Ridiculous Faith 3 – Eyes Open

Hostile Natives Surrounded His Missions …

Contributed by Bruce Montgomery on Apr 17, 2008

John G. Paton in New Hebrides Islands in So. Pacific 

      Hostile natives surrounded his missions headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see that, unaccountably, the attackers had left.

A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard – hundreds of men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent his angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation.

So we just saw an example of God’s divine intervention in the lives of modern missionaries.  We will also see God’s intervention in Elisha’s time as well.  This message is about keeping our spiritual eyes open to see God at work in our lives today.

INTRODUCTION/CHAPTER SUMMARY

     So we’ve been talking about ridiculous faith and during the past two Sundays we’ve discussed the life of Elisha, the successor of the famous Old Testament prophet Elijah.  Elijah was carried away by a chariot of fire; he did not die of old age.  Elisha became his successor and received a double portion of Elijah’s power to do miracles.  Here in Chapter 6 of Second Kings, Israel is still at war with Syria on its northern border.  In spite of this, God worked through Elisha to heal the Syrian general Naaman of leprosy in chapter 5.  Now we will see what’s still going on the front lines…

  2 Kings 6:8-12 (NLT) 8 When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.”9 But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” 10 So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there.  11 The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?”12 “It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”

      We see that Elisha was well-known to the Syrian army, especially after the dramatic and powerful healing of the prophet Naaman.  was given supernatural knowledge of the location of the Aramean (Syrian) army.  There was no gimmick or trick involved, Elisha was simply a man of faith, and a man of prayer and fasting.  The same thing can and does happen in modern times.  All we have to do is ask.  There are all kinds of testimonies about people who felt a sudden urge to pray for someone else: 

[ILLUSTRATION from CBN.com] Brian Fleming had something extraordinary happen to him on September 11, 2001. He enlisted in the Army after high school and was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan. In April of 2006, Brian got his first taste of guerilla warfare.“It was about 7:00 in the morning, and my vehicle ran over a double stack of anti-tank mines that were buried in the road. It threw our 15,000-pound vehicle about ten feet to the side of the road. I remember as the vehicle landed, I was sitting there. I could see the gray and black smoke and the dust. I sat there and thought to myself, ‘I think we just got blown up.’”Incredibly, Brian was unharmed in the attack.  “I opened my door, stepped out and I walked away without a scratch on me. We had two men injured that day, but nobody died.” A few days later, Brian received an email from his mother.  “Basically what she said was, ‘Brian, a couple of days ago, I had this strange, intense feeling to pray for your protection.’ I thought that kind of cool, because I had just gotten blown up two days ago. It turned out it was within just an hour or two of that explosive going off.’”[END OF ILLUSTRATION]

    So this is an example of supernatural knowledge given to the prophet by the Holy Spirit, and described in 1 Corinthians 12.  In fact, all of the gifts that the Spirit of God gives to the church are present in the Old Testament, with the exception of the gifts of speaking in an unknown tongue and interpreting that unknown tongue or language; those gifts are exclusive the time of the New Testament, and end times, which we live in now.  Anyway, the fact that God gave Elisha this supernatural insight into the Syrian army’s battle plans are very important.  Now, The king of Syria had good intelligence and spies as well, because he was able to find out that Elisha was the source of his battle plans being ruined.   Also, he was able to easily find out what city Elisha lived in.  I did a little research, and actually discovered that ancient armies like the Syrian army had intelligence agents, spies and even secret service.  But it’s interesting because without having a relationship with Yahweh, the Syrian king had to rely on his spies and their intel. However, all Elisha had to do was pray! So what do we take away? 

 God can give us supernatural insight into every situation 

     The Bible says that Elisha was able to understand the words of the king in his very bedroom.  This was a matter of life or death for Elisha to have this information.  With us, it is life or death for us to understand the tactics of the enemy.  Now, none of these Syrian people personally knew Elisha, but they respected and feared his name and reputation so much that they sent spies and counter-intelligence agents after him to gather information and plan to ambush, assault and kill him. It’s the same for us.  Now we don’t personally strike fear into the heart of hell, but the name and reputation of the one whose blood has purchased us strikes fear into the heart of Hell! Because we place our trust and faith in Christ, and because we carry his name, character and reputation by faith, the enemy army is always throwing counter-assaults at us.  BUT! in Matthew 16:18 (NIV) Jesus said the gates of Hades will not overcome His church.  The fact that he says Hades won’t overcome the church implies that Hell will TRY to overcome the church, but they won’t succeed! So, God can even give you insight into the traps that the enemy has set for you. There isn’t any difference between us and Elisha, or any of the great prophets and prophetesses of the Bible.   This message of knowledge  happens through the Holy Spirit, and the spiritual gift known as the message of knowledge.  

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NLT)

4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.  7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8 To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

     The Holy Spirit gifted Elisha with specific knowledge for a specific situation. So once the king of Syria found out that Elisha was the spy giving all of his secrets to the king of Israel, he decided to take action.  

2 Kings 6:13-15 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 “Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” 14 So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

     So the king of Syria sent his spies, assassins and ninjas out into Israel.  They came back and reported where Elisha was.  Then he sent horses, soldiers and chariots to surround the city of Dothan.  Then Elisha’s servant woke to find the city of Dothan surrounded. 

     I thought it was interesting that the king of Syria sent an entire army after one man!  He sent soldiers outfitted with chariots into Dothan for one guy. It’s the same way for us.  The enemy of our souls, the accuser of the brethren, will send all of hell against us.  We are the redeemed of the Lord, purchased with the blood of His Son.  We have the Word of God, and we have the Spirit of God.  Because of this, we have access to the battle plans of the enemy.  The scripture tells us all about Satan, and how he was defeated at the cross, and how to deal with him and his minions in the present.  Because of the Holy Spirit, and because of the testimony of scripture, all of us are spies for the kingdom of God.  The Bible calls the devil the god of this age

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT) 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

  And just like the king of Syria was furious when he found out that Elisha was frustrating his ambush plans, the devil is furious with us because our very presence at our jobs, in our families, in our PTO groups and on our kids Youth Sports teams and in our neighborhoods frustrates the plans of the enemy, who wants everybody in hell with him.  So you can be sure he has unleashed his armies! But God has already laid out for us what we are to do.  We just need to ask! 

    We know that Elisha represents God, and his Word represents God’s Word, so the servant did the right thing.  He saw adversity, he saw overwhelming odds, and he asked the man of God what to do.  

 Be attentive to God’s guidance in all things

      This is absolutely crucial, because God has intended for us to know what’s going on when it comes to the “whys” of certain things in our lives.  There’s an answer to “why” you can’t get along with a certain co-worker. There’s an answer attached to the “why” certain people get angry when you even start to mention God and Christ.  There’s an answer to the “why” it seems like everything is happening at once to you. It might seem like your life is falling apart, and you are coming apart at the seams.  However, God has given us marching orders for everything! And just like Elisha’s servant went directly to the man of God and asked what to do, we should do the same: 

Philippians 4:6-7New Living Translation (NLT)

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

     When we really decide to get serious, God begins to move.   When we cancel our trip, send the kids outside, or put them down for a nap, and cut our TV and phone off, and get on our faces before the Lord, he will begin to speak to us.  He says that in every situation by prayer and petition, to present our requests before God.  Then, and only then, will our peace be complete.  Elisha did not panic, because he knew that when he prayed, the peace of God would excel, exceed, beat, trump, top, cap, outdo, and outstrip all human understanding!!!  

2 Kings 6:16-17 (NLT)

16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

     The servant of Elisha thought that the city was surrounded, and that there was no hope for him and Elisha.  But Elisha knew better.  Then Elisha prayed, and God opened up the eyes of Elisha’s servant, and he saw horses and chariots made entirely of fire.  

     This was not a vision or a dream; these real angelic beings.  We would lose our minds if we saw the battles that are waging around us at this very moment in the spiritual realm.  Remember that our fight is spiritual. 

Our battle is not with people

(Eph. 6:12).  The Bible says in God definitely sends his angelic armies to our aid when we call upon the Lord for aid. If you look at angels like an army, then look at prayers like orders. Don’t you need your orders for everything you do in the military? Well, our prayers and intercession can be thought of as orders.   Prayer keeps the supply lines open; That’s why we should pray continually, without ceasing. Again….a lack of prayer does NOT limit God’s activity…

Revelation 8:2-5New Living Translation (NLT) 2 I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets.3 Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. 5 Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth; and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake.    

     This is what will happen in heaven with the prayers of the saints in the end times.  The angel hurled the prayers of the saints back to the earth! I believe powerful things like this are happening even now!  Elisha could remain calm in every circumstance because his eyes were open to spiritual things.   

    You don’t have to be a missionary on a foreign field in order for angels to guard your life.  You don’t have to be Elisha, or to have lived during biblical times for God to move powerfully in your life.  All you need to be is a willing vessel.  All you need to do is a have a broken, remorseful, repentant heart concerning your sins.  All you have to do is keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your ear to the Word of God.  And he will show himself to you.  Remember to look to the hills where your help comes from, and know that chariots of fire surround you on every side.

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