Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Note: This is the 3rd of a three part article about the surprising ease one finds in having a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you’d like to view the first part (about salvation) Click Here. Or if you’d like to check out part two (about prayer) Click Here
Is the Christian walk really as easy as advertised? It’s likely when you’ve heard someone talk about coming to Christ it may have sounded almost like a sales pitch. Certainly if you’ve heard an evangelist speak, you’d think that everything was gumdrops and rainbows once you accept Jesus into your heart- and yet you find from experience that this isn’t the case. Sure, salvation is easy, and it is true that whatever we need is usually only a quick prayer away (and probably a little wait after that). But that doesn’t mean that life is easy. Jesus, while justifying that Christians should love everyone, notes,
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun on rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:44-45).
“Whoa whoa whoa here, J-man! If I’m going to be suffering through the same crap the heathens do, then why did I even join this religion?” Ah, but the Holy Spirit has a message for this today. You see, although we may experience good and bad times like everyone else, those who are in Christ will gain much more than the average non-Christian and in the end will find that with every new disaster, life gets easier and easier through the power of Jesus.
Here’s our final Elisha story (Remember, he’ll be our stand-in for Christ as in the previous articles). Things were going great for Israel. Because of Elisha the prophet, the King was able to avoid being crushed by the Aram’s army. History records,
Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places (2 Kings 6:8-10).
Understandably, this didn’t go over very well with the king of Aram. Because he was having no luck with fighting against Israel due to Elisha, the Aramean king decided to try a different strategy: he’d hunt down Elisha instead. The story continues,
“Go find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city (2 Kings 6:13-14).
Apparently, the Lord did not give Elisha insight that most of Aram would show up at his doorstep looking to capture him. Overnight the city was surrounded, and the troops, horses, and chariots were all standing, waiting for Elisha to come out (or be thrown out by the city leaders). Try to imagine the surprise on Elisha’s servant’s face; because,
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 (2 Kings 6:15).
Elisha, though, cared little about the army waiting to capture him. Rather he spoke calmly to his servant and quickly prayed,
“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 6:16-17).
Poof, out of nowhere came the army of the Lord, greatly outnumbering Aram’s army. It was a very shocking day for Elisha’s aide. Elisha, however, didn’t even bat an eye. Why? Because he understood what the Holy Spirit wants you to learn today: God’s got you covered. You may not know it, but all those who are in Christ have an armed guard on hand all the time. Never forget that there is an army of God; and that army is watching over you all the time. The commander of God’s army is Jesus. When he was betrayed, the disciples tried to defend Jesus; however, he stopped them because he had to die for our sins. But listen to how he tells his crew to back off in Matthew 26:50-53,
Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
“Put your sword back in its place.” Jesus said to him, “For all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
By coming to Christ, we begin a relationship with Jesus. Being in this relationship, the Lord is always listening to our prayers; and since he controls the legions of angels, this means that you too can have the army of God ready to defend you at any time. To prove that this carries to believers as well (rather than just being a Jesus thing) the Lord spoke to Paul when he was running into trouble in Corinth. The Bible records,
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).
God reminded Paul that he was covered by Christ and his army. Keep in mind though, while it appears that the legions of angels are armed and ready for battle, they’ll usually not manifest themselves violently. However, as a child of God through the death of Jesus, a Christian can expect some measure of protection as they go out (at least as far as their life is concerned). Check out what happened in our story, “As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, ‘Strike these people with blindness.’ So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked” (2 Kings 6:18). The Lord works in mysterious ways. In Elisha’s case, rather than destroying the opposing army, the Lord blinded them. When you have Christ on your side, you have the strength of God behind you always. So even if you’re facing a huge problem, know that the Lord has your back and he’ll help you out (usually in a very creative way).
The story isn’t over though! After striking the soldiers with blindness, Elisha led them to the capital city of Samaria. Understandably, after the army of Aram gained their sight, they were pretty shocked to be inside Samaria’s walls surrounded by the army of Israel. Seeing this as an opportune moment, the king of Israel tried to leap into action,
When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill men you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master” (2 Kings 6:21-22).
I don’t know about you, but I’m with the King of Israel on this one. However, Elisha was much wiser than the king and advised him not to use this chance to slaughter Arameans (potentially causing a much more intense and bloody war), but to make a very strong impression on them instead by giving them a feast. Our story concludes,
So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory (2 Kings 6:23).
Because of the act of mercy on the part of the king of Israel (as suggested by Elisha), not only was war averted, but Aram completely backed off Israel for a while. By having Elisha advise the king on the wisest course of action, the Lord is trying to show us that along with having the army of God behind us, we also are able to tap into the Lord’s divine wisdom. When we come to Jesus for salvation, we’re given the heart and mind of Christ in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will then lead us and guide us in wisdom and righteousness in order to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. It is through the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we grow in wisdom and gain greater spiritual understanding. James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). As a follower of Christ, you are tapped into the greatest mind in the universe. By all mean, ask the Lord before you do anything! Pray on every decision before making it so that the Lord has a chance to guide you in the right direction. Along with teaching you wisdom, the Holy Spirit also teaches you how to become a better person. Paul notes,
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).
Before Christ we make stupid decisions and bad life choices that lead us into greater problems. However, through the work of the Holy Spirit we become less and less idiotic and behave in a much better manner as we are shaped into Christ’s image. Look back on your life and think of all the opportunities you’ve missed because of mistakes you’ve made and poor planning. It’s the Lord’s goal that you not miss any more chances now that you’re with Christ (this is how pastors can talk about God getting you a better earthly life). This wisdom from God is a game-changer, as Paul talks about in Titus 2:12-14,
It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
If you’ve got a habit that’s holding you back, by coming to Christ things will get a bit easier. God isn’t gonna let his new children get too messed up.
When you come to Christ and accept his death in your stead you gain salvation and are changed into a new person before God. On top of that, you are able to approach the Lord with any questions and requests that you may have and expect results. Those in Christ also have the whole power of God behind them as well as the wisdom of the Lord readily available. Will you face hardships? Sure. However, you’ll learn and grow through them, and even as you face difficulties, you’ll be doing so with the Lord constantly helping you through every twist and turn. As you progress in your walk with Jesus you’ll see that life, though filled with crisis after crisis, will get easier and easier as you realize just how much the Lord cares about you and how active he is in your life. Yes, it really is that easy.