Howard Mooney - Korea Convention - May 12, 1982 (The Morning Before Convention)

I have tried to equip myself the last while with the prayers of Elisha, and I have tried to find out why the Lord answers each of his prayers immediately. In II Kings 6:17, I felt I found a little secret concerning his prayers. This was when Elisha and his companion were spending a night in a village called Dothan, and during the night the armies of Syria came down and surrounded the Village. The young companion got up first, and he looked out and saw the hosts surrounding the city and he panicked. He turned to Elisha, and he said, "Alas, my master, how shall we do?" Elisha said, "Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." Then he prayed and said, "Oh, Lord, open the eyes of this young man that he may see," and immediately the Lord answered that prayer. Then he prayed, "Lord, smite this people with blindness," and the Lord answered that prayer immediately, and Elisha said unto those people, "This is the way," and he led them into the land of Samaria. Then he said, "Now, Lord, open their eyes," and the Lord answered that prayer immediately. I like to think of this as a picture of a mission. It was a mission that began with close companionship, and it ended with one of the greatest victories recorded in the Old Testament. Elisha was a wonderful old companion, and the reason for that was that he had also been a wonderful young companion.

 

One day when they were trying to identify Elisha to the king when the king didn't just know who he was, they said, "This Elisha which poured water on the hands of Elijah." Over in those countries they still eat with their fingers. Those that are in their homes when the meal is finished can walk over to the sink and wash their fingers, but there were no facilities like that at the place where we had conventions, and outside the door, there would be a girl about sixteen with of water. When the meal was over, the people would go outside, and this girl would pour water on their hands while they washed them. Someone had seen Elisha do this for his older companion, Elijah. That impressed them more than anything else that Elisha ever did. When they were identifying him to the king, they could have said, "This is the Elisha that parted the river Jordan," or, "This is the Elisha that healed the waters of Jericho." But no, they said, "This is the Elisha that poured water on the hands of his companion." This reminds us that it is our spirit of service in our ministry that impresses the world more than anything else that we can ever do.

 

Now in these verses, we read of Elisha, the older companion now, that he is rendering the same service to his younger companion that he rendered to his other companion. When his young companion was panicky, he sat down and talked to him, and said, "Fear not, they that be with us are more than they that are against us." What he was doing was allowing that young companion of his to see things through his eyes. I thank God for the old companions that I had when I first started in the work who often sat down and let me see things through their eyes. There is something about the truth that you just see gradually, and you just see it more wonderfully every year, but each year, you see it a little more plainly and a little more of its greatness. Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened and that they would see the height and the depth of the love of God. Those people had professed for over ten years and were doing well, but Paul had professed over thirty years, and he saw a lot more than they ever saw. What he was doing was just praying that the Lord would open their eyes to see the wonderfulness of this thing that he saw.

 

After Elisha had allowed his young companion to see things as he saw them, then he prayed that the Lord would allow him to see things for himself. The Lord opened the eyes of that young worker, and he saw then why his older companion had such confidence and faith in God. One of the greatest privileges that God ever gives to a worker is to have a young companion. It is wonderful to be able to help them after their little discouraging moments and their times of sadness and bring them to the place where they see this is as wonderful as you see it for yourself.

 

Then Elisha said, "Lord, smite them with blindness." In other words, Lord just helps them to see how blind they are. One cannot help people, especially those of a religious background until first of all they realise they are blind. Spiritually speaking, this army was made up of blind men who were following a blind leader. If the king of Syria had not been blinded by his own pride and selfishness, he never would have tried to destroy those two servants of God. So Elisha prayed, "Lord, help them to see how blind they are." The Lord answered that prayer immediately. Then he led them out into the land of Samaria, and he said, "Now, Lord, open their eyes." I believe he meant, "Lord, now You have shown them how blind they are, now open their eyes to see the goodness of God just as I see it." The Lord again immediately answered that prayer. The king of Israel said to Elisha, "At this point, my father, shall I smite them? Shall I smite them?" "No," he said, "Feed them. Give them a feast!" He was manifesting the spirit of Christ at that time. When the disciples said to Jesus, "Shall we command fire to come down and destroy them?" Jesus said, "No, you know not what spirit you are of. I am not come to destroy men's lives but to save them."

 

The spirit of Christ in Elisha manifested on this occasion and the spirit of Christ he showed to his young companion shows why God was anxious and ready to hear and answer his prayers. Elisha realised that the only thing that is going to help these people is to give them food. That also helps people to realise that they are wrong. They go to their own church, and they go through all the formalities of the church, and they don't get any food for their souls there that is the common complaint. That was the thing that convinced my parents that the Methodist church was wrong - they never got anything there to feed their souls. When the two workers came into our district, the thing that convinced them first of all that these workers were right was because they did feed them.

 

So, Elisha had prayed that God would open their eyes to see the goodness of God, and so he wanted to give them a demonstration of the goodness of God, and so he fed them - if your enemy hunger, feed him. So after giving them a good feed, they sent them home, and it was a total victory. The last verse of this story says that the army of Syria never invaded the land of Israel again. Why should they fight against the God who had fed them so abundantly, when He had every right to destroy them? So this was a total victory, no lives were lost, and no was injured, and complete victory was won. This was all brought about because of a servant of God who knew how to pray and knew how to feed people.

 

There is another little incident that will just take a minute to tell that parallels with this one. That is when Rehoboam became the king of Israel in the stead of his father, Solomon. The people in the area came to him and said, "Your father taxed us so we just couldn't keep up with the taxation, and couldn't you make it a little easier for us?" So Rehoboam when to the old men who had counselled his father when he was kind, and he asked them, "What should I do about this?" The old men counselled him by saying, "If you be a servant to these people and speak good words to them, and you feed them, these people will be your servants for ever." Now in one case, we read of a man who was a servant to the outsiders and knew how to feed them, and won the victory that way. But in this case, it was a man who was a servant to his own people inside the kingdom. But this principle works in both cases. There is a working principle there that I have certainly appreciated, and that is that people are responsive. John said, "We love Him because He first loved us." We give our best to Him because He has given His best for us. The counsel the old men gave to the king Rehoboam was, "If you just make yourself a servant to these people, they will respond to that and be your servants."

 

There is a sad ending to that story, and it is that some young people cane into the picture and they told the king, "Don't you take the old men's counsel, you just take control of the situation, and you just beat them into submission." Rehoboam took the counsel of the young men, and it caused a division between God's people. It caused the tribes of Israel to revolt against the tribes of Judah, and this is what took them in captivity into Babylon later. We are glad that we have this counsel and we can profit by it, even if Rehoboam didn't. You just make yourself a servant to these people and speak good words to them, and feed them, and they will be your servants for ever. When you get the victory that way, it is a complete victory. No lives are lost, no feelings are hurt, and no damage is done. It was our brother, Willie Phyn that called my attention to this verse concerning Rehoboam. I will tell you where it is found, and maybe you would like to mark it in your Bibles. It is found in I Kings 12:7.