‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all round Elisha.
2 Kings 6:16-17
God’s people again face opposition and enmity as the Aramean armies have come to capture the man of God. The prophet Elisha is God’s vehicle of revelation. God’s word is the infallible guiding light for his people. God’s word sovereignly towers above the words, plans and purposes of men. If the Arameans can stop and eliminate the prophet they can silence the voice of God. The attacks on the authority, credibility and reliability of Scripture are as old fashioned as the serpent’s undermining of God’s word in Eden.
“Did God really say…” (Gen 3:1). But we too can easily doubt and disobey the word. Living in a culture that denies the truth of the word can dumb our attentiveness to God’s voice.
How does God protect Elisha and particularly his worried, nervous servant? Well it’s a word of encouragement, “Do not be afraid.” This is one of the great encouragements found in different ways throughout the whole Bible. Fear is a natural human response to problems, threats and uncertainties. Who is big enough to alleviate our worries? Who’s power and presence can overshadow us in protective care and love? So what’s the basis of such encouragement? It’s the comforting realisation that we are not alone. The enemy had sought to isolate Elisha and his servant surrounding them with their army, horses and chariots. Is there a greater army? It is then that Elisha’s prayer for spiritual sight is answered. The horses and chariots of fire appear around Elisha. These are supernatural symbols of God’s presence, power and protection as the heavenly army is revealed. God is with Elisha and God is for his servant. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
We still need God’s word of encouragement and His Word of revelation as a firm foundation for Christian believing and living. That prophetic ministry of Elisha was ultimately fulfilled in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. God spoke finally in His Son.
His words are light, love and life. When the enemies come His word is my shield and tower. When doubts and uncertainties overwhelm us at times His word speaks to assure and convince us again – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). When despair and darkness sometimes overshadow us we need to hear again the reassuring promise – “But now, this is what the LORD says – he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:1-2).
Meirion Thomas, Malpas Road