Sunday, November 18, 2012

Elisha Sees

 "Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept." 2 Kings 8:11 
Elisha is such an interesting character. There's no hesitation in him. He starts his ministry off by smacking a river and shouting, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" He demanded that God respond... and the weird part is, God did. Elisha demands all kinds of wild things, and God does them.

Even if the writer is only jotting down the wild stories... if I try to stretch what I read about Elisha to somehow connect with my own experience of how God answers prayer... it doesn't fit. I can't see how or why God answers Elisha the way He does. It's as if Elisha has every super-power anyone has ever dreamed of all at once. From bringing people back to life who had been dead for days... to feeding lots of people from someone's snack... to making an ax head float.

Elisha can see stuff that no one else sees. I started reading about Elisha when I looked up this story:
"When the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?'"
I'm thinking he just sloshed his coffee all over himself.
"So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, and said, 'Lord I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then 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." 2 Kings 6:15-17
Not only does Elisha see... he knows what to do about it.

  1) Not panic
  2) Pray some more
  3) Laugh

Me? I'd be wondering how to organize flaming chariots. I'd be wondering if we should attack the enemy? Make an escape? Not Elisha. He asks God to blind them... and then leads them into the middle of his country's military base. His king isn't sure what Elisha is up to, either (I feel so much better!) He is smart enough to check with the prophet before killing the POW's. Elisha tells him to let them go free and they tuck tail and run, lesson learned!

Today I read a verse where Elisha did not like what he saw.
 "Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept." 2 Kings 8:11 
I had to read the phrase a few times before I realized that, yea... Elisha stared at this guy, Hazael, until he was squirming. "Set his countenance", "fixed his gaze", "stared steadily," - however it is translated from Hebrew, it's weird. It makes Hazael, the recipient of this noted expression, very uncomfortable.

Apparently not as uncomfortable as the man of God, himself, though... 'cause Elisha starts crying.

The conversation that follows shows how Elisha saw what Hazael would do with his life. Hazael tried to play innocent for a moment, "Who, me?!" But the exchange is brief and he hurries on his way to start his reign of terror.

*sigh* I don't know why I'm writing about this verse, I guess. I think it is amazing how much Elisha saw and how boldly he acted on it. I'm sad for him that it wasn't always good, that this time, it broke his heart. I can imagine what it would feel like to see bad things before they even happened. Sometimes there isn't anything to do about it, no way to fix things. I would want to kill the one to save the many if I saw what Elisha saw. Other times he declared someone dead and they were... it's not like he couldn't have done it. I'm not sure why God let Hazael live. Why did Elisha let him live?

Maybe it's ok that I'm blind to a lot of stuff that God sees. Even if He shared Why he lets evil continue, my heart would be so broken. I suppose just like His.

Would you want to see? Even if it hurt? Or would you rather only see what you can change for the better?