July 31, 2022
Scripture Reading: II Kings 6:15-23
I decided: One more story about Elisha. I heard from some of you that those two prophets, Elijah and Elisha, don’t show up on your radar all that often. I hope these few weeks remedy that problem.
The stories about them make you shake your head in wonder, but the life lessons are as current as your latest news feed and yesterday’s encounter with your odd family member.
This story ought to challenge some of the basic principles of our country’s foreign relations policy as well as how to deal with the baseline operating principles of political life in the United States.
Aram is now in full-out war with Israel, but they never considered the inconvenience of going to war with a country where there was a prophet on the other side. (I mean, a prophet who could predict the movements of the other side). You see, every time they made a move, Elisha got a private message from God about where they were headed and Elisha told the King of Israel who simply dodged Aram’s arrows! The king of Aram was ticked – suspecting he had a mole on his team. Nope! No mole on our team – just Elisha on the other side! “Elisha…tells his king the words you speak in your bedroom!” Get rid of Elisha, and your problem will be solved.
So, they surrounded Elisha’s hut with an army of chariots and horses and Elisha’s servant was terrified. Elisha said: “Don’t be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Really? His servant peaked out between the front curtains and said: “I think you need new glasses, Elisha!” That’s when Elisha said: “Open his eyes, Lord, that he may see!” And what he saw was the hills filled with the horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. That servant’s vision was elevated to a level in another dimension so that for at least a moment, he was enabled to see things from a spiritual perspective.
And this theme is repeated again just a short time later. As the army advances to kill Elisha, they are stricken blind. Instead of killing them, God blinds them and Elisha leads them to another location where Elisha prays again: “Open their eyes, so they may see!” The king of Israel is ready to kill those helpless warriors, but Elisha feeds them and sends them on their way home so the Arameans never bothered Israel again!
The meaning of the story is so clear! WE are the blind ones- blind to the ways and power of God! We have our eyes closed and it handicaps us in our efforts to bring the reign of God to earth as it is in heaven! What would it be like if we could only see the power of God – the power of love – to transform lives and bring life and hope to our world!
All we can see is limited to ONLY what we can see! For people who deal in the life of the spirit, that is a huge problem. It is very human and in one way, who can blame us for being so human.
A. When we are under ATTACK, like Elisha’s servant, fear or anger begins to take hold of us before we even consider the responses that are more in line with the nature and spirit of God as we witnessed it in Jesus.
And we seldom have an Elisha living at arm’s length who has the inner resources to say “wait a minute before you let your anger rule.” Someone who will pray to God on our behalf: “Lord, open her /his eyes so she can see that those who are for us are greater than those against us.”
If we don’t have a human who is spiritually attuned and able to call us out when we need it, we have to rely only on our own inner voice to remind us when we most need it to open our eyes to what is ALSO real!
You see, the “attack” – the threat, the enemy, may be real or it may be imagined, but the anger and the fear that it brings up in our spirit is also real. What is NOT TRUE, is the sense that we are facing it all alone.
How important it is that we hear a voice within us saying: “Open your eyes so you can see that those that are with you are greater than those against you.”
B. When our hearts are threatening to get HARDENED like that of the king of Israel when he said: “We’ve got our enemy where we want them, they are weak and vulnerable! Shall I kill them?” When fear is in danger of solidifying into bitterness and hatred – before we do something directly out of line with the loving spirit of God, we need to hear a voice within us saying: “Open your eyes, so you can see that those that are with you are greater than those against you.”
You see, It is the reassuring promise of the One who never, ever leaves us, never abandons us no matter what we do which gives the inner strength to forgive our enemies, return good for evil, and love when love seems impossible.
C. And even when DESPAIR comes calling, that ultimate urge to give in and give up like Elijah felt as he fled from Queen Jezebel and he breathed out to God: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Even then, it is so important that we hear a voice within us saying: “Open your eyes so you can see that those that are with you are greater than those against you.”
There is nothing that you face that hasn’t been faced by God’s people again and again throughout history. It is no shame to find yourself blinded by whatever enemies are peculiar to your life and your personality and to be unable to see.
Your own enemies are real enough. You aren’t imagining them. But if your eyes are sharp enough to see your enemies, they are sharp enough to see WHAT IS ALSO TRUE. May you be given the will to see those strangely invisible chariots of God who are aligned on the horizon as your strength and your sure defense. Amen.