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Elisha: Open Our Eyes

Scripture: 2 Kings 6:8-23
Date: 01/21/2006 
This message deals with the fourth dimension of the spiritual realm. Angels are very real and all around us. The story of the servant of Elisha seeing an army surrounding their city ends with Elisha praying that the servant's eyes be opened to see God's mighty army protecting them. Elisha is a type of Christ.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. Pastor Mike just gave me a good announcement to share with you. You remember a couple of weeks ago we talked about the importance of the Bible and Bible study and we said we were going to try to get something into your hands dealing with how to study the Bible and an approach to follow. At the door our ushers will have these for you. They didn’t make it into the bulletin but we want you to have them. We hope that you’re still committed to not only daily Bible study. How many of you are doing your best to maintain daily Bible study, reading, listing, staying in the Word somehow? And we’re also still committed to getting you involved in a Bible study group so you will have these at the door. Praise the Lord!

Good to see each of you here. I want to welcome our visitors. We have a number of people who are visiting from the Empowered Church Program. This is a new program that Amazing Facts has launched this new year where we are training leaders from various churches around the country in some of the principals of evangelism that they can bring back to their churches and incorporate in the dynamics of how to help both encourage church health and also church growth and so we have a number of people who are graduates from that program here and we welcome you today. Our message this morning comes to us from the book of Second Kings. “Open Our Eyes” would be the title. Open our eyes. 2nd Kings chapter 6, and it begins with verse 8. Now you and I are living in what is typically described as the three dimensions of width and height and depth and that really is not all the dimensions there are. The scientists are even now consenting that there are other dimensions we don’t understand.

The Bible teaches that there’s another dimension of the spiritual realm. In this room right now if we were given the perception, the gear that we need to detect that fourth dimension (for lack of a better word) and suddenly your eyes were opened you would see that in this room there are angels. There are good angels and there are probably some bad angels and you would also see that there are struggles that are raging between the forces of good and evil. The battle between Christ and the devil, you and I only see this side of the veil what’s happening, but should the veil be lifted you would see that there’s another whole spectrum that’s going on all the time that most of us are oblivious to. It’d be something like if you could look through an infrared camera. I understand that because of some of the threats of terrorism now that the police are using these very sensitive, they’re something like x-ray cameras but not exactly, and rather than having everyone going into a stadium go through a metal detector, which can be very time consuming, they actually are able to look at people and these detectors will show if they’re carrying any solid metal objects like a pistol or a knife or something and it can detect that as people are going through. And they’re seeing all kinds of things. People are getting pulled out of line all the time because they’re surprised how many folks are packing guns and knives. It gave them a whole new perspective, a whole new dimension. Well, there is a whole spiritual dimension. When Adam and Eve sinned, before sin they were able to talk to God face to face and probably commune with the angels; after sin something happened, it may have been gradual, it may have been very quick, but after they ate that forbidden fruit suddenly their garments of light went out, they saw their nakedness, and at that same time, I believe, they lost the ability to see into this dimension. Now that’s good and it’s bad.

I think right now if you and I had the veil pulled aside it would be terrifying to us to see the forces of the devil that are assailed against us to bring us down. That’d be frightening to know that they’re constantly plotting for our overthrow. It would also be encouraging to know that God has two good angels for every one bad angel that are protecting us and I think God’s angels have taken martial arts or something because they seem to win more frequently. It could be disturbing to you if you knew what was happening behind the scenes, but it also might be encouraging to you at times to know that when you think you’re forsaken and all alone, God is there. This story in the Bible helps to highlight that principle. So once again turn to 2nd Kings 6:8, “Now the King of Syria was making war against Israel; and he took council with his soldiers, his servants, saying, ‘My camp is going to be in such and such a place.’ And the man of God,” Elisha is the prophet they’re talking about, Elisha “sent to the king of Israel, saying, ‘Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are coming down there.’” In other words, the king of Syria is studying the movements of the armies of Israel their enemy. And they said, “You know the key to success in battle is surprise, the most important element. We will ambush them. And we notice that on this day they go down this road in their patrol. We’re going to be there, and we’re going to conquer and kill the king of Israel.” Well, God told this to Elisha the prophet and he said, “Don’t go down this road because there’s an ambush waiting for you.” And the Bible says the king of Israel would send a spy to see if it was true where “the man of God had told him.

Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice.” In other words, on many occasions whenever the king of Syria would try to set an ambush for the king of Israel Elisha would send a message and say, “Don’t go down this road; watch out for this valley; he’s around the back of this rock, these hills with his army and they’re going to jump you. They’ve got a trap. There’s some snare. It’s an ambush.” And every time the king of Israel would send somebody, sure enough there they were waiting for him. How would you like to have an Elisha on your side? You do! And I’ll say more about that in a minute. Well, this was very disconcerting for the king of Syria. Verse 11, “Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and he said to them,” Okay, lock the doors. Fess up! (I’m paraphrasing.) Which one of you “will not snow me” now “which of us is for the king of Israel?” I must have a traitor in my group because I lay these top secret plans, you’re in my innermost council, I tell you what the plans are, nobody knows, we’re very careful to guard these things and he always seems to know what my plans are. One of you is a traitor. Who is it? You know I understand that during World War II of course we know that the Germans, the Nazis were bombing England. Originally they decimated some of the English cities with these bombings and the blitzkrieg but right about the same time the technology of radar was evolving and the English had developed a primitive form of radar and it just turned the tide of the war because they set up this early radar, these systems along the coast of England and they began to see whenever a German bombing raid was coming across the English Channel not only did they see them coming they were able to send up the English RAF fighters to intercept them and time after time they knew exactly where they were going and they’d drop out of the clouds (even though their planes were inferior to the Luftwaffe) these English planes would drop out of the clouds and shoot up the German bombers and the German military was totally bewildered.

They said, “We’ve got a traitor in our midst. Somebody is…” and they did everything to try to encrypt and hide the messages of what the bombing raids would be and they kept wondering, “How do they always seem to know where we’re going in the sky and they meet us?” Well, they didn’t know about their radar. It was still a pretty recent development and it wasn’t that there was a traitor in their midst; they had a new technology to know, it gave them vision, to know where they were going and what they were doing. And it turned the tide of the war for them. And once the Nazis lost the power over the skies they pretty much lost the war because they lost whole advantage, that perspective. God has given you and I an Elisha. He’s given you and I a radar. The Bible tells us that the devil is going around “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour.” That’s First Peter chapter 5, verse 8, you and I must “be sober,” we must “be vigilant” because the devil is constantly seeking to ambush us and overwhelm us, to overthrow us and we need to take advantage of every weapon, every tool we have to know what his devices are. I Timothy 3:7 says that we should be careful lest we “fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” If we’re willing to listen to God’s word He will save us from these ambushes that the devil has planned for us. By keeping our eyes on the Lord we can be safe. What is our weapon? What is our Elisha? Now in this story Elisha is a type of Christ. In many of the stories of Elisha… He was filled with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. The very name Elisha means, it’s very much like the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus is Yaweh-shua meaning Jehovah is savior. Elisha’s name is eliohem-shua, eli-shua. It’s a conjunction of those two words and it means God is savior. Jesus is the Word and Jesus is our Savior and by looking to Him and listening to His council we can be safe and we can understand what the plots and the ploys and the ambushes of the devil are so by keeping our eyes fixed on Christ we can be safe. All through my years growing up we’ve almost always had pet dogs. I think now we have three or four, I don’t remember.

Three? Was four, one ran away. These are some of the dogs up in Covelo. Last week when Daniel came we had two dogs for twenty-four hours. But I remember we had this one dog that would sit at the table and beg. Any of you have those dogs? And my father had trained this one dog where he could throw a scrap down on the floor in front of Zipper, Zipper was the dog beagle, and say, “No,” and the dog, the scrap would be right there by the hungry dog and the dog would not eat the scrap as much as he wanted to. He might be salivating and licking his chops nervously, but he would look at my father. He wouldn’t look at the scrap because he knew if he looked at the scrap he couldn’t resist. And so he just kept looking like this up at my father and he’d say, “Okay, go ahead.” And he’d gulp it up then. The only way for us to be safe against temptation is, don’t look at the object, look at the Lord. And if the king was out patrolling for ambushes on his own, he probably would have fallen into one, but instead he was listening to the word of Elisha and he knew how to avoid it. We keep our eyes on Christ and we’ll stay out of a lot of trouble. He’s our example in these things. Another similar story I heard is back in the early days of falconry. Sometimes they would train falcons or hawks to do hunting. Years ago they didn’t have all the sophisticated trapping methods they have now and they would train these birds to catch small game for them whether it was pheasant or rabbit and then they’d retrieve it. And when they’d go out hunting with their trained falcons and they would release the raptors and they’d take off they’d fly so high that the owners couldn’t even see them. So it was a habit to often take with them a caged smaller bird called a shrike which also has very good vision and they are naturally afraid of falcons and hawks. And if the hunter wanted to see where his bird was, he didn’t look up in the sky. He’d keep looking at his bird because the bird was naturally, constantly watching the hawk and he could tell by the antics of the shrike where the hawk was and what part of the sky and how to follow him back to the game.

In the same way, we must listen to, not a shrike; it’s a dove, the Holy Spirit and it guides us to help us know what way to go and how to avoid those pitfalls of the temptation. So God has given us His word as a weapon. Elijah was the prophet of Israel. As long as they listened to him they were safe. The Bible tells us, Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Elisha was the eyes of the nation, so to speak, that kept them from ambush. If we listen to the prophesies of God it tells us something about what’s coming so we’re not taken by surprise. Why does God give us prophecy? So that we could set up a small business and sell the interpretations to people? Read their palm and tell their future? Take their credit card? So that we could impress people with our knowledge, start a new magazine with tabloid information about what the future really holds? Why does God give us prophecy? First of all, prophecy is redemptive. The purpose of prophecy is not to tantalize us, it’s to redeem; it’s to save. Secondly prophecy increases our faith in God. What do you think it did for the king of Israel every time he sent a messenger when Elisha would say “Watch out there’s an ambush here, there’s an ambush there.” King of Israel would send a messenger to confirm it. He’d come back and say, “Elisha is right again.”

What do you think it did for his faith, his confidence of God? It would multiply and strengthen his faith in God. So the purpose of prophecy is not only redemptive, but it’s to increase our faith in the word of God that He knows the future, which means He knows my future, and I can trust my future to Him. Does that make sense? I think that’s the principle of it. So “the king of Syria is greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants” together, he said, “Which one of you is a traitor?” And one of his servants answered and says, “None of us, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, he is telling the king of Israel your words that you speak in your bedchamber. You might have a top secret meeting, but Elisha has got that inside information. It doesn’t matter if you lock your doors and you seal it with top secret. Whatever you say in your innermost chamber, he knows it.” Matter of fact, there are times when Elisha knew what somebody was thinking. Sometimes the prophets, and there’s one story in the Bible where the king, he sends his wife disguised to the prophet to get some information. The prophet is old and he’s blind. She knocks at the door and this old, blind prophet says, “Come in, wife of the king.” He knew who she was. You can’t hide anything from God. He knows everything. He’s all-knowing and He knows what’s in our hearts, doesn’t He? You know this is one reason that we know Jesus was the Son of God. He was not just another prophet. This is something that separates Jesus from other great prophets and religious leaders. The devil doesn’t even know what you’re thinking. The devil can influence what you’re thinking by putting a thought in your mind. I can influence what you’re thinking.

That’s why I’m paid for. I hope that it’s having an impact on you, but I don’t know what’s going on in your head. The Lord knows how to unscramble your gray matter and to figure out what it is you are thinking. Many times Jesus knew what was in their hearts. He knew what was in the heart of man. You remember these different verses? And the Bible says, “God and God only knows what is in the heart of man.” So nothing was a secret. He has inside information. Luke 12:2, “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and whatever you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops.” Every secret thing is open and naked to the eyes of the One to whom we have to do. So the king said, “Alright, so Elisha is their secret weapon? Obviously our mission is going to be to capture their secret weapon.” Back during the cold war it was a devastating blow to the American Air Force when one of our U-2 planes… They still take off and land even after forty years right here at Beale Air Force Base.

I’ve seen them as I fly in and out of Lincoln. The U-2’s. You can’t miss them. Long, thin wings. They take off just like this because they used to be powered by inferior engines. Now they almost go straight up. They’re able to fly 80,000 feet or something like that. It was so hard for them to be detected. One of our U-2’s got shot down and the Soviets were able to absolutely devour all of the technology that we had developed to try to stay ahead of them in this nuclear race. They got our secret weapon and on other occasions the secret weapons were sold by traitors! And so if you can get your enemies secret weapon then that can sometimes turn the tide of the war. At the same time we were racing with the Manhattan Project to develop the nuclear bomb, the atom bomb Germany was working on it too. Fortunately we were ahead of them and the war ended before they could develop it fully, but that was our, it was the most top secret project. What was the secret weapon in Israel? Elisha the prophet. What made him so powerful? He lived in a mansion, drove a nice car, surrounded by a harem, had all the trappings of worldly success? No, he was a humble, poor prophet, but he was the most powerful person in the nation. Why? Because of his relationship with God. What is it that made the pharaoh tremble when Moses walked before him? Was it Moses was muscle-bound like Samson? We don’t even know if Samson was muscle-bound, do we? What made him so powerful? Why did Ahab tremble before Elijah? Because you and God are a majority.

