Chariots of Fire (2 Kings 6)

When we feel overwhelmed, 2 Kings 6 reminds us to pray for illumination.

Things are getting crazy in the world. As the pandemic still rages, hints of the vaccine give us hope for the future. But at the same time, we hear stories of vaccines that were tampered with, slow roll-outs, and foiled plans to get more help to more at-risk Americans. Native peoples and minority groups bear the weight of the pandemic, with no vaccines in sight. As more women of color lose jobs, it seems like we may never recover from this pandemic. Politically, tensions are high as violent and armed mobs break into the US capitol in response to an election, threatening the health and safety of elected officials. Peaceful transitions of power seem to be anything but.

In a way, the northern Israelite prophet Elisha found himself in a similar situation. Israel has been severely weakened by a long lineage of terrible kings. His predecessor, Elijah, addressed two of the most wicked, Ahab and Jezebel, ending their reigns of terror and idolatry. Unfortunately, their damage was done. Israel was severely weakened, and more importantly, rampant idolatry had pulled her away from her covenant with Yahweh. She was on the fast-track to destruction and exile. Elisha, now the leader of a school of prophets, is in trouble after routing the Syrian army from destroying Israel. Now, the king of Syria specifically wanted to kill Elisha, crippling Israel’s king by severing his tie with Yahweh.

One of Elisha’s servants sees a massive army coming to Elisha and runs to warn him that they are in danger. Elisha, however, sees something else that the servant doesn’t see. “There are more of us,” he tells him, “than there are of them.” He prays to Yahweh for illumination, and the servant sees that their camp has been surrounded by a ring of fiery chariots with heavenly riders. Elisha prays again that the warriors of Syria would be blinded. Through Elisha’s prayer, God’s servant’s eyes are opened and God’s enemies’ eyes are closed.

That should be our prayer as the world slips and falls around us. Let us pray that God opens our eyes to see what is truly going on around us. Let us pray that we see the rulers and authorities of this world stripped of their power, put to open shame on the cross of Christ (Colossians 2) when it seems that the powers and authorities of this world are raging around us. Let us pray that we the Spirit working around us, empowering us for battle against the darkness, bearing the s/word of the Lord and the fire of the Spirit’s presence. Let us pray that those who stand against God’s plans in Christ are confounded, and that their eyes may be open to the true, risen and ascended King, Jesus. When the armies of darkness gather around us, let us pray for illumination.

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