Open Our Eyes

Scripture: 2 Kings 6:8-22, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 Peter 3:8-9
Date: 02/09/2019 
If we keep our eyes on Christ, He will keep us through temptation.

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Doug Batchelor: Bitterness and revenge is like an acid that corrodes the container that holds it. If you are good to those that are unkind to you, who will win in the end? God will bless you in the end.

You know, Jesus said that, "If your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light." Someone said once, "The eye is the window of the soul." When you talk to a person, you typically look at their eyes, and sometimes we have to tell our children, "Look at me when I'm talking to you." You would never tell a person, "Please look at my elbow when I'm talking to you," because it seems like so much is communicated through the eyes. It is very fascinating to me how we're able to capture light and images and depth faster than any camera that's been created and transform those things into images and colors and meaning. Someone said once that, "As much as 85% of what comes into your brain everyday comes through your eyes." Your eyes are not just physical, you can close your eyes and I can speak words and you have a screen on your mind where you see things. You know what I'm talking about? and you imagine.

So the eye is something beyond just the organ. Paul says we need to be able to see what the world isn't looking at that we might be able to see the unseen. There's a great story in the Bible I'd like to look at, it's all within one chapter. And if you turn in your Bibles to the second book of Kings, 2 Kings chapter 6, and we'll start with verse 8--2 Kings chapter 6, verse 8, and hopefully we will learn how we can have our eyes opened. This story talks about opening eyes and closing eyes and then opening them again. "Now the king of Syria was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, 'My camp will be in such and such a place.' And the man of God," Elisha the prophet, he, "Sent to the King of Israel, saying, 'Beware that you don't go down to this place, for the Syrians are coming down there.' Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told," or warned him. And, "He warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice."

Alright, so here's the story: King of Syria, they're warring with the king of Israel, this had gone on for years. Capital for Israel was Samaria, that was the northern capital for the Israelites, the 10 tribes, Syrians's up there in Damascus, and they were at war constantly. And so the king of Syria said, "Well, I'm going to set up an ambush for the King of Israel, and I'm going to set up a camp in the spot and when he comes down we'll overpower him, we'll take them." And Elisha the prophet would send a messenger to the king of Israel, and say, "You better be careful not to go through this valley or down this road because the king of Syria is set up there too ambush you."

You know, the secret to a successful battle, most important thing is surprise; in a war, the element of surprise. And so the king of Israel would send his spies and they'd come back and say, "Sure enough, the Syrians are all gathered there, ready to ambush you." And he wasn't delivered once or twice, that means on several occasions, every time the king of Syria had his secret war room and they'd talk about how they're going to attack the king of Israel, the king of Israel suddenly wouldn't go there anymore. And he was just so flummoxed by all of this, "How does the king of Israel always know what I'm up to?"

Well, the first thing we should be aware of in this story is that you've got a war going on and there's an enemy that is seeking to ambush us. Have you ever been ambushed by the devil? He gets you when your--least expect it, temptation. 1 Peter 5, he said, "Be sober, be vigilant;" be on your guard, "Because your adversary the devil is going around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour." And we all know how lions work, they ambush. Lions can't run very long, they can run fast for a short time but they really depend on sneaking up on the prey and catching them off-guard when they're not being watchful. 1 Timothy 3:7, said be careful, "Lest we fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." Devil wants to snare people, tries to catch them.

Now, how was it the king of Israel was able to avoid these pitfalls? The Word of God through Elisha the prophet gave him warning and he listened to the warning. Does God give us warnings in His Word to help us avoid being ambushed by the devil? Amen. The Word is our weapon, and our safety depends on heeding the Word of the Lord through His prophets and His law. 2 Chronicles 20:20, "Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe His prophets, and you will prosper."

So, the king of Syria, he is just so confounded, "How is it that the king of Israel always knows, he always knows what our war plans are and when our ambush's going to be?" "Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants," his commanders and captains, "And said, 'Will you not show me which one of us is for the king of Israel?'" Who's the traitor in our midst? "And one of them said, 'None, my Lord, O king; Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, he tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.'" He says, "Go and find out where he is, this is their secret weapon. I can't conquer the kingdom unless I get through Elisha because he's thwarting all of my plans, so I'll go after him."

Why did the devil go after Jesus? If the devil wants to destroy us, he's got to get through Christ. And so he focuses on, the big problem in Israel was this single prophet. Now, in thinking about this, I can't help but wonder out of the whole king of Israel, they had trained generals and captains and sergeants and soldiers, they had their champions and men of valor. And the king of Syria is worried about the prophet.

Are you a threat to the devil? You should be. Has God had people on earth that were a threat to the devil? When God said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant, Job?" oh, just the name of Job just made the hackles go up on the back of Satan's neck. "Oh, not Job, I haven't been able to get anywhere with Job," and Job was a threat to the devil. Don't you want to be living the kind of life where God says, "Have you considered My servant," put your name in there, that you're living the kind of life that is a threat to the devil? But part of you is thinking, "I don't know that I want any special attention from the devil, I'm already getting a hard time." So I'm sure, if you're like me, you feel that's like mixed, that's a trick question.

Well, Elisha was a special threat because of his godliness and his relationship with the Lord. I hope we want that kind of relationship. The king naturally reasoned if he could capture Elisha he could overcome the people. Now, even Christ quoted that Scripture, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter." So they went after the shepherd of the people, the devil was trying to attack the source of communication. The way that God was communicating with the king was through Elisha.

How does God communicate with us? through prayer. How do you think the devil weakens us? cuts off our communication, gets us to neglect prayer, we're in too big a hurry. Matter of fact, Karen and I, this morning, here I'm the pastor hurrying to go to church and teach everybody about God and I'm running out the door. Karen came to the garage to put some potluck food in there and I thought, "We haven't prayed together." And so, standing there in the garage, we stopped and prayed. You know, we've got to pray together as a family. We got so busy doing the work of the Lord we forgot to pray together. "Oh, but I'm doing God's work so it's okay if I neglect communication." No, we got to make sure the devil doesn't trick us with that old trap.

So, the King says, "If we could just get Elisha," he said, "Go and see where he is." So they got these spies that are kind of roaming around, they're inquiring, "Where is Elisha?" They said, "Well, he's at Dothan right now." "Therefore," the king of Syria, "He sent horses and chariots with a great army." Now, usually, chariots, that's like you've taken out the tanks. "Horses and chariots and a great army," for this one unarmed prophet. Reminds me of when King Herod went to arrest Peter with 16 soldiers. "And they came by night and they surrounded the city." "We've got him now, no way of escape, he's surrounded."

Now, it would seem to me that the king of Syria would realize, "If Elisha knows what things I say in my bed chamber, he's going to know about this plan too, so what good is it going to be?" You know, the devil knows that the way to get to God's people is he's got to go through Jesus, and so the King says, "I've got to get Elisha." That's why the devil wanted to kill Jesus, he thought, "If I can get Christ to bow down to me then I'll have the world." You know, "The sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light." And Christ has warned us, "I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

So, during the night, the king of Syria with his, it says, "A great army," probably wasn't his whole force but it's significant, he's got chariots and horses, he's got a big enough army to surround the city. And maybe the dogs were barking early in the morning, they heard all the horses out there kind of snorting, they're the first to know. And the servant of Elisha, now he's got a new servant because you remember, in chapter 5, Gehazi was stricken with leprosy. Now we're in chapter 6 of 2 Kings, so this young man, he doesn't maybe have the same kind of faith, he wakes up and he says, "Okay, well it's probably time to get up and go draw some water from one of the wells," and he goes out. And the sun is just beginning to illuminate the sky and he sees the glint of something shining and then he realizes, as eyes adjust and he hears the horses and the murmuring of the men, that the city is surrounded by an army. And his heart seizes him with fear and he drops his bucket there at the well and he runs inside and shakes and wakes Elisha, says, "Master, alas, what will we do?"

And Elisha gets up like Jesus when he was woke in the storm and he yawns and stretches and doesn't look at all worried. And he walks to the window and he looks out and he sees the soldiers out there, and he says to the young man, he says, "C'mon, let me get a better view." And they walk out on the roof and there from the roof he can see the Syrian army all around the city. And the young man says, "What will we do? What will we do?" So he said, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

Now, if there was one thing that you can remember today I think that'd be a great part of the sermon to remember, that when you are afraid and you think that the problems are too big or that you're outnumbered or there's no way of escape or there are no solutions. Does the Lord want us to live in fear? How many times does Jesus say, "Do not be afraid"? There in the storm, the disciples woke up Jesus and they said, "We're afraid, we're dying," and he said, "Where's your faith? Why are you so afraid?" "Fear not, fear not, fear not, I am with you,"

God said. "When you go through the water I'm with you, when you go through the fire I'm with you, when you go through the lion's den I'm with you, through the Red Sea, through the Jordan." He said, "I will never leave you or forsake you," but we forget that we don't need to be afraid.

