INTERESTING FACTS : "THE NAME OF THE LORD (SAYS THE SCRIPTURE) IS A STRONG TOWER; THITHER THE RIGHTEOUS FLEE AND ARE SAFE [PROVERBS 18:10]. LET US SECURE HIS FAVOR AND HE WILL LEAD US THROUGH THE J OURNEY OF THIS LIFE AND AT LENGTH RECEIVE US TO A BETTER." [SAMUEL ADAMS - SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; "FATHER OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION"; RATIFIER OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS]
DAILY READING : 2 KINGS 4 - 5; 6 - 8;
TEXT : TEXT - 2Ki 6:15 And when the servant of the man of God was rise n early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 2Ki 6:16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 2Ki 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
THEME : GOD'S PRESERVATION AND PROTECTION
The miraculous works of Elisha are a parallel to the ministry and work of Elijah, his mentor. Like Elijah, Elisha also meets a widow and God supplies a miracle by filling all the pots with oil so she does not have to have her sons taken from her to pay her debt. Elisha also performs a resurrection, for which the Shunnamite woman is exceptionally grateful. Both the Shunnamite's conception and receiving her son back to life again are signs of the great anointing that rests on Elisha.
"Here is the sudden death of the child. All the mother's tenderness cannot keep alive a child of promise, a child of prayer, one given in love. But how admirably does the prudent, pious mother, guard her lips under this sudden affliction! Not one peevish word escapes from her. Such confidence had she of God's goodness, that she was ready to believe that he would restore what he had now take n away. O woman, great is thy faith! He that wrought it, would not disappoint it. The sorrowful mother begged leave of her husband to go to the prophet at once. She had not thought it enough to have Elisha's help sometimes in her own family, but, though a woman of rank, attended on public worship. It well becomes the men of God, to inquire about the welfare of their friends and their families. The answer was, It is well. All well, and yet the child dead in the house! Yes! All is well that God does; all is well with them that are gone, if they are gone to heaven; and all well with us that stay behind, if, by the affliction, we are furthered in our way thither. When any creature-comfort is taken from us, it is well if we can say, through grace, that we did not set our hearts too much upon it; for if we did, we have reason to fear it was given in anger, and taken away in wrath. Elisha cried unto God in faith; and the beloved son was restored alive to his mother. Those who would convey spiritual life to dead souls, must feel deeply for their case, and labour fervently in prayer for them. Though the minister cannot give Divine life to his fellow-sinners, he must use every means, with as much earnestness as if he could do so." [Matthew Henry]
Miracle after miracle attends the ministry of Elisha. It is interesting to see how the Syrian Naaman seeks out a Jewish prophet. Remember, the Syrians are the perennial enemies of Israel to this day. Yet, need will drive anyone to seek relief, no matter where they have to go. Further, to be told to dip himself in the river, insulted Naaman. Yet his servant tells him if Elisha had said to do something great - he would have done it. Yet, dunking himself in the river was humbling and demeaning.
"Naaman was wroth - And why? Because the prophet treated him without ceremony; and because he appointed him an expenseless and simple mode of cure. Behold, I thought - God's ways are not as our ways; he appoints that mode of cure which he knows to be best. Naaman expected to be treated with great ceremony; and instead of humbling himself before the Lord's prophet, he expected the prophet of the Lord to humble himself before him! Behold I thought; - and what did he think? Hear his words, for they are all very emphatic: -
1. "I thought, He will surely come Out to Me. He will never make his servant the medium of communication between Me and himself.
2. And stand - present himself before me, and stand as a servant to hear the orders of his God.
3. And call on the name of Jehovah his God; so that both his God and himself shall appear to do me service and honor.
4. And strike his hand over the place; for can it be supposed that any healing virtue can be conveyed without contact? Had he done these things, then the leper might have been recovered." [Adam Clarke]
God humbles the proud and exalts the contrite. Elisha would receive no gift from Naaman, even as Abraham would receive nothing from the king of Sodom. This is the sign of a true Man of God. They refuse to prostitute themselves for gain. Unlike false prophets throughout the ages, true Men of God are sold out to God, and not to mammon.
"He returned to the man of God — After the miraculous cure, Naaman returned to Elisha, to whom he acknowledged his full belief in the sole supremacy of the God of Israel and offered him a liberal reward. But to show that he was not actuated by the mercenary motives of the heathen priests and prophets, Elisha, though he accepted presents on other occasions (2Ki_4:42), respectfully but firmly declined them on this, being desirous that the Syrians should see the piety of God's servants, and their superiority to all worldly and selfish motives in promoting the honor of God and the i nterests of true religion." [ Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown]
However, Gehazi, riding on the coattails of Elisha seeks a gift [money] and receives leprosy in return. Such is the reward of the mercenary prophet!
"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. [Jas 5:1 - 3]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : GOD WILL KEEP HIS OWN!
One of the most enlightening and encouraging truths concerning the servants of God is found in the story of Elisha being surrounded by the Syrian army. Here we learn of the power of God and the ability and willingness of God to preserve and protect His own. We also learn these means of protection and preservation are not seen with human eyes. They are accepted by faith, and when necessary, revealed to the eyes of the inner man by the Holy Spirit. We are to live by faith, not by sight. However, God knows at what moment we need to be encouraged "by sight" so our faith will not fail. In all, God keeps whom He saves; and saves whom He intends to keep. This is encouraging, and strengthens our trust in the Living God.
"For the satisfaction of his servant there needed no more than the opening of his eyes; that therefore he prayed for, and obtained for him: Lord, open his eyes that he may see. The eyes of his body were open, and with them he saw the danger. "Lord, open the eyes of his faith, that with them he may see the protection we are under." Note, First, The greatest kindness we can do for those that are fearful and faint-hearted is to pray for them, and so to recommend them to the mighty grace of God. Secondly, The opening of our eyes will be the silencing of our fears. In the dark we are most apt to be frightened. The clearer sight we have of the sovereignty and power of heaven the less we shall fear the calamities of this earth." [Matthew Henry]
All that we need to make Heaven is found in Christ. On His part [that is - God], He will see to it that we never fall. However, on our part, we must keep our h and in His Hand, and not turn to the world from which we are saved. God has all power, and will employ it for our good. Whether angels, His Spirit, or His Word etc. the Godhead is sufficient to preserve us to His heavenly Kingdom. We simply need to keep our eyes on Christ.
"My sentiments respecting the perseverance of the Saints are, that those persons who have been grafted into Christ by true faith, and have thus been made partakers of his life-giving Spirit, possess sufficient powers [or strength] to fight against Satan, sin, the world and their own flesh, and to gain the victory over these enemies — yet not without the assistance of the grace of the same Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ also by his Spirit assists them in all their temptations, and affords them the ready aid of his hand; and, provided they stand prepared for the battle, implore his help, and be not wanting to themselves, Christ preserves them from falling. So that it is not possible for them, by any of the cunning craftiness or power of Satan, to be either seduced or dragged out of the hands of Christ. But I think it is useful and will be quite necessary in our first convention, [o r Synod] to institute a diligent inquiry from the Scriptures, whether it is not possible for some individuals through negligence to desert the commencement of their existence in Christ, to cleave again to the present evil world, to decline from the sound doctrine which was once delivered to them, to lose a good conscience, and to cause Divine grace to be ineffectual. Though I here openly and ingenuously affirm, I never taught that a true believer can, either totally or finally fall away from the faith, and perish; yet I will not conceal, that there are passages of scripture which seem to me to wear this aspect; and those answers to them which I have been permitted to see, are not of such a kind as to approve themselves on all points to my understanding. On the other hand, certain passages are produced for the contrary doctrine [of unconditional perseverance] which are worthy of much consideration." [Jacobus Arminius][1
Certainly, God will keep His own! The true believer will never fall or fail. Christ provides, protects, and preserves!