There is a fabulous story found in 2 Kings 6 that captured my attention and seems so very timely. That happens a lot, doesn’t it?
Elisha was a very powerful prophet in Israel at a time when the Arameans were posing a persistent threat to Israel’s national security. He was a key member of the national defense team, because Holy Spirit would reveal the Aramean battle plan to him, and he would get word to Israel’s troops in time for them to move and avoid attack.
This interference by Elisha became obnoxious enough to the Aramean king that he sent out “a great army” of soldiers, horses, and chariots just to seize this one man and put an end to his prophetic work.
Elisha and his servant were sitting in their house when the servant heard a commotion outside. He went out and saw the enemy troops, horses and chariots covering the entire hillside facing them.
He cried, “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” Elisha replied,“Don’t be afraid, for there are more on our side than on theirs!”2 Kgs. 6:16-6).
I’m sure this was a baffling statement to the servant. It didn’t match what he had just seen.
Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire” (17).
Not only an army of defenders, but a bigger army, and chariots of fire! I’m trying to picture it!
Isn’t this so like what we experience as believers who are subjected to the terrors and conditions of this world rulers, when we truly belong to another king and another kingdom?
When we look at the advance of the enemy in our very midst, we can become afraid. Things look bleak and hopeless when all we can see is what people are doing. People are getting sick and dying; there is cruelty and injustice, relational stress, financial hardship, great suffering of all kinds.
We are apt to feel weak and afraid, like the Israelite spies who saw giants in the land of Canaan and felt like grasshoppers in comparison. Or like Elisha’s servant, who could only see the size of the opposition.
But this story illustrates that we are not seeing all there is to see. There is a spiritual, “but God” reality that we usually don’t see at first. God is doing things we know not of.
When Elisha invites the Lord to allow his servant to see another reality, he sees that as long as he is on God’s team, he’s on the winning side.
The rest of the story is interesting. Elisha asks the Lord to make the Aramean soldiers blind. Then he tricks them, offering to lead them to the man of God who had caused so much trouble (Elisha himself). He leads them to the middle of the city of Samaria, and then asks that their sight be restored.
The king of Israel asks Elisha if he should send troops to massacre the Arameans since they are now vulnerable. Elisha replies, “Of course not! Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master” (22).
Once in a while, we have the privilege of reaching out to a lost one or even an “enemy” and leading them in a different direction. We don’t seek to destroy flesh and blood, even when they are acting in behalf of our spiritual enemy. We seek to rescue them and ask God to fill them with himself instead.
In the brilliance of biblical narrative, these two examples of blindness and sight are juxtaposed in the story. We “see” that the Lord can reveal much more of what he is doing in the situations we face if we ask him to open our eyes to it. He can also lead us to mercy and kindness toward even our greatest enemies, enabling them to see the reality of a miraculous, majestic, fiery God in their midst.