By Means of Grace; Staying One Step Ahead of the Enemy
2Kings 6:8-23 September 20, 1998
The Syrian king now, after Naaman, was ungratefully at war with Israel again. Naaman was healed. The axehead miracle went on to further reveal the redemption of a borrowed life fallen into the river of sin to be made useful again. But then the rage of the enemy rises up in renewed attack (Syria). But victory is in the H.S. and the perseverence of grace. The hand of man (Ben Hadad) is set to do evil but God is able to thwart it. God first cleansed the commander and now gives a second message to the king. There is no mention here of Naaman being a part of it. Ben Hadad left God out, but God uses a unique way to thwart him - not by battle, but by grace. God is not bound by always using the same means of deliverance - this keeps us focused on him rather than on secondary causes.
1. The mind of man plans evil. (v. 8)
2. The mind of God plans to undo evil. (v. 9-10)
Cosmic knowledge - not like the President’s cosmic ball.
The providence of God.
H.S.: God’s CIA
It is the ‘man of God’ that God speaks to in warning and using him to warn others. Our gifts (like spiritual knowledge) are to be used for the good of others. God is merciful to warn us of danger - warning both saint and sinner who will listen - it is up to us. We should be thankful when warned. The pride of our own way leads to a fall. The enemy seeks us and lies in wait. Beware of certain places. God makes provision for our security if His security is what we desire. There is surely spiritual danger as physical.
3. Opposing God’s plans is frustrating. (v. 11)
This can cause infighting in the enemy camp.
4. Frustration can lead toward the providence of divine truth.
The enemy would discover that their frustration was not with Elisha but with God.
5. Our search for truth is tainted by evil motives. (vv. 13-14)
Why didn’t they think that this action would not be revealed?
The king had some regard for Elisha’s message or he would have disregarded it, but not full confidence or he would not have investigated it. It didn’t occur to him that it was God who troubled his efforts at war - he sought a natural explanation, like a traitor in the camp. Indeed there was, but not what the king assumed. But even the pagans have some knowledge of God, as witnessed one of his servants about the true cause. He may have been one who witnessed the healing of Naaman. The spirituality and power of a true servant of God in recognized even by his enemies. The king thought he could effectively remove one who was aware of his every move. He was still unwilling to see he was fighting against God. The enemy (Satan) comes at night while we are sleeping. God chose not to warn Elisha of this. He allows the enemy his way at times only to accomplish a greater purpose. The uneasy conscience of the king sends a strong force to take this one man, Elisha.
6. God’s motives are to transform us. (v. 15)
God sets up an opportunity - for the enemy force, for the prophet’s servant, for Elisha, for the king of Israel.
No need for fear.
7. Transformation happens when we witness God’s power. (v. 16)
8. God’s power is available to those with faith. (v. 17)
The army of the Lord revealed.
It strikes fear into the heart of his servant. The immature in faith are as little children, but we must learn to see where power lies. The foes of a Christian are even more formidable (Eph. 6:12), but Elisha’s response works well for us too (1Jn. 4:4). Elisha (not ‘the man of God’ - he is now spoken of in a personal rather than a professional status) prays God’s sight also upon his servant even though he is at peace already. He did not scold him. Elisha already saw the heavenly force. It is possible to have eyes but not see. There is such a thing as spiritual sight. It comes with maturity and experience. Perhaps the appearance as horses and chariots were the form the angels took to confront the force against them. What enemies do we face? The Lord is able to come a force we can understand and have confidence in (Ps. 34:7; Heb. 1:14; Rom. 8:31). The horses and chariots of earth cannot compete with those of fire. So God opens our eyes.
9. God’s power is displayed to those with faith. (v. 18)
God’s disables his enemies.
So God opens our eyes. He can also close them. Elisha prays again and the enemy force is blinded. Elisha stood his ground (Prov. 28:1; Lev. 26:7-8), waiting as the enemy advanced, knowing that deliverance was at hand. He did not pray their death but their deliverance into his hands that he might deal effectively with them. He did not meet them in his own strength but in God’s. His purpose was stated in 5:8 when he desired that the Naaman shall “know that there is a prophet in Israel”. Here comes further proof now for the king himself. But it would be proof of God and not Elisha (1Cor. 10:31). This God is the same for us today (Mal. 3:6).
10. God’s power brings his enemies before him. (v. 19)
Elisha led them to Samaria so they might see God.
11. God’s power compels his enemies to understand their futile position. (v. 20)
Elisha did not abandon them in their blindness but led them to where they needed to go. They were like goats that didn’t recognize the voice of a stranger (Jn. 10:5) even though they might have recognized Elisha’s appearance. He would bring them to the one they sought, the king of Israel. He didn’t lie to them. And he stayed with them. Even more that this, he would bring them to know the mercy of God, the One whom all men must truly seek.
12. The position of God’s enemies is complete vulnerability. (v. 21)
Truly, the enemy force was up against a brick wall, inside the fortified city of Samaria - the condition of any enemy of God except for grace and mercy.
13. The power of God is most profoundly revealed by grace. (v. 22)
Rom. 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
14. It is by means of grace that the opposing heart of man is transformed toward God. (v. 23)
What the enemy saw in God was the power of peace and not war.
God let them go in peace that they might live in peace and proclaim peace.
Elisha protects them against the vengeance of the king of Israel in the manner of Christ interceding for us. They were God’s captives, not the captives of the king of Israel. The king of Israel did not have his eyes open to God’s plan. The restraining hand of God is upon all those who are in his protective care. And even though Elisha is in the royal quarters, he uses the full authority that God gives him to protect and provide and carry out God’s plan (Rom. 12:17-21). And the plan of God is to reveal himself infinite in power as well as plenteous in mercy. The result was peace, by means of grace, staying one step ahead of the enemy by the power of God. Our enemies are blind to God. Shall we not pray for them and help them to see? What they shall see is God. And God shall protect us even in the process. Even though the enemy desires us harm, we shall not for them (Mt. 5:44). We shall return blessing for curse, and they shall be changed by the power of God, by the power of grace, even as we were when we were the enemies of God.
God is able, by his divine initiative and intelligence, not only to stay one step ahead of the enemy, but to put the enemy in step with himself - by means of grace. Are there difficult people in your life? God’s grace is an amazing weapon - not of destruction but of reconciliation.
Eph. 2:4-5 ¶ But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved.