2 Kings 6:8-23
Second Kings chapter 6 reveals a most wonderful and inspiring instance of God’s power. Let’s set the stage. In verses 8-12 we find that the king of Syria (probably Ben-Hadad) had been raiding the nation of Israel. This was not an official war where the two nations fought against each other, but rather a kind of guerrilla warfare where the Syrians would take a limited number of troops and dash across the border to undefended places stealing people, flocks and goods. Then they would quickly return home.
God made Elisha aware of this, and he began to warn the king of Israel (probably Jehoram) where these attacks would take place. King Jehoram would station troops there, and consequently the raid would be called off.
The scripture implies that this happened on numerous occasions and eventually, the king of Syria began to suspect there was a spy or a mole in his camp who was leaking his plans to Israel.
Eventually word reaches the king of Syria that his secrets are being revealed to the king of Israel by Elisha the prophet of God. As we might expect, the Syrian leader sends a mass of troops to go and take Elisha prisoner.
2 Kings 6:13-14 – And he [king of Syria] said, “Go and see where he [Elisha] is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold he is in Dothan.” So he [king of Syria] sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.
This is the point in the narrative when Elisha’s servant makes his appearance, although we can assume he has been with Elisha all this time, and is well aware of what has been happening.
2 Kings 6:15 – When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
2 Kings 6:16-17 – He [Elisha] said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
In case you have not read this particular portion of scripture, I don’t want to leave you with a cliff-hanger! You can read the entire story for yourself, but for now, let me give you this synopsis: Elisha asks to God to strike the troops with blindness. This is not a literal blindness where you have loss of sight, but a kind of mental stupor where the men did not recognize Elisha. Elisha then convinces the Syrian troops to follow him to the Israelite capital of Samaria, where Elisha gives the troops into the hands of the king.
At that point their mental blindness is gone and they realize they are prisoners. The king of Israel wants to kill them; however, Elisha tells him to feed the men and then send them home. The king of Israel does so, and the raids ceased from that day forward.
What an interesting and entertaining story! However, God did not give us the Bible to entertain us. 2 Timothy tells us that all scripture is given for doctrine and instruction for righteousness. So what is God telling us in this passage of scripture?
This scripture has many implications for the church at large and also for the individual.
The church: Let’s examine the overall picture of what is happening. The nation of Israel represents God’s people. The Syrians are the enemy. Notice how the enemy tries guerrilla warfare tactics against God’s people.
This is a picture of what is happening today. Satan and his troops are continually striking and warring against the church. And sometimes, the circumstances look grim. We look around and we see corruption in the church or we see worldliness being accepted in Christian circles. We see the church lose ground in social issues such as abortion and prayer in the schools.
But the news isn’t all bad. God has provided offensive and defensive weapons for the church. First and foremost, we have the blood of Jesus and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The victory of the church is guaranteed.
Matthew 16:18 – And I tell you, you are Peter. And on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
I would encourage you to take steps to be a part of the global kingdom of God. Become involved with ministries that share the gospel world-wide. Pray for the ministry you have chosen. Your prayers can make all the difference! Be sure to read testimonies of how these organizations are fighting against the kingdom of darkness. You will see victories taking place.
Close to home, I suggest you take time to be informed about social issues in your own neighborhood and in this nation. At the very least, make informed decisions on election day. You might even want to consider taking a more active role. Though the battle may be hard fought, you will find that the church is winning victory after victory.
The individual: Think about this passage of scripture again, but this time put your name in the place of the unnamed servant of Elisha:
When [your name here] rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And [your name here] said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
Is it possible that you got up today, took a look around and saw that you were surrounded by an enemy? Maybe you didn’t even have to get out of bed. Maybe that giant problem was the first thought that entered your mind upon wakening.
That enemy could be a sickness, or a financial problem, or a broken relationship that you can’t seem to mend. It may be a wayward child or a spouse who is making destructive decisions. It could be an unsaved loved one or a family member with an addiction or a legal issue. Whatever the case, let’s start by acknowledging that the problem is real and serious. The army that surrounded the servant was no joke. They were skilled professional soldiers that could have killed him and Elisha at any moment.
As the servant stood there gazing at the soldiers, the enormity of his trouble overwhelmed him. He could not see a way out. He felt there was no hope of his situation changing. He felt he had reached the end of the line. At that point, fear over took him. In the midst of his hopelessness, he called out to the man of God.
Good call on the part of the servant! Anytime we face a problem, step one is to call out to God in prayer. Prayer should be our first option each and every time.
The bible describes God as the God who sees and hears. He is never sleeping. In fact, his ‘eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him’ [2 Chronicles 16:9].
What happens next in the story? Does God snap his fingers and cause the army to disappear? No. Rather, God encourages the servant with a glimpse of what is happening in the spiritual realm. The chariots and horsemen of fire were a representation of God’s presence and might. God uses that vision to open the spiritual eyes of the servant who then realizes the truth: the forces of God far outnumbered the forces of his enemy. Or, as the praise song goes, God was surrounding the enemy that was surrounding his servant. What a comforting thought!
When the servant began to look at his problem through his spiritual eyes and not his fleshly eyes, fear, anxiety and hopelessness were instantly broken. Faith rose up and hope in God was restored. In an instant of time, he understood that Almighty God, the most powerful being in the universe was watching out for him the whole entire time.
How do you look with your spiritual eyes or your eye of faith? Well, first off you need to be familiar with the word of God. You need to know and understand God’s promises to his children. Then, you look at your problem through the filter of what God says.
For example, maybe you have an addiction. The world says you are unlikely to break that habit. The addiction itself may look like a giant. You may think it is more powerful and bigger than you are. Maybe your friends and family have given up on you; they say you will never be free of it.
But the word of God says differently. The word says you have been healed by the stripes of Jesus. The word says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The word says that when the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you are free indeed!
As you meditate on these scriptures, and think of your problem in light of what God says, the magnitude of your problem will start decrease and faith in God will begin to increase. You will begin to understand that the power of God working on your behalf is much bigger and way more powerful than the forces of your enemy [in this case addiction]. Faith should cause praise to rise up as well. Give into your urges to praise God at all times.
Notice in our scripture text that after the servant saw the forces of God, Elisha [and presumably the servant] took charge of the situation and led their enemy around until they had been captured.
With God’s help, you can do the same thing. Once your spiritual eyes have been opened, you can then move forward in the struggle, taking command of the situation, knowing that God has your back and victory is within your grasp.
1 John 5:4 – For whoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
While God certainly could just wave his hand and make your troubles vanish, he will rarely do this for a couple of reasons. First, he wants your faith in him to increase. This only happens in battle situations. As you win, your faith increases. As your faith increases, you will allow God’s power to move through you in increasingly bigger and bigger ways. This is a great testimony to others; they will see your faith and it will assist them in their own battles. It will lift up the name of Jesus and sinners will be brought to salvation in him. Also, fighting the enemy together brings you and God into a more intimate relationship with each other, which is something He greatly desires.
Here is something to consider: When you face a trial, Satan will try to tell you it is all your fault. He will tell you that God isn’t going to help you because you sinned. He will tell you that God is mad at you or that He cannot help you. But if you look through your spiritual eyes, you will find that nothing could be further from the truth! Don’t believe his pack of spiritual lies! Instead, know that this is something God has allowed that will mature you spiritually, give you victory and bring glory to his name, even if it was your fault!
So, what are you waiting for? The battle between the forces of Syria and Elisha/his servant ended in victory for the people of God. I suspect that right now, you have an enemy who is surrounding you. God wants to give you the victory as well. Will you join the battle?
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