How could an axehead float and wood sink?

Question
How could an axehead float and wood sink? Are there any types of shadows in relation to Christ here, like maybe Metal and wood symbolize the cross?
Answer
What you’re asking about here is a miracle or a sign. Miracles happen for a particular purpose. In this case, the sign was to encourage God's people that God would supernaturally provide for them, even though many Israelites had turned from the living God to serving Baal.

Elisha and some other prophets were building some new facilities near the Jordan River (2 Kings 6:1-2). While cutting down a tree, one of the men lost an axehead in the water (2 Kings 6:3-5). Notice an emphasis that it was a borrowed axehead, implying he couldn't afford to for pay it. How interesting God would step in and produce a miracle that defied the laws of nature. The iron should have sunk but it floated; a stick should have floated but it sank. And the command to pick it up implies the axe was back together again (2 Kings 6:6-7). This is also a sign about a Redeemer who lives (Job 19:25; Psa. 18:46; 78:25).

Now, we can add some other suggestive points of interest as follows:

(1) 2 Kings mentions "sons of the prophets" (2 Kings 6:1), and believers are the sons and daughters of the Prophet — Jesus (2 Cor. 6:18).

(2) The prophets dwelled under Elisha's charge (2 Kings 6:1), and the church dwells under Jesus' covenant charge (Matt. 28:18).

(3) Elisha and his fellow prophets worked together (2 Kings 6:1-4), and so does Jesus and his church (2 Cor. 6:1).

(4) The Jordan River parted for Elijah and Elisha, who crossed on dry ground (2 Kings 2:8; 2 Kings 6:2). Also, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan and the heavens parted (Mark 1:10).

(5) Each prophet was to go to the Jordon and get a log (2 Kings 6:2). Jesus’ log would be his cross (John 19:17).

(6) Elisha and the prophets went to the river seeking to build structures (2 Kings 6:2-3). Jesus went to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3).

(7) Elisha told the prophets to "go" (2 Kings 6:2). Jesus told his disciples to "go" as well (Matt. 28:19).

(8) The axe is a symbol of judgment (2 Kings 6:5; Matt. 3:10), and Jesus brings judgment (Matt. 25:31-46).

(9) The axe was made out of metal and wood (2 Kings 6:5) as were the nails and the cross. (Matt. 27:35).

(10) The axehead was borrowed (2 Kings 6:5). So was Jesus' tomb (Luke 23:50-53).

(11) The prophet who lost the axehead owed a debt he could not pay (2 Kings 6:5), just like us (2 Cor. 5:21).

(12) Elisha cast one stick into the water (2 Kings 6:6), and a spear was cast once into the side of Jesus (John 19:34).

(13) The sunk axehead rose (2 Kings 6:6) and Jesus rose from the grave (1 Cor. 15:3-4). In both cases, debt was cancelled. (2 Kings 6:5; Col. 2:14).

(14) Elisha wanted to know where the axehead fell (2 Kings 6:6) and concerning Jesus, the angel said to the women, "Come and see the place where he lay" (Matt. 28:5-6).

(15) Elisha told the prophet who lost the axehead to "take it up" (2 Kings 6:7). A believer must take up the cross and follow Jesus (Matt. 16:24-26).

This all sounds pretty cool, right? Well, not not so fast.

What I did above was take a historical text and somewhat over-spiritualize it. While some of these so-called similarities to Christ in 2 Kings 6 are important, some may at times lead to extreme error in interpretation. For instance, the notes above may influence someone to ask, if the axehead went under the water, did Jesus drown? No, he didn't drown, but he did die, and the axehead didn’t.

So, we need to be very careful interpreting Scripture. While there are times to compare and contrast texts, we also must be cautious not to miss the original meaning of the text. We always need to ask ourselves what the author was conveying through the Spirit to the original audience.

But it's still cool to think of how the axehead's owner must have felt.

Related Topics

Searching for the Original Meaning
The Importance of Original Meaning
Grammatico-Historical Exegesis

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).