Case in Point


This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Christian journalist: Believe with your good eyes and see with your bad eyes (2 Kings 6)

2 Kings 6:15-17. “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city, ‘Oh my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered.  ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hill full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Exegesis and Application

The key phrase in this passage is “open his eyes so he may see.” The story is that Israel and Aramea are at war and the king of Aram is tired of Elisha (“the man of God”) warning Israel about the positions of the Aramean army, thus thwarting military victory. So the king of Aram gave instructions to find Elisha and capture him. The king’s men told him Elisha was in the fortress city of Dothan, a large city in Israel. The king responded by sending, under the cover of darkness, “horses and chariots and a strong force” to capture just the one prophet. Early the next morning, Elisha’s aide discovers the surrounding Aramean army. He is naturally frightened. Elisha tells him not to be afraid, that our army is bigger than their army. Then the prophet prays to Yahweh to open the aide’s eyes to see the surrounding LORD’s army. There are only two instances in the Bible where it is noted that Elisha prayed: here and in 2 Kings 4:33, the raising of the Shunammite’s son.

Elisha’s prayer was that the eyes of the justifiably frightened servant would “be opened so that he may see.” But his eyes were open – he saw the surrounding Aramean army. What was the servant supposed to see? What was Elisha praying about? The noteworthy thing is that there was no physical army of God. We know that the Aramean army did not “see” them because they continued their siege of Dothan (vs. 18, “as the enemy came down”). What the servant saw is God’s army of “horses and fiery chariots” surrounding the Aramean army thus protecting Elisha and his servant (cf, 2 Kings 2:11-12; Ps. 34:7).

Elisha then prayed, “Strike these people with blindness” (vs. 18). And as a result of his prayer, the Aramean army was “bedazzled” or “temporarily blinded” or “dazed” by God. So Elisha is going back and forth: LORD make this person see, make these people not see! It was probably hard to keep everybody straight! But if the army was REALLY blinded, how could they “follow” Elisha? The “blindness” (Hebrew: “sanwerim”) could have been metaphorical much like the “seeing” of the servant was metaphorical. The Greek Septuagint translates this Hebrew word “ahorasia” in three places in the Old Testament, but Deut. 28:28 is helpful, “The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of the mind.” The Greek word has its root in “horao” which has the nuance of “seeing with perception.” So it probably was not total blindness, just “blurred vision.”

Christian journalist, the crucial point in this passage is that the unseen reality is greater than the seen reality. The unseen army of God is greater than the seen army of Aram. The weapons of the unseen army were the “dazing” or “bedazzlement” of the enemy enough that Elisha could lead the invading army away from Dothan and his capture. Not conventional warfare, but effective and bloodless.

This is one more biblical example of divine perception of the non-physical reality which resulted in a wonderful conclusion. The point here is that Christian and non-Christian can see things differently and it is critical for the Christian journalist to be aware of this. Reality is more than just what one can “see” with their biological eyes. Reality is also what one sees with spiritual eyes.

Matthew Henry said that the clearer sight we have of the sovereignty of God the less we shall fear the calamities of this life. The opening of our spiritual eyes will be the closing of our fears. The eye of faith sees the reality of the divine presence and protection that escapes the ordinary eye.


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