Let's turn to II Kings chapter 6.
Sometime back, I preached on the first few verses of this passage and now I want to use the last few verses of this passage for a different sermon. This, of course, is one of the miracles of Elisha that we're fixing to look at in II Kings 6:13. I want to begin with verse 13 and go on down through verse 23. The emphasis this time will be on the last four or five verses of the passage.
Now, let's go ahead and read the Scripture first and then I'll talk a little more about it. "He said," in verse 13, "Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! How shall we go? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
When they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, "Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria. And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see."
"And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? Shall I smite them? And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master. And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel."
Now, in case you may not remember the background of this, just previous to these Scriptures that I've read to you now, we need to remember that Ben-hadad had decided to have war with Jehoram of Israel, (or Joram it's spelled in some places). And he had set an ambush for the king of Israel, which God had revealed to Elisha, who warned the king of Israel, who then avoided the ambushes of the Syrian king.
After several unsuccessful atempts, Ben-hadad made inquiries thinking that he had a traitor in his camp warning Jehoram of his ambushes he was setting for the king of Israel. He couldn't understand how the king of Israel could know about it every time he set a special ambush for him secretly, and then the king of Israel never would come to this place that he had been coming often before. And so, he thought he had a traitor in his camp that was warning Joram or Jehoram about the ambush. But he learned that it was Elisha who was miraculously revealing all of his war plans to the king of Israel, because God was revealing it to His prophet, Elisha, and Elisha was warning the king of Israel to stay away from these places where Ben-hadad was setting the ambushes for him.
So Ben-hadad decided that he had to do something about this. And he made inquiries, and found out that Elisha was at Dothan. He then sent a host of soldiers and chariots there to seize Elisha. He was going to take care of this troublesome fellow. The soldiers came to Dothan and surrounded it by night, as we read to you. And that was when Elisha performed the miracle of opening the spiritual eyes of his servant, that he might see the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, round about Elisha.
Now this message is not about the opening of eyes. There was another miracle before that we have preached about which was about the opening of eyes. But this one we want to look at today in a particular way is about the closing or the blinding of eyes. Just the opposite of the other miracle.
Elisha, we find here, did not flee nor fear these hosts of the evil king. But he calmly stood his ground, because he knew who was going to win the war, didn't he?
You know, I usually, whenever I get a good chance, like to tell the story about a pastor in the early days in Texas. And the story goes like this: "The pastor was always doing something that his deacon didn't think was right. Not only did this deacon think these things were not right, which the pastor was always doing, but the deacon was always watching, trying to catch the Pastor in something. But every time he'd catch the pastor in something, the pastor would quote a verse of Scripture to him to justify it. Anything he did, it didn't make any difference what the pastor was doing and the deacon caught him doing it, the pastor would quote a verse of Scripture to justify whatever he was doing.
And so, one day the deacon went out in his back yard. He heard a noise in his smokehouse. Some of you perhaps don't know what a smokehouse is, but in the old days in America, they used to build a little house out behind the main house, (they didn't have refrigeration, of course) and they would put their meat in there, and smoke it, and that would preserve it. The smoking also gave it a good flavor as well.
And they'd keep their meat hanging in this little smokehouse. They would use it as they needed it, of course. So the deacon heard a noise out there in his smokehouse one day and went to check it out, and there was the pastor just fixing to cut down one of his big, juicy hams. The deacon said, "Aha, I've got you this time. You can't talk your way out of this one, I've caught you now. You can't give me a Bible verse to justify this."
The pastor was stumped, at firs, but he thought for a minute, and then he quoted to the deacon a verse from Proverbs 28:1. The pastor said to the old deacon: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion," and he cut down the ham and walked off with it.
And that's the way Elisha was here. He was that way. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion." Elisha wasn't worried about this situation. He knew who was going to win the war. We don't always know who's going to win every battle. But, as Christians, we always know who's going to win the war, don't we.
Romans 8:31 speaks to us along this line. It says, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" If God is for us, then it doesn't make much difference who is against us, does it? If we go over to Psalms 104:4, it says: "Who maketh his angels spirits; and his ministers a flaming fire." Elisha knew all these ideas, whether he had these particular Scriptures to read or not makes no difference, he knew all these ideas and therefore, he wasn't worried, was he?
