When we think of surprising, life threatening events, most of us can think of some that have happened to us or at least imagine one or two possibilities. It’s interesting that we live our lives full of a sense of control and then when these events happen we are filled with a sense of fear at the fact that we are not controlling the moment and the the world is crashing down around us. It’s at those moments that we begin to feel a complete inadequacy to rule the world around us or to keep safe when danger is around.
This moment happen to Elisha and his servant at this moment. The King of Aram was trying to conquer land and Israel was next on his list. The problem was that God kept Israel safe by warning them of where the armies of Aram were heading next. Imagine coming up with a great plan of taking care of something, but when you get there you cannot do anything about it. The King of Aram is looking for who is to blame, and finds out that Elisha is giving away his positions. So he makes a plan to capture him.
When Elisha’s servant wakes up in the morning to the surprise of an entire army ready to siege the walls of the city. The servants immediate reaction is that to resist this would be futile. But Elisha knows better and reveals to his servant that God’s got this one under wraps. Long story short, the entire Aramean army is rendered blind. Elisha leads them straight to the capital of Israel and opens their eyes. The tables were turned, and now the pagan force was in danger. The King of Israel in his excitement begins to ask if he can have them killed.
It’s easy for believers to look at winning against the world and begin to keep attacking the other people even when they are in a losing position. We do this all the time. Think of all the apologetics and ethical arguing over who is right and wrong. It seems to make sense. Whoever wins is superior and can do whatever they want to the defeated. That is the way the world works and it ensures that the other side will not try to rise back up.
The problem with this view is that it does not reflect God’s character. Elisha makes sure that God’s will is upheld. When the King begins to say let’s kill them to teach Aram a lesson, Elisha says no. He even says feed them and send them home. This move seems to go against everything the we know today. Even the country of America would not do things that mercifully. We take prisoners after a fight. God, however, takes no prisoners. He liberates. He gives a way out of being destroyed. If we are going to match God and His goodness, we have to learn what Elisha learned. Elisha, the same man who had a group of boys killed for making fun of his bald head. The Elisha that we see in this story has learned the mercy fits better to the good life God made us for.
How many times have we beaten people when the were already down on the ground? How many wars have been fought on the premise of total annihilation? How often do our tongues burn hot when the rest of the environment has cooled? We love to win and we like to make sure everyone knows it. To make the world a little more like heaven, we have to win in a way that is not against others, but is for the betterment of others. The argument and the battle is not a tool for destruction. It’s for building others up. God won for us through His Son Jesus. In sending Jesus, He was giving us forgiveness for the taking and a way into a beautiful, creative, good life in Him. That is His mission, and if we are part of the Kingdom, then that is our mission too.