"For the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence." Proverbs 3:32
I am a product of Sunday School flannel graph lessons. Long before videos or DVDs taught Biblical truths to children in church classrooms, I would sit mesmerized and cross-legged on the floor as I watched my teacher press cut-out Bible story characters on a felt-covered piece of cardboard. Sometimes there were whole background scenes depicting ancient Jewish homes, wells, or roads. It was through these thirty minute lessons that Bible stories that were taught to me by my parents were brought to life. I became familiar with David, a shepherd boy, fighting the giant Goliath, Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, and I saw Elijah call down fire out of heaven in front of the false prophets of Baal to consume the wood on the altar made to the true God of Israel. Very exciting stories.
There were some characters, however, whom I never saw on a flannel graph board. I know that there is no "B list" story in the Bible. God always had, and continues to have, a purpose behind every story He chose to reveal through the written Word of Scripture. I am reading about Elisha right now. Never heard of him? Or maybe you have to really sit and think for a moment who he was. His name does have a familiar ring to it, doesn't it? He was the apprentice under Elijah, the prophet-in-training, who begged Elijah to bestow on him a double portion of Elijah's spirit just before Elijah was taken up into heaven in a chariot made of fire. The only real story about Elisha that stood out to me as a child was when the Aramean leper, Naaman, was told by him to wash seven times in the muddy Jordan River to be healed. But Naaman was always the more memorable man to me in that story. Elisha seemed to sink into the background of the story.
My appreciation for this mighty man is growing with each chapter I read. From all I can see of his life, Elisha did receive the double portion that he requested from his predecessor Elijah. I am astounded that he made an iron axe head float, cured a poisonous stew with a handful of flour, and raised from the dead a little boy whom his mother dearly loved after enduring years of infertility. This man's God-given wisdom let him advise a desperate woman who was about to lose her precious sons to slave traders. He told her to use her little jar of oil to fill every jar she could borrow from her neighbors. She was then able to sell the oil, pay off her debt, and keep her boys.
But what impresses me the most about Elisha was that God took him into His confidence. Elisha's country, Israel, was being hounded by a wicked king from another land who wanted to conquer Elisha and his people. God told Elisha every move the enemy king made before that man made it. The king was sure that someone was spying on him and demanded to know from his advisers who was the traitor. These pagan men knew that Elisha knew the very words their king spoke in his bedroom and said as much to their king. Upon finding out where Elisha was, the king sent a strong force of troops with horses and chariots to capture Elisha. Sneaking up on the city at night, the soldiers surrounded it and waited to seal Elisha's doom.
Not everyone had Elisha's faith. In fact, his servant reacted the way I could see myself reacting if I opened my front door to see my city surrounded by enemy troops. He PANICKED!!!
"Oh, my lord [Elisha]. what shall we do?" the servant asked.
And Elisha summed up in two sentences evidence of the belief which allowed him to be taken into the confidence, the inner circle, of God Himself:
"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
And then God did what He in His mercy sometimes allows to happen. He allowed His glory, revealed because of Elisha's faith, to be splashed on the blind eyes of Elisha's terrified servant.
"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. (All Scripture taken from 2 Kings 6:15-17)
Oh, for the faith of Elisha. Can you imagine how dull a "dream" vacation, a "dream" home, or a "dream" job would seem if you and I could be given eyes to see God's riches--the ones He has for us but we cannot see because we have not been taken into His confidence? I have spent time envying others for all the wrong reasons. All of those objects of envy will burn one day. I could possibly miss out on the most exciting adventure of all running after those fleeting thrills. What could be more thrilling than being taken into God's inner circle, being confided in with His glorious plan for my life? I don't want to miss out on His plan, do you?
Jesus, You condescend to human beings and allow us to have Your mind! (2 Corinthians 2:16) Your blood covers our depravity and blindness and makes a way for us to enter into the very throne room where You are sitting at the right hand of God the Father. I will never understand why You would choose to do it, but I want to be taken into Your confidence as Elisha was. Give me the faith to know that those who are with me are more than those who are with the enemy.