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VALLEY OF RED DITCHES – Das Tal der roten Gruben
Jehoshaphat, good king of Judah, and wicked young Jehoram, king of Israel, were in great trouble. Their armies had started out to fight the Moabites who had rebelled against Israel. Thinking to surprise them by attacking from the East, they had taken a long detour through desert country, and now were out of water, with nothing to drink for man or beast. They were at the mercy of the Moabites. What could they do now?
Jehoshaphat decided they should ask the prophet Elisha, for, he said, „The Word of the Lord is with him.“
The two kings explained to Elisha that they had come to talk with him about a matter of great urgency.
Suddenly turning on Jehoram, Elisha asked what he meant by coming to a prophet of the Lord. „Go to your own prophets!“ he said to him, „the prophets of your father and mother.“
Now Jehoram was the son of Ahab, one of the wickedest kings Israel ever had, who not only married evil Jezebel, who persecuted and killed the prophets of God, but Ahab built an altar to Baal and housed and supported hundreds of the prophets of Baal who ate at Queen Jezebel’s table. (1Kgs.16:30-33; 18:18,19)
It was hardly a tactful way to talk to a king, but Elisha was a very brave man, and with right he wanted Jehoram to know that he strongly disapproved of his evil ways.
„If it were not for the presence of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah,“ he added, „I wouldn’t even look at you or see you!“ but because good King Jehoshaphat was there, Elisha agreed to listen to their story.
So after hearing of their plight Elisha reaffirmed that it was only for king Jehoshaphat’s sake that he would help.
He called for a minstrel, and while sweet music was being played, „the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, ‚Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches. For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.–And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: He will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.'“
One could almost imagine hearing Jehoram scoffing, „Dig ditches in a dry valley! What an idea!“ But Jehoshaphat believed God’s Prophet, and the ditches were dug.
Those ditches proved the faith of Jehoshaphat, that he would put his tired and thirsty men to work digging holes in the dry ground! But the best was yet to come…
Early next morning the sun rose in a cloudless sky. The air was still, and there was no sign of rain; but suddenly down one of the mountain ravines „by the way of Edom“ came a raging stream of water. It spread over the valley floor and filled the ditches to overflowing. Soldiers, horses, and cattle drank until they were filled, and their strength revived.
By this time, of course, the Moabites were awake and ready for battle. Looking Eastward, they saw the soldiers of Israel behaving in a very strange manner. While some were standing, others were kneeling, and still others were lying flat on their stomachs. And there was blood all about them, or so it seemed, as the early morning sun reflected on the water-filled ditches.
„Look! The kings are slain and have killed one another!“ they cried, and dashed down the mountainside to finish off the invaders of their country.
Of course, they had made a dreadful mistake. When they reached the ditches they found they were full of water, not blood. And the Israelites had seen them coming and were ready for them. And they rose up and smote the Moabites so that they fled before them, continuing to be overrun by the army of Israel in their own country.
Thanks to the prophet’s seemingly strange instructions from the Lord and the king’s obedience to them, a great victory was won over the enemy.
If you follow the Lord, you’ll never go wrong, because whatever God shows you will always work out!
Copyright 1996 The Family