I think it is often true, that the simplest lessons of Scripture are hardest learned. It is only with the largest of difficulty that we are able to put into practice such simple admonitions as: “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things shall be added unto you”; “To obey is better than sacrifice, to hearken than the fat of lambs”; “He that is last shall be first”; and “Love God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength.”
Such a recurring and simple lesson was called to mind again just the other evening. I was busy catechizing the little children. The lesson concerned Elisha the prophet who by God’s divine intervention was able to reveal the plans of Benhadad king of Syria to the king of Israel at Samaria. The king of Syria was very wroth with the servant of Jehovah and, after having spied out that Elisha was at Dothan, sent an host of horses and chariots to capture Elisha. When this was discovered by the servant of Elisha who had risen early and gone forth, he asked the prophet, “Alas my Master! How shall we do?” In response Elisha prayed the Lord that the eyes of the young man who was his servant might be ‘opened. And the Lord answering this prayer opened the eyes of the young man and he beheld “the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” Having not seen these, yet believing by faith in their presence, Elisha had said to his servant, “Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (II Kings 6:16)
The church of our Lord Jesus Christ as manifested here below is numerically small and seemingly insignificant. The forces of the world often loom large and treacherous round about the children of God. It seems that we are continually as the small band of Christ ready to be devoured by the mighty forces of the antichrist. And who will deliver us? We are not the many, powerful, rich, influential, mighty men of the world. Rather, God’s church is recruited by Christ from the poor, insignificant, and meek.
It is the lot of the church of Christ collectively, as well as of the child of God individually, to live in the very bosom of this antichristian world. Our place is often precarious and insecure. The seed of the woman is continually being pursued to be devoured. For us in many differing ways the hills about Dothan are spread with the mighty hosts of the Syrians. We often feel besieged without an avenue of escape or a prayer of hope! Often the question silently rises in our soul, “Alas, my master! How shall we do?”
The simple little lesson of the Scriptures to which I refer, as you have no doubt gathered by now, is confidence in God! Trust in Him. The problems of care, worry, and anxiety which are the result of a littleness in faith trouble many saints of God. The variety of the Syrian forces that God’s children encounter are as varied as the number of pews they occupy. Fear is struck in the hearts of God’s children! I think of this especially after we have just stood in the threshold of a new year. God has wisely spread a veil over the future. Yet the uncertainty of it all makes us fearful. Some of us are preoccupied with the sufficient care of our families. Others fear the alarming percentage of sickness, such as cancer, that also spreads its tentacles into the Church. Many more are actually led by our God in deep ways of affliction and grief. All in all; the clouds of darkness continually hover over God’s children!
In all this, we have not learned the calm of Elisha, or, if we have, our memories are often so short. We react as did Elisha’s servant! “Alas! How shall we do?” We see the army of the Syrians, but we do not reckon with the face of God. Oh, it is no wonder that Elisha’s servant rose early that morning letting his eyes circumspect the horizon around Dothan. He saw that which was naturally visible. It is the natural, the carnal, that which belongs to this earth that readily makes an impression upon our retina. Our carnal recognition and reasoning quickly tabulate the odds against us. It was no great feat for Elisha’s servant to calculate- the might of the host of the Syrians that had come to capture him and his master. It takes little effort for us to recognize the dangers that often encroach upon us here below, whatever they may be!
It is a real spiritual ability to see what Elisha saw. For this can be seen by faith alone! He saw an innumerable host of horses and chariots of fire round about him. “. . . they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” We are not so much concerned with the actual physical representations that were seen on the hill surrounding Dothan. Whether they were real or visionary, they no doubt represent the host of Jehovah our God. It is an heavenly host of great power as indicated by the fact that they are chariots and horses of fire. They have the power to consume and destroy! I think we must take this in connection with passages such as Psalm 34:7: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” Or the passage Christ quotes when tempted by the Devil early in His earthly ministry. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against the stone.” (Ps. 91:11, 12) And mark the words of Christ to Peter after He rebuked him for smiting off the Malchean’s ear, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53) To see such an innumerable host of angels who continually watch over us takes an eye of faith.
When the eye of faith is keen, all doubts and fears are dispelled! Having seen the innumerable host of God’s protesting fiery band, Elisha and his servant proceed toward the Syrians out of Dothan’s gates. And Elisha prayed the Lord that the visible, dreadful host be struck with blindness. And Jehovah smote them with blindness according to the petition of Elisha. And Elisha led the blind band captive into the walls of Samaria, that the Syrians might know that God protects His people. “So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.” (II Kings 6:23b)
Too often our fear, worry, and anxiety is due to our spiritual blindness. We are as Elisha’s servant. We need to pray the petition of Elisha, “Lord open our eyes that we may see!” Oh, if we could only see continually the innumerable hosts of angels that keep guard over us. For then our hearts would not fail when we encounter the enemy on every side. Whether it be in poverty, sickness, temptation, distress, yea even death itself, we shall not fear. For, conscious of such an heavenly host, we with Elisha and his servant would bravely encounter the enemy, knowing that they that are with us are more than they with them. Visible to the human eye? Oh no! But to the eye of faith.
If God be for us who can be against us? We live in the fear of the Lord! Blindly confident in faith.
“When evildoers came To make my life their prey,
They stumbled in their shame and fell in sore dismay;
Tho hosts make war on every side,
Still fearless I in God confide.”