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Friday, October 9, 2020

Inspired by . . . Headlines: The King of Israel Prepares a Banquet for His Enemies

We tend to think of loving our enemies as being a New Testament command. But here in 2 Kings 6, we find a similar concept.

The King of Aram (Syria) and the King of Israel are at war. However, whenever the King of Aram sets a plan of attack the King of Israel somehow finds out about it and avoids the place of the planned battle.

We learn in verse 12 that it is Elisha, the man of God, who can hear the King of Aram even in his bedchamber! It is Elisha, not a traitor of the Aramaeans who keeps warning the King of Israel.

When the King of Aram learns about this he is furious and sends an army of 50,000 men with horses and chariots to capture Elisha. Fifty thousand men for one man. Clearly, the King knew who he was up against!

But the Aramaeans are no match for the God of Israel! Elisha's attendant is terrified when he sees the Aramaean forces but Elisha sees what he cannot; the hills are covered with horses and chariots of fire!

Elisha offers up two prayers. The first, for his attendant's eyes to be opened and the second for the Aramaean's eyes to be blinded.

The first prayer allowed Elisha's attendant to see the chariots of fire, giving him a true perspective of their circumstances. The clearer sight we have of the power of God the less we will fear our earthly trials.

The second prayer blinded the Aramaeans to their true surroundings. (I don't think they were completely blinded as it is hard to imagine 50,000 men holding hands and being led from town to town!)

As it was, Elisha convinced them they were in the wrong place and led them from Dothan to Samaria, from fiery chariots driven by heavenly warriors straight into the hands of the King of Israel!

Once there, Elisha prayed for their sight to be restored. Imagine their terror when they realized where they were! Yet when the King of Israel asks Elisha for permission to destroy them, Elisha answers:

"You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have not taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master." So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. (2Ki 6:22-23)

They were the Lord's captives and Elisha's and the Lord had a purpose for treating them kindly and sending them home. It was the King's job to obey even if he didn't agree or understand.

Verse 23b may give us some insight into the Lord's purpose: "For a time, the Aramaean raids on Israel ceased."

All the way back in Exodus 23:5 God instructs us: "Should you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, however unwilling you may be to help, you must lend a hand with it."

And in Proverbs 25:21-22: "If your enemy is hungry, give him food; if he is thirsty, give him a drink of water; for so you will heap live coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you."

It is easy to help, serve, and bless those who are kind to us. In contrast, our human will recoils with the thought of doing the same for someone who hates us. Yet, doing so brings us closer to the heart of God and unleashes the Spiritual in a way we may never understand.
"The most glorious victory over an enemy is to turn him into a friend." Matthew Henry
And isn't that what Jesus did for us?

"For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:7-8)

We were enemies of God (Rom 5:10) yet Jesus offered up His body (bread) and His blood (wine) to return us to our master (God). (Luke 22:19-20)

Beloved, this is Good News indeed!

Next time we recoil at the thought of doing good for someone who is less than kind, even if it only a prompting from the Holy Spirit to pray for that person, let us remember the grace we have already received and obey.


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