2 Kings 6:17

‘Elisha prayed, and said,
“Yahweh, please open his eyes, that he may see.”
Yahweh opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw:
and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.’

There is something to see that we don’t naturally see. We mustn’t be blind and refuse to believe in vision – believe and see. This supernatural vision is real and with Jesus “‘the blind receive their sight”’(Luke 7:22; cf. Isaiah 35:5ff) in more ways than one. Natural vision is amazing; supernatural spiritual vision is out of this world. Seek it; find it, your gaze will be transfixed forever.

The prophet Elisha had been using his God given insight to warn Israel’s king about hostile neighbours. Their king, having been made aware of Elisha’s role in this, and apparently not realising the futility of ‘“fighting against God”’(Acts 5:39), had ascertained Elisha’s whereabouts and ‘sent horses, chariots, and a great army there’(2 Kings 6:14) to ‘“get him”’(2 Kings 6:13). Elisha’s servant was naturally afraid but Elisha saw the spiritual reality of the situation. This was not the unequal contest it seemed. They were backed up by ‘horses and chariots of fire, i.e. the heavenly host, fire being a common manifestation of God  – e.g. ‘fire out of the midst of a bush’(Exodus 3:2), the ‘pillar of fire’(Exodus 13:21) and ‘Tongues like fire’(Acts 2:3), etc.

There’s a whole spiritual reality that we don’t normally see with our natural vision. However, it seems here that Elisha, then his servant, could actually see it like that. This ‘invisible’(Colossians 1:16) reality includes ‘the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up…’(Isaiah 6:1) and ‘innumerable multitudes of angels’(Hebrews 12:22), who interestingly are ‘serving spirits, sent out to do service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation’(Hebrews 1:14) – as we see them doing with horses and chariots here. Occasionally these things are revealed to God’s people as actual visions, like they were in this incident. More often however we see them through the eyes of faith, walking ‘by faith, not by sight’(2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet there is a seeing of spiritual light involved in this, as God shines ‘in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God’(2 Corinthians 4:6). Nevertheless, our vision here is not perfect, for ‘now we see in a mirror, dimly’(1 Corinthians 13:12).

It’s important that we strain to see these things as clearly as possible, polishing the mirror and gazing intently into it, shading ourselves from distracting glares. We should pray like Elisha here that ourselves and others ‘“may see”’, perhaps also using Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, that God ‘may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your hearts enlightened…’(Ephesians 1:17-18), or the psalm ‘Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of your law’(Psalm 119:18), since God’s Word is the main place to look.

When we see, one thing that God will reveal to us, as happened in this incident, is that we’re on the side of Him who is greater ‘than he who is in the world’(1 John 4:4), i.e. ‘the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against… the spiritual forces of wickedness’(Ephesians 6:11-12). Yet we can be confident and not fear despite such foes. Even when it looks like they’re winning, we should understand that we stand with Jesus, over Whom such forces have ‘“nothing”’(John 14:30). ‘If God is for us’(Romans 8:31), no apparent predicament ‘will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’(Romans 8:39).

It’s the Holy Spirit in particular Who helps us to see these things, whether lost in worship, prayer or contemplating the Word, either collectively or quietly alone. The apostle John was ‘in oppression… in the Spirit on the Lord’s day’(Revelation 1:9-10) when he ‘saw… one like a son of man… His eyes were like a flame of fire… “the first and the last,… the Living one”’(Revelation 1:12-18). Then he ‘looked and saw a door opened in heaven’(Revelation 4:1) reporting ‘Immediately I was in the Spirit. Behold,… “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!”’(Revelation 4:2-8). Finally ‘in the Spirit’(Revelation 21:10) he saw our home ‘the holy city… having the glory of God… The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it…’(Revelation 21:10-23). So our attention and focus can rise from temporal crosses to ‘the things which are not seen… eternal’(2 Corinthians 4:18).