sharply divided. The ten tribes to the north comprised the northern kingdom; the two tribes to the south formed the southern kingdom. For the most part, the kings of the south were a mixture of good and bad. Without exception, the Jewish kings of Israel, the ten tribes to the north, were all bad. In 2 Kings 3 is the story of a northern Jewish king who failed to call on God and a southern Jewish king who remembered to call on God.
The defeat of Ahab at Ramoth, and the subsequent dominion of the Assyrians over the territory east of the Jordan, encouraged the king of Moab to revolt against Israel. Mesha refused to pay his annual tribute of one hundred lambs and one hundred thousand rams. The scriptural account of this revolt receives absolute confirmation from the Moabite Stone, discovered in 1868 and now reconstructed at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Jehoram, the king of Israel, sought help from Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, to march against Mesha of Moab in retaliation for his rebellion. Jehoshaphat agreed. They planned to enter Moab by way of the wilderness of Edom. The king of Edom, a vassal of Judah, joined the expedition.
After a seven-day march through the desert, the armies of the Jews and Edomites were without water. They would soon die if something was not done. Jehoshaphat, who wished to consult a prophet of Jehovah, soon learned that Elisha was in the camp of Israel. Elisha told them to dig trenches over the plains and promised that God would both fill them with water and give a complete victory over Moab. This they did throughout the night in order to prepare for God's divine provision of water in the morning.
When the enemy armies of the Moabites rose up early in the morning, the red rays of the rising sun reflected from the waters that God had miraculously sent to fill the Jewish trenches (2 Kings 3:22). The Moabites misinterpreted the red hue of the water to be a lake of blood. They assumed that the allied armies had turned on each other and destroyed themselves. Thus the Moabite armies charged out of their camp to help themselves to the supposed spoils of war.
Rushing in disorder upon the Israelite camp, they were met by the whole army of the Jews and pushed back into their own country. The cities of Moab were razed, stones were thrown into the fields, wells were filled, and fruit trees were cut down. A great deliverance was given to Israel and to Judah because one king, Jehoshaphat, had not failed to seek help from Jehovah. In the midst of a disastrous situation he remembered the words of his forefather David, "In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust" (Psalm 71:1).
"Can you imagine the captain of a ship, driven about by rough winds and desiring to drop anchor, trying to find a suitable place on board his own vessel? Such a thing seems ridiculous. He hangs the anchor at the prow, but still the boat drives before the wind; he casts it upon the deck but this too fails to hold it steady; at last he puts it down into the hold but has no better success. You see, an anchor resting on the storm-driven craft itself will never do the job. Only as it is thrown into the deep can it be effective against wind and tide. In the very same way, that person whose confidence is in himself will never experience true peace and safety. His actions are as futile as one who seeks to keep the anchor aboard his own ship. So cast your faith into the great depths of God's eternal love and power" (author unknown).
Although Jehoram would have been content to go into battle alone, Jehoshaphat would find contentment only in dropping his anchor in the love and wisdom of Jehovah. Let's not settle for less today.
MORNING HYMN Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, When the clouds unfold their wings of strife? When the strong tides lift and the cables strain, Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
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