Thursday, February 22, 2007

Trick or Treat

The King of Syria is in a council meeting discussing strategy on how to best defeat the Israeli army. He discloses plans for setting up camp from where he will spring a surprise attack in the morning.
Behind the scenes, God whisperes to Elisha the details of where the Syrian army will be waiting to attack. Elisha immediately sends a messenger to the King of Israel providing him with the inside information , thereby enabling the Israeli army to simply vanish in the night leaving the Syrians facing an exclusively one sided battle!
Though the puzzled King of Syria tightens security during his counsel meetings, and speaks his plans in hushed whispers - again and again the Israeli King receives prior warning from Elisha as to where the Syrian army is going to be and so continues to elude their attack.
Finally , the frustrated King of Syria is left with only one explanation for why the Israeli army always has foreknowledge of his plans. Obviously , there is an informer within his trusted circle. And so he demands to know , who is the traitor in their midst?
Finally, one servant has the courage to speak up and he says, “None, my lord, O king, but Elisha the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” (II Kings 6:12)
Instead of the Syrian King recognizing that perhaps he is engaging a formidable foe, his enraged ego demands that this prophet be taken care of and orders go out for him to be ferreted out of his hiding place.
When he is told that Elisha has been discovered in Dothan, he sends horses and chariots and a great army to go find the prophet and bring him in.They encircle the city by night and wait for morning to take him prisioner.
Elisha , it seems, is not an early riser-- but his newly acquired young servant is and he slips quietly outside the next morning.
To his horror, he sees that they are surrounded by armies of horses and chariots!. Filled with fear, he runs back inside to awaken Elisha , crying out … “Alas, my master !! What shall we do ?”
In the natural , there was nothing they could do… they had obviously fallen into the hands of the enemy, they were cornered with no avenue of escape.
Elisha responds to his servant’s upsetting news with no more anxiety than if he had been told there was a bug in the tent ! He calmly takes note of his servant’s distress and tries to put him at ease, “Don’t worry about it, we have more on our side than they do on theirs!”
I’m sure his answer sounded incredulous in the young man’s ears. He counted Elisha and himself - that made two ! How could they possibly defend themselves against a powerful army of horses and chariots!!
But the young man was about to learn about Divine Intervention.
Elisha recognized that here was a teaching opportunity and he prayed, asking God to open the young man’s eyes so that he would be able to see the reality of the invisible world around them.

God answered his prayer and to the young man’s amazement , he sees the whole mountain full of horses and chariots - not of flesh and iron - but of fire !!
I would have loved to hear the young man’s whoop of delight as his fear melted into euphoria! I’m sure he thought he was about to see the battle of all battles!

The Syrian army , oblivious in their delusion, were confident that this would be a very easy capture – without doubt they would be on their way home in no time.
Elisha stands and calmly watches the army come down toward him, then he prays “Lord, strike them blind!”
And the Lord strikes them all with blindness.
Elisha watches them stumble about for awhile and then he advises them, “You are lost , this is not the way into the city….but just follow me and I will take you to the man that you are looking for.”
He leads the blind men straight into Samaria and lines them up before the King of Israel.
When he has them all in position Elisha prays again…. and ‘blind man’s bluff’ is over !!
The Syrians see that they have been tricked…they have been personally delivered into the hands of their enemy. I’m sure their hearts melted for fear, especially when they heard the King of Israel , rubbing his hands in glee, ask eagerly , “My Father, can I kill them now? can I kill them ?”
Elisha gives him an unexpected answer. He says, “No, they are your guests, treat them well, give them food and water and then send them back to their master."
I’m not sure what the King’s private reaction was but he obeyed Elisha and, to his credit, spread a great feast before the enemy army.
I wonder how much the Syrian soldiers enjoyed their banquet – I’m sure they wondered if it was a condemned man’s last meal! But when they had eaten their fill, they were allowed to go back home.
They must have been very grateful to escape with their lives because they never came back!

I once told this story to my wide eyed Primary S.S. children and when the story was over, I asked them what they had learned from the story. I was expecting answers to do with how big God was and that He could conquer any army , but one little six year old boy offered something different.
When I acknowledged his little hand waving in the air, he said, “We should be polite?” I was taken aback for a moment , then I realized that in my telling of the story I had put words in Elisha’s mouth in his response to the King of Israel - that killing the enemy would not be a nice thing to do .
So yes, this story teaches us to be polite!! To ‘kill’ our enemies with kindness !

But that is not the point I wanted to make here.
Think of the exchange between Elisha and his frightened servant …. In your mind’s eye, see the physical army encamped around them, and then envision, super imposed above them, the fiery armies of God, dwarfing the Syrian horses and chariots into toys!
And hear Elisha proclaim , “Do not fear , for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Then read the parallel words in I John 4:4 , “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
We have quoted that verse many times and given it mental assent, but doesn’t the picture of the old testament story inflame the words with 3D, High Definition meaning and depth and drive the truth of it deep within your heart?
Truly the enemy in the world, no matter what he may bring against us , is a defeated foe!!
We need not fear ! as God’s children we have the armies of heaven surrounding us. We can truly have the peace and calm of Elisha and meet the enemy head on , no matter what form he takes in our life.
The God in us is truly greater by far… than the god of this world!!!
In fact, he has only one weapon that is effective against us… fear! but we have the power to refuse to let him use it. If we, like Elisha and his servant, have seen the power of God’s glorious heavenly army sent out on our behalf, what shall we fear ?!?!?

The words of Jesus , “In the world you will have tribulation,
but be of good cheer!! I have overcome the world," (John 16:33)


Yokooso said...

Yes indeed He has overcome this world!!! Whom shall we fear? We are but dust.

I'm back Julie...

your younger Sister

Anonymous said...

You bring a story alive! Another good truth for me to tuck into my heart and mind. We serve a mighty God.

Lovella said...

yes indeed what shall we fear? Your telling the true stories that we have loved for years in your own words is nothing short of amazing. I felt my tongue dry up a bit in angst. You make it feel like I'm hearing it again for the first time. It's like being an adult in a kids sunday school class and hearing it all for the first time. Thank you for the challenge on our response to our fears.