But God will still send legions of angels to protect and assist His own when it's necessary, just as He did here in verse 17 of our text Scripture, when Elisha prayed and said, "Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw; and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." So God has recorded this incident in the Scripture. This incident of the protecting angels is recorded in order to increase our faith and enable us to lay hold on this as a means of strengthening our faith.
So now we have seen the background of the miracle. Let's think for a few minutes about the means of the miracle. Verse 18 says, "And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord." (By the weay, we saw Dothan when we were in Israel the last time. And there's not anything left, of course, it's just some old ruins. Not much of the ruins even left. It has just about disappeared into the fields). But here's Dothan, and Elisha is in this little city of Dothan, he's completely surrounded by this large and vicious Syrian army. The King had sent hosts of men, the Syrians had come in large numbers.
It says in verse 14: "He sent thither horses, and chariots, and a great host," and they surrounded the city of Dothan. Then, of course, it was a pretty good city. Now it's just a little pile of ruins left and that's all.
These who had surrounded the city came down to get Elisha. Elisha prayed when they came down. He didn't try to run away. He didn't try to hide. He didn't try to get his sword and fight, though there are occasions when fighting physically agains evil is fully justified by Scripture. But he didn't do any of those things. He just prayed.
The presence of the horses the chariots of fire, which Elisha and his servant had already seen, was a clear sign that God had already delivered the enemy into Elisha's hands. I mean, Elisha didn't have to worry.
He had already seen these chariots of fire round about, and no matter how much the enemy came down, he knew that God was going to protect him. In other words, Elisha could have destroyed the Syrians, no doubt, because of this protecting army of the angels of the Lord. But he showed no hatred toward his enemies.
He showed no hatred. He doesn't show any sign at all in any of the passage here or in the following parts that we haven't read. If you go through and read the whole story from beginning to end, you won't find any place where he shows any hatred toward his enemies.
But what did he do? He prayed, "Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness." And he didn't pray this in order that he might go out there and kill them or anything of that sort. His motive was not revenge or personal anger. And it wasn't because he felt that he was in personal danger, because he already, no doubt, knew that he was not in danger since he had seen these chariots of fire surrounding him.
We, too, can properly pray for God to confound and confuse our enemies. You know, I've seen people who seem to take the attitude that these communist terrorists, wherever they are, and whenever they are, that they've got just as much right and so forth on their side as does anybody else. And, of course, there's never been a bigger lie told than that.
And yet, all the liberals, left-wingers, try to tell it that way. But we do have a perfect right to pray for God to confound our enemies. And if we pray in a proper spirit, from a proper motive, and in a proper position to begin with, then God will confound and confuse our enemies.
The motive for this miracle was to show, not that Elisha was a great miracle working man --- not that at all. It was not to glorify Elisha, but the motive for the miracle was to show the heathen king of Syria that God reigns. To bring glory to God in other words. Just as Naaman, who was healed of his leprosy (it's recorded just a little earlier here in II Kings). Naaman had learned already of the power and glory of God. He had learned that God reigns in the affairs of men just as the Scripture says.
Elisha's prayer was prayed for the purpose of glorifying God. And it was answered in these words, we have it recorded, his answer was: "And he smote them with blindness." Elisha prayed and God smote the enemy with blindness.
We, too, can depend on God's gracious intervention when we truly call on Him for help. When we get to the right place and the right position and the right recognition of our situation and call on Him, then we can depend on His intervention in our behalf.
But this intervention in our behalf will only take place under certain conditions.
In the first place, we must refuse to depend on our own strength. If Elisha had said, "Well, I'll take care of those folks; I'll just strike them all blind right there," --- if he had done that, you know what would have happened? Nothing would have happened, that's what!
If he had started out to do this in his own strength, nothing would have happened, except that he would have been taken away a captive to the king of Syria and probably would have had his eyes poked out as it was common practice in those days for their enemies to do. In fact, he would have been fortunate if he were not killed on the spot.
But in order to know that God is going to graciously intervene on our behalf, we must refuse to depend on our own strength. We must confidently ask God to render the enemy impotent. And we must also pray with His glory in view.
