I was inspired by Pastor Marc’s devotional yesterday to focus on the second half of that passage from 2 Kings 6, where the Aramean (Syrian) army comes looking for Elisha, and the prophet’s servant at first cannot see the mighty chariots of fire sent from heaven to surround Elisha.
The second half of this story is equally powerful. Elisha prays to the Lord and asks him to make the Aramean army blind. When they approach him, he tells them they are in the wrong place, and offers to lead them to the man they seek. Elisha leads them on a 10-12 mile trek into the middle of Samaria, the capital city of Israel, the enemy they are trying to destroy. When they have come before the king of Israel, Elisha asks the Lord to reopen their eyes. Now it is the Arameans who are surrounded by their enemies!
Imagine the terror these enemy soldiers must have felt. Then imagine the great joy the king of Israel must have felt. His enemies had been delivered into his hand by this great prophet of God! He asks the logical question: “Shall I kill them?”
Elisha gives the king a surprising response. He forbids the king to kill his enemies, and commands him instead to feed them and give them water. What?! This had to have been as much a surprise to the Aramean soldiers as it was to the king of Israel. But the king sets a feast before his enemies, and then sends them away. The spear and the sword were ready, but God chose to conquer Israel’s enemies with….food. And the hearts of the Arameans were softened. They stopped their raids into Israel’s territory.
The Arameans had inflicted harm on Israel in the past, and they meant to continue. But the Lord, through Elisha, commanded Israel to feed its enemy. They overcame evil with good.
It is counterintuitive for us to show good to those who mean us harm. When someone harms us, we want justice. They should be hurt for what they have done to us. But notice how Paul teaches us to treat our enemies in Romans 12. Bless them and do not curse them. Do not repay them evil for evil. Never avenge yourselves. Feed your enemies when they are hungry. Do not be overcome by evil. We are in danger of becoming exactly like our enemies by repaying their evil with evil. God’s followers are called to overcome their enemies by showing them love.
Has verbally or physically punishing your enemy ever brought peace? I doubt it. It is so confusing to our enemies for us to show them love when they mean us harm. Showing our enemies love and generosity brings peace.
How can you be a peacemaker today?
Prayer: Lord, as your people we are to be set apart, and that means showing love to our enemies. Give us the strength and the courage to be your peacemakers today.