If we are walking with Christ, do you know that you and Jesus are always the majority? You don't ever have to be afraid. He said, "Don't fear, those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

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Doug: Now, Elisha, at this point is he concerned about the Syrian army or is he concerned about the faith of his servant? Elisha wants to disciple his servant the same way that Elijah discipled Elisha. He says, "I want to build faith in him." This is what they would call a teachable moment, "That was a great teachable moment." So one of the first things that Elisha's thinking about is, "Here's this crisis, I'm going to show him I'm not afraid. Because I walked with Elijah, and I know from being with Elijah that, when God pulled aside the veil, I saw chariots and horses of fire around Elijah, that if you're with Elijah you have nothing to be afraid of." And he said, "I need to teach you that if you're with God you have nothing to be afraid of." And Elisha said, "Oh Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Hence the title for this sermon.

Now, Elisha doesn't say, "Open my eyes," he didn't need his eyes opened. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who believe without seeing," but sometimes we need some encouragement, and he said, "Lord, he needs a lesson, open his eyes." And behold, "The Lord open the young man's eyes, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." So, his eyes were opened, he felt much better. Now Elisha walks out of the gates of the city. It says, "The Syrians came down to him," I'm in 2 Kings 6:18, and they think they're getting ready to put them in handcuffs and Elisha prays again. Elisha prays and he says, "Lord," "'Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.' And He struck them with blindness according to the word of," the Lord. So now the whole army goes blind, and I don't know if they just got confused and they couldn't figure out while they were there or if they physically when blind but now they can't see anything, whole army struck blind.

You know, Jesus talked about, "The blind leading the blind." Well, here you have a case of someone who can see leading a blind army. And so Elisha says to him, "You're not looking for me, you're only looking for me because you're really trying to get the king." He said, "This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me, and I'll bring you to the man who you seek." Here you've got Elisha, he hooks his finger in the bridle of the lead horse and he starts walking down the road between Dothan and Samaria with an army in tow. And all these Syrian soldiers are on their horses and they're just totally confused about where they're going.

Wouldn't that have been something? And as the guards are up on the walls they see dust in the distance and they're wondering what's going on. And they said, "There's an army coming, lock the gates, get everyone, get your spears, prepare for battle." And they said, "Yeah, it looks like the Syrian army's coming but they don't look like they're in a war formation, they're just walking down the road. And if we're not mistaken, it looks like Elisha is leading them." And all the Hebrew soldiers gathered around the walls of Samaria and they're looking at this very bizarre sight of Elisha and his servant who's really having a good time now. And he sees the prophet leading the army and he comes within the gates and he yells up to the king of Israel, "Open the gates."

King doesn't argue, they don't look like they're going to, they have no arrows in their bows and they're not ready for battle. They open the gates and into the capital city of the northern kingdom they lead this army. And they bring them all in and they shut the gates, and they're there in the central courtyard of the city and Elisha prays, you know, that prime moment. He says now, "Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see."

You know, it's only being led by Elisha, after being led by Elisha that they could really see; it's only by following Jesus that we ultimately see. "And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and... they were, inside Samaria!" You know, this is a great-great story because here the surrounders became the surrounded, they came to surround Dothan, and the eyes of Elisha's servant are open, he says, "All the chariots and horses of God are surrounding you." And then the soldiers are led inside Samaria. They originally thought, "We've got them where we want them." Now their eyes are open they're going, "Wow, talk about turning the tables." Now they are in the city, the king of Israel who they've been trying to trap has surrounded them, and that's what that must have been a great scene.