And if we do this, if we meet these three conditions, then you know what happens? God answers. He always answers. But only on these three conditions: first, to refuse to depend on our own strength, depend entirely in other words on His; then confidently ask God to render the enemy impotent; and then pray only with His glory in view. If we do these things and meet these conditions, then He will answer.
Now think for a minute about the mercy of the miracle. The mercy of the miracle is shown in verse 19: "And Elisha said unto them," now these are the blind enemies that he's got there. They're completely at his mercy. "And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me." And he led them to Samaria, about twelve miles south of Dothan.
Now Elisha could have said, "Now I've got you where I want you. I'm just going to take you out here and leave you in the wilderness. And so I'll leave you there to starve to death because you're blind, you can't find your way home, and I'll lead you out there and just leave you." He could have said that, couldn't he?
Yes, he could have done that. But he didn't. Elisha was in no personal danger at all. He could have walked away, as I said, and left the blinded to wander and starve. But he didn't do that. He said, "This is not the way." He says, "I'll bring you to the man whom ye seek."
Now in the final analysis, whom were they seeking? They were seeking the king of Israel, weren't they? The prime purpose of this expedition down here to get Elisha was not just in order to get Elisha. The reason that the king of Syria wanted to get Elisha and get him out of the way was because he was interfering with his efforts to overcome and subdue the king of Israel.
The real man they were looking for, in the final analysis, was the king of Israel; Elisha was just an obstacle in the way of getting the king of Israel. And so, Elisha said, "I'll take you to the man that you're really looking for. I'll lead you there." And he led them to Samaria.
And Samaria, as you may remember was the capital of (Northern Kingdom of) Israel. This, of course, you recognize is after the division of the Hebrew kingdom into two portions. The kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel.
Let us go on now to take a look at the other side of the miracle. Verse 20: "And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria." So he led them as he said to the man that they were really after, the king of Israel. He led them to the capital city, to the king's palace in Samaria. This old capital of Israel is now called, or the place where this old capital was, is now called Sebaste. And there is little left there except some ruins either.
When they arrived there at the capital of Israel called then Samaria, but now called Sebaste, Elisha prayed that their blindness should be removed. And they had hostile designs on him, and yet in spite of this he prayed to God on their behalf. This is another lesson for us as Christians, that even though they had hostile designs on him, he still prayed to God that God would remove the blindness from them.
In Luke 23:34, we find another similar illustration of what we're talking about here when Jesus Himself prayed a similar prayer. He said: "Then said Jesus, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' And they parted His raiment and cast lots."
This was Jesus at the time they were crucifying Him, and He prayed for His enemies and said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Just as Elisha prayed for his enemies. Elisha then led them to the man that they really sought, that is, the king of Israel.
Going on a little further, see verse 21: "The king of Israel said unto Elisha when he saw them, "My father, shall I smite them? Shall I smite them?" Now this Joram, or Jehoram, was an evil king, though he was king of Israel, he was a very evil king. His eyes had not been spiritually opened. He was blind to the workings of God, and to the generous loving spirit of the prophet Elisha. This king Jehoram is a perfect picture, we might say, of the natural man. An accurate picture of natural man. The natural man is fierce, cruel, and vindictive.
You say, "Oh, but I'm not that way." We all are just naturally that way --- fierce, cruel, vindictive. Such are we all by nature. Titus 3:3 describes the unsaved in this way: "They live in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." And often times we don't even realize that is the way it is in the natural man.
In II Kings 6:22: Going a little further down we see Elisha's answer to this evil king of Israel who wanted to kill his enemies while he had them here trapped before him. They had just been healed of their blindness, of course, just previous to this. But he had them here trapped in his own capital city, his enemy's army.
Elisha answered the King'sdesire to destroy his enemies as follows: "Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master." Elisha, as God's servant of the moment, kept full control of the situation even in the presence of the king.
You know, I've told this story to many students in Bible college classes back through the years, and I'll no doubt say it again as long as I'm able to teach young men. BUT THE MESSAGBE IS THIS: if God has called you to serve Him, then don't ever stoop to be president of the state, or state governor, or vice-president, or senator.
