The Prophet Series: Elisha, part 19
The Prophet Series: Elisha part 19
2KI 6:8-16 Now the king of Aram was warring against Israel; and he counseled with his servants saying, "In such and such a place shall be my camp." And the man of God sent word to the king of Israel saying, "Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Arameans are coming down there." And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God had told him; thus he warned him, so that he guarded himself there, more than once or twice. Now the heart of the king of Aram was enraged over this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, "Will you tell me which of us is for the king of Israel?" And one of his servants said, "No, 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." So he said, "Go and see where he is, that I may send and take him." And it was told him, saying, "Behold, he is in Dothan." And he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
People sometimes comment that the Bible was written for another time; that it is so old, how could it possibly apply to us today? Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, when we read the scriptures, we are not necessarily reading of the past. These things have been written with us in mind, and so we are reading of our present. These things have also been written with the glory of God in mind, and so we are reading about our certain future. When we read of God delivering Israel, we are reading of Him delivering us on this very day. When we read of Elisha being sent to deliver and guide we are reading of our Lord's deliverance and guidance to us today. The history of Israel is as full of instruction to us, as it was to the fathers thousands of years gone by. When we read of the glorious hope and peace of God sent to Israel, we are reading a story about ourselves.
The world is filled with struggle and always has been. The king of Aram (Syria) wants to capture the king of Israel and Elisha. Will he succeed? The Lord reigns! The outcome of conflict is always the will of the Lord. "If the progress of human affairs were merely a struggle of forces, evenly or unevenly balanced; if it depended on the cunning or craft of men who shall prevail, or what shall obtain, we might give way to anxious thoughts. But it is not so. Through the tangled web of human affairs runs one great design. The government is upon His shoulders." [Edersheim]
Hence, as we all face trial, and trial awaits every believer, we can find courage and calm in the fact that the Lord is allowing certain evils to come upon us, and He is also going to take us through. Our cares are cast upon Him. There is no need to fear. Truth, faith, heaven, the Church, our souls are never in danger.
God is not an absentee landlord. He is not merely sitting in heaven, watching it all play out. He reigns on earth. Even what is whispered in the bed chamber of the king of Syria is known to Him, and therefore, whatever secret councils are taken against His people are known long before and will be dealt with by our Father.
You may remember that Naaman was the head Syrian general. He has returned to Syria healed of leprosy and there can be no doubt that Ben-hadad (king of Syria) has seen this, however it has not swayed his heart away from his hatred of Israel. Israel's God could heal leprosy, and He would do so for an enemy, but this has no impact on the king's heart. Indeed, what of the people who stood around the cross and witnessed the Lord Jesus die, and who were not moved to faith in Him? The heart of man is desperately wicked.
What God has done over the centuries should turn men from their unbelief, but they see and do not see, hear and do not hear. And so, spiritually blind and deaf, Ben-hadad continues his predatory raids into Israel. They rush in, take what they can, and then return home. It is not a regular war, and this time it seems that the Syrian king is looking to capture the king of Israel (Joram).
Joram is not a good king, nor are the people much for worshipping Yavah, but Israel's day of grace had not yet passed. The Lord nixes all of Syria's efforts to nab Joram. No matter what the enemies of the Lord devise, the Lord knows the attack before we do, and He provides the way of escape.
PSA 2:1-4 Why are the nations in an uproar,
He who sits in the heavens laughs,
This doesn't mean that we need not be wise. We are not to be ignorant of the devil's schemes. Let us not suffer deservedly. It is the devil's scheme to draw us into a place where we should not be. Whether that place is a way of thought in our hearts or a physical location, we are drawn there so that we will expose ourselves to known temptation. God gives specific instructions on how we are to think and conduct ourselves, and if we willingly violate them, we need not expect divine deliverance from them. We will suffer deservedly. Elisha instructs the king of Israel on where not to go. If we go where God tells us we should not, the enemy will have an easy victory over us. Be careful. Be alert. Be wise. Do not go where angels fear to tread and you should too.
Both kings are out of place. Ben-hadad is simply ignorant of the power of the God of Israel. His warring against Israel is fruitless. Joram is an idol worshipper who thinks he is being protected by God because there is something special about him. He is guilty of spiritual conceit. Only God's decree is "in place."
