Elisha: Getting Our Bearings
Last week, Pastor David gave us a message on the prophet Elijah.
And today we are going to talk about his disciple and his successor as the main mouthpiece of God to the people of Israel.
Now when you think Israel you need to think of the fact that after the death of King Solomon (sometime around 930 B.C.) the kingdom split into a northern kingdom, which kept the name Israel and the southern kingdom called Judah.
And there were groups of prophets that spoke to both.
Elijah and Elisha were prophets to the northern kingdom of Israel.
And like all prophets their job was to call people back to God.
And Elijah did this in spectacular fashion.
He called fire down from heaven, he was taken up to heaven by a firey chariot....
.....And Elisha is the next guy in line.
But we find very quickly that Elisha had no prboelm filling the sandles of Elijah.
Because he was also a man of faith who understood his life was caught up in the same mission with the same God as his predecessor.
In fact he made it clear that whatever Elijah had going on, he wanted in on it.
He knew he had to inheret something from outside himself.
Using the language of inheritence received from a father, Elisha asks to be granted a double inherritecne in II Kings 2:9
Elijah whatever you had going on between you and God, I would like that and more!!
It is interesting that he asks for a double inhertitecne and scripture records exactly twice as many miracled by Elisha than performed by Elijah! Scripture records 14 miracles performed by Elijah and 28 by Elisha;
Next to Jesus, there are more miracles recorded in the life of Elisha than any other person in the Bible!!
The last of which happened after he had died!!
When a corpse was thrown into his tomb and after coming in contact with his bones was resurrected.
The job of every prophet was to point us to belief. To a larger narrative. and miracles were a part of the that.
That is why in the gospel of John miracles are called signs.
They are meant to lift our heads and give us our barrings in the cosmos.
That is the job of every prophet in a way, but it did not always play out in such a spectacular way as it did with Elisha.
One of my favourite stories where this playes out in the life of Elisha is in II King 6
you can grab your bibles or device and stand and let’s look at that text....
And just before we read that together, you need to know that the king of Aram has been a nussance to th3e peop of Israel. Attacking and terrorizing the people, so that Israel was always looking over its should wondering when the next attack would come.
And the king of Aram(where modern syria is)was tenacious, always plotting and trying to surprize the king of Israel
8 When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.” 9 But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” 10 So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there. 11 The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?” 12 “It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!” 13 “Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.” And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” 14 So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. 16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. 18 As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, please make them blind.” So the Lord struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. 19 Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria. 20 As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria. 21 When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?” 22 “Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.” 23 So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel.
I love this story......
We are in constant need to having our spiritual eyes open.
I want to talk about a sustaining faith.
And I use the word sustain, becasue sustain has that feeling of just getting by.
And I think for most of us, if we are honest, we feel that the faith we need right now, is just to come to God and ask for enough today.
So that we can daily come for the long haul and be sustained, find our barrings, contnue on.
in tis story today we see that .....
I. A SUSTAINED FAITH REMEMBERS(vv. 16)
“there are more on our side than there are on theirs!!”
this was not the first time that the servant of the prophet had heard that god was with them.
But it may be the first time he realized that it was not a metaphor!
We need to constantly be remnded that our story is bigger than our circumstance, and that our life is not a snapshot or a still picture, it is part of an ongoing larger story.
That is why we celebrate and worship through things like communion. Through which we are told to remember, and remind ourselves that Chrsit conquered death and is coming again.
We worship through psalms, songs and scripture that draws our eyes off our immidiate circumstance, to God’s sufficiency, strenghth, soveriengty.
When we neglect that. Neglect commmuning with God through scripture and prayer
We will find ourselves forgetting, Find ourselves like Elisha’s servant, panicked by what is on the horrizon.
Elisha’s faith continually pointed to a bigger story.
You get this sense throughout this story that everyone is panicking.
The King of Aram is mad and anxious, accusing.
The King of Israel is panicking, “Should I kill them, Should I kill them” asking the prophet for miltary advice.
The servant is feaking out.
The only one who is calm is the prophet of God.
a strong confidence ina God who is closer. than tyou think.
Everyone seems lost, Elisha seems to have his barrings.
II. A SUSTAINED FAITH PRODUCES PEACE (
it fuels peace in us and through us.
A. In Us
it fuels peace in us becasue there is never a time we are alone.
v, “open the servant eyes.”
17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
The prayer is not …show up God!!
The prayer was not even give us strength God....it was...... “open his eyes”.
It was not alter reality, but give him the kniowledge of your presence so that he is able to say like me.....”I don’t need to be afraid”
So, resilliant faith fuels peace in us but it also produces peace through us.
B. Through Us
The king of Israel living in fear dees here only an oportuit yto wipe out an enemy.
But Elisha sees something different.
21 When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?” 22 “Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.” 23 So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel.
There is a peace that comes from knowing that the interactions between you and me and our enemies are not the big story.
See fear and lashing out comes from not feeling secure.
You do not get a sense from Elisha that now that we’ve got em, we better take care fo them!!
