Sermon 5-5-2013

2 Kings 6:15-17                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Confirmation
5/5/13
 
2 Kings 6:15-17 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 no, 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.”  17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that 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.
 
Go through life with your eyes open
1.  God’s people face powerful enemies
2.  God’s people are surrounded by God’s army
3.  Keep your eyes open to God’s love
 
When a dog sees a rainbow, what does he see?  Dogs are colorblind, you know.  So, when a dog sees a rainbow, what does he see?  Does he see anything at all?  A dog will go his whole life and never enjoy the beauty of a rainbow or the flowers of the field.  Dogs just don’t see those things.  People are like that when it comes to spiritual matters.  The Apostle Paul tells us that spiritual matters seem foolish to people because they can only be understood by people who have the Spirit.  Without the Spirit, people are like dogs.  They can’t see or understand spiritual things. 
Although the Holy Spirit has taken residence in your hearts by Holy Baptism and brought you to the point of confessing your faith at confirmation, we are still living in physical bodies.  We are tempted to only see the physical and ignore the spiritual.  We are tempted to live our lives like color-blind dogs rather than spirit-filled Christians.  We need to remember to use our eyes of faith and to go through life with those eyes of faith open. 
Israel was at war.  More accurately, Israel was under attack.  The king of Aram wanted to conquer Israel with his superior forces.  His army moved into position to attack Israel’s army, but every time they got into position, Israel’s army would move away.  Clearly, someone was giving away the Aramean army’s position.  The king was outraged.  National security leaks can’t be taken lightly.  He was determined to find the leak among his staff.  But it wasn’t a leak.  No one on his staff was betraying him.  It was the prophet Elisha.  God told Elisha where the Aramean army was and Elisha warned the king of Israel. 
When the king of Aram found out that it was Elisha, he sent his whole army to capture him.  They caught up to Elisha in a city called Dothan.  The army came at night and surrounded the city.  Elisha was trapped.
There are enemies around us, enemies that we can see.  Cancer cells attack our bodies.  Economic problems attack our bank accounts.  The bad influence of friends attacks our character.   You may be in a public school that may be a fine school.  Nevertheless, the worldview that permeates those schools is anti-Christian with the pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-evolution agenda.  This is an enemy to our faith.  Then there is that enemy that looks back at you from the mirror every morning.  He wants to be the god of your life and is clearly an enemy to our spiritual life.  Yes, we have enemies all around us that we can see.  We may even at times feel penned in and trapped by them. 
Elisha’s servant felt trapped.  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 no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.  Elish’a servant went out seemingly oblivious to the enemy around them.  For a lot of Christians, it is the same way.  They begin the new day with their minds on the chores of the day and the business before them.  They pay no attention to the enemies of their faith and the dangers to the soul until they are surrounded and trapped.  Too often we don’t take our spiritual warfare seriously.  We act as though Satan and his kingdom were asleep or out of town on vacation.  Then, when we are faced with spiritual warfare, we react like Elisha’s servant:  “What shall we do?” 
God had given Elisha the knowledge of where the Aramean army was.  Elisha could have used that knowledge to stay safe.  But why bother running?  He knew the enemy was there, but he saw something else, too – something his servant didn’t see.  “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that 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.
May God open our eyes to see the enemies that pose a danger to our faith.  May God also open our eyes to see the spiritual war that we are in.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)  Our greatest battle is not against bad cholesterol, global warming, bullying or the economy.  Our greatest battle is not political, but spiritual.  We are surrounded by enemies we see and enemies we do not see.  The devil is prowling and he wants to devour us.  We are in a spiritual war. 
But we never fight it alone.  May God also open our eyes of faith to believe that his angels are camped around us just as they were camped around Elisha.  Angels are spirits God created to serve us.  Sometimes Scripture pictures them with wings, sometimes as ordinary men, sometimes as fiery creatures.  The Bible never talks about each of us having a guardian angel but it does make clear in passages like this that there are many angels guarding us all the time.  We just need to keep our eyes of faith open to see them.
Have you ever watched any of the scary movies about exorcisms or poltergeists or things like that?  Movies try to depict Satan and his demons in graphic ways that can be frightening.  None of it compares to the real thing.  Satan is scary.  Hell is real.  Satan wants to drag us to hell with him and that ought to scare us to death. 
But let’s also not panic.  Jesus has already won the victory.  By his death and resurrection sin, death and hell have been conquered.  He descended to hell to proclaim that he is the winner and Satan is beaten.  He ascended into heaven where he rules all things for our good.  He opens our eyes of faith to see that those who are with us are more than those who are with our enemies. 
You know what happens when you are out in the bright sunlight and then walk in a dark room.  You can’t see anything at first.  Our eyes need time to adjust to the lack of light so that we can see in a darkened room.  Money, job, school, sports, people and all these other things that we enjoy are often like a bright light to our eyes of faith.  We spend so much time in the light of the physical world and all its pleasures and problems that our spiritual eyes can become very dim.  Jesus warned the church in Laodicea about that.  They weren’t blind but their spiritual eyesight became dim.  Jesus called them lukewarm and threatened to spit them out of his mouth. 
We become lukewarm in our faith when we lose sight of the spiritual battle around us.  We begin to take faith and Jesus for granted and our eyes grow dim, like colorblind dogs.  That’s why regular church attendance is so important for our faith.  We need time away from our worldly life.  We need to spend time thinking about spiritual life.  Regular church attendance is not only commanded by God, it is vital for us to keep our eyes open to the spiritual war around us.  It is vital for us to see God and his forces fighting for us on a daily basis.  Personal time in God’s Word is also important to keep our spiritual eyesight strong. 
There is a legend of the Eyebright Flower.  The legend says that if you find it and rub your eyes with its petals you will see all the unseen wonders of the world, become rich and satisfied; all your troubles and fears will be gone.  That, of course, is a myth.  There is no such flower.  But there is a meal that looks like a small wafer and a sip of wine.  Not much of a meal, really.  That meal though opens our eyes to see the unseen wonders of the spiritual world.  May your eyes be open to see more in that meal.  May you see Christ’s body and blood.  May you see the forgiveness of all your sins.  May you see the riches of your Savior’s love for you.  May you see the spiritual enemies that are out to destroy you, but may you see God’s angels camped around you, fighting for you. 
Today, you confess your faith publicly before this congregation and you confess unity with this congregation.  Your eyes have been opened to see your Savior, Jesus.  Today, you promise to be faithful to him in your use of Word and sacrament.  May you always remember the battle that you are in and may your eyes always be open to see God’s love and care.  With him and his angels on your side, you need never fear.  May you go through life with your spiritual eyes open.