Elisha and the Syrian Problem
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry once again. Thank you for joining me today as we consider another end-time message that we pray will help you prepare for the coming of Jesus.
We’ve spent a lot of time in recent months on the prophetic implications of the political matters in the world, and particularly in relation to the United States, which is the second global center of prophetic fulfillments (the first being the Vatican). It is time to remember that the Bible is at the center of our hope, and that it gives us everything we need to navigate the end times right down to the close of probation. The inspired voice written 2000 years ago, speaks to us today as we walk in the love of Christ and face an increasingly hostile world. This should not surprise us because the enemy of souls is being given more latitude and freedom to work his mysterious iniquity in the hearts of men.
We see his latitude in the way protestors on the ultra-right and on the ultra-left fight with each other and kill each other sometimes. We see this is in the extremism that leads to terrorism. We see there are wars aplenty. We see this principle in operation in the rapes, theft, abuse, slavery and other crimes. All these things Jesus predicted. He did not give us all the details of these unfortunate and rather wicked developments, but he gave us enough so that we can know that we are very near the end.
Religious liberty is under assault around the world like never before. Hate speech, violence speak, and political rhetoric all tell us that Jesus is coming in the clouds of glory very soon. Today, though it is time to go to the scriptures and look at how God’s prophet Elisha dealt with the real issue in his own day. We need to anchor ourselves in Christ, and understand the meaning and application of the Old Testament story found in the life of Elisha to our own times. And there are very big lessons to learn.
We often seem to miss who is the real enemy. It is not Republican conservatives, or Democratic liberals. It is not the Labor party or the liberal party. It is not any other political construction human engineering can create. The real enemy is evil and deceptive. He gets us to think that we are doing good when we are really doing his bidding. He tries to draw us in to controversies. He tries to anger us by injustice, abuse, and unkind actions. He stokes evil feelings of retaliation, even among church members. The anger against monuments, which are sometimes perceived as symbols of injustice and the reaction by opposing forces, has already turned deadly. But this is only a sample of what we must expect to happen when that anger is turned against God’s people. It will be deadly. And when the voice of the Holy Spirit can no longer be heard, only God’s outright protection will preserve His people.
Let us never forget that God stands in the shadows keeping watch above His own. If you are in Christ’s, my friend, you are in God, and there is nothing that can harm you or deceive you, or in anyway lead you down the wrong path. If you are in Christ, you follow His promptings and He guides your steps through the Bible and the indicators from the Holy Spirit. Remember, Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Friends, I don’t know about you, but I see this verse is telling me that though the rest of the world is in spiritual darkness, God will see to it that I have a light to guide my feet and keep me from stumbling. We need to practice the reality of this verse.
Don’t do anything without first consulting the Bible and your God. Don’t open your mouth and say anything until you have darted a prayer heavenward and asked for divine wisdom and unction from the Holy Spirit. This is vital to your survival in these last days. So many of God’s people are not living by the word. They go along from day to day without a thought hardly of God who sees and knows everything they think and do. He knows that they are not listening. Like ancient Israel, they are as blind to the proceedings of heaven as anyone can be. And it’s because they are so preoccupied with their daily lives, their personal agendas, or they fall into the emotions of the political matters that roil the press.
There is a famine in the land, my friends. It is not a famine for bread and water, but it is a famine for the hearing and doing of the word of the Lord. Everywhere you turn, people are angry, it seems, and they don’t have peace. Yes, there have been some bad events in the recent past, but these are only a harbinger of the things to come.
There is also darkness. This world is in such gross spiritual darkness that people cannot understand spiritual things. But many of them long for light. A few months ago, I sent you a sermon on Isaiah 60, which was intended to help you think about the kind of man or woman you need to be in order to receive the latter rain and be the bright light that will appeal to gentiles, kings and rulers and people of every stripe and lead them to the Savior. I hope it was a blessing to you. But the darkness is really out there. It is very real. And the story of Elisha reminds us of the forces we are dealing with in these last days. It is a prophetic prototype of our own circumstances.
As we begin, let us pray. Dear Father in heaven, we are starting to see the forces of the enemy preparing for the last great conflict. We ask that Your Holy Spirit will be given to us that we may be in Christ so that when chaos and violence is unleashed, we can stand unmoved and certain of our future in God. Give us the peace and the certainty that we are in the hands of the Almighty. Send Your lovely Spirit to sooth our troubled hearts, and gives us Your wisdom and blessing today as we study Your word. In Jesus name, amen.