Ben-hadad was sure that he knew where the king of Israel was camped, but he was not there. His plans were well laid, but what he failed to see was the God in heaven. That's a large miscalculation. Many powerful men have made well thought out plans, calculated to the finest detail, in which nothing but success could be expected. When He wills, the breath of the Almighty overthrows them. Man's plans without God are made of rotted wood and cracked foundations. Outwardly, they initially look wonderful, but time and pressure reveals their flaws. How blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and how cursed is the man who makes the flesh his trust.
The king of Israel keeps finding deliverance from his enemy. He chalks it up to favoritism with God. Joram's history shows him to be a syncretist. He worships Yavah and the false gods simultaneously. He only pays lip service to God, and he thinks that this has delivered him. Christians often fool themselves into thinking that they can do the same thing. They do enough Christianity to preserve their reputation. They only seek glory from men. We must devote our whole lives to Him if we are to see His peace and joy.
Ben-hadad realizes that someone is upsetting his well laid plans. This is a correct conclusion, but the most common worldly explanation is never the right one. God has revealed to him that his plans will not work, but he has misunderstood the message, and he wrongly imagines that there is a spy in his organization.
PSA 33:10 The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;
JER 29:11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord,' plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
God has made His dealings with man so very plain. If you are a believer who understands the plans of the Lord, it is not because you are a genius. God has clearly revealed them. The problem doesn't lie with the scripture or the preacher, but only with the hearing.
The king finds that there is no spy, but that Elisha the prophet has been tipping off the king of Israel. Elisha is of little use to Israel if he keeps quiet out of fear of Syria's wrath. The enemy will attempt to make us fear in order to quiet our message, but we must not fear them. We must be open with others about the dangers that surround them.
The king's servant knows that it is Elisha, and he likely knows this because he knows Naaman. The healed leper likely revealed the power of Yavah and His servant Elisha to some in the army, and his witness has the effect that it should.
This is another flare from God to the king of Syria. There is no spy or some other temporal explanation. The God of Israel is thwarting your plans. Yet the king misunderstands again. He only sees Elisha as powerful, not Elisha's God. We must be careful of falling into this, as we can easily admire the work of some men while forgetting it is God that is at work in them. The pastor or writer who is doing his job and teaching or expositing truth is powerful and influential only because God is powerful and influential. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves," 2CO 4:7.
To Ben-hadad, the solution is simple. Elisha must be seized and jailed so that he can no longer muddy up the kings plans. The king truly has no understanding. If Elisha is jailed, couldn't the God of Israel call someone else? Surely the king knows that Elisha is not the first or only prophet. Plus, if Elisha knew his plans before, wouldn't he know them now? But there is no need for Elisha to hide from the dumb king. Elisha is surrounded by the army of God.
Elisha was openly staying at the city of Dothan. A beautiful city situated about 12 miles north of Samaria. Interestingly, this is the location in which Joseph's brothers threw him into a pit and then sold him into slavery. Joseph was miraculously delivered and so will Elisha be.
As the people of Dothan sleep in the depth of night, a large Syrian army quietly surrounds her, waiting for the morning sun to enlighten their siege and destruction, and all to capture a single unarmed man. If Dothan were only dependent upon her walls or the fact that it was in the mountains, then it had no hope and all would perish. Not only do they not have a defense, but they are taken completely by surprise.
Have you ever been robbed of sleep due to fear? You may fear an intruder, or the events of tomorrow, or the ramifications of the past day. Your brain may be fevered with worry, or your body aching from loss. It is quite a thing to be able to sleep soundly when such things press in upon us. Only the promises of God can do it. Only seeing the invisible will bring blessed unconsciousness and renewal. There are dangers all around us, but with the Lord, nothing is in danger that is of value.
The servant of Elisha is an early riser. We can safely assume that this is a new servant who replaced our old friend Gehazi. In the quiet early morning stillness the servant exits the gates of the city only to see the sun begin to light up swords, spears, shields, and chariots of Syrians circling the city. He runs back to his master, announces his terrible discovery to a perfectly calm prophet. "What shall we do?"
How often this question has been asked by Christians who are suddenly besieged with trial. The attack is against the Lord and not the city or the prophet. Will the weapons of the enemy prevail when they are fighting the Lord? The question is almost too dumb to ask.
"What of these assaults on the Church, on our lives, property, and honor - on our Dothan? This is our answer, the Master is identified with us! The battle is not against us; it is against Him." [Ederseim]
The city is completely surrounded. There is no way out. Will Ben-hadad's plans finally work? What could possibly go wrong?
To Him be all glory and honor,