Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
The king of Aram was humiliated by God repetitively. Then he sent his most trusted and capable commander to capture Elisha. Whenever he made an attack plan secretly and took his armies to conduct a surprise attack on Israel armies, he could not find Israel armies, even one single Israel solider. The Israel armies had already escaped from the area. The king of Aram could not understand why, but later he realized that Elisha told his surprise attack plan to the king of Israel. Then the king of Israel quickly escaped with his armies before the Aramean armies reached to the Israel armies.
The king’s commander moved out with the king’s armies, and surrounded the city of Dothan, where Elisha stayed. Surprisingly, Elisha did not escape form the city before they surrounded the city. Then it was just a matter of time before actually capturing Elisha. By the way, the Aramean commander did not know the true reality. The Aramean armies were completely outnumbered by the heavenly armies of angels. The armies of the angels made a formation up in the air to protect the city, and they were watching over the Aramean armies. Elisha saw this amazing scene in faith, but his servant could not. Later, Elisha prayed, and God opened the servant’s eyes. Can you imagine the heavenly armies of angles completely filled the entire sky, which dwarfed the might-looking Aramean armies? This is what Our God did for His faithful Elisha. Our God is equally doing for each of us even today and at this moment. Why? He is our Ever-Loving Father, and we are His most precious children. Thus, whenever we are completely surrounded by our enemies or the unsurmountable problems of this world, please pray to God and lift up eyes to see His heavenly angels completely filling the entire sky.
As the Aramean armies were approaching to the city, Elisha prayed. God heard his prayer, and made the fearful and mighty looking Aramean armies get blind. Suddenly, the entire Aramean armies could not see anything. Without seeing, they had to stop and stood still. Then they were led by Elisha into a fortified city in Samaria. (Samaria is a part of the kingdom of Israel.) When they opened their eyes, they were completely surrounded by Israel armies in the middle of a fortified city in Samara. They came as captors, but now they became captives. God told using the mouth of Elisha to be generous to the captives. The Aramean armies were well fed, and sent home safely. The king of Israel did not pay back eye-to-eye. Instead, he treated the enemies generously per the God’s command. Then there was peace between Israel and Aram.
However, this peace did not last long. The Aramean king again mustered his entire amies and invaded Israel. Hs besieged Samaria. The siege lasted so long that there was no food left. Even a donkey’s head was sold as food, which costed eighty pieces of silver. A cup of dove’s dung was sold for five pieces of silver. The life in the city of Samaria was miserable.
The people came to the king of Israel, and begged for food, but the king had nothing to give out. He answered,
“If the LORD doesn’t help you, what can I do? I have neither food from the threshing floor nor wine from the press to give you.” (2 Kings 6:27b)
The answer reflects his heart-breaking pain. As the king of Israel, he was helpless. He could do nothing for his people. He went to God and prayed. He also put sackcloth under his robe next to his skin so that nobody could see, but he was mourning before God every day.
One day, one of his people reported that people ate their own child. He was shocked. Some of this people did something unthinkable. This, initially, made him mad, but soon it drove him into a deep sorrow. It was the saddest moment in his life. In despair, he tore his clothes. He finally said,
“May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!” (2 Kings 6:31b)
The king of Israel poured out his extreme frustration. He even challenged God for not hearing his prayer. Indeed, he kept quiet for long time patiently, but God did not answer. The situation in his kingdom had gone too far. It literally hit the bottom of his entire kingship. Then his heart raced for searching for a scapegoat. (This is a sad manifestation of human’s sinful nature.) Then the king poured out all blames on the scapegoat. The scapegoat was Elisha, the God prophet of his kingdom. The king could easily justify Elisha as his scapegoat. Elisha was the very one who asked him to be generous to the Aramean armies trapped in his own city and surrounded by his own armies. At that moment, he could have had completely wiped out the entire Aramean armies. Instead, he listened to the God’s message brought by Elisha. Now, he felt that his good deed was punished. This train of his thought made him more completely convinced that Elisha was the source of all of the problems – that the entire city was being starved to death. What a sinful human mind the king had!
Then the king quickly called in his most trusted and capable officer, whom the king always leaned on. The king gave a message to the officer, and sent to Elisha. The king’s message was
“This disaster is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” (2 Kings 6:33b)
The content of the letter was quite different from what he initially uttered with his own mouth in frustration and anger. The king of Israel softened his heart while writing the message, because he came to himself. As coming to himself, he realized that God was the only hope. His heart was heavy, and even his praying heart was dried up. He was in despair. Then, he quitely prayed to God, “This is the only hope that I can have now.” He put his last hope in God by sending his message to Elisha.