What is really going on behind the scenes, my friends? What is the cause of the unrest, the provocation, the violence and turmoil in our land? The Bible makes it clear. We are living in an age that has been predicted to see these things take place. Jesus Himself said that as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man. He pointed out that they will kill you thinking they are doing God’s service. All of this anger and violence is conditioning people to unleash so much more violence on God’s true people one day. They are being trained to think violence. The thoughts and the imaginations of their hearts are only evil continually.
The enemy of souls is behind all this. And my guess is that he has used various human entities, societies and individuals to orchestrate this from George Soros to the Jesuits. But the bottom line is that the real cause of all this violence is the enemy of souls. And he has had a lot of practice over thousands of years.
Now let us turn in our Bibles to 2 Kings 6:24. Remember that earlier in chapter six, the Syrians had surrounded the city of Dothan and Elisha’s servant was terrified. Elisha simply told him in verse 16, “Fear not, they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Then he asked God to open the eyes of his servant. Now his servant could see the legions of angels protecting the city and Elisha from the enmity of his enemies.
Elisha also asked God to blind the eyes of the armies of Syria in a fitting symbol of their spiritual blindness. He led them into the city of Samaria and then asked God to open their eyes. They were now captives. But Elisha was kind to them. He fed them and treated them with respect. Very magnanimous indeed.
The lessons are powerful. No matter what forces you are up against, God’s forces are more powerful. No matter what difficulties or trials, no matter what enemies you face, God is bigger than it all. One angel has power to stay all the hosts of darkness when it comes to God’s true followers.
Benhadad represents the human enemies of God’s people. Think about who they are today. There are the globalists, the Vatican and the Jesuits. There are the infiltrators, the false teachers, the false brethren, and even the pseudo-conservatives (those who pretend to be loyal to the truth but are not loyal to all the truth). The Bible must be understood to have application to our times, and this story represents the relentless opposition and war against the people of God by their enemies and by the arch-enemy, Satan himself. 2 Peter 2:9, says, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” Friends, this is a great promise. We need to realize that “if God be for us, who can be against us?”
To practice this kind of confidence in God when you cannot see the future is what God wants from us. It is this kind of faith that Christ is developing in His true followers. Elisha, who represents those living in the last days, practices calm assurance, even in the face of the enemies of God’s people. By faith, he sees the hosts of heaven protecting him. He sees what the eye of unbelief cannot see.
Friends, if you think that all is lost, and that nobody cares, look up and see that the hosts of heaven are working for you. See that they that be with us are more than they that be with them. What God did to deliver Israel from Egypt on a grand scale, He will also do for you on a personal level. I’ve seen it so many times in my life. I can’t count them all. I’m astonished at how God delivers. Take courage. “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
Even though Elisha has healed Naaman, Benhadad’s top general; even though Elisha has been magnanimous to the captured host of Syria, it seems that Benhadad is a relentless enemy. He doesn’t understand that God is defending Israel and that he has no chance of overthrowing it. He doesn’t realize that if he keeps this up, he is going to eventually be destroyed by the wrath of God. Benhadad’s cup of iniquity is not yet full, however. Elisha is God’s man on the ground that God can use to bring Israel, His church, to its senses. But God also gives Benhadad another opportunity to yield himself to God and surrender to Divine authority.
But he was having none of it. He was so determined to overthrow Israel that even though Elisha had demonstrated that Benhadad was on a fool’s mission, he still strained himself, and put himself to great pains in order to bring trouble to Israel. Without provocation he surrounds the city of Samaria seeking its destruction. Let us read verse 24 of chapter 6. “And it came to pass after this that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.” Some nations have a relentless hatred toward other nations, even today. No matter what they do, they still try to destroy them. It is the same between the churches, some churches and their leaders have an unrelenting hatred for God’s Sabbath and His Sabbath-keeping people, and no matter how friendly and kind God’s church is toward them, they will always try to undermine God’s people and even destroy them.
What does “after this” refer to? It is saying that after all the kindness that Elisha has done to the Syrian armies, after all that God has done to enlighten them, they are still going to attack Israel, and put God’s church to distress.
And this is the way it is in the last days. You can be as kind as you can to your enemies, but they are still your enemies. There are base spirits that can never feel obliged. If you win a friend in the process, that’s all good. But most of the time, enemies, inspired by Satan, are still enemies. You cannot trust them. You cannot send them your children to educate. You cannot give them money to preach against you. You can’t pal around with them. You can love them and be kind to them, but they are still dangerous. Error is always dangerous, we are told. And though it is not easy to see, the war on God’s church is being stoked in the streets of our modern towns and cities. The strife and conflicts are currently directed at another target, monuments, white supremacists or whatever. But really they are preparing and training for the final assault on God’s people.
Elisha’s experience is instructive to our own. God’s church is going to come under siege. The enemy is already arraying his forces and is building war machines to destroy it. Let’s read on. Verse 25 says that because of the siege, “there was a great famine in Samaria: and behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.”
The capital city of Israel was brought to its knees, to its last extremity. The people were starving. Perhaps the siege was so sudden that they did not have time to store up provisions for a long time.
Think about it. The physical represents the spiritual prophetically. If you don’t store up spiritual provisions, my friends, you will not survive the coming spiritual famine. They were unprepared, and you will also be unprepared. Like the 10 virgins in Jesus’ parable, 5 of them had laid up extra provisions of oil for their lamps. But the foolish virgins did not. And when the bridegroom came, they did not have enough to take them through the night. We must prepare by storing up spiritual strength for the time when we will need it, the time of famine for the word of the Lord.
Lamentations 4:9 says, “They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.”
Whatever the case, the famine was so grievous and the food was so scarce that even an ass’s head, which has but little flesh on it, is unsavory and unwholesome, and which is also ceremonially unclean, was still sold for 80 pieces of silver. And small quantities of lentils (often called dove’s dung) no more than the quantity of about six eggs was sold for 5 pieces of silver.
You see, my friends. Spiritually speaking, the fruit of the field are the lessons you can learn from the Bible. If you haven’t stored up spiritual provisions for the time of trouble, you may not have your Bible to read when God’s people come under direct assault.
And inflation in the city was monstrous. Nothing was going in or out of the city. Food stores were getting terribly low. And merchants were profiteering off of the pain of the people. It was getting so bad that people were desperate. The Syrians apparently determined not to storm the city, but to starve it.
We are to learn to value the plenty, and be thankful for it. And see how worthless money is, when in the time of famine it is so easily parted with for anything that is eatable.
Verse 26. “And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.”
Think about this for a minute. This church member was desperate for food. She begs the leader, the king of Israel to help her. But Jehoram, the son of Ahab cannot. He has gone up on the wall to direct the guard, or post the archers, or whatever else, and here is this woman who cries out to him. “Help, my lord, O king!” Where else should she go but to her prince for help? By his office, as king, he is her protector and the avenger of wrong? He should bring her food from his own barns and drink from his own winepress.
But Jehoram’s barns are empty too. His winepress has failed him as well. Under normal circumstances he would have plenty of provisions, enough to feed an army. These would be the last to fail. But now he doesn’t have enough to relieve this ailing woman. His response in verse 27 is interesting. He says, “If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? Out of the barnfloor or out of the winepress?” In other words, “Let us be content, and make the best of our affliction, looking up to God, for, till he help us, I cannot help thee.”
His response is not out of peevishness, or arrogance, as some would, perhaps, conclude. He is actually tender with her. Notice his next question and the shocking answer. “And the king said unto her, what aileth thee? And she answered, ‘This woman said unto me, “Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.”
Imagine how bad the famine was! They were reduced to cannibalism. These two young mothers make an awful agreement. We must presume that their husbands are now dead. But with a babe in her arms, she boils her son and these share his flesh. Friends, God has not promised that we will always have plenty. He only says that the bread and water of His followers, His people, will be sure. But of those who do not obey Christ and live for themselves, they may well suffer extreme difficulties in the time of trouble.
Consider this woman. She is a church member, but one that is very hungry. Often people come to church waiting to be fed by the present truth of the scriptures, but they go away disappointed. There are many that experience this every week. Over time, their hunger gets deeper and deeper, and they continually go away disappointed. Someone eventually comes and offers to give them something meaningful. They start to study these things, but it is false doctrine and they end up worse than they were before.
The enemy does his best to make the time that should be filled with joy and spiritual blessing a curse and a source of famine. Often, the leader who has no experience with Christ cannot feed the flock with the living bread. Like the king of Israel, he has nothing to offer. And sometimes, through backbiting, gossip and other unsavory behavior, we eat our own spiritual posterity.
Here is another point. Notice that the king is subject to the famine as well. He is no better off than anyone else. In times of plenty, we often make distinctions between people. Some are respected more than others, for instance. Some are treated differently than others because they have money or influence or whatever. But in the end, when the time of trouble comes, we are all – that is all the faithful ones –reduced to the same level. This can be very humbling for those who are used to being on a pedestal, and having prestige and benefits and other things that common church members do not have.
But in the time of famine, we are all reduced to the same basic necessities. We all will suffer under the discipline of God. That is when we will see who has developed the character that will stand in the day of God. That is when we will see who has made preparations and laid aside spiritual provisions to call upon.
Times of famine often follow times of plenty. We cannot be sure that tomorrow will be the same as today. So, preserve what you can, because no one knows whether there will be enough for tomorrow. Lay up the treasures of the word of God in your soul so that when the pressure comes upon you, you will have stored enough provisions to get you through.
The king’s comment is also another truth. Everyone is helpless without God even in times of plenty. Yet, we don’t often recognize or acknowledge that. It is often far from our minds when times are good. It is when we enter strait places and challenging times, when there seems to be no escape, we are reminded of our utter dependence on God. God allows, and even ordains challenging times to come upon His people so that we do not forget that we are nothing without Him.
The woman and one of her neighbors had made a barbarous bargain. Imagine eating your own child! This is horrific. This is a severe instance where the dominion of the flesh overcame that of the spirit, when the natural affections of the mind were overpowered by the natural appetites of the body.
All of this is the consequence of rebellion and sin. Israel turned its back on God over the course of seven kings, from Jeroboam through to Ahab and Jezebel. God has seen to it that the king of Syria punished Israel so severely they were eating the flesh of their children. When God withdraws His protection, things can be pretty barbaric. This is exactly as predicted by God himself through Moses. Deuteronomy 28:50-57 gives us this prophetic warning. I’ll only read the pointed verses.
“A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young… And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee…”
Isn’t that an awful prediction? God makes it clear that they will be so hungry that they will eat their own children, the very ones that God Himself gave them. Obviously, they didn’t believe it. They rebelled against God, and came under the power of Jezebel. Then even after Jezebel was gone, they still rebelled and refused to follow God. Now God was going to fulfill his prophecies very powerfully.
Do you think God would do that today? Are we so spiritually blind that we turn our backs on God and bring rock music into our churches? This is like the golden calves that Jeroboam set up in Dan and Bethel. Are we going to start ordaining those who God has not authorized? Remember Jeroboam sent the true Levites packing and ordained the “lowest of the people” to do the work of the priest. Are we going to bring competitive sports into our schools, wine into our hospitals, and other plain departures from the law of our God?
We sacrifice our children on the alter of the new order that has come into the church. We eat their spiritual flesh, as it were, by feeding them violent, sensual cartoons, TV programs designed to shape their minds in evil ways and give them music that isn’t fit for a Christian. How can we ever recover? We are at the mercy of our enemies really.
Are we so spiritually deaf that we can be deceived by Spiritual Formation, ecumenism, and other false principles? Liberalism eats up our children, and our families, my friends. Because worldliness has come into the church, they lose any chance they had of spiritual interest and fervor. Worldliness changes the way the church relates to God’s law and God Himself. It blinds us to the real consequences of sin. “Only believe” we are told. Don’t worry about anything else. This story, my friends, has special spiritual significance to us today. What they were doing literally, we are doing spiritually.
Let me read on from verse 54. “So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave…”
Conflict, conniving and meanness breaks up families that should be strong spiritually. Why does a family break up? It is usually because of selfishness on the part of one or the other or both partners. Does that sound familiar?
Verse 55, “So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates. The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.”
Now listen to this from Daniel 8:23-25. This is talking about the Papacy. “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.”
Notice, here again is this phrase “fierce countenance.” This king is the enemy of God’s true people. “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.”
