Saturday

So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel. (v. 23)

2 Kings 6:15-23 Saturday 17 September 2022

Psalm 56

Background

We have spent time this week reading some of the stories of Elisha. We have read and considered the account of his taking on the mantle of Elijah, when the company of prophets welcomed him into their number. We have read of his encounter with the widow who was in trouble with her creditors. We have seen Elisha raise a presumed dead child to life. He has fed a multitude with limited resources and healed a sick foreigner. Unlike these preceding stories regarding Elisha’s ministry, today’s reading concerns his role in the arena of international politics. This is, I suppose, more like the stuff of other prophets who engage with principalities and powers to influence the life of the nation. The various accounts portray the breadth of ministry exercised by God’s prophets, who are concerned with both the needs of the individual and the needs of the nation. The wellbeing of one directly affects the wellbeing of other.

This portion of 2 Kings is set in a period of warfare and Israel is under attack from the Arameans. The enemy king repeatedly devised secret plans to attack Israel, but each time Elisha learned of the plans and passed them on to the Israelites. His extraordinary powers enabled the Israelites to thwart the Aramean attacks. Realising the source of the information leak, the leader of the Arameans sends a huge force to capture Elisha, but he, of course, through his extraordinary powers sees the force coming.

Joining the story at this point we find Elisha calming his supporters, reminding them that, no matter how large the forces ranged against them, the Israelites have the might of the heavenly army on their side. The story concludes, not with Elisha ordering the slaying of the enemy, but counselling peace and the extending of hospitality to the invading force. The great invading army were welcomed with feasting and then sent on their way never again to harass Israel. The prophet of peace demonstrated the powerful force of God’s grace. Much of what we have been considering this week has been concerning the practice and expression of God’s grace.

There may be something naïve in this particular story. Invading armies are not usually stopped in their tracks, and certainly not turned around, by welcome feasts. Force generally meets force and battle ensues. On a smaller scale, however, we might visualise the power of grace in situations of conflict. In our personal relationships, the injection of graciousness can often defuse tension and make peace in situations of conflict.

 

To Ponder:

  • What experience of conflict resolution do you have?
  • Looking back over the themes that we have considered this week, have they given you any ideas for how the Church might engage more effectively with the local community and wider world?
  • Where have you encountered examples of God’s extraordinary grace?
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