If God has called you to serve Him, don't ever stoop to be anything less than what God has called you to be. A true servant of God, as we see here in this illustration, should not bow to man, even to the king. But rather he must exercise the authority that God has given him and carry on the work to which he has been called by God.
Going on a little further, we see the sequel of the miracle in verse 23: "He prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master." That is, back to the king of Syria. "So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel." Now what was the result, or the sequel, the follow-up, on this miracle?
In the first place, the soldiers returned to Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, the archenemy of Israel. They returned there in order that Ben-hadad might learn again the power and the glory of God, the God of Israel. They returned there that this evil king might learn that our times, the success or failure of our plans, our health, our very lives; everything is in God's hands.
And so, it says there in the last of verse 23, "the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel." What happened there? God rewarded the faithfulness of His prophet Elisha in obeying and fulfilling His will in this matter by causing the bands of Ben-hadad not to raid constantly into Israel as they had been for years in the past.
God rewarded the faithfulness of His prophet, and He rewarded the king here even though the king was an evil king. He rewarded the king for obeying the words of the prophet in this matter by exempting the land from these devastating raids which had been going on for years from the Syrians.
Let us go on quickly to the meaning of the miracle. What does this miracle really mean? Mostly we've just been talking about an interesting story of something that happened many years ago. But now what does it really mean? The meaning of the miracle. Let's think about this incident, the graciousness of Elisha to his enemies. And his enemies, remember, would have taken him away captive as a slave, without even thinking about it. They would have done it without any hesitation whatsoever. In fact, that's the purpose for which they came, wasn't it? To grab him and take him away as a captive.
But let's think about this incident as a picture of God's wonderful mercy to sinners, His enemies who crucified and rejected His only begotten Son. Let's think of it in that light for a minute. In this picture we can see that men are by nature at enmity with God and His servants. Romans 8:7 tells us that. It says: "the carnal mind is enmity against God.
We see another thing here in this picture. We see the enemies as subjects of the servant's prayers. That is, subjects of the prayers of the servant of God. Remember what Jesus said on the cross, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. And in the same manner here, Elisha prayed for good upon these enemies.
Now, a step further, we see another thing in this picture. In answer to the servants prayer, that is, Elisha's prayer, the blind --- (who are the blind? The blind are the sinners, the unsaved) are brought to realize their own helpless and hopeless condition. The blind were moved to follow instructions, weren't they? They did follow instructions. Had they not followed his instructions they no doubt would have wandered in the wilderness outside of Dothan and would have starved to death. But they were moved to follow instructions, and the guidance of God's servant.
The Philippian jailer did also just as they did, as is recorded in Acts 16:30-31, where he asked Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And their answer was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." In due course we see in this picture there, their eyes were opened.
Again II Corinthians 4:4, speaks along this line when it says: "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." So this clearly indicates the lost as being blinded by the devil, as in our picture in this illustration from Elisha's miracle.
Now another thing we see in this picture, they were feasted with great provision at the king's own table. When their eyes were opened they were feasted, weren't they? They had a great feast at the king's table. Like our song --- and we have a little chorus also similar to this that the children sing sometimes. We have a song we sometime sing, it says: "Jesus has a table spread, where the saints of God are fed. He invites His chosen people, come and dine. With His manna He doth feed, and supplies our every need. Oh, 'tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time. Come and dine, the master calleth, come and dine. You may feast at Jesus' table all the time. He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine. To the hungry calleth now, come and dine."
And so the picture here is completed by one more thing that we must notice. That is, this picture is showing the conversion of the lost today. The picture is completed by our beholding these men as changed creatures. They are completely changed.
How do we know that they were completely changed? It says, "They came no more on their evil raids into Israel's land," doesn't it? They came no more. So salvation changes a man, inwardly and outwardly. And if you don't have that kind of salvation, then you don't have any kind of salvation. That's the only kind of salvation that there is --- the kind that changes you inside and outside.
You don't have any salvation unless you have that kind, because that's the only kind there is. You need to be saved if you don't have thE kind of salvation which MAKES A REAL CHANGE IN YOU!"
Remember, there's ONLY ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ONE LIFE TO GIVE, IN SERVICE TO OUR GLORIOUS KING!