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Seeing the Chariots of Fire

A Word for Today | 2 Kings 6:15-17

One of my favorite Old Testament stories took place when the prophet Elisha was surrounded by enemy horsemen.  In this situation, his servant was surprised that the prophet did not seem to be distressed.  “Alas, my master!  What shall we do?” he cried (2 Ki. 6:15).  Elisha responded, “Do not be afraid.”  Don’t be afraid!  They were only surrounded by enemies with no route of escape!  But Elisha explained why: “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Ki. 6:16).  We can imagine that the servant stuck his head over the walls for a peak, trying to see the ones who were on their side.  Only he did not see any such people!  Therefore, the prophet prayed, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.”  The Lord answered this prayer, so that his eyes were opened and “he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Ki. 6:18).

This little episode tells us important things as we struggle in the Coronavirus crisis.  First, we find that God is present with his people in times of trouble.  Although it seemed that Elisha and his servant faced danger alone, in truth they did not.  Elisha knew that this because he has been through such situations before.  Indeed, we may trust that one of God’s purposes in trials is to train us to trust in his presence and help when we are in great need.  Psalm 34:7 states: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”  We may therefore trust that God’s unseen help (and helpers) is in our midst in times of fear or doubt.

The second thing we learn is that knowing God’s presence is the key to comfort instead of distress.  There were two men in this episode, both in the same situation, but one was overwhelmed by distress while the other remained strong and calm.  The difference was knowing that God is with us.  As our current pandemic has shown us, we never know what the next day will bring.  So in a world as uncertain as ours, we need to know the reality of God’s saving presence in our lives.  God has assured those who believe in Jesus, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

Third, notice that God opens our eyes to see in answer to prayer.  I do hope we are all praying during this time of anxiety.  Please pray for God’s help and deliverance, together with his protection for those we love.  But we might also pray Elisha’s prayer: “O Lord, open our eyes so that we may see.”  The chariots of fire are around us, and while we may not perceive them by sight, our faith will know their presence.  And remembering that God is with us will give us peace.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Phillips

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