Welcome to the ninth month of this wonderful year. Let me apologise for the break over the last couple of months. I shall begin this message with a word of assurance given to me a few days ago by the Living Sovereign God through His precious Holy Spirit. I awoke with the enemy reminding me that the month was coming to an end and I had numerous bills to pay. The Holy Spirit however expressly told me not to worry as God was on my side and would supply ALL my need according to His riches in glory by His Son, Christ Jesus. He then directed me to the story in our text.
“PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM…”
The brief background to the text is that Ben-Hadad, the King of Syria laid a brutal military siege against Samaria cutting off all external food supplies and thus engendering a
horrific famine. That mothers were willing to boil and eat their own children reveals the pernicious and repugnant magnitude of the situation. This justifies Paul’s admonition that “first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty”(1Timothy 2:1-2). It also aligns with what God commanded through the prophet in Jeremiah 29:7 - “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace”. Before you even begin to pray for your self, your needs and your loved ones, take some time out right now to pray for the nation you reside in, whether it is your home nation or you are a sojourner or immigrant or visitor there. My first prayer for you is that things will never degenerate in the place of your domicile, to the point where you have to compromise on your righteousness or even on simple humanitarian ideals.
TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
When the king of Israel learnt of this despicable situation, his first reaction was to seek a scapegoat, someone to blame for this unsavoury turn of events, and who better (in his warped thinking) than Elisha, the man of God! He therefore sent to have Elisha beheaded. Recall, if you will that when there was an earlier famine for three and a half years, he was quick to blame Elijah. 1 Kings 18:17-18
“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.”
A lot of our problems are the product of our disobedience, bad decisions, ignorance, bad company and counsel and the like. Of course, there are issues which we face which have absolutely nothing to do with our wrong doing but with the sovereignty of God or just the sheer maleficence of the enemy. Whatever the case, when trouble comes (as it inevitably will), ask yourself “How have I contributed to this problem?” More importantly, ask yourself “What does God expect me to do in the circumstances?” Most of all, bear in mind that God works all things together for our good. So ask yourself the most important question – “What lessons can I learn from this negativity which God has permitted, and how can I make it work for the advancement of the Kingdom,the greater good, and of course, myself and my loved ones?”
“…FROM WHENCE COMETH MY HELP?”
Elisha however was expecting the messenger closely followed by his murderous monarch. Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 15:33 (GW) Don’t let anyone deceive you. Associating with bad people will ruin decent people. Working at such close quarters with such a heinous king had devastating effects on this courtier. Listen to his words to the prophet who was still consulting with the elder statesmen -2 Kings 6:33 (GW) “While he was still talking to them, the messenger arrived. He said to Elisha, ‘This severe famine is from the LORD. Why should I wait any longer for the LORD to help us?’ “ Whether those were his sentiments or the message from the king, the text does not clarify.
I do not know about you, but if it were left to me, I would immediately judge the king, his messenger and his every associate. Instead, God, through the prophet guarantees that in 24 hours there would be such an abundance that food would virtually be free. Here we see the true heart of the courtier (whether the same one or another, the text again does not make plain) as he cynically asks “Even if the Lord made windows in heaven, would such a thing be possible?”
Child of God, I do not care what you are faced with, how daunting and impossible it appears, how long it has gone on for, which forces, influences or powers are behind it etc.Once God has spoken over the matter, it must change and align with His word. The just shall live by faith and without faith, it is impossible to please God, we are admonished in God’s word. If you are not going to wait any longer for The Lord to help you, then to whom will you turn? The Bible warns us that the help of man is vain. Common sense and experience also dictate that there are some things that only God can do. Obviously, because we are all men and not God, we have no clue as to how God will bring His good thoughts to pass. Just do not open your mouth and blaspheme when you are in dire straits. The instant judgment of The Lord came on the scoffing lord and he would see the increase come but would not partake of it.
“LORD, I PRAY THEE, OPEN HIS EYES, THAT HE MAY SEE.”
One of my favourite Helen Keller quotes is “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”. A man who cannot see beyond his circumstances, who has no faith beyond his perception, and no hope beyond the empirical is truly of all men most to be pitied. This is what prompted the Psalmist to supplicate thus “Open thou my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law”(Psalm 119:18KJV). (GW) Uncover my eyes so that I may see the miraculous things in your teachings.
Paul interceded for the Ephesian Church that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints…”(Ephesians 1:18KJV). Another version speaks of the “eyes of your heart” while yet another of “the eyes of your mind” which are all synonyms for
insight that comes with the revelation that only vision can bequeath. It is human to despair when you are faced with insurmountable obstacles looming large before all your senses. However, a man with a vision can never be intimidated, overrun or overcome, nor can he be prematurely put to death.
In the verses preceding our text, the king of Syria upon discovering that Elisha was supernaturally revealing his battle strategies to the king of Israel, decided to send horses and chariots and a great army to capture Elisha at Dothan where he was residing. When the prophet’s assistant woke up early the next morning, he naturally panicked upon realising that the entire city was surrounded. Running to his mentor he must have been even more perplexed by Elisha’s nonchalance. Did he know something that was not apparent to others? “Fear not:” the prophet exhorted,“for they that be with us are more than they that be with them”. We are not told this but it is safe to surmise that the befuddled aide looking at himself, the prophet and none other, must have begun to fear that he had hooked up with a man who was not rowing with both oars!
2Kings 6:17 “And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
NOW WHAT DO YOU SEE?
When Elisha’s minister realised that there was a strong angelic presence surrounding the prophet and himself, he immediately entered into his rest. God is urging His children to enter into their rest. However, like an overworked, under-appreciated, unassisted wife, we cannot rest until we know the children are fed, the housework is done and the provision is at hand.
This is why God is opening our eyes to the finished work of the cross of Christ at Calvary. When we are threatened or even swamped by trials, tests, tribulations and the like, we must see Christ saying, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
When corporate giants or influential people or institutions that are pervasive and powerful pick on you, you must see Jesus saying, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”(1 John 4:4).
When we pray in the New Testament that The Lord should open our eyes, He may not show you the chariots of fire and the blazing horsemen. Instead, He will show you wonderful things out of God’s word. Three things will be clearly manifested to the one who asks God to open His eyes: 1. The character of God
2. The nature of God
3. The attributes of God
Armed with these, we come to the realisation that we are more than conquerors. We bask in the realisation that “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and for godliness. This power was given to us through knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and integrity”(2 Peter 1:3GW).
I cannot be like Elisha’s servant because I realise like the prophet Zerubbabel that it is neither by my might nor by my power, but by God’s Spirit that every mountain that stands before me is removed. Unlike Peter and the other disciples, the whelming storms and flood do not browbeat me into confused submission. Indeed, as The Message translation of Romans 1:20 eloquently puts it: “By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse.”
No child of God has a good excuse to fear, falter or fail when you can suffuse your mind with “visions of his rapture, echoes of His mercy and whispers of His love”(Fanny J Crosby- Blessed Assurance).
In Part Two of this message,we will explore how God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, the feeble things to confound the strong,and indeed what the world considers worthless, useless and as nothing in order to destroy those things to which the world ascribes great value. Look out for a new twist to the Elijah rapture story also.
Let us conclude by giving the last word to the writer of the Book of Hebrews:
Heb 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
Heb 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Shalom dear friends. As always you are loved, precious and appreciated.
Omawumi Michael Efueye (Pastor O)
Aslan LIFE Ministries