This is the sermon for the minor festival of St. Michael and All Angels. The sermon text is: 2 Kings 6:15-23. The sermon theme is: Lord, Open our Eyes. Here is the Written Sermon.
Lord Open Our Eyes To See
Ican’t see. A couple of years ago our circuit pastor, Glenn Hieb became blind. Due to a health condition with his diabetes his sight became worse and worse until finally he had to say those words, “I can’t see.” It is scary to not see. Maybe it’s even more scary to expect to be able to see and then not be able to. In the words we look at this evening we meet many people who were blind and could not see. And they desperately wanted to. And so, we begin reading this evening in the book of 2 Kings 6: “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 NIV)
Now, before we take a closer look at these words it’s important to understand the background. Aram was the nation to the northeast of Israel. Aram was an enemy of Israel. And at this time they were at war. Elisha was a powerful prophet of God. So Elisha’s servant gets up in the morning. And such sudden shock he realizes that they had a problem. They were surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of chariots and cavalry. That’s the problem. What’s the solution: “16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 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 NIV)
This servant of Elisha could not see what Elisha saw. The Lord gave Elisha the ability to see what humans cannot. He gave him the ability to see that even though there were hundreds and hundreds of chariots and cavalry surrounding the city, there were thousands of angels surrounding them. And so, Elisha prayed that this young man would be able to see what he did.
It is good for us to look back at these real events that really happened in God’s word. For we, just like this young man, are tempted to give into pressure and panic because we think we are surrounded. We are tempted to conclude that the Devil, the world and our sinful flesh are all too powerful for us. It is good to watch the news. But there are times when the news is our greatest enemy. For they pile up all the evil things going on in the world into one broadcast. And at the end of it you feel surrounded. And if that’s not enough all you have to do is look at your life. You want to do what is right. But you don’t. You want to avoid what is evil, but we don’t. We feel surrounded.
And then, when we are absorbed in this temptation, we then confront another temptation. We are tempted to forget. Elisha tells this young man, “we have more.” We have more in numbers. We have more in power. Why? Because God sends his holy angels to watch over us and protect us. It is so tempting to forget isn’t it? We can see the evil around us. But we can’t see the angels. This is where it’s good to back to Martin Luther’s time. In Luther’s time they saw devils and demons under every rock and tree-even if they weren’t there. And it’s easy for us to make fun of them. But haven’t we gone too far in the other direction? If someone gets hit by a train while they are in their car and lives, we conclude it was good luck. If a doctor performs an amazing surgery we give the doctor credit. When the pilot safely lands the plane we give the pilot a handshake on the way out. What is missing in all of this? We are forgetting what we learned in our catechism days. In the Small Catechism we memorized these words:
I believe that God created me and all that exists, and that he gave me my body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my mind and all my abilities. And I believe that God still preserves me by richly and daily providing clothing and shoes, food and drink, property and home, spouse and children, land, cattle and all I own, and all I need to keep my body and life. God also preserves me by defending me against all danger, guarding and protecting me from all evil.
What’s the one thing we are forgetting? We are forgetting that the God who created us still preserves us. And one of the special ways he does this is through his angels. God sends his angels to serve us.
It is a sin to conclude that we are surrounded by nothing but evil. It is a sin to forget the legions of angels that God sends to watch over his creation-especially his church. And graciously the Lord sends us his word. And in his word we hear of a Savior who really truly was surrounded by evil. Jesus died on the cross in your place. And through that he payed for your sins. And through his word he gives you his forgiveness.
And with this realization we cannot help but speak a prayer to our Father in heaven, saying “Lord, open my eyes to see that your angels serve me.” But as these words continue we see that that is not the only prayer we speak. “18 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. 19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. 20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.” (2 Kings 6:18-20 NIV)
In the words that follow the Lord puts us in the shoes of the soldiers who went to war against Israel. The problem they too faced was that they were blind. Elisha prayed that the Lord would strike them with blindness. And the Lord did. And, in one of the most amazing stories in the bible Elisha tells them to follow him. He then leads them all the way into Samaria. Then, just as he prayed that his servant would see the angels, he prays that his enemies would see where they were.
Now again, put yourselves in the shoes of these soldiers. They were defenseless. They were blind. They were completely at the mercy of the Israelites. And the king of Israel knows this: “21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” 22 “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.” 23 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.” (2 Kings 6:21-23 NIV)
One of the temptations we face as Christians is to pray to the Lord that he would use his angels to go out and harm and kill people. It is true that angels serve us and protect us. But these words teach us so much. God avenges. But more than that he wants us to see what we are sometimes blinded to. Our God is a God who forgives and saves. And with these words he leads us to pray not as much that he would punish those who hate us, but instead, that he would convert them and save them from hell too. He leads us to rejoice with the angels in heaven who rejoice whenever there is a sinner who repents.
The king listened to Elisha. He prepared a massive feast. Then he sent them home. Then we read the final words of this section of scripture: “So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.” (2 Kings 6:23 NIV) Now, it wasn’t as if the king of Aram suddenly liked the Israelites and stopped wanting to go to war with them. It was the army. It was the cavalry and chariot-riders. They were all blinded. They were all healed from their blindness. And they were all given a feast and safely sent home. It didn’t matter who wanted them to go to war with the Israelites because the soldiers were at peace with the Israelites.
And that is our prayer for our enemies. Let us pray that God would open our eyes to see that he is a God who seeks to save. Let us pray that he would send his angels and share his word so that our enemies who are living in the blindness of sin would hear God’s word and be saved. Amen.