I think Christians sometimes become a little jaded about the power of God. If you’re like me, there has been no shortage of times when you’ve looked at the mighty wonders God worked in the time of the Apostles or the Old Testament and asked yourself why the sun has never stopped or seas parted in your lifetime. Have you ever asked yourself if miracles of that majesty, and the intervening hand of God as described in Psalm 18, were a thing of the past?
No judgment if you have. You’ve got company. I was dwelling on that very thing when the record of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6 struck me in a totally different way.
If you’re unfamiliar with this passage, it involves the King of Aram, who was at war with Israel, sending a hoard of soldiers to capture Elisha—effectively to stop him from giving away Aramaean battle tactics by revelation from God to the Israelite king. At this time, Elisha and his servant were residing in Dothan and the Arameans surrounded the city while they slept. Imagine the horror in Elisha’s servant when he woke to see them surrounded by what the HCSB version describes as “a massive army”! Understandably, he asked Elisha “What are we to do?”
What follows their exchange is a passage I’ve read many times, and I always thought it was one of the greatest examples of a miraculous intervention by God. But for the first time, a certain part stood out to me:
2 Kings 6:16b-17 (emphasis added)
16bElisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them. 17 Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes. He looked and saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
You know what really strikes me about this passage? Those horses and chariots of fire were already there and already protecting Elisha before the servant’s eyes were opened. Possibly they were the only reason the Arameans hadn’t already attacked. Yet while they were present and doing their duty, the servant was totally unaware until God specifically opened his eyes. He was blind to the spiritual reality before God revealed it to him. Had Elisha not prayed for revelation for that servant, would he have ever known they were surrounded by chariots and horses who defended them? And would that have made this intervention any less awesome?
Can we claim to know the spiritual forces at work around us? Does our lack of revelation mean that they are not there?
The miraculous, awe-inspiring, powerful and mighty hand of God is at work at all times. I imagine that if God opened our eyes to all that He’s doing, we would be completely paralyzed with wonder. We look for a sign, but do we need one? Or should our trust be that our God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, is working the same wonders both seen and unseen in our lifetime that He did thousands of years ago in the records that are for our learning and understanding?
I’ll leave you to ponder these things with one of my favorite quotes of all time, from Jeffrey R. Holland:
“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed.”