This is saying that the Papacy is going to try to destroy the mighty people. That’s the people with the mighty power of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It is also the people who have sanctified themselves by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. They live in the sight of a holy God without sin. They purified themselves by obedience to God’s law and the principles of heaven, even in this wicked and chaotic world. They did not get involved in the political defense of their rights. Nor did they engage in political questions and social reforms which would just drag them down spiritually. They remained true to God.
Notice verse 25. “And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.”
This power is deceptive. It sneaks in among God’s people and infiltrates into their sanctuaries. It raises skeptical questions and ridicules the present truth message, so that God’s people lose their certainty about the principles that God has given them. And when the time comes, the Papacy will be prepared to besiege God’s church and make God’s people suffer under persecution. Don’t expect the brick and mortar buildings to remain available for church members to use.
Remember, the Bible will tell you how to understand and apply itself to our situation and times. It will tell you how to understand it by comparing scripture with scripture.
Notice that the fierce countenance of the Syrian king in the time of Elisha is a prototype of the king with a fierce countenance at the end time.
Verses 30, “And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.”
Jehoram’s irritation and indignation against Elisha was unjustified. He should have taken a lesson from his father’s experience with Elijah. But Jehoram is so blind that he blames Elisha the prophet for the calamity. He lamented the crisis, but he did not lament his own wickedness. He was concerned about the effect of the famine on his people, but did not realize that it was his own sins and that of his people that had brought on the siege in the first place.
The foolishness of man perverts his way. He twists things around to the point where he does the opposite thing of what he should do. Instead of blaming Elisha and vowing to lift off his head, he should have blamed himself and vowed to take down the golden calves in Dan and Bethel. He should have let the law take its course against the prophets of the groves. Elisha had dealt with the prophets of Baal, but Ahab’s son, whose responsibility it was before God to get rid of them, let them remain. Jehoram now blames the prophet Elisha like his father Ahab blamed Elijah and he swears that he will kill him.
But isn’t that the way it is for God’s faithful people in every age? They seem to often get blamed for national calamities because they do not go along with the wickedness. And in the last days, it is the very ones who are loyal to the law of the Lord, who keep His seventh-day Sabbath and refuse to worship the beast or his image, that get blamed for the calamities that come upon the land because of the iniquity of its leaders and people. The same is true in the churches. Often it is the faithful pastors that are let go from ministry. It is the pastors who love the message that are often removed from their ministerial role or are taken out of larger churches and assigned to the small conservative churches way out in the country.
What is the matter with the king? What had Elisha done? His head is the most innocent in all of Israel. It is also the most valuable in all of Israel. And yet, his head is made an anathema.
The same thing happened in the time of the persecuting Roman emperors. When the empire groaned under any extraordinary calamity, the fault was laid on the Christians, and they were doomed to destruction.
Perhaps Jehoram was hot under the collar with Elisha because he had foretold this judgment. Perhaps Elisha had persuaded him to hold out and not surrender. Or perhaps because Elisha did not pray to raise the siege and relieve the city. In any case, Jehoram was angry with Elisha and wanted to kill him. Elisha was not likely to pray for relief until Israel had repented of its sins and reformed its ways. In any case, the king had no reason to expect that the prophet would do anything.
Verse 32, “But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him…”
Jehoram was like a wild bull in a net, or the troubled sea when it cannot rest. Meanwhile, Elisha sat well composed in his house as calm and serene as an evening sunset. He had the elders with him and was employing them in instruction in the law of the Lord, no doubt.
Continuing on with verse 32. “And the king sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door; is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?”
Elisha told the elders there was an officer of the king coming to cut off his head, and told them to stop him at the door and not let him in, for Jehoram was following him. The same spirit of prophecy that enabled Elisha to tell him what was done at a distance authorized him to call the king the son of a murderer, for under normal circumstances we are not to “speak evil of dignities.” 2 Peter 2:10.
We may need to explain things about their behavior to understand their prophetic role, but we are not to call them names, swear at them and treat them with disrespect. Of course, we see this all the time in media about political leaders. But this is wrong and sinful, according to the scriptures.
Jehoram was the son of a murderer. His father Ahab had authorized the killing of the prophets of the Lord under Jezebel’s direction. He had also had Naboth killed so he could have his vineyard. And no doubt, he killed others as well.
Elisha had done no evil. Yet Jehoram, Israel’s king, was out to get him. Is there a connection between Elisha and God’s people in the last days? Does this sound like anything you have read about the future of God’s people during the time of trouble just before Jesus comes again?
