Today’s reading: 2 Kings 6-8.
In the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, Toto pulls back the curtain and reveals the truth that the “wizard” is nothing but an ordinary man. In contrast, Elisha pulls back the curtain to show his servant, and us, that our ordinary world is full of supernatural realities that are hidden from our physical eyes. As Hamlet says, “There are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” As Paul says in Ephesians 6, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Elisha’s big reveal comes after he repeatedly thwarts the King of Aram’s plans by warning the Israelites. The King sends an army after the prophet.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17
The hidden reality is that the angelic forces protecting Elisha far outnumber the visible army outside his city. “Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit says the LORD.” Material might is no match for the spiritual force that God uses to support us. But be clear: this is no impersonal force from the New Age or a Star Wars movie; it is the will of God carried out by his messengers. The battle on our behalf is ongoing. Like Elisha’s servant we are often blind to God’s warfare for us. We visualize it by faith; we activate it through prayer.
The Book of Daniel gives another peek into this hidden conflict. God gives Daniel a vision that he cannot understand, and he prays for help to know its meaning. Finally, after three weeks, an angel appears and tells him that the demonic force in charge of that country had kept him from coming to help Daniel. Only after the chief angel, Michael, came to his aid, was he able to defeat the demon (Daniel 10).
We are not just observers of the ongoing spiritual conflict, but participants who are urged to prepare and to fight well.
- We use our spiritual weapons to clear our minds of ungodly thoughts (2 Corinthians 10)
- We put on spiritual armor to fight (Ephesians 6): a shield of faith and the sword of God’s word are chief
- The power for our battle comes through prayer
- We will not fear because we know God is fighting for us (Deuteronomy 3) and will preserve us (2 Timothy 4)
- When we fight the devil he runs from us (James 4)
- God has already defeated our enemies through the cross (Colossians 2)
The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God and, as a corollary, to us. These we may call devils. They do not differ in nature from good angels, but their nature is depraved. Devil is the opposite of angel only as Bad Man is the opposite of Good Man. Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael. C.S. Lewis