Finally, when they got their wits about them and all the Hebrew soldiers are up on the walls and on the roofs and they got their spears ready to launch and their arrows ready to fly and they're just waiting, you know, the little laser beams are on their targets and they're just ready for the word, and the king looks to Elisha and says, "Shall I smite them now? Shall I smite them now? Just give the word, ready, aim, say it, fire." And Elisha says, "No, you're not going to smite them, you've captured them, you captured them all alive, you captured them without firing an arrow." So often, battles in the Bible, God gave deliverance and He says, "You won't even have to fire an arrow," because, "The angel of the Lord encamps round about those that fear Him." And what did he say? People think the Gospel is not in the Old Testament, it certainly is. Elisha said, "Set food and water before them, that they may go to their master."

You know, the teaching of the Bible is, "You overcome evil with good." You don't get anywhere fighting evil with evil. I think it was Gandhi that said, "If the whole world lives by the principle of 'An eye for an eye,'" he said, "Soon the whole world is blind." The way you conquer evil is with kindness. He said, "Give them food, they're probably hungry, give them water, send them home, show them that you're not waging war against them, they're waging war against you and it's unprovoked." So they made a big provision, a big feast. You know, Proverbs says that Solomon said, "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; if he's thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head." Now, it's not saying that in doing this you're going to, "I'm going to burn them up," it means their conscience is going to smite them and they're going to go, "Wow, man, they're being so good to me and I'm being so bad to them."

Some of you might need to practice that, "Overcome evil with good," in your families. You've got somebody that's been given you a hard time, you're looking for a good way to get even? Someone says something that is mean and you say, "I got a good comeback." I got to fight that all the time because, you know, I can think of a clever comeback and do a, "Gotcha," but that's not what Jesus would do. "You have heard it said that, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy!' But I say to you, love your enemies," here Elisha is doing that in the Old Testament, "Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."

You know, this to me is one of the hardest places to be a Christian, is to love those that hate you, to be kind to those who take advantage of you. You've got stories, I've got stories of people that have done maybe very mean things and it's hard to pray that God will love and bless them, but isn't that what we should pray, for their ultimate conversion? "That you might be the sons of your Father in heaven; He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust."

I remember hearing a story about this old Scotsman that had just a mortal enemy. He just hated, he could not forgive. His name was McClintock, McClintock's the old Scotsman. He just spent all this time brooding, thinking of ways to get even with his enemy that, you know, it was like a long-standing feud that had happened with his neighbor in town. And one day, the angel appeared to him, said, "I got good news, McClintock." He said, "Anything you ask now, I will give you," said, "But just know that whatever you ask for, I will give twice as much to your enemy. You ask for a pot of gold, I will give it to you, but your enemy will get two pots of gold. You ask for new horse, I will give him two new horses. You ask for a home with 10 rooms, he gets a home with 20 rooms." That bothered him so much, he was wringing his hands and anxious and stewing about, "What do I want to ask for? I don't want him to get it," and he just could not forgive. And finally, he said, "I want you to strike me blind in one eye."

Some people just never get it. Proverbs 24:17, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles." Peter says, 1 Peter 3:9, "Nor returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you might inherit a blessing." If you are good to those that are unkind to you who will win in the end? God will bless you in the end, He'll bless you with peace for one thing. Because when you're always thinking, bitterness and revenge is like an acid that corrodes the container that holds it.

If you have unforgiveness that you are nurturing in your heart, it is corroding you. So one of the first blessings that comes when you learn to forgive and do good to those that, say, "Look, this is their problem, I'm not going to feel about them the way they feel about me," you'll receive a blessing and the wonderful thing would be if they're converted in the process. Someone said, "Make it a habit of getting even with people, especially the ones who help you." It says, "So he prepared a great feast for them; and they ate and they drank, and he sent them away and they went to their master."

Notice this part, "So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel." What do you know. Here the story starts, they're just going after the king of Israel time and time again, their relentless, they will not give up. How did they finally stop the onslaught? Love them, do something good for them, show them kindness as a way to get even. And now, how did Jesus overcome the evil in this world? He overcame evil with good. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, He didn't wait for us to love Him before He started loving us. While we were His enemies He showed love for us and died for our sins. Why? that the love of God might melt our hearts and that we can learn to love Him in return. That's what the story of the Gospel is.

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Announcer: What if you could know the future, what would you do? What would you change? To see the future, you must understand the past.

Male: Alexander the Great becomes king when he's only 18, but he's a military prodigy.

Male: 150 years in advance, Cyrus had been named.

Male: Rome was violent, they were ruthless, they were determined.

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