The Expository Files

Chariots of Fire

2 Kings 6:8-18

Ben-hadad was the king of Syria and constant enemy of Israel. His army was more powerful as he led his warriors into Israel to capture its armies and conquer. The account is found in 2 Kings 6:8-18. The time would come when, because of their unfaithfulness, that God would permit Assyria to conquer Israel, but the Lord was not finished sending prophets to Israel urging them to repent.

Ben-hadad planned his strategies with his generals in top secret. They would encamp in a certain place and do battle. Unfortunately for the Syrians, there plans always failed. Israel's armies were always someplace else. It was as if Israel had a spy.

Enraged that ambush after ambush failed, Ben-hadad calls his servants together and screams, "Will you tell me which one of us is for the king of Israel?" (vs. 11). Ben-hadad was certain that there was a spy in their midst.

There wasn't. One of the servants responded, "No, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words you speak in your bedroom." (vs. 12).

Espionage can be tricky business, but there is no better spy than a prophet of God. Even Ben-hadad's bedroom is "bugged" as the Holy Spirit reveals to Elisha every detail of every plan.

Ben-Hadad correctly decides that in order win victory, he must get rid of Israel's eyes and ears. He must capture Elisha. "So he said, 'Go and see where he is, that I may send and take him.' And it was told him, saying, 'Behold, he is in Dothan.'" (2 Kings 6:13). Easier said than done!

Ben-hadad sent a great army of horses and chariots to surround the city of Dothan in the night. There would be no escape for Elisha. Elisha's servant rose early in the morning and went out of the house. He beheld the warriors completely surrounding the city and went to Elisha and said, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" What Elisha said next must have startled the servant: "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." (2 Kings 6:16). Who was Elijah talking about? Who was with them?

"Then Elisha prayed and said, "O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." (2 Kings 6:17). All around them, but beyond the capabilities of the five human physical senses, was all the protection necessary. Elisha would be no prisoner that day. His would be captors would be.

Consider three points from this incident.

The Enemy Has Surrounded Us

We live in a fallen world. There is evil on every side. There is sickness and temptation and sorrow. Tragedy and loss sometimes strikes. Problems with personal relationships, economic difficulties, personal failure. Finally, death comes to all.

In the words of Elisha's servant, "What shall we do?" The answer is found in faith.

Today, the enemy commander is not Ben-hadad, but Satan. The spears and darts come in the form of temptations and trials. He means to take us captive. Paul mentions some who had already been captured, and their need to be taught and encouraged to repent; "and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." (2 Timothy 2:26).

It is when the child of God, aware of God's presence in his or her life, faces down the adversary that his or her light shines the brightest (1 Peter 4:14-16; 2:12). God is glorified and the disciple is strengthened. There is assurance and peace even in the midst of evil. We need to dedicate ourselves to making the most of every situation to live godly knowing our Lord will give the victory (Ephesians 5:15-17; Philippians 1:12,13). Its time to don your
armor! (Ephesians 6:10-12).

God Is Greater Than The Enemy

We also learn a good lesson from the response of Elisha to the "threat." The servant saw the odds as two versus a thousand. He forgot God in his equation. We must not do the same.

We are body and spirit. There is a physical realm and there is a spiritual realm. There is more to a man than the sum total of his physical parts (Matthew 10:28). There is more to our universe than just the things we can see with our eyes (Corinthians 10:3-5;7; 4:16-18).

In Elisha's day, unseen by the physical senses was the providence of God. God is present in every situation where His child encounters the enemy.

Not everyone can see it, but God is there to support, protect and encourage. He will handle the situation if we will handle our faith. This does not mean an absence of suffering or even death, but it does mean absolute and final victory. God's people of faith might die, but they will live again. Every tear shall be wiped from their eyes.

And, by the way, man's final enemy is death. Then there are no more battles and no more enemies to face. By faith, the war is won forever.

God Will Deliver Us

The invaders sent from Ben-hadad were struck blind and led into the midst of Israel, where their sight is restored. Elisha instructs the king to feed them and send them home. This is done, and Ben-hadad becomes so terrified by the experience that he stops sending his marauding bands into Israel.

Elisha followed a course of three steps in all this. These three steps are well worth noting:

1) Prayer (2 Kings 6:17). This is the best first step in dealing with the enemy. There is more going on than just the things we see. There are chariots of fire doing battle in the spiritual realm (Revelation 6:9-11; Philippians 4:6,7)

2) Faith. The second step is faith. We have not seen the throne of God, but we believe He reigns and is in control. Recall how Stephen, just before his death, was permitted to view this realm (Acts 7:56). We shall join the Lord there one day (see also Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:1).

3) Obedience. The third step is obedience. This is how we build our houses on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27). These are the steps to take for victory, eternal in Christ.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 10.2, February, 2003