You get a sense that (as one with the firey army of God, there is not real need for panic or retaliation. In fact there is an opportunity to display mercy.
You can see the king is thinking, hey we get to kill them now right!!!
That what nations do right!!!
Immagine what the Aramean’s thought heading back home.
Imagine the stories gthey told their families.
So you won?
No not exactly!!
Oh no you had to escape?
Well what happened?
Well they had an army of fire, whcih we only saw for a few second, becasue tyhen um, we all went blind and ten they had us surrounded.....and then....um....they fed us and gave us good drink, and then they thanked us for coming and sent us home.
In an age of shame (which we live in today) Where individuals play judge and exocugtioner from behind their phones, where we live in a a shame culture, that says, if you mess up, you will publically pay the consequences......
There isa peace produced in us when we know that our greatest treasre and our greate allegience cannot be touched.
And that we are not alone.
And the last point I would want to make today is that… for you and UI on this side of the resurrection
III. A SUSTAINED FAITH IS BUILT ON THE RESURRECTION
The miracle of miracles
Which has alwasy been the foundation of our faith.
If you do not buy the truth of the resurrection....you are not a Chrsitian.
That is not an option that is the basis of the Chrstian faith.
The procl;amationm of the Chrsi tian faith is found is....I can face tomorrow becasue he lives.
13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.
So since the beginning foundational, stregnthening truth of our faith.
The truth, the historical fact that has sustained believers throughout the centuries, the trouble we face whether personal or pandemic is the resurrection of Christ.
I’ve already mentioned that throughout the gospel of John the miracles of Jesus are refered to as signs.
giving us bearings, and
The greatest miracle of Chrsit being his resurrection....meant to give us our bearings.
In Ehesians 1, the apostle Paul writes to a small church words of encouragemrnty, similar to the words of Elisha and in doing so, poinst to the resurrection of Jesus as the strengthening factor for all who love God but are in need of strength in difficult times.
16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
This is how we get our barings.
google map when the internet is not working....a blue dot, with no streets, not shading of parks, etc....just you alone in the world.
No compass and no idea where your destination is in relation to where you are, or how you navigate there.
That is a description of life without a larger story. Without sign posts. Without Jesus.
Jesus shows us where we are.
46 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
Imagine if we took an empty google map to be reality.
Imagine if looking at what we saw in front of us had sway on how we saw our lives.
The story of Elisha, the fact of the resurrection reminds us, that even when the buildings and the roads do not show up becasue of your bad connecton, you may need to stop staring at what you have perceived as reality long enough to look up, take in the larger story.
To gain a wisdom that goes beyond what you percieve or what you might daily experience.
that our hearts will be flooded with light so that we can understand the confident hope he has given to us
that we will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him
I do not know where today finds you, I knwo that for my family it has been a time of loss, a time of seeing dark clouds on the horizon, and if we try to get our barings based on those experiences and not live a life remindering ourselves of the God who is closer than we can imagine, we will find ourselves without A STORY TO NAVIGATE WITH. WE WILL find ourselves, in fear and uncertainty, lashing out at each other, and we will find oiurselves forgetting that in light of the resurrection, no death or disease has the final say, every dark cloud will one day be disolved, and
What does this NOT mean:
We will not suffer
So the question for you n I is wjat will we focus our attention on.
It will be the difference between Elisha and his servant.
We will see only the battle in front of as and not the power of God behind us.
and that doesnt mean a delivery from every battle or evey evil.
Pastor Cam reminded us of that a few weeks ago when he preached to us about Shadrach Meshal and Abednigo who said they would follow God regardless of where it would lead. Even through suffering and maybe even death.
“spiritual wisdom and insight “ They
understood the incredible greatness of God’s power for those who believe him.
They may not have even understood that fully.
But you an I on this side of the resurrection, have an even fuller understanding.
Our deepest proclaimation is that God has it handled. That with the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the last power of sin, has been taken. Sin has been disarmed.
2. We will never be scared.
It isnot that we will not be scared, it is that fear should not take up residence in our hearts.
It can only visit.
We are reminded again and again through scripture that suffering is an actual part of the state of the creation.
and that people of God, as a part of this creation, will experience the a part of that suffering and Jesus promises more so when we identify with him.
And so in light of the fact that we know creation is bound for something better, that is the promise of the resurrection, in light of the fact that we believe that God is soverign and all-powerful it is logical, acceptable and commendable to bring our pains and fears to him.
Psalm 46 captures the concerns of someone who follows and loves God, but sees the brokeness and uncertainity of circumstance and says....God give sme security even in trouble.
The psalm describes our need for stregnth and solid ground when it feels like everything we used to stand on is crumbling.
It talks about fresh water getting to us even when we feel closed off and trapped.
And it invites us to remember that God is closer than you think,
That God is with you, and it is not a metaphor.
For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices. 1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. 3 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude 4 A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. 5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. 6 The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! 7 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude 8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world. 9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” 11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude