“As one of them was cutting down a tree, the axhead fell into the water, and he cried out: ‘Alas, my master, it was borrowed!’ The man of the true God said: ‘Where did it fall?’ So he showed him the place. He then cut off a piece of wood and threw it there and made the axhead float. He said: ‘Lift it out.’ So he reached out his hand and took it.”
~2 Kings 6:5-7
Jehovah allowed Elisha to carry out this miracle of retrieving the axhead from the river bottom.
What was so important about an axhead?
Elisha must have been concerned with the prophets’ reputation and did not want anyone to criticize their sacred work.
This teaches us that we should return what we borrow or pay back what we owe to avoid becoming a stumbling block for others’ faith (Matt. 18:7).
Gideon made it into an ephod and exhibited it in his city Ophrah; and all Israel committed spiritual prostitution with it there, and it served as a snare to Gideon and to his household.
When Gideon liberated the Israelites from the oppression of Midian, they tried to make him king (Jg. 8:22).
However, Gideon was not about to usurp on God’s sole right to rule, so he instead asked for material donations (Jg. 8:23,24).
He proceeded to use these donations to create an Ephod, which was an apron-like garment made of gold and precious stones, worn by the high priest on special occasions (Ex. 28:6-14).
Gideon, being a man of Faith, was apparently motivated by the desire to commemorate the unlikely victory Jehovah had granted Israel over its enemies (Jg. 7:20-22; Heb. 11:32,33).
How did this piece of commemorative art become a snare?
It detracted attention from the center of pure worship which was God’s tabernacle.
The Israelites commited “spiritual prostitution” in the sense that they bowed down to the ephod as if it were God, much to Gideon’s dismay.
What can we learn from this?
Good intentions do no always justify the means or the project.
We should be careful with our actions so that we never become a “stumbling block” to members of our community and our spiritual endeavors end up having an opposite effect (Rom. 14:13; 1 Cor. 10:23,24).