Summary: It describes how the life of Elisha is applicable to us
Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on 18 November 2012 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey
This is the latest sermon on Elisha, who ministered for 50 years.
In this narrative, there is another skirmish in Middle East – with Israel being attacked by Arameans, despite the healing of their general Namaan (who was healed in chapter 5).
The incident occurred at Dothan, which was 10 miles north of Samaria and about 60 miles north of Jerusalem. It was a major town on the main route used by merchants and herdsmen going north to the Jezreel valley. Its previous mention was in Genesis chapter 37, where it was the location where Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers so it was notorious in association.
In the town of Dothan, Elisha's slave was in consternation as the town encircled by the Aramean army.
In 1991, an organisation called Michigan’s Timid Motorist assisted 830 motorists across the MacKinac Bridge that is five miles long and 200 feet high. The drivers were so scared of heights that they couldn’t drive their own cars. In the same year, more than a thousand motorists received assistance at Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge – also 200 feet high and four miles long.
Matthew Henry stated in his commentary: ‘In the dark we are more apt to be frightened.’
We will look at:
1. Blindness – what is blocking the view in this day and age
2. Awareness – looking beyond the worldview
3. Being different – how having a different viewpoint changes our behaviour
The king of Aram made a big mistake for his enemy was not Elisha, but God so it was not going to be much of a contest. Whilst the soldiers were commissioned to capture Elisha, he leads them to the king of Israel in the end.
It is said that three of major thought processes that seek to replace God in modern society:
a. Relativism – which states there is no moral absolutes – seen in acceptance of same-sex marriages, despite facts and (more importantly) God’s Word.
b. Pluralism – people state no true truth for there is a plurality of truths. It is reminiscent of ‘everyone did what was right as he saw fit’ (Judges 21: 25)
c. Postmodernism – words have no meaning, leads to revisionism (e.g. history).
I would venture another reason: people do not realise God working because so caught up in their own worlds. Busyness is an effective strategy of the Devil’s.
People have been ignorant of what God has said - they do not think and do not care. The days when people are aware of the Bible from childhood are long gone.
The philosopher of our age, Homer Simpson stated: ‘I’m not normally a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me Superman.’
It is easy to point finger at people outside of the Church – but more fingers point back.
In the challenging of the world outside because of their worldviews, we can become soft in attitudes in the church. We can try to 'fudge the edges' in order to try and make the Gospel more acceptable to them.
When attitudes go soft, our eyes become cloudy, like cataracts, with wrong beliefs so we can fail to see the effectiveness of the God’s mighty strength in our lives.
The uncertainties that people have in the world around us can permeate into our lives.
We need to remember that there is more than the material world – that is we have to remember the spiritual dimension including eternity, heavenly beings, God Himself.
Elisha quietened the situation by two things:
a. By a word ‘Don’t be afraid’ (verse 16)
In the Bible, it is stated 365 times ‘Be strong’ – one occurrence for every day of the year.
We are reminded that the wind and the waves obey Him, that devils fear and fall – but so often our doubts and fears get in the way of trusting God.
We need to take on board the words ‘Don’t be afraid,’ especially as we seek to move forward as individuals and as a church.
b. Vision – so could see the armies of the Lord
By the way, in verse 17, the word is ‘hill’ (singular) not ‘hills’ (plural) as the horses and chariots of the Lord surrounding the hill on which the town of Dothan was situated.
The horses and chariots represent a personal bodyguard for the prophet, as God is often represented as the Lord of Hosts - as God appeared before Joshua as the Captain of the Hosts before the fall of Jericho (Joshua 5: 13 – 15).
His vision is contrasted with the subsequent blindness of the Aramean soldiers.
Verses 17 – 18, to ‘open the eyes’ – in the Bible, only used of God’s action – it was only through God that the servant could see the superior forces encircling the besiegers.