This Psalm reflected the king’s heart and many of us who have been praying to God:
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13)
Have we had anger toward someone like the king of Israel? Then we have to learn the lesson here. We should not carry out our heart desire immediately into an action, but sit down and write what we have to say to the person. Of course, not just writing down what we think, but praying to God for his strength, guidance and wisdom before writing. We cannot be perfect. Thus, we will surely meet such a situation that the King confronted, and then we become angry at the person. Even so, we have to subdue our anger by praying to God while asking His strength to soften our heart toward the other person, and ask His forgiveness also. Why?
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, a and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. (Matthew 5:21-22a)
This was told by Jesus. Jesus tells us that if we are angry to someone, then it is same as murdering the person. Indeed, the first murder of human history was started by Cain’s anger toward his brother Abel. Then his anger overtook Cain, and Cain could not control himself and killed his own brother Abel. It is also true that it is practically impossible not to be angry, but as soon as we become angry, we should take off our anger by praying to God while asking his strength overcoming our anger. If not, we have already murdered the person, and it can be manifested in our life as a real action of killing the person when all conditions are right. Our anger is a fire, and it will surely consume us unless we put out before it is getting uncontrollable.
Elisha knew the officer’s coming with the king’s message, because God told Elisha. As soon as the officer with the King’s message arrived, Elisha told to the officer
“Listen to this message from the LORD! This is what the LORD says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.” (2 Kings 7:1b)
The officer assisting the king said to the man of God,
“That couldn’t happen even if the LORD opened the windows of heaven!” (2 King 7:2b)
He did not believe God and His message carried by Elisha. For him, what was told was impossible. The city had nothing left to eat, and the people in the city were starving. Unless the whole city was filled with all kinds of food, the price of choice flour would not become as low as quoted by Elisha. How logical he was! However, he could not understand what God actually planned to do. Our God is omnipotent. Before God, nothing was impossible, and it is still true today.
But Elisha replied,
“You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!” (2 King 7:2c)
Elisha confirmed God’s message. Then he prophesized what would happen to the office who did not believe. The officer went back to the king, and reported what was told by Elisha. He did not forget to tell his own opinion that the God’s message was impossible. The king so much trusted the officer, and the king also did put lots of weight on the opinion of the officer. Even so, in his heart, he really wanted what was told by Elisha would come true by tomorrow. This shows how important one’s faith before God is. If the officer had believed 100%, then the king would have had easily believed the God’s answer given through Elisha. The king was greatly influenced by the officer. As a result, the king did not give any orders to his people so that they get prepared to receive what was promised by God the following day. Instead, the king was just confused. So far, he prayed and payed. Finally, he received God’s answer. But he could not believe the God’s answer 100%. How sad it was! The king just wished that the answer would come true.
How many times have we prayed to God earnestly and fervently for God’s answer? Then once we received God’s answer, have we believed 100% without any doubts? Or just wishing that what we prayed would come true.
Hannah, who was the mother of Samuel, did not have a baby although his husband loved her so much. He always comforted her, but Hannah was in her sorrow not having a baby. She prayed and prayed before God at the temple. Then God answered her prayer through Eli, the high priest at the temple.
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. (1 Samuel 1:17-18)
Then she believed 100%, and in her faith, she went home. She got pregnant, and bore a male baby, Samuel, one of the greatest prophets ever recorded in Bible.
Without fully believing the God’s message, the king went bed. He did not know what God was actually doing at that moment. God was faithful to what he told and exactly did as he told through Elisha, the prophet.
At the very moment, God had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching. “The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack us!” they cried to one another. So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives.
There were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates. “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.”
So at twilight they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! They went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”
So they went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened. “We went out to the Aramean camp,” they said, “and no one was there! The horses and donkeys were tethered and the tents were all in order, but there wasn’t a single person around!” Then the gatekeepers shouted the news to the people in the palace.
The king was in the bed, but he could not sleep well. His heart was heavy due to the siege by the Aramean armies, his starving people, and the rather confusing repot of his officer. He was questioning whether it was the real answer from God for his prayers that he presented to God with all his heart and mind every day. On the same day, he actually heard God’s answer, but he could not 100% believe. He knew it was a real pity. Then he suddenly heard a strange news shouted by the gatekeepers.
