Saturday, October 3, 2009

If Your Enemy Hunger. . .

One of my favorite Biblical stories is found in II Kings 6:8-23. The king of Syria is warring against Israel. Their well thought out strategic plans keep falling through. Finally, the king holds a meeting and says, "All right, who is leaking information to the king of Israel? Who is for Israel?"

Someone raises his hand and says, "None, my lord, O King, but there is a prophet, Elisha, in Israel and he tells the king of Israel the words you say in your bedchamber."

To this information the king of Syria responds, "Go and find where he is that I may send and fetch him." So the king of Syria sends many troops with horses and chariots.

Elisha's servant looks out the window and says, "Alas, my master, what shall we do?"

Elisha answers, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." Then Elisha prays, "Lord, open his eyes that he may see." The Lord opens the eyes of the young man and behold! he sees the mountains filled with the heavenly host and chariots of fire all round about Elisha!

Again Elisha prays, "Lord, blind the eyes of this people."

After this prayer, Elisha goes out to them and says, "This is not the way. Follow me and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek." Elisha leads them right into the camp of Israel and then prays that their eyes be opened. No doubt they are very frightened when they realize where they are.

The king of Israel asks Elisha, "My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?"

But Elisha answers, "No, feed them and send them back to their master."So the king of Israel prepares a great provision for them and when they have eaten and drunk, he sends them back to the king of Syria.

Here is something wonderful: "So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel." No more war for that generation!

I love this story because it illustrates so much. The power of prayer is graphically demonstrated. I love the vision of the Invisible Host and Chariots of Fire. Individually, or as a nation, when overwhelmed with problems having no seeming solution, what a comfort to remember the reality of the Invisible Host to help with solutions we could not find with natural eyes. Imagine the experience of Elisha's servant. What would you feel to see such a vision? Imagine your wonder! A window behind the scenes revealing that we are not alone. But we need to connect to this Invisible Host. Dr. Paul Smith said in his sermon, "It's rather difficult to speak truth to power if you are unplugged."

We've heard so much about the CIA and failed intelligence. It seems inconceivable that anyone should think that torture is the means of safety and good intelligence. Where did Elisha get intelligence? Where is the Source of real intelligence? It's within, and it's given by God. Is it possible that such intelligence could be given to us today? Our security is in the Secret Place (Psalm 91)--definitely security is not in torture.

Elisha said to the enemy troops, "This is NOT the way. Follow me and I will show you the man who you seek." Would not God's Spirit say to us today-- not just regarding torture, for many of us know that is not the way--but anything else we substitue for the Spirit of God--This is NOT the way. Follow Me. I will bring you to the Man whom you seek--the Prince of Peace.

I love how this story puts in practice, "If your enemy hunger, feed him." Picture the scene and imagine the feelings of the men of Syria, now helplessly in the camp of Israel, their supposed enemy. What is going to happen to them? Expecting death or imprisonment, they are told that food is being prepared for them. Then to their wonderment, not just a little snack, but a great banquet is provided. How was it served? With kind hospitality, or were there some who begrudingly set a bowl down with the thought, I'm not very happy about this but since the prophet said to do this is the only reason I'm doing it. I choose to think it was served with grace and the grateful receiving of the Syrian soldiers. Enemies were made this day into friends

"What better could be done with an enemy than to make him a friend, and especially to make him a friend of God? . . .It enables you to see unlimited possibilities in everyone and even in the most tragic of situations." J. Rufus Moseley

"If your enemy hunger, feed him." This is the kingdom of God.
"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." If we be in the kingdom of God, our weapons are not bombs, knives, guns, torture. Our weapons are love, joy, peace, praise, prayer, food, shelter, water, clothing. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places."

The Spirit of God within the prophet Elisha led their feet in the way of peace. Let's follow and our blind eyes will be opened, too, so that we connect to the Invisible Host and those chariots of fire. Thus we are enabled to defeat the principalities and powers of darkness. We are no match for these powers in our own human strength, but through God and the resources available to us "we are more than conquerors."

By the light of this story, what insights can we apply to the circumstances in Guantanamo Bay?