Seeing Isn’t Always Believing.
2 Kings 7-8, 2 Corinthians 13
Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” – 2 Kings 7:2 ESV
Doubting God is almost a national pastime for many believers. We regularly hear the Word of God preached and taught, and we hear repeated messages regarding His power and faithfulness. But we still refuse to believe that what God says is true and that what the Bible teaches us about God can be trusted; especially in times of difficulty. When we are suffering, it is difficult to believe that God can and will deliver us. We can easily begin to doubt His Word and question His ability to intervene on our behalf. In 2 King 6 we read about the siege of Samaria by the Syrian army. They have the capital city of Israel surrounded and, to make matters even worse, there was a severe famine in the land. Things had gotten so bad that the people within the walls of Samaria had resorted to eating their own children. The king of Israel had lost all hope and gone into a permanent state of mourning. He wore sackcloth under his clothes and felt powerless to do anything to remedy the situation. He recognized their trouble as coming from God and didn’t believe that God