Listen to this comment about the final conflict from the book The Great Controversy, pages 615 and 616. “As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. The same argument many centuries ago was brought against Christ by the ‘rulers of the people.’ ‘It is expedient for us,’ said the wily Caiaphas, ‘that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.’ John 11:50. This argument will appear conclusive; and a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts.”
Elisha is a prophetic prototype of those who will live through the final global time of trouble such as never was. Under pressure from natural disasters and other calamities, God’s people will be seen as the cause. They will appeal to the people, as Elijah and Elisha did, to return to the law of God, and to His true worship. But they will be viewed as traitors, as troublers of the people, and as the harbinger of more evil to come. Getting rid of them will seem like the most logical and conclusive way to get back the blessing of God upon the nation.
Today, the President of the United States claims that he will bring back jobs and prosperity and make America great again. But if he fails in this, perhaps he will need a reason, a scapegoat, so to speak. Or perhaps a future president will need one when he or she fails to fulfill campaign promises to get the blessing of God back on the nation. They will then blame the very ones who are holding back the strongest pains of the wrath of God as if they are its cause. Think about it. Evangelicals are rising in power and influence. They will eventually claim that God’s judgments are upon the nation because of national backsliding, and press for Sunday laws to get the nation back to God.
In the midst of the terrible crisis, Elisha trusted God’s purposes to bring Israel back to its position of distinction from the world. God would show that relief will only come from God. It would be so dramatic that there would be no question that Israel was delivered by the God of heaven. He used Elisha to predict the dramatic turnaround.
Let us now look at 2 Kings 7:1. “Then Elisha said, Here ye the word of the Lord, Thus saith the Lord, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.”
Elisha prophesies that despite the desperate situation, despite the famine and starvation, despite the armies of Syria blockading the city, and despite the hopeless situation, within 24 hours Israel would have plenty. Their case was going to go from the worst case to the best case. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity to magnify His own power. God brought Israel into such straits, just so He could demonstrate His power. God’s time to appear for His people is when their strength is gone. When they give up expecting help, that’s when help comes. Listen to Deuteronomy 32:36. “For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.”
Has God ever done that for you? Has God stretched your faith so tight that you almost gave up hope? That’s what He did for Israel. I know some people that just can’t seem to understand that. They get all upset and blame God for their extremities and difficulties, or lash out at Him. You see, when you are at the very bottom and God delivers you, you love Him more than ever. When you have directly and clearly seen His handiwork on your behalf to deliver you from some serious problem, you become more loyal than ever. So, when you are in difficulty, that is the time to trust Him, so that He can deliver you.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and in my own life many times. It is wonderful when you can consciously trust the almighty God to deliver the godly out of the temptation to doubt Him.
Now think about this. In the last days, God’s faithful people will be tried to the utmost. They will be in desperate straits. They will be without resources, without defense and without hope. They can only trust in the promises of God. They cannot see how they can escape their enemies who have designed not only to humiliate them, but are planning to destroy them. At the most desperate moment, when circumstances are the worst, and it appears that all is lost, then is when God will choose to deliver his people. And when God delivers His whole church by His mighty hand just before the second coming, He is bonding them collectively to Himself as a purified church without spot or wrinkle.
Here it is from the book The Great Controversy, page 635. “The people of God—some in prison cells, some hidden in solitary retreats in the forests and the mountains—still plead for divine protection, while in every quarter companies of armed men, urged on by hosts of evil angels, are preparing for the work of death. It is now, in the hour of utmost extremity, that the God of Israel will interpose for the deliverance of His chosen.”
“When the Son of Man comes shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. You see, my friends, this is true faith. When your enemy puts you into an extremity, you look to God for deliverance. Your experience in this now prepares you for the future final test.
Where was deliverance for Israel going to come from? After all, all the food in the city was exhausted, Israel had no way to fight the Syrians, and no way to replenish food for the whole city. Elisha didn’t say what dramatic miracle God was going to perform, but he was very clear that the people could trust the God of heaven to fulfill His word.
Now let us read verse 2. “Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?”
Elisha was not impressed by this lord’s lack of faith. This was one of Jehoram’s most trusted servants. He was a very high official. And he questioned God’s promise. And now, apparently Jehoram arrives and asks “What, shall I wait for the Lord any longer?”
Friends, let me ask you a question. If you don’t trust God’s promises, will they be fulfilled for you? Of course not. They are conditional on your faith. And in the end time, God is looking for people who will trust Him implicitly even when there appears to be no hope. The same has been true in every age. God’s people have always been put to the test. If they fail, then God can’t really use them like He would like to.
Elisha essentially said, “Well, you hear what this man says, now hear the word of the Lord, hear what He says, hear it, heed it and believe it: Tomorrow corn shall be sold at the usual rate in the gate of Samaria. In other words, the siege will end, the gates will open and the market will function as before. This seemed to be impossible when Elisha said these words. But they were nevertheless a certainty, because Elisha was under divine inspiration.
In spite of the king’s determination to kill Elisha, God determined to deliver him. God also determined to deliver the king and all of Israel from the Syrian menace. Where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound.
The lord, who openly declared his disbelief in the prediction and promise, was a courtier whom the king had an affection for, as the man of his right hand, on whom he leaned, that is, on whose prudence he much relied. He had a lot of confidence in this man. Elisha was not impressed. He knew that God who could rain corn out of the clouds as he had once done with manna, or multiply the meal in the barrel, could easily provide for all the needs of His people in an instant.
The terrible lack of faith was certainly going to be repaid. Elisha responded by another prophecy, this time a terrible one. “Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shall not eat thereof.” Verse 2.
Unbelief is a sin by which men greatly dishonor and displease God. It also deprives them of the favors He wants to bestow on them. The murmuring Israelites saw Canaan, but could not enter in because of their unbelief. We forfeit the benefit of God’s promise if we cannot find it in our hearts to believe God’s word.
Let us read on. “And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.”
These men were not as desperate as the people in the city. They saw a glimmer of hope in their situation. God blessed their little bit, and led them into the camp of the Syrians, thinking they would meet the foe and quite possibly be killed.
Verse 5. “And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there.”
No doubt these lepers were prompted by the Spirit of the Lord to throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrians. But what they found was astonishing. There was no one there. Not only was everything left as it was, there was food and drink everywhere. Not only was the siege lifted on the edge of darkness, but it was obviously lifted in a hurry. Not one sword was brandished against them. Not one artillery was raised against them. Not a drop of blood was shed. There was no thunderstorm, no hail, nothing abnormal. The Syrians apparently fled the scene in great haste. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” The besiegers were completely gone. How did it happen?
Verse 6. “For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.”
While the Syrians that besieged Dothan had their sight imposed upon. These Syrians had their hearing imposed upon. God knows how to work upon every sense to bring about the counsels of this will. Just as God makes the seeing to see, and the hearing to hear, he can make his enemies blind and deaf.
We don’t know whether the “noise” was literally made by the ministry of angels or if they just heard a noise in their ears. Either way, they were frightened that perhaps the king of Israel had hired others to come after the Syrians. It is interesting that the sight of horses and chariots had encouraged the heart of Elisha’s servant, while the sound of horses and chariots terrified the hosts of Syria. Noises from the invisible are either very comforting or very terrifying depending on whether men are at peace with God or at war with Him.
If the Syrians would have thought about it, they would perhaps not have fled as rapidly as they did. Perhaps they would have stood prepared to fight. After all, the Egyptians and the Hittites would have had to come a long way. And how would the King of Israel, who was under a close siege, have informed them of his need? And what would he have hired these foreign powers with? He was destitute. They would have had more to worry about from the king of Judah than the kings of Egypt and the Hittites. But there they were in great fear where there was no fear. None of them had enough sense to send out scouts to spy out the supposed enemy. “The wicked flee when no one pursueth.” Proverbs 28:1. God can, when He pleases, discourage the boldest and bravest and make the stout heart to tremble. Those that will not fear God are vulnerable. God can make them fear at the shaking of a leaf. On the other hand, those that do fear God do not fear even the mightiest of men and their most formidable of enemies. They stand unmoved amid all the chaos and danger that the enemy can throw at them. Christ stands by their side.
In the time of trouble just before Jesus comes again, God intends to use His faithful people to demonstrate His character in the mess that the enemy has created in the world.
Verse 7, “Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.”
They fled with incredible haste. They left everything behind including their horses, which Israel would need to replenish their cavalry.
Verse 8, “And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it.”
Some think these lepers were Gehazi and his three sons. If so, ironically God provided for them too though Gehazi seems to have fallen back into his old ways of greed. But then it is as if he remembers the reason why he is a leper and considers that it is better to tell someone of their good fortune rather than suffer a worse fate.
Verse 9-11. “Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household. So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were. And he called the porters; and they told it to the king’s house within.”
God still is trying to win Gehazi. He uses him to tell others the good news.
The king cannot believe the Syrians are that fearful. He thinks it is a Syrian strategy to draw the Israelites out of the city and then attack them. After all, he thought, the Syrians had no reason to flee. Obviously, the king of Israel nor any of his attendants had not heard the noise of the chariots and horses that had frightened the Syrians. Nor can he believe that God has visited him with good fortune since he has forfeited God’s blessing by his unbelief and impatience. A guilty conscience causes men to fear the worst and makes them suspicious.
Verse 12-14. “And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city. And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see. They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.”
So they sent out spies to find out what happened to the Syrians. The Bible says “they went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king.”
Verse 16, “And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD.”
The Lord intended that the spoil of the Syrians would replenish the Israelites, just as the Egyptians enriched them as they left Egypt. The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous (the just), Proverbs 13:22.
This is a great lesson to us in the end times. God knows how to supply our genuine wants. He knows how to spread a table in the wilderness. He knows how to give bread to the hungry. Just like Elijah was fed by the ravens at the brook Cherith or at the widow’s home in Zarephath, God can feed a whole nation when it is necessary. He had done it for Israel in the wilderness for 40 years.
When we are brought low, that is when God steps in and supplies our need. When we are “crucified” that is when He resurrects. Israel little thought that God would deliver them in their distress by the very ones that had brought the distress upon them.
Imagine, my friends, in the last days, how do you think God will sustain His people? My guess is that in some way He will use their very enemies to provide their bread and water, at least some of the time. It matters not how. What is truly important is that God’s promises are certain and they will surely be fulfilled. When we trust God, and follow His instructions in the Bible, He provides everything.
Verse 17, “And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him.”
The lord’s unbelief was deadly. This lesson is very important for us today. If we do not have faith that God’s promises will be fulfilled, we are headed for the same end. Not because God is looking for ways to punish us, but the fact is, the whole kingdom of heaven and its principles revolve around trusting God to do what He says He will do. I’m amazed at how few of God’s people have tested God and His promises. Very few have a living experience with Him. Very few believe that He will actually fulfill them.
Let me put it another way. We are to test everything by the word of God. If the world says that it is good to play competitive sports because there are good lessons you can learn from it, like team work or how to be a good looser, you can go to the word of God and discover for yourself that God condemns competitive sports. Just check out Philippines 2:3. I’ll read it to you. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.” Its that simple. If we follow God’s word, He will bless us with spiritual insight and maturity. But if we disobey, we will be spiritual pigmies. And that’s where a lot of God’s people are today.
If God says “to Him that overcometh…” and then a promise, it is saying that our sins can be overcome. Why then do many preachers and teachers tell us that our sins cannot be overcome? Other places in scripture tell us how, but very few believe the promise these days, so how then can Christ work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure, if we do not believe that He can?
Lack of faith in God, my friends, leads to sin and death. The story of Elisha is a powerful example of end-time living. God put His Holy Spirit on Elisha in double measure because Elisha believed God’s promises. Friends, we need the faith of Elisha, whose trust in God was implicit.
Now verses 18 and 19. “And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria: and that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.”
God’s promise was fulfilled, just as God through Elisha had predicted, including the death of the lord who disbelieved.
My friends, let us have faith in the God of heaven and in His exceeding great and precious promises. They are our life. They are our hope. They are our access to heavenly power and to heaven itself.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven. Great is thy faithfulness. And great are Your promises. You can put whole armies to flight. You can overthrow the whole array of enemy combatants who want to lead us astray, and if they can’t do that, they want to destroy us. You can deliver starving nations. Father, please, we pray, send Your Holy Spirit in our hearts so that we may learn how to have faith, how to overcome through Jesus and how to live eternally. May the story of Elisha and the Syrian army be especially dear to us. It teaches us so much about the end of time. And when Jesus comes in the clouds of glory, I pray that we will be ready to meet Him. In Jesus name, amen.
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