Thus, the king got out of bed in the middle of the night. He was processing what he heard, “There was nobody at the Aramean camp while everything that they came with was there including horses still tied to posts.” He had fought many battles, but he had never seen such a scene. The report about the Aramean camp was completely out of order. Then he thought that it must have been a trap to lure the Israel armies out of the city to capture all of the Israel armies at once. He was still of his own mind and rationale. He could not connect the strange news with his prayers. Not like Hannah, the king did not believe 100% the God’s answer.
The he quickly summoned his officers and told,
“I know what has happened. The Arameans know we are starving, so they have left their camp and have hidden in the fields. They are expecting us to leave the city, and then they will take us alive and capture the city.” (2 Kings 7:13b)
One of his officers replied, “We had better send out scouts to check into this. Let them take five of the remaining horses. If something happens to them, it will be no worse than if they stay here and die with the rest of us.”
The king committed the last resources that he had in order to test out the Aramean. Two chariots with horses were prepared, and the king sent scouts to see what had happened to the Aramean army.
They went all the way to the Jordan River, following a trail of clothing and equipment that the Arameans had thrown away in their mad rush to escape. (2 Kings 7:15a)
The scouts returned and told the king about it. The news soon spread out like a wild file in the city.
The people of Samaria rushed out and plundered the Aramean camp. So it was true that six quarts of choice flour were sold that day for one piece of silver, and twelve quarts of barley grain were sold for one piece of silver, just as the LORD had promised. (2 King 7:16)
God didn’t do in the way that the people including the king expected God would do, but God did His own way that nobody could even imagine. We, in fact, love to limit God by imposing our own thought and plan on God and dictating the way how God should do.
If we try to figure out how God actually would do after our prayers, this is a really good sign to limit His power and dominion on all of His creation including us. Thus, such an attempt is enticing, but we are truly limiting God. God is not like us. We are His mere creatures. God is the creator. Additionally, He owns and governs everything that He created. Let’s look up the clear night sky filled with countlessly many stars or on a clear day, stand at the edge of a beach alone and look out to the end of the infinitely spanning ocean. Then we feel the immensity of His creation. We can literally feel how powerful Our God is, who created heaven and earth, and everything in it. God is beyond our comprehension. If not, God is not a true god. Then He is equal to us or at most at a similar level of us. If so, why should we believe Him? It is logically nonsense. In truth, Our God is the one and only one God, and the only God whom we can completely trust, believe and lean on under all circumstances whether we are in joy, sorrow, victory, failure, or pain. Our God is always faithful to us, and He is the most power and omnipotent God.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
Then what happened to the king’s officer who did not believe the God’s answer. Here is what happened to him: the king appointed his officer to control the traffic at the gate, but he was knocked down and trampled to death as the people rushed out. As a result, the officer could not eat even one gran of the barley. The officer was even cynical about God by telling, “That couldn’t happen even if the LORD opened the windows of heaven.”
The officer did not know how big God’s hand was. God was beyond his entire comprehension. Howe many times do we limit God using our own rationale? Regardless how we rationalize what God would do, God faithfully accomplishes what He told us to do.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)
The officer completely did not believe by making a cynical statement about the God’s message because to him, it was impossible. Then he could not taste the abundance but being killed by the people rushing out from the city. How about the king, who prayed, but only believed half-heartedly? (The king represents many of us, who pray, but do not believe 100%)
The king saw that everything happened exactly as the man of God had prophesized. The king saw the power of God. He, then, looked back how little his faith was. He prayed and prayed, but when he actually received God’s answer, he did not believe completely because it was illogical, and impossible to even his own eyes. Additionally, his own most trusted officer agreed that it was impossible. Indeed, the officer did not believe at all. Although the king did not believe 100%, he still wished that the God’s message would come true. The king’s faith was so little to believe the seemingly impossible answer from God after his long-draining prayers. Finally, the king realized how sinful he was. Although he prayed, he did not believe completely and wholeheartedly because the God’s answer was seemingly impossible to his eyes. He was in between faith and his own rationale, and struggled.
Then why did God actually provide what was prayed by the king who had such a little faith? Because God was merciful to the king and his people. God’s answer to the starving city was not only for the king but also the people in the city. The people were almost starving to death. God was gracious and full of mercy to all including both the king of little faith and the people in the kingdom. However, we should remember. The officer who completely reject God’s message did not get God’s mercy. Consequently, although we are of little faith, but we can confidently approach to Our God with prayers. God hears us although our faith is even smaller than a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed of all. This is the true mercy of God, and His mercy. We Praise God! Even today, we look up the cross and approach to Him because He is merciful and gracious. Then God will surely deal bountifully with us!
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6)