May 26, 2019
Pastor John Hering
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
2 Kings 6:15-17
We have plenty to worry about. Those who graduated will begin a new life at a new school with no one they know. What do you worry about? Not having a positive impact on the world? Losing your best friend over a long distance relationship? Avoiding people who will get you into trouble? Being accepted for who you are? What are your top fears? Public speaking, heights, bugs, blood and needles, darkness, clowns? I think moms are the queens of worry! “Put your coat on or you’ll catch a cold! Don’t cross your eyes or they’ll stay that way. If you break your leg falling out of that tree, don’t come running to me!”
Yes, we are all surrounded by plenty of dangers every day from germs to meteorites falling. It is estimated that about 500 meteorites reach the surface of the Earth each year, but less than 10 are recovered. And you’ve all heard the stats about dying from plane or car crashes, right? By comparison, you have a 1 in 1000 chance to die in a car crash, and 1 in 70,000 chance to die in a plane crash. Then add to the worldly dangers the power of sin’s guilt, Satan’s temptations and your own death and the threat level grows even higher! But, I want you to think of it like this today. When there is a high threat of terror at an airport, the TSA increases their vigilance in order to protect the flying public. In the same way, the higher the threat of danger in our life, the level of safety in our gracious God is even higher. How can we know? Let’s dive into 2 Kings together so our eyes of faith can be opened even wider to see our lives:
Surrounded by Danger Surrounded by God
Who Outnumbers them
Who Overpowers them
Who Outnumbers Them!
Today’s lesson recalls Elisha and his servant—some think it was Gehazi, but I don’t. Gehazi was there and watched Naaman wash seven times in the river and be healed of leprosy. Elisha did this for Naaman without cost, but Gehazi ran after Naaman and suggested that he should give his gifts to him to give to the prophets. But, he was lying and Elisha caught him in his lie and he ended up with leprosy. So, the servant in this lesson is probably the next fella. Anyway – he would have seen a menu of miracles by Elisha by this time. He saw Elisha cause an Ax head to float. Next the King of Aram was trying to attack Israel, but every time he sent his army Elisha learned from the Lord where they were heading and told the King of Israel so that they were waiting for them. The king of Aram sent soldiers to capture Elisha and that’s were our lesson picks up.
“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.”
“What shall we do” really meant, “Elisha, what miracle are you going to do to get us out of this mess?” Elisha is like an emergency rescuer looking into the eyes of a panicked victim and says, “Calm down! I’m here to help!” Elisha’s response is filled with faith, “Don’t be afraid,” As he looks into the eyes of the servant and says, “Calm down! God is here to help!”
Fear cripples when we respond with our natural instincts and try to change or avoid the situation, but just can’t. Sadly, worrying gives more credit to dangers than to God. Sinful worrying tells God that he has less influence on our decisions, plans, and lives than whatever it is that we’re fearing. Then worrying robs us of confidence in God and before you know it, we’re caught blaming God with words like this, “We just can’t catch a break!” Really? Are we going to blame God? What we really need to fear is God doing what we ask him to do, not pay attention to us, or allow fears to have their way with us! However, thanks be to God he is merciful and often doesn’t give us what we ask, and never sits by idling watching, but is as Jesus promised, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:20).
It was time for Elisha to help his servant. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Yes, they were surrounded by danger, but that danger was surrounded by God’s army that outnumbered them. That was enough to keep Elisha and his servant from being afraid.
So calm down, dear Christian! You may be facing trouble, challenge or danger, but you and God are always a majority in the battle. Maybe your fear that makes you worry are your sins. But, the Bible says in one place his forgiveness is more, in another place it is doubled, and in another place Jesus said his forgiveness is 77 times greater! So, tell me again, why are you worrying about being surrounded by the enemy of doubt over the forgiveness for your sins? Maybe worrying about the danger of stress piled high on your shoulders. Could it be worry that surrounds you concerning disability, disease, or even the end of your life? Dear friends, God’s promises stretch to the heavens with thoughts that are higher than your thoughts, and ways that are better than your ways. God’s promises surround the danger of life and go way beyond this earthly life and stretch into eternity. God’s promises outnumber any fears. So rest secure when you’re surrounded by dangers, surrounded by God! For our God is the God
Who Overpowers Them!
A worried mom wondered where her daughter was on a rainy school-day afternoon. She should have been home from the bus stop by now. And the thunder was pounding and lightning flashing. So mom put on her coat and headed down the street in the drenching storm. She spotted her daughter walking slowly, playfully stepping into the puddles. “Where have you been?” the mother demanded. “Don’t you know how dangerous it is out here?” “But Mom!” answered the wide-eyed little girl, “this is fun! It’s like you said, the angels are bowling and God is taking my picture.” Funny how we can explain away fears to a little child with word pictures and then they turn around and remind us to trust in God as well! That’s why Elisha prayed for his servant, “And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” In Elisha’s day he was viewing what they knew to be the best an army had to offer—horses of power and chariots of safe journey. If the Lord would open up our eyes to see what was on the trees over our heads, we might see stealth fighters and missile intercepting radars. Whatever Satan brings to the fight, God brings something greater. And did you notice the fire of chariots? The fire in Scriptures is often used for God’s intensity—both in his seriousness to the law, and in his power over all things. We get the point of their panoramic view—God was going to protect them even if it meant overpowering the enemy with crushing strength.
Can you think of something that fills your heart with peace and joy because you know your enemies have been overpowered? It is our victory in Jesus. Jesus stepped into the fires of hell as he hung on the cross for you. Then after being placed in the tomb, Jesus rose on the 3rd day and descended into hell to proclaim his victory over Satan and death. Jesus then left the rooms of hell and appeared to many witnesses to show he had overpowered the enemies of God. This Thursday marks 40 days after the resurrection of Jesus. This marks his triumphant ascension into heaven as our prophet, priest and king. The Word Jesus proclaimed is true! His sacrifice on the cross for the payment of our sins is paid in full. And Jesus is our King who has overpowered every enemy of our life. The victory is ours for Jesus’ sake! Believe it!
I know you believe it, but I know you’re like me and you’ll still have your days when you feel surrounded by enemies of your life and faith. When those days come along, please don’t go to plan “B” and worry. Why? Because studies have been done and it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worry about never happens. And for those things that did happen, 80% of people discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. The truth for us to take home today is this: The power of God always trumps the threat of danger in our lives. When you’re surround by danger, remember that you’re surrounded by God who outnumbers them and overpowers them for Jesus’ sake. Amen!