How would you feel if your town or city was surrounded by an army poised to attack?
Of course, that is unlikely to happen. So I’ll ask a more relevant question. How would you feel if you knew the world contained nearly 15,000 nuclear warheads, which were located in 9 different countries? This is relevant because it’s true, which makes it all the more disturbing. I was going to mention China’s massive army of a few million active military personnel but that information almost seems anti-climatic in light of the news about the nukes.
Most people don’t worry about any of this. They’re more concerned about bills, babies and back problems (a personal favourite of mine). I wasn’t worried about the nukes either until I read about them. At this point I must apologize. I just realized that you probably weren’t thinking about global catastrophe until you read this blog. Sorry.
But when you think about it, there’s not much we can do about the nukes. Bills, babies and backs are more within reach and seem more controllable. Yet, there’s usually not much we can do about those either. But we worry about them don’t we? Should we though? Much has been written about the uselessness of worry and I suspect most people are aware of the fact that it accomplishes nothing. Yet, we still do it. It reminds me of my relationship with sugar. I know I shouldn’t eat too much of it, but I do so rather consistently. I do what I know I shouldn’t. Can anyone relate?
There’s a reason why I mentioned angry men, armies and nukes. It has to do with a story from the Old Testament involving a prophet, his servant and the nation of Syria (see 2 Kings 6). The king of Syria at the time was not Bashar al-Assad. It was Ben Hadad. Now this Ben Hadad was in the habit of making raids on the territory of Israel. So when he planned a raid God would tell Elisha the prophet about it, and Elisha would warn the king of Israel. Ben Hadad thought there was a traitor in his midst but he was informed by one of his servants that the problem was the prophet. The servant said, “(Elisha the prophet) tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” (2 Kings 6:12)
So Ben Hadad’s brilliant solution was to eliminate the prophet. To accomplish the task at hand he sent one of his military units to the city of Dothan to arrest Elisha. When Elisha’s servant looked out the window and saw the army surrounding the city he did what you and I (or at least I) likely would have done. He panicked. He basically said, “OMG we’re toast. It’s lights out for us. Elisha, what in God’s name are we going to do?” (Smith Paraphrase Version)
Elisha’s response was basically, “what are you worried about, it’s just a bunch of angry men who want to kill us?” (SPV). Elisha’s actual words, according to a more traditional translation, were: “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (NKJV) Then he prayed.
What would you pray in a situation like that? Elisha could have prayed that God would give his servant peace of heart or calmness of mind. But he didn’t pray any of that. Instead, he prayed that God would open his eyes. Not his physical eyes. These were already wide open. They were probably open a little bit too much. But his spiritual eyes were closed shut. He couldn’t see beyond the immediate physical threat.
So God opened his spiritual eyes and allowed him to gaze into the supernatural realm. There he saw that the hills and mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. In God’s sight Ben Hadad’s troops looked like a bunch of kids with Nerf Guns. God wasn’t concerned about the Syrians. Neither is He concerned about 15,000 nukes or armies of millions. Incidentally, Revelation 9:16 speaks about a last days army that will number 200 million. Is God concerned about that? Nope. Should we be anxious about it? Not according to Philippians 4:6.
It doesn’t matter how many troops are in the enemy camp. There’s always more in the camp of God. Even if there weren’t multitudes of heavenly horses and chariots of fire we’d still have God Himself, and one + God is always a majority. If you’re not an avid student of the Bible you’re probably wondering how Elisha and his servant fared against the Syrians. Well, they did quite well actually. The same God who opened the spiritual eyes of the servant also closed the physical eyes of the Syrian raiders. All in answer to prayer of course.
By way of summary then, Elisha led the enemy into Samaria, where the King of Israel desired to kill them. Elisha had a better idea. Prepare a hot meal for them and send them home bewildered. Elisha’s plan worked. The raiders never returned. All of which shows that one act of kindness is much more effective then one act of revenge but that’s another blog entirely.
We might say that Elisha did indeed kill the Syrian raiders, just not with swords or slings. He killed them with kindness. Not your typical response to a hostile army but the results spoke for themselves.