Summary: The Bible encourages us to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18). That's just what Elisha does in 2 Kings 6. What does he see that we often don't?
Seeing the Unseen
Scott R. Bayles, preacher
Scripture: 2 Kings 6:8-23
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 3/22/2020
Good morning everyone and welcome to the Grove online. Most of you watching this are probably members of Blooming Grove Christian Church, but maybe you’re seeing this in your Facebook feed because a friend shared it or you just stumbled across it on YouTube. In any case, I’m glad that we can connect with one another online. As you’re all aware (unless you happened to be watching this five years down the road), we’re in the middle of a viral pandemic. The CDC has recommended that we cancel any gathering larger than 10 people and the state of Illinois has mandated that we cancel any gatherings greater than 50 people, so instead of meeting in our church building today, we’re meeting together online and we praise God that we have the ability to do that in this day and age.
As you all know, this pandemic has caused many people to panic. Fears are rising all around the world. People who have never felt anxious before are suddenly weighed down with worry and are not sure what to do next. Travel is banned. Schools and businesses are closed. Many small business owners are hurting financially. People are panic buying, hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
I think one of the reasons that viral outbreaks are so scary to so many people is that you can’t see the enemy. Germs and bacteria are microscopic, so you never see them coming. If infected people or surfaces had a green glowing aura or something like that, we would know who to avoid and what not to touch. But we can’t see microbes like viruses, and that, I think, just escalates people’s fears.
Thankfully, viruses and bacteria are not the only things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. The Bible tells us there is a whole unseen world all around us. In fact, the Bible says, “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NASB). This is such a strange statement, isn’t it? How do we look at the things which are not seen?
While you contemplate that question, I’d like to share a story with you from the Old Testament. The story is found in 2 King 6, so if you want to open up your Bible or Bible app and follow along, you can turn to 2 King 6.
First, let me give you a little background.
The Kingdom of Israel is at war with the Kingdom of Aram, but the King of Israel seems to be able to predict Aram’s every move. Everywhere Aram’s army goes, Israel is one step ahead–so much so that the King of Aram assumes he has a spy in his camp. But there is no spy; rather, God is speaking to the prophet Elisha and giving him inside information – divine knowledge and divine vision – and Elisha is passing that knowledge on to the King of Israel.
When the King of Aram realizes what’s happening, he sends his army to find Elisha and capture him. So one morning, Elisha’s servant pulls back the curtains and he discovers that their house is totally surrounded by Aram’s army. Just as many of us would do in his situation, he calls out in fear and panic, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15 NIV).
Now we might expect Elisha to come up with a cunning plan to make an undercover exit, or to hide somewhere hoping they won’t be found, or to hand himself over to make things go as smoothly as possible. Instead, Elisha calmly replies, “Don't be afraid. We have more forces on our side than they have on theirs” (2 Kings 6:16 GWT). Elisha’s servant was completely perplexed, so Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” (2 Kings 6:17 NLT).
God answers Elisha’s prayer, and Elisha’s servant looks out the window to see an army of angels—the entire hillside was covered with horses and chariots of fire. Then, as the Aramean army advanced toward them, Elisha again prayed to the Lord, “Please strike these people with blindness” (2 Kings 6:18 GWT). And, again, God answered Elisha’s prayer and struck the enemy army blind.
Full of confidence and bravado, Elisha walks out to the Arameans and, in their confusion, convinces them that they’ve arrived at the wrong city. He offers to lead them to the man they’re looking for and, since they haven’t got much choice, the soldiers follow Elisha all the way to the neighboring city of Samaria. He leads them right to the heart of the city, then prays again, “O Lord, now open their eyes and let them see!” (2 Kings 6:20 NLT). As their vision returns, they quickly realize that they’ve been duped. The Arameans are now the ones surrounded by Samaria’s army. The cocky king of Samaria asks Elisha, “Shall I kill them all?”