The king of Aram is at war with Israel. However, Israel has a secret weapon – the prophet Elisha. It seems that any time the king of Aram decides to make a move Elisha warns the king of Israel. This becomes such a standard practice that the king of Aram believes one of his own officers is a traitor (which is a much more rational explanation for what is going on). They assure him that their fidelity is strong and that it is the fault of Elisha, “he tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
New plan: take out Elisha. Under the cover of night, when they can’t be seen, the king of Aram surrounds Elisha. Early the next morning Elisha’s servant goes outside and sees that they are in a lot of trouble. Seeing the enemy’s “horses, chariots and strong army” (my children love chanting that phrase) he panics and proclaims hopelessness.
Elisha, though, sees things a little differently. Elisha, in the words of the Apostle Paul, has learned to “walk by faith, and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) He prays for the LORD to open the eyes of his servant so that he too can see with eyes of faith. Behold, surrounding the “horses, chariots and strong army” are “horses, chariots and a fiery army” of the LORD. Elisha proclaims,
those who are with us are more than those against us!
At this point we might expect some heavenly thrashing of the enemy, but that is not what happens. Instead, the enemy is struck blind so that they cannot see. Elisha tricks them and leads them to Samaria where the king of Israel is with his army. There their eyes are opened so that they can see once again and they find themselves at the mercy of their enemy, Israel. When the king of Israel saw them he said, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?”
Killing one’s enemies. That makes sense doesn’t it? But they are Elisha’s prisoners and he decides that the king of Israel should prepare a feast for his enemies. So he feeds them and they return home. None of us saw that coming!
But how could we have seen any of that. Our worldview has no room for angels of this sort – servants of the Most High God. Instead, we depict angels as gentle grandmothers (Touched by an Angel) or overweight, promiscuous versions of John Travolta (Michael). We go through each and every day without one thought of the angels that go before us, or the angels that we plow right past, or the angels that we ignore.
Like Elisha’s servant we face troubles and dangers with fear and despair because we walk by sight rather than by faith. If we hope to see the fiery chariots that surround us then we need to have our sight cleansed. Like blind Bartimaeus we need to cry out to Jesus, “I want to see!” (see below for some helpful ways to live by faith)
Finally, one lesson we do not want to miss is this – the best way to overcome your enemies is to make them your friends. After the king of Israel fed the king of Aram and his troops we are told, “the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.” At one time we were all enemies of God, “for all have sinned and fallen short of God.” Rather than destroy us, God chose to become one of us and to call us friends (John 15:15).
When we come to the Table we are reminded of two things: (1) our sight is only set right when we walk by faith, and (2) there is always a seat of Jesus’ Table for his friends. As friends of God let us walk by faith and keep in step with the Spirit of God. Amen.
PLANTER – Philippians 4:8
If we think of our minds as PLANTERs – the place we cultivate the life of Christ – then we should pay attention to what we put into it. Therefore, whatever is Pure (and Praiseworthy), Lovely, Admirable, Noble, True, Excellent, and Right think on these things. Keeping these things in mind will help us live by faith.
Nothing Can Separate Us – regularly meditating on Paul’s words in Romans 8:38-39 will help us to live by faith.