1One day the prophets said to Elisha, “The place where we meet with you is too small. 2Why don't we build a new meeting place near the Jordan River? Each of us could get some wood, then we could build it.”
“That's a good idea,” Elisha replied, “get started.”
3“Aren't you going with us?” one of the prophets asked.
“Yes, I'll go,” Elisha answered, 4and he left with them.
They went to the Jordan River and began chopping down trees. 5While one of the prophets was working, his ax head fell off and dropped into the water. “Oh!” he shouted. “Sir, I borrowed this ax.”
6“Where did it fall in?” Elisha asked. The prophet pointed to the place, and Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. The ax head floated to the top of the water.
7“Now get it,” Elisha told him. And the prophet reached in and grabbed it.
Elisha Stops an Invasion
8Time after time, when the king of Syria was at war against the Israelites, he met with his officers and announced, “I've decided where we will set up camp.”
9Each time, Elisha would send this warning to the king of Israel: “Don't go near there. That's where the Syrian troops have set up camp.” 10So the king would warn the Israelite troops in that place to be on guard.
11The king of Syria was furious when he found out what was happening. He called in his officers and asked, “Which one of you has been telling the king of Israel our plans?”
12“None of us, Your Majesty,” one of them answered. “It's an Israelite named Elisha. He's a prophet, so he can tell his king everything—even what you say in your own room.”
13“Find out where he is!” the king ordered. “I'll send soldiers to bring him here.”
They learned that Elisha was in the town of Dothan and reported it to the king. 14He ordered his best troops to go there with horses and chariots. They marched out during the night and surrounded the town.
15When Elisha's servant got up the next morning, he saw that Syrian troops had the town surrounded. “Sir, what are we going to do?” he asked.
16“Don't be afraid,” Elisha answered. “There are more troops on our side than on theirs.” 17Then he prayed, “Lord, please help him to see.” And the Lord let the servant see that the hill was covered with fiery horses and flaming chariots all around Elisha.
18As the Syrian army came closer, Elisha prayed, “Lord, make those soldiers blind!” And the Lord blinded them with a bright light.
19Elisha told the enemy troops, “You've taken the wrong road and are in the wrong town. Follow me. I'll lead you to the man you're looking for.” Elisha led them straight to the capital city of Samaria.
20When all the soldiers were inside the city, Elisha prayed, “Lord, now let them see again.” The Lord let them see that they were standing in the middle of Samaria.
21The king of Israel saw them and asked Elisha, “Should I kill them, sir?”
22“No!” Elisha answered. “You didn't capture these troops in battle, so you have no right to kill them. Instead, give them something to eat and drink and let them return to their leader.”
23The king ordered a huge meal to be prepared for Syria's army, and when they finished eating, he let them go.
For a while, the Syrian troops stopped invading Israel's territory.
In the Second World War, cracking the German Enigma code created an ethical dilemma. The British could finally understand all German communications, but what should they do with their newfound knowledge? In the short term, battle victories would save lives but prompt the Germans to change their code or provide disinformation. In order to ultimately win the war, the British chose to lose many initial battles—and people.
King Joram has even better ears than the British: a man of God who hears what goes on in King Benhadad’s room freely offers that information to guide Israel’s strategy. King Benhadad responds by launching an operation to capture Joram’s spy.
Of course, Elisha isn’t Benhadad’s problem; Elisha only passes on what he hears from God. In going after Elisha, the king sets himself up against the power of God. After all, a prophet who can hear what the king says in his own room has the full resources of God available to him. That perspective gives Elisha logic-defying peace.
It’s encouraging to me that even Elijah’s servant, a frequent witness to the miraculous, doesn’t have eyes to see. Like him, I rely too much on my eyes and ears, trusting my senses rather than what I know to be true about God. It’s also encouraging to see that all it took to open his eyes to God’s power was prayer. Suddenly the servant had a new perspective.
The astounding truth is that prayer didn’t summon heaven’s armies; it simply revealed God’s power already present. His armies constantly outnumber the enemy and surround our biggest problems. We just don’t have eyes to see it.
Elisha’s power was a heart tuned to the things of God. He heard what God told him, and he was quick to action. He saw through eyes of faith. If we lived like that, how might we approach our trials and crises differently?
All-knowing God, you give sight to the blind and blind those who think they see. Open our mind to understand, open our eyes to see you at work and open our hearts to respond in faith, so that we can be willing participants in your work. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.