Open His Eyes
Awhile back, I came across the most incredible story in the Old Testament.* It occurs in 2 Kings Chapter 6, and tells of Elisha’s unshakeable faith in God’s provision.
Beginning in verse 8, we read that the king of Aram is at war with Israel, and growing increasingly frustrated as his repeated attempts to ambush his enemy are thwarted. Suspecting treason, he accuses his officers of leaking information to the king of Israel. When the king of Aram learns he is not the victim of betrayal, but rather Divine intervention in the form of the Prophet Elisha’s warnings to the king of Israel, he does not bow out in holy reverence to Yahweh.** Instead, he throws an Old Testament temper tantrum and hatches a plan to capture this whistle-blowing culprit by sending an entire army in the dead of night to surround the city where Elisha is reported to be living.***
The next morning, one of Elisha’s servants wakes up nice and early and heads outside to brush his teeth. As he rubs the sleep from his eyes, stretches his arms over his head, and looks around to greet this new God-given day, he is (unpleasantly) surprised to discover his normal view of fig trees and desert sand has been crowded out by horses, chariots, and angry enemy forces.****
In my mind, I picture a cartoon-like delayed reaction of terror, followed by a manic movement into action, as this servant hightails it back inside to tell the prophet what he saw.
Elisha’s response is my favorite. Rather than allowing himself to be swept up in the tsunami of terror that just washed his servant inside, Elisha remains Zen-like:
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered.
“Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (v. 16)
And then Elisha prays the greatest prayer ever:
“O LORD, open his eyes so 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 around Elisha.” (v. 17)
Whereas previously the servant’s eyes had focused only on the massive earthly forces poised to attack and potentially destroy them, once Yahweh opened his eyes he was able to finally see the far greater magnitude of heavenly forces encircling and protecting God’s chosen people.
The story goes on to describe a miraculous (and surprisingly non-violent) turn of events, which is certainly worth reading; however I want to focus on Elisha’s brilliantly simple prayer in response to his servant’s limited perspective.
I love that Elisha doesn't launch into some lengthy sermon, lecturing his servant on Yahweh's faithfulness and belittling him for his doubt. I love that Elisha's own faith in Yahweh's deliverance is so strong, he doesn't even need to verify for himself that the chariots of fire exist - he knows implicitly they are there, and they are stronger than anything the enemy has prepared for them. I love that Elisha knows the value in someone experiencing Yahweh for themselves (vs. through the inspiration of another), and so he prays the most simple, beautiful, articulate prayer ever: open his eyes.
Which enemy forces have you surrounded and paralyzed with fear today?
Finances? Heartbreak? Betrayal? Illness? Death? Addiction? Abandonment?
Join me in praying that God would open our eyes to the insurmountable strength available to us through His all-consuming love. He overcame the world, and He did it for you (and for me). The same chariots of fire that aided Elisha in overtaking his enemy are available to us today when we have eyes to witness the miracle of redemptive intervention occurring in and throughout our lives.
*I think this is one of my favorite things about the Bible: the way it brings ancient texts to life in my heart
**This makes sense, of course, as the king of Aram did not worship Yahweh nor recognize Him as God
****let’s be real, here, folks. I have no clue what a “normal” Old Testament morning view would consist of, nor do I know what exactly the servant was doing outside when he noticed they'd been surrounded.