Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Spiritual blindness is nothing new. What is it like to live with opened eyes, fully seeing God’s magnificent gifts for our lives?


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June 22, 2003

17Then Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!" The LORD opened his servant’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. 2 Kings 6:17 (NLT)

When it comes to movies, anything set in the Victorian era gets my attention. I have watched "Kate and Leopold " (Miramax Films) several times. Leopold is a duke, snatched out of 1876 to the present by a would-be inventor who finds a "crack in time" to travel back and forth.

It is a hilarious situation. The duke is awed by 21st century New York City with its automobiles, televisions, telephones and elevators (which the duke himself invents after he returns to his own time),. The not-so-successful inventor is my hero. Nobody understands or appreciates him. Through an accident he winds up in the hospital, and talking about time-travel lands him in the psyche ward. The hospital shrink incarcerates as a lunatic the only one who can get Leopold back to his own time.

Out of frustration my hero, the inventor, begins talking to one of the nurses about his plight. She listens intently and is drawn into the story. With a sadness and resignation he explains to his audience of one his private epic tale of being misunderstood. He says, "It’s like being a dog that has seen a rainbow. A dog can describe to all the other dogs the beauty and splendor of this colorful heavenly display. But they don’t believe him. Dogs are colorblind. They can’t see rainbows, so they don’t believe him."

In some ways we are like colorblind dogs in spiritual matters. There is so much all around that God wants for us to see of His kingdom and His will; we stare right through the best of it because we are spiritually blind.

Now, spiritual blindness did not just appear in our day; it has been around for a long time. Centuries before the birth of Christ, the enemies of Israel were the Assyrians. The king of Assyria wanted to conquer Israel. God wouldn’t let that happen, so He kept giving prophetic insight about Assyria’s plans to a prophet named Elisha. (This was the same Elisha who had served as prophet-apprentice to Elijah). Elisha would warn the king of Israel, and at each attack, Syria’s army would be routed. Elisha had become a major pain to the king of Assyria.

When the king found out his losses were Elisha’s doing he put a price on the prophet’s head and laid plans to capture him. This was the ancient equivalent of putting enemy faces on a deck of cards, except there was just one face on the whole deck - Elisha! The king made only one mistake…Elisha really wasn’t his enemy, God was! The conflict was not going to be much of a contest.

Dothan (about 60 miles north of Jerusalem near Megiddo, where the final conflict on earth will someday take place) was Elisha’s retreat. As the night fell the prophet and his servant lay down in relative security. (So they thought!)

In the pre-dawn hours Elisha’s servant gets up early to begin the morning chores. That was his job. In our mind’s eye we see the servant dragging out to the well to draw water. He is only half-awake, shuffling along. But, something is not quite right; the early birds and other critters are not making their usual noises. Pushing the sleep away from his eyes he scans the local hillside and his heart stops beating. There, in the morning haze, silhouetted against the first indistinct rays of the dawning sun are Syrian soldiers - a whole army of them standing at ready, spears and bows locked and loaded!

As it turned out, Elisha’s servant Gehazi was spiritually-blind, but his physical eyesight was 20-20. He scrambled into the house and woke Elisha, "Master, Elisha, wake up; the whole Syrian army is out there, and they aren’t happy. Elisha, wake up, man, they’ve got machine-bows and sling missiles…we’re toast!"

There is an interesting side-issue here, in that the name given to the servant, Gehazi, means valley of vision. The man had the name, but he fell short of living-up to his name. He was as spiritually blind as the king of Syria.

Gehazi’s problem was not the reality of the coming battle, but his perception of that reality. He served a Jewish prophet of "Jahweh, God Most High"; he carried the name of spiritual sight, yet knew nothing of vision.

In today’s church you can see the counterpart of Gehazi. Paul characterized them for young Timothy:

5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

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