Doesn’t matter what armies are assailed against you, if you are walking with the Lord you are a powerful force and you are a threat to the enemy. Is your life a threat to the enemy? Elisha was so close to God and the knowledge he had of God was a threat to the enemy. You know I couldn’t help but wonder when the king of Syria said, “Alright, find out where Elisha is,” and his servant said, “Well, we found him. We did a search. We found out where he is. He’s staying in Dothan.” Dothan was a little bitty town. The word dothan means two wells. Some of you remember when Joseph went looking for his brothers, first he looked in Shechem and he couldn’t find them there and someone said, “No, they’re in Dothan.” And it was a place where they used to water their sheep, a little village, low walls just to keep the sheep out. And he wasn’t even in a fortified city. He’s in Dothan, two wells. And I can’t help but wonder, you remember in chapter five of 2nd Kings the Syrian general, commander in chief, or rather the chief general was Naaman, was healed and even though the war between Syria and Israel wasn’t over I can’t help but wonder that when the Syrian king said, “Go capture Elisha.” He may have said, “Go kill him.” And Naaman said, “No, I’m not going to participate in that.” He said, “Alright take him alive.” And Naaman said, “I’m not even going to participate in that.” I have a funny feeling he wouldn’t participate. He knew he was a prophet of God. So they sent an army. And you know they had heard about Elijah praying and fire came down from heaven on fifty soldiers. One of the kings of Israel went to arrest Elijah. He said, “If I’m a man of God let fire come down from heaven!” and fire, whoosh came down, burnt him and his soldiers and their horses to a crisp. Another fifty soldiers, a hundred were burnt, came, said, “Man of God, come down right now. You’re under arrest.”

He said, “If I’m a man of God let fire come down from heaven and burn you and your fifty up.” Whoosh! Fire came down, burned them all up. You know the story. The third time the soldiers came with fifty, the guy got on his knees and just begged him, he said, “Please don’t burn me up! I’m just following orders.” He said, “Okay, since you’re nice, I’ll go.” But the king of Syria they all knew that story and so they said, “Oh, you’re going to arrest the one who has a double portion of Elijah’s spirit!” It says he sent a great army to get this one prophet. The power of God in one person is a force to be considered. You can’t help but wonder also, isn’t it foolish? If Elisha knew the movements of the king of Syria and he was telling the king of Israel wasn’t Elisha going to know when they came after him? If Elisha knew when they were going after the king, wouldn’t he know when they were coming after him? Alright. Back to our story here. “Therefore he sent horses and chariots…” That’s usually reserved for a battle. “…and a great army there, and they came by night and they surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God…” Now this is not Gehazi anymore. Remember Gehazi fled from the presence of Elisha with leprosy because he had gotten greedy. Now he’s got a new apprentice he’s training, young man, no doubt. “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out…” You know you wake up early and they didn’t have running water in their house. Maybe he went to one of the two wells in Dothan and he’s getting water and looks over the low walls and he sees the glint of armor sparkling in the twilight of the morning, hears the snort and stomping of the horses. His eyes clear from the sleep and he finally is able to focus and he sees that their little city is surrounded by a big army of enemy soldiers. He can tell by the armor and the gear that this is a Syrian army.

They are surrounded. And the servant of the man of God went out…” and he ran back in to Elisha and he says, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” It’s hopeless. We’re surrounded. Have you ever been in one of those situations where it looked like there was no way out? It looked like the odds were a thousand to one, that you were surrounded, no escape. You ever felt like that before? That the enemy has hedged you in on every side? And sometimes when we’re tempted by the devil and those clouds of darkness encircle us the devil is able to get us to forget all of God’s blessings and all of His leading. And you know you live in Crescent City for a while and you will think the sun never is going to shine again. There are some towns where it just rains all the time and you forget the sun is always still up there just as bright as it always has been and you just can’t see it so you stop believing in it. Sometimes the problems hedge us in and you think that there’s no way out. Will it ever get better? We’re surrounded. And Elisha it doesn’t even sound like he went outside yet. He calmly said to his servant, “Do not fear.” How many times did Jesus say to us, “Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Why are you so fearful? Don’t be afraid.” Does the Lord want us to live in fear? Why shouldn’t we be afraid? Is the Lord just saying, “Repeat after me, I will not be afraid, I will not… meditate. Think positive, happy thoughts,” or is there a reason to not be afraid? What is the reason? He said, “Don’t be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Now how can that be true? Jesus said, “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it.”

The redeemed in the world, are they the majority or the minority? If you’re looking through the world’s spectacles all you’ll see is there’s a handful, we’ve got a little salt in a world of a lot of lost people. I mean, God couldn’t even find ten in Sodom. “Broad is the way that leads to destruction.” How could he say “more they are that be with us than those that be with them”? Does it feel like that righteousness is the majority in this world? Does it feel like that the saints and the godly are the majority in this world or do we feel like we’re outnumbered? We feel like we’re just a handful. That’s not God’s perspective because He can see on both sides of the veil. Even if one third of the angels follow Lucifer that means two thirds are still with the Lord. How many of them are there? Billions because if everybody’s got an angel and there’s six billion people in the world today, right? So when the Lord says, “There are more that be with us than there are that be with them,” it’s true! You are on the winning team not only by virtue of God having more power in being omnipotent God. That’s why the Bible says, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” The power, if you put Jesus and the devil in a ring together to box, I know where my money is going, right? So not only is Jesus more powerful than the devil, “Greater is He that is in you,” Christ, “than he that is in the world,” the devil, but there are more on our side than their side. So we’re on the winning team by virtue of power and we’re on the winning team by virtue of numbers. You’ve got everything on your side. That’s why it’s really foolish to join the weaker team that has less power and they’re less in numbers. Now he probably didn’t know what Elisha was talking about. “More are they that are with us than they that are with them? What does that mean?” “And Elisha prayed…” This is my prayer for you right now.

He said, “Lord, open his eyes.” And that’s my prayer for me. It’s my prayer for you. Lord, open their eyes that we might see beyond the problem. God is there beyond the problem. It doesn’t matter what your problems happen to be. If you’re overwhelmed with a health problem, there are more that are with us than those that are with the world. Is God bigger than your health problem? If it’s a financial problem… I always like to name the most typical problems. It’s usually health, it’s physical, finances, friends, family, there’s another one. I forget, but these are the problems that people all struggle with. And whatever your problems are, God is bigger than those things. “And he opened his eyes…” Now Elisha, I don’t think Elisha always went around with spectacles where he could see the unseen world. He didn’t say, “Lord, open my eyes.” Elisha didn’t necessarily see the chariots and horses of fire. He knew they were there. He didn’t need to see them. How did Elisha know… Oh, by the way, I jumped ahead of myself. So he prayed and the young man’s eyes were opened and it says, behold, why don’t I read it to you right here out of the Bible? He said, “Lord, open his eyes.” “And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Was God going to forsake His prophet? It wasn’t around the town of Dothan, but they were around the town of Dothan. The focus here, the nucleus of this protection was Elisha. I’ll submit to you that God will empty heaven of every angelic resource rather than allow one of his trusting ones to be overwhelmed by the enemy. The Lord will send every angel in His arsenal to your assistance rather than allow you to be overwhelmed by the enemy if you trust in Him like Elisha did. And here the whole Syrian army thought, “We got him!” you know. They had a hundred Roman soldiers trying to keep Jesus in the tomb. Did it work? One angel was all that God had to send to overwhelm that army. “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.” He said, “‘Lord, open his eyes that he might see.’ And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Had Elisha seen those horses and chariots of fire before? You remember when he was walking with Elijah across the Jordan River and he said, “What is it going to take for me to receive a double portion of your spirit?” He said, “If you see me when I am taken up from you it will be so unto you, but if not it will not be so.” Did Elisha see the heavens part and chariots and horses of fire come down and rapture up Elijah? He saw it; he knew they were there. Now what does this mean? Does this mean that God’s angels gallop around in old Egyptian or Roman chariots in heaven? Or is God using terms and words that you and I can relate to? I don’t think these chariots of fire and horses of fire are necessarily that God is galloping around heaven and his angels with ponies. I think those were the terms of military might in that time and today if the heavens part we might see an arsenal of angels driving tanks, I don’t know. I mean just think about it. What if the heavens had parted, he said, “Lord, open his eyes,” and instead they showed the angels playing harps? That wouldn’t have been too inspiring. That would just seem like there’d be music to slaughter by for the Syrians. It wouldn’t make sense. So He showed him chariots. The angels are there in the context of power to deliver in battle, they weren’t there playing their harps or blowing their trumpets. And so don’t take the horses and the chariots too far. Do angels sometimes appear like men? Angels are ministering spirits of light and evidently they can morph the way the appear sometimes.

Sometimes they appear with wings, sometimes I don’t know if they fold their wings and tuck them under their robes or what they do, but they appeared and they thought they were men until later it was revealed they were angels, right? So I’ll ask my angel when I get to heaven. You can ask yours about how they did all this. I don’t know, but I just didn’t want you to take that part of the story too far. So here you’ve got Elisha and his servant and the people in the village of Dothan and then you’ve got this big, vast Syrian army with their horses and their chariots surrounding this little village. They’re getting ready to come and arrest, they would have slaughtered the whole village just for Elisha. They didn’t care. But then you look beyond that and there’s another ring to the circle. On the mountains and in the sky all around Elisha are the armies of God that are much bigger and more numerous than the armies of the Syrians and any one of God’s angels could have overwhelmed the others. God wants us to know that when we’re scared and when we’re in trouble that we’re not alone. God has angels that encamp around those that fear Him.

Do you know this verse? Psalms tells us that “the angel of the Lord encamps round about those who fear Him and delivers them.” Is that a promise just for Elisha or is that for us? That was written before the days of Elisha by David. Can you count on God’s angels to protect you? Psalm 3:6 (These are good. You ought to write these promises down.) “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me round about.” David said, “I won’t be afraid of ten thousand!” Psalm 27:3, “Though a host an army should encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I’ll be confident.” I’m not going to be afraid because You’re with me. Psalm 34:7, again, “The angel of the Lord encamps around about those who fear Him, and delivers them.” Now how many of you are really worried about waking up tomorrow to find out that there’s horses and chariots that have surrounded you to arrest you or that the police are going to be at your door and you don’t sleep well at night because you think you could be surrounded by an army tomorrow? What’s the army, the ambush that we need to pray about and need deliverance from?

