In our daily meditations over the next few weeks, we begin to look at the topic of spiritual warfare. From childhood, we are taught only to believe in that which is physical—that there is no spiritual world, but this is a deception by our unseen enemy, Satan. Just because we cannot see this spiritual world doesn't mean it is not there. Let me illustrate:
When I was young, I worked with my father on his commercial fishing boat on the east coast of England. We trawled the bottom of the seabed catching Dover soles, cod, plaice, and flounders, as well as anything else that got in our trawl nets. We couldn't see what we were catching until the net reached the surface. Because our coastline was involved in two world wars, our nets occasionally came up with unexploded mines designed to hamper shipping out of our harbor. We caught airplane wings with massive cannons and intact bombs and other things that would tear up our nets. We never knew what unseen things we would catch next.
Like the unseen world at the bottom of the sea, some things in life can be unseen but deadly. Just because you may be unaware of something dangerous doesn't mean it cannot affect you. Electricity in a light plug is unseen, but stick your fingers in a live socket, and you will soon realize that there are powerful things that are unseen and dangerous. Natural gas is odorless and invisible, but if there is a lot of it in your house, it can utterly destroy your home. The gas companies add a horrible smell to it so that we'll be awakened to the danger when there's a leak.
Throughout the Bible, we see more in this world than what’s seen with the eye. There is a spiritual realm that is just as real as the world in which we live. This physical world is only temporary and passing, a shadow of things to come, and some things happen that are spiritual and unseen but have consequences in the physical realm.
In the Old Testament book of 2 Kings, there is the story of a king reigning in Aram who became angry because his actions and intentions were made known to the armies of Israel (2 Kings 6:8-10). He thought he had a spy among his generals. His problem was that Israel had a man of God, Elisha, who was led by the Spirit of God, to know the very words that the King of Aram spoke in secret to his generals (2 Kings 6:11-12). Elisha was aware of the unseen realms and had an intimate and powerful prayer life, which gave him unique insight. When the King of Aram found out about Elisha's gift, he was so enraged that he sent his army to the town where Elisha lived, hoping to kill or capture him:
14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When 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. 16"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them" 17And 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. 18As 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 6:14-18).
When Elisha's servant looked at the size of the army of Aram surrounding the city, he began to lose heart. Things looked hopeless when seen only from an earthly perspective. However, all was not as it seemed, for there were angelic forces of God around Elisha, of which the young servant was unaware. Elisha prayed for the opening of his eyes to the unseen spiritual realm around them. At the prayer of Elisha, Gehazi saw the reality of the spiritual forces of God, usually hidden from physical eyes. God's angels are much more powerful than the physical forces of evil around the city.
When Elisha prayed further, God defeated Israel's enemies with one display of His power. My prayer for you today is that God may open your eyes to the reality of the unseen spiritual world. I hope you can join us as we explore what the Bible says about that realm over the next few days. Keith Thomas.