A Scripture study from Caring, part four of four.
I love the Old Testament prophets. They were bold, sometimes outrageous, fierce in their commitment to speak God’s truth, human, sometimes distraught by the world’s condition, and they possessed audacious faith. When I grow up, I want to be like them.
We have an enemy, who wants us to cower in fear when uncertainty comes our way or when life gets hard. In John 10 Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd and the gatekeeper. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” We have an enemy, but God is greater.
In nature, there are scores of animals with physical characteristics that are there to protect them, to oftentimes make them look bigger than they are and to strike fear into their enemy. The frilled lizard, lionfish, pufferfish and porcupines come to mind. Bears will stand up on their haunches rising up to their full height. I would like to suggest that our enemy often uses the same tactics. And, at that point, it’s important for us to remember just how big our God is.
Behind the scenes
Read what Scripture says in 2 Kings 6:8-23.
It seems this is an appropriate story for times like these. First, I will say that there is a very real need to take precautions and to make decisions that will help protect yourself and the community around you. Second, the need to be aware and cautious is not the same as being ruled by fear.
The King of Aram was at war with Israel. Israel had a real, physical enemy who desired to do the people harm. That reality is not to be minimized or dismissed. They would have been foolish to ignore the movements of the Aramean army. And, they would have been equally foolish to dismiss the words of instruction and warning they received from Elisha.
Now, we may not have an army breathing down our necks, but that does not mean we are without threats; they’re just different in the 21st century. The enemy may be downsizing at work, it may be a relationship that has gone bad, it may be anxiety, it may be mental illness, it may be addiction, or as we have all become aware, it may be a highly contagious virus.
The thing the enemy of our souls wants us to believe is that we are somehow outnumbered and all alone in the fight. But what the enemy knows is that we are anything but alone and outnumbered.
Beyond the surface
The King of Aram became fixated on Elisha who was foiling his plots to rout Israel. He sends “horses and chariots and a strong force” (a bit of overkill to capture one prophet) to surround the city of Dothan.
Elisha’s servant wakes up and sees all those surrounding the city and is dismayed. I would be, too. You can almost see the pacing and the hand wringing. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15).
This next scene is what we need to remember and take to heart in those moments we feel outnumbered and overwhelmed.
Elisha doesn’t skip a beat. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16). Then he prays that his servant will be able to see what Elisha sees.
The servant’s eyes are opened “and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17).
What battles are you facing today?
You are not alone! The God of Elisha, who sent heaven’s army to defend him, is still present with us. God—present with us—gives us the strength to do what we must. God—present with us—gives us the courage for the battle. God—present with us—gives us a place of refuge when we feel we are at our wit’s end.
Between the lines
To conclude this study, take in the words of Psalm 121. Read it slowly, consider its promises and the affirmations of God’s presence and protection.
The world is in a state of flux and uncertainty. This is not the first time in human history, and it is likely to not be the last. Amidst uncertainty, we can believe and trust in the certainty of the presence of God.
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