God wants to keep us from sin. He wants to keep us from temptation. So when we pray that God sends His angels to encamp around us is it just to keep us from dashing our foot against the stone, physical harm, or is it to keep us from spiritual harm? If we pray and we trust in the prophet of God and the word of God He will send His angels to keep us. When you pray the Lord’s Prayer “keep us from temptation” you’re asking Him, I believe, to send angelic help to keep you and also they protect us physically. How many of you know that an angel got your wheel, your car and saved you just in the nick of time or something touched your brakes and it wasn’t you and kept you from an accident. I remember there’s a story in Billy Graham’s book about angels of some missionaries, the Patton missionaries that were in the New Hebrides Islands and a husband and a wife and they had told them to leave because they didn’t want their religion but they felt that God wanted them to say and so finally the chief had rallied all the villagers and they were going to attack and to kill this pastor and his wife. And they’re going through their war dance one night on the verge of attack and the pastor and his wife spent the night on their knees. There was no way of escape. They never did attack. A month later he was allowed into the village, and he began to share the gospel with the chief who was finally converted and through a translator he asked the chief, he said, “Why didn’t you attack us that night when you had the battle array and you were all ready to attack?”

He said, “Because you had all those men with you.” He said, “There were no men. What are you talking about?” He said, “There was a bunch of very tall, shining men with burning swords all around your camp. We couldn’t come.” What do you think they were? Angels. God sends His angels to protect those who are doing His work. Now this is great, verse 18, “So when the Syrians came down to him,” they approached the village, “Elisha prayed” now again, he says, “‘Lord, strike this people, I pray, with blindness.’ And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.” And “Elisha said to them, ‘This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me, and I’ll bring you to the man whom you seek.’ But he led them to Samaria.” Now Samaria is the fortified capitol of the northern kingdom, plenty of horses and chariots there. It was headquarters for the king and he had his whole army, his republican guard, so to speak, there with him, all the green berets. And so here is this army that gets blinded. He prays, this one man prays. It’s such a joke now when you think that the Syrian king thought that he could capture Elisha. He just says, “Lord, strike this whole army with blindness.” He had just prayed, “Lord, open this young man’s eyes.” And the eyes of the servant of Elisha were opened and who does Elisha represent? Jesus. If you serve Jesus He, will open your eyes. And then he prays another prayer and he says, “Lord, close their eyes.” You know there were many of the religious leaders that were enemies of Christ and He said, “They are blind leaders of the blind.” And if the blind lead the blind they’ll fall in the ditch. And Elisha says, “I’ll take you where you’re going. You don’t want me anyway. You’ve been trying to get the king.

You’re just getting me as a means to an end.” And so Elisha hooks his finger in the bridle of the lead horse and this old prophet starts walking down the road about twelve miles from Dothan to Shechem or to Samaria and that must have been, people must have come out of their villages and seen this strange sight. Here was Elisha and he’s leading a whole army by the nose. They’re all blind. Now the horses aren’t blind so they’re just following the lead horse. How many of you would like video of that? That would have been something to see, Elisha with his servant beaming. He was so afraid of the army, now they’re leading them by the nose into the heart of Israel territory and it tells us that he brings them right into the capitol city. “So it was, when he came to Samaria, Elisha says, ‘Lord, now open the eyes of these men, that they might see.’ And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; they were inside Samaria!” Now you have to read into the story a little bit what’s probably going on. I can just see it now. Watchmen are on the walls in Samaria and they say, “We see dust in the background,” which is the sign of an approaching army, a cloud of dust. And it’s getting closer. And all of the soldiers they sound the alarm and all the soldiers get their bows and they get their spears and they get their shields and they get up on the walls. They prepare for battle and they’re watching. They’re always on guard against the Syrians. And they say, “It looks like there’s a Syrian army, but they’re not charging and they don’t seem poised for battle.

They’re going awful slow.” And as they got closer they said, “It looks like they’re being led by an old man!” Their bows aren’t strung with arrows, matter of fact; they all look a little confused. There must have been something different about the body language of these soldiers because they’re blind; they don’t know where they’re going. They’re just probably sitting on their horses, and whole army like that in their chariots trying to hang on, don’t know where they’re going, and as they get closer Elisha shouts up to the king, he says, “Open the gates!” “What? You want them in?” “Open the gates!” you don’t argue with Elisha. They opened the gates. They bring them into their big courtyard in the middle of this city and all the soldiers now are on the roofs and the walls, arrows in their bows, spears ready to hurl, and then Elisha says, “Close the gates.” I know it’s not in the Bible, but use your imagination. It could have been. And then he prays, “Lord, now open their eyes.” You’ve been wanting the king of Israel; there he is. And they look around and all of a sudden they see where they are. Now whether they physically went blind or their minds were clouded where they just didn’t know what was going on, I don’t know how God did it, but somehow they didn’t know what was going on, all of a sudden they have lucidity.

They’re able to realize, “We are now… instead of the ones surrounding Elisha we are the surrounded!” The tables had turned and the king of Israel he is just, he’s been waiting for this moment. He’s chomping at the bit, he says, “Now we’ve got them where we want them. Say the word! Ready, aim, fire, and we’re going to just rain spears and arrows down on them.” Isn’t that what you would do? “Now when the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” Give the word! Say fire, say attack, something. And Elisha is saying, “No, these are my captives. We’re going to treat them right. You didn’t catch them. I caught them. Go get your own army.” Can you understand why when Elisha died the king of Israel wept at his bed and he prayed and he said, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horseman thereof”? It really was true that he was the chariot and horseman of Israel. He’d captured a whole army with a prayer.

He said, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword?” They’re your captives. “Set food and water before them, that they might eat and drink and go to their master.” You’re not going to win this never-ending battle between Israel and Syria with anger. Overcome them with goodness. Give them something to eat and send them home otherwise they’re just going to keep coming back. You know, who was it, Gandhi that said, “If the whole world lives by the principle of an eye for an eye soon the whole world is blind.” You must overcome evil with good. Overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Matthew 5:43, Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you might be the sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” I Peter 3:9, “Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary…” How do we fight wickedness? “…blessing knowing that you were called to this, that you might inherit a blessing.” Do you want to inherit a blessing?

Then don’t reward evil with evil. And you know there’s a natural tendency to want to get even, I mean, after all they have done, the Syrians have done to us here’s our chance to get even. To forgive is divine. Proverbs 25:21, this is a perfect fit, “If your enemy is hungry,” do what? Feed him. It’s also quoted in Romans 12:20. “…give him bread to eat; If he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head…” That doesn’t mean that you’re dumping coals on him; that means his conscience is going to bother him that you’ve been so good. “…and the Lord will reward you.” You don’t overcome evil with evil, you overcome evil with good and He will reward you. Now this is an interesting story because it’s all about opening and closing eyes. There’s a time to pray that the eyes of believers will be opened to know that we’re not alone, that God will protect us. He said to his servant, “Lord, open his eyes,” and did God open his eyes?

He gave him that spiritual discernment. There is a time to pray that eyes would be closed. I’ve heard stories before where Brother Andrew and others have smuggled Bibles into the Soviet countries or when Karen and I took our Final Events DVD into China we prayed that the eyes would be closed as we brought them in. you know what I’m saying? There’s a couple times in the Bible, how many of you remember this story? I’ve gone longer than I planned here, but… Acts chapter 9 when Paul was converted he was on his way to kill Christians and he was struck with blindness. Once he repented his eyes were opened. Isn’t that right? Then later in Acts 13, now Paul is preaching, they’d gone through, this is verse 6, “When they’d gone through to the island of Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus.” Do you know what that means? Son of Jesus. A false prophet named Jesus. There’s going to be more in the last days. “…who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man.” There was a good man named Sergius Paulus who was being misled by a false prophet, an intelligent man, good man.

He was the leader. “This man” Sergius Paulus “called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas this false prophet (for that’s his name translated) withstood them,” arguing the truth, trying to resist it “seeking to turn the leader away from the faith. Then Saul, who is also called Paul…” This is the first place Saul is called Paul. You wonder if he took the name of Sergius Paulus. That’s where he got his name. “Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked at this false prophet and said to him, ‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease from perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” God is good. He was even being merciful to this false prophet. You’re going to be blind for a while. Paul was blind for a while. Even Jesus blinded the eyes of his two disciples on the road to Emmaus because they would have been so excited to know he was alive they wouldn’t have heard what he was saying. So sometimes you want to pray that God will close a person’s eyes and sometimes you want to pray that God will open their eyes depending what the circumstances are, right? But the purpose is to save. Why did Elisha bring them into the city?

To save them, to feed them and then let them go, and isn’t that why we come to Jesus? He feeds us with the bread of heaven and then He lets us go. You know this is a wonderful story in the Bible because it tells the principle of salvation, trusting God that He’s with us and then also forgiveness. You don’t overcome evil with evil, you overcome evil with good. So often we’re tending towards vengeance. It’s like this old angry Scottish man named Old McClintock. He had a mortal enemy that he just hated and always wished everything terrible would happen to this mortal enemy.

God sent an angel to him one time. He said, “Old McClintock, the Lord has sent me to tell you that you could ask whatever you want and I will do it for you, but before you ask know whatever you pray for your mortal enemy gets twice as much. If you pray for a pot of gold, he gets two pots of gold. If you pray for a house with ten rooms, your enemy gets a house with twenty rooms.” Oh, that was a really hard thing for him! He began to wring his hands and snarl and scowl and finally he says, “I know what I want! Strike me blind in one eye.” So his enemy… he couldn’t just take a blessing and stand that his enemy would get blessed twice as much. Is that the spirit of God? You know what we can learn from this story, the story here in the Bible? Don’t be afraid when you look at your circumstances. God is bigger than your circumstances. There are more that are with us than those that are with the devil. Turn to the Lord in prayer and ask for help when it seems like you’re surrounded and he can completely change your circumstances. That day the ones who were surrounding Elisha became the ones surrounded. God is in the business of turning the tables, isn’t He? And furthermore when God does give you the upper hand don’t gloat. Love your enemy, forgive your enemy. It’ll be the means of saving them. God loves Syrians too, doesn’t He?

He wants to see everyone saved. Sometimes we are spiritually blind. We don’t see things through God’s eyes. All we see is the human perspective and we want to pray that God will open our eyes and help us to see what His plan is for our life. Amen? You know we don’t have our closing song in our hymnal today. We’re going to sing that chorus I think many of you have seen before, they’ll put it up on the screen for you, “Open Our Eyes,” we want to see Jesus. This story is a picture of Jesus in the person of Elisha who is a type of Christ. Did nothing to hurt that day, he did everything to save and to strengthen their faith and to bring peace and that’s like Jesus, our prince of peace. Amen? If you’d like to know Him better let’s stand and sing this together and make it a prayer in your heart that God will open our eyes and give us His vision. We’ll sing it through twice and then I’ll have prayer.

Open our eyes, Lord, We want to see Jesus, To reach out and touch Him, And say that we love Him. Open our eyes, Lord, And help us to listen. Open our eyes, Lord, We want to see Jesus.

Before we sing it the second time, I just feel impressed to stop right here. There may be some of you who have been feeling until this morning that you have been surrounded, that the enemy has laid a snare an ambush for you everywhere you turn and you’d like to be plugged in to Elisha, have that secret weapon in your heart and mind guiding you and keeping you out of trouble, keeping you safe. You’d also like to have your eyes open to know that things are not what they appear to be. There is a whole other word behind the veil that you and I can’t see where Someone is there with more power and more numbers and those angels that will help us. If you’d like to ask the Lord to help you look beyond these trials or clouds, whatever the situation might be, and just strengthen your faith. You may have some special need you’d like to bring before the Lord, ask for special prayer this morning, as we sing this through the second time before prayer, come. We’ll bring this situation… we’ll bring it before the Lord. Most of all we want you to know “Elisha” who is our Savior our Jesus. Come we’ll sing it again.

Open our eyes, Lord, We want to see Jesus, To reach out and touch Him, And say that we love Him. Open our eyes, Lord, And help us to listen. Open our eyes, Lord, We want to see Jesus.

Dear Father, we are so thankful for these stories in the word that really teach us the lessons of faith and this true story can still be true today. We sometimes forget that You are there. Our eyes and vision is clouded simply by the problems and the darkness that surrounds us. We don’t know which way to go and we say, “Alas, what shall we do?” We are so thankful that the word of Jesus can be heard through the storm saying, “Do not fear. There are more that be with us than those that be with them.” Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world, that if you are Christ’s then indeed you are on the winning team no matter what the circumstances might look like. Lord, I pray that You will open our eyes and help us to have more faith, help us to see beyond the circumstances those chariots and horses of fire that are there sent to our aid. And when temptation comes, when the battles rage I pray that the clouds will part and we’ll see that Christ is there on our behalf. Be with these dear people, Lord. These are Your people. Sometimes we feel like the minority in this battle between good and evil.

Help us realize that we are not alone, that while there may be few in the world there are many in Your creation. I also pray that you’ll be with whatever problems they’ve brought before You this morning. Lord, we all struggle. We all wrestle with temptation. Help us to have victory through Christ and be overcomers. There are struggles in the family, bring peace into those situations and Christian harmony. Some are struggling with situations in their bodies and their health. It may be where they work or with their finances and whatever the problems are, Lord, again we pray that You would provide the answers. Strengthen our faith. In a few moments, Lord, we’re going to have a benediction. We’ll exit this place then I pray that we’ll know that we’re not alone. Sometimes we think that You’re here when we meet with You because this is Your house, but in reality You’ve promised to be with us always. Help us to remember that we’re walking with You. Thank You. Be with us through this Sabbath and through this week and bring us to that day where we can look up and say, “Lord, You are our God and You will save us.” We pray these things believing in Christ’s name. Amen.

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God Cares: The Message of Daniel by Mervyn Maxwell

God Cares: The Message of Daniel by Mervyn Maxwell
God's Promises




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