When We Don't "See" God
Here is the transcript for my sermon that I preached yesterday, September 24th, 2017 at First Presbyterian Bradenton. I hope you enjoy it.
Read 2 Kings 6
What does a motorist do when she sees a group of men running out of a bank with machine guns?
Erline Androin ducked. Then she lost control of her car, triggering a chain-reaction crash that injured nine persons, police said.
But the 24-year-old woman’s alarm was unwarranted. The machinegun-toting holdup men were part of a movie cast that had just staged a bank holdup scene.
The guns weren’t loaded and the bank wasn’t even real, said a spokesman for Hollywood’s Penelope Productions, who said a bank-like front had been set up in front of a store.
Police said Miss Androin struck five pedestrians, including several cast members, before her out-of-control vehicle slammed into two other cars. The other vehicles hit three more people, authorities said.
This is an unfortunate story, but sadly, it is true. In this story Miss Androin witnessed what she thought was a robbery in progress and responded in fear to what she thought was happening, just like any normal person would. Her fear filled response created a chain reaction accident which led to the unfortunate injuries of many people. She responded to what she saw happening, but it really wasn’t. It was fake. She didn’t see the whole picture. She didn’t see the cameras and movie set. She only saw what was before her. We can’t fully fault her for her response, because she only saw and reacted to what was before her and not what was happening behind the scenes.
Today’s passage is a bit peculiar, much like the news story I just read. There is a lot going on and it really is difficult to determine what is happening and what the purpose of the passage is. So, before I get to the theme we are going to look at the context or background of 2 Kings 6, I would encourage you to read Chapters 6 through 8 on your own to get a better understanding of the context. In fact, for your benefit the Bible study guide in the bulletin will assist you in reading through 2 Kings 6 for this week. There is also a notes section if you wish to write notes.
2 Kings 6 is a passage about perspective. It involves seeing one thing, while another thing is happening behind the scenes which is not seen.
Elisha, is the prophet of focus in chapters 6 – 13. He was the apprentice of the prophet Elijah and he took his place when Elijah ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire in 2 Kings 2. Elisha, was part of a group prophets who lived in a small cramped area in Israel. It appears Elisha was the head prophet and all others were under his direction. The prophets went to Jordan to get wood to build homes.
We are going to fast forward to verse 8 which begins with the King of Syria announcing that is going to ambush the Israelites at an undisclosed (to us at least) place. Somehow Elisha hears this plan and he warns the King of Israel to not pass through this undisclosed place because the Syrians were waiting to ambush them and the king listened to his warning.
Once the king of Syria found out that Israel was tipped off he was angry because he thought there was a spy or a mole in the camp. One of the servants said that none of them were spies, but it was Elisha, a prophet, who warned Israel. He informed the king that Elisha heard his plans of attack that he spoke in his bedroom. Now, here is where it gets a bit unclear. We are not sure how Elisha hears the king. The Jewish study Bible says that Elisha had clairvoyant powers, while others interpret that God spoke to him in a dream or vision, a that he had some sort of supernatural military intel and more conservative interpretations say that Elisha was a spy in the camp and he heard the king because the walls of his bedroom were very thin. I don’t think it really matters how he got the info, it just matters that he got it to the king of Israel.
When the king hears this, he wants Elisha seized and sent back to him. When he finds that Elisha is in Dotham, the king assembles a massive army at night to surround his camp so they may seize him. In the morning Elisha’s attendant awakes and sees the army surrounding the city… afraid he runs to Elisha and asks what should we do?
Unconcerned Elisha responds, “do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha sees that there is a supernatural army surrounding the Syrian army and he is not worried because God is on their side. The problem was the others did not see this supernatural army, they only saw the Syrians before them.
Elisha prays a twofold prayer…
So, what does this all mean? Why do the writers of Kings spend a great deal of time talking about Elisha, spiritual armies and the tension between Syria and Israel? We can look at it merely as a historical account or we can see that it is much more than that. When we look below the surface, so to speak, we see that the focus of this story needs to be on vision, or having the ability to see beyond the usual perception. Or more simply having spiritual insight to see the whole picture of God. Elisha was privy to insights that others were not. Is it because he was a more holy man than others or that God liked him better? No, I believe it is simply God showing us that he uses people to accomplish his will and to bring assurance of his presence in times of uncertainty. You see the attendant only saw the crisis before him, but Elisha saw what God was up to. Once the attendant’s eyes were opened he saw no reason to doubt, fear or worry. This is very applicable to us as well. When we can have spiritual insight to God’s plan, and it may not be as extreme as this account, but when we have a connection with God and He speaks to us then we do not need to be crippled by fear.
So here are three observations we can take home from this passage and apply to our lives
 Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (437). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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