From the strangest Old Testament story ever recorded.

“The Floating Axhead.”

Scripture Verse(s): 2 Ki 6:5-7 NIV  As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!” The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron floatLift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.


1. Iron axhead = judgment

…He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you. Dt 28:48  Iron represents judgment.

For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fly off and hit his neighbor and kill him. That man may flee to one of these cities and save his life. Dt 19:5

The ax caused the judgment. The Avenger of Blood might pursue the killer (who unintentionally killed his neighbor), but the killer would be safe from judgment, if he fled to a city of refuge. Jesus is our city of refuge from our debt of sin Ro 6:23

The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Mt 3:10 Ax refers to an instrument of judgment (in this case, for people who do not live to do good. Their judgment will be, to be thrown into hell).

2. Water = baptism

 And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Pe 3:21

Water symbolizes baptism. You are saved by trusting in Jesus and believing that He has paid for your sins, proved by His resurrection from the dead. Baptism affirms that you believe what Jesus did and your desire to let Him rule your new life.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Ro 6:4

Baptism illustrates the truth of saving faith. The sinner going under the water, dying to his old self (ruling his own life) and then coming to the surface as a new person/saint (allowing Jesus to control his life Gal 2:20).

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Jn 7:38,39 

Living Water represents new (spiritual) life. It is receiving the Holy Spirit to guide you in all ways.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. Rev 22:17

The water of life represents eternal life with God.

3. Borrowed = debt owed

“If anyone borrows an animal from their neighbor and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, they must make restitution. Ex 22:14

Borrowing, then losing the item (animal dies) required restitution for being liable. You now owe a debt.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ro 6:23

You owe a debt because of your sin and the judgment is death. However, Jesus paid the debt for you, but you must receive Him, in which case, you will receive eternal life.

4. Stick = cross and healing  

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink. Ex 15:25

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Pe 2:24

A stick (piece of wood from a tree) represents the cross where Jesus healed our wounds by taking our sins upon His own body.

5. Iron floated = judgment paid  (see Ro 6:4)

Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Mk 1:10
Jesus coming out of the water is a picture of the new birth, born of water and the Spirit (a secondary truth of Jn 3:5 = baptism demonstrated that we have died to our old self and have been raised to new life with the receiving of the Holy Spirit).

6. Lift it = the Gospel, which presents Jesus as Savior, is to be embraced.  

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. Jn 8:28 “When you have lifted up the Son of Man” is a picture of Jesus saving his people from their sins Mt 1:21 demonstrated by Moses saving the people from a deadly snake bite by having them look at the pole with the brazen snake on it Jn 3:14. But from this event, Jesus was lifted up (exalted) in three ways:

  • in His Crucifixion. Jesus suffered a cruel death to pay for our sins Jn 12:33 demonstrating how much He loved us Ro 5:7,8.

  • in His Resurrection. Jesus demonstrated His power by raising Himself from the dead Jn 2:19.

  • in His Ascension. He promised us that He would go back to heaven to prepare a place for us and that He would come back to earth to take us with Him to heaven. Jn 14:2,3; Ac 1:9,10,11;

Jesus was exalted by his love, power and faithfulness to His word.

7. Man took it = received Christ

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—Jn 1:12

The final action is not, to know that Jesus is the Savior of the world, but to receive the Gospel and become a child of God.

This story is a prophecy of the coming Christ who would fulfill the Gospel.

…Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Lk 24:44

In summary, the iron axhead thrown into the water represented man’s present condition, dead in his sins (Eph 2:1), under the judgment of God (Jn 3:36). Since the axhead was borrowed, losing it would require restitution leaving the man with a debt that he could not pay, so he asked Elisha to do something about it. Elisha cut a stick from a tree and threw it into the water and the axhead floated. Elisha was prophesying that judgment would be carried out at the cross, sins would be paid for by Jesus dying on a cross and His resurrection would be available for all to experience. Elisha then told the man to lift the axhead out of the water, which represented hearing the Gospel and embracing its truth. So the man took the axhead and by doing this, he received the payment of the judgment by Jesus, the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.

Application (Smart = specific/measurable/attainable/realistic goal/timebound): 

 To share this wonderful story with all who I befriend.


Thank You, Father for Your amazing grace. May I always remain conscious of and grateful for this amazing gift that You have provided for the world, including me.