2 Kings 6:8-17. Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.”10 And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice.
11 And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” 12 And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” 13 And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Things aren’t always what they seem. Especially at Christmas. In the Advent, a cosmic battle rages. A war between good and evil. In this war, what appears to be reality is often not reality at all. To Elisha’s servant it looked like they were surrounded by the enemy. But the reality was that God’s chariots of fire, invisible to the natural eye, far outnumbered the enemies of Elisha.
Advent, or waiting, can often feel like a besiegement. We’re surrounded and there’s no way out. Panic. Fear. Doubt.
Lord open our eyes.
Do you believe that the chariots of fire that surrounded Elisha surround you? Do you believe that the angels that proclaimed the birth of Jesus to shepherds are hovering over us today? Do you believe that God is still at war for the hearts of men? That his armies are present even if they are invisible? That what you think is reality most likely isn’t even close to the real story?
What is our response in the Advent? How do we live within our waiting for the coming of Christ? How do we live in our besiegement?
Well, if we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we respond as the surrounded soldiers that we are. We are living in occupied territory. We are enclosed by the enemy, Satan and his minions. Neutrality is not an option, Christian. You must choose to either give in or fight. Just like our Savior, we are living life within enemy territory. And the enemy has one goal – our total destruction. But greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world. Yes, the enemy surrounds us, but the chariots of fire surround the enemy.
What does fighting in this war look like?
A besieged Christmas (warning some strong language)
It begins with faith. Faith in grace. It begins with opening our eyes to unseen realities. It is resting in the grace of our union with Christ. Knowing that this war has been won, we fight free from pressure and fear.
It continues in the faith of standing still. Elisha stood still and asked God to strike his enemy with blindness. Elisha never lifted a finger against his enemy. He just stood and watched God afflict them. We too are not called to destroy Satan, sin, death, or evil. God has done this for us in Christ Jesus. Only he could do it. That is what Christmas is all about. We need an outside force to invade and win for us. That’s Jesus. That’s the incarnation. Once your eyes are open to this reality, stand. Just stand.
Finally the battle is fought with love and grace. What does Elisha do with his blind enemies? They came to kill Elisha, but once blinded he is able to lead them to the king of Israel. Watch what happens:
2 Kings 6: 20-23. As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 21 As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” 22 He answered, “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” 23 So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.
The king wanted to kill them, but Elisha said, “No, feed and release them.” You might think this is a really stupid way to fight a war. But God doesn’t. God fought the ultimate cosmic war against evil by loving the very ones who would carry out that evil, you and me. He has fed you and offered you freedom. Will you choose to use that freedom to join him or resist him?
“To live is Christ” is to join him. To have the eyes of your heart opened. To be able to love and shower grace on our enemies. Yes, you are surrounded. But you are surrounded with opportunities to love and serve. To give and sacrifice. To suffer for a glorious cause. To truly be alive this Christmas. Lord open our eyes.
Are your eyes open? Do you only see the enemy that surrounds you? Are you missing the chariots of fire? God’s angel army? How can your union with Christ allow you to live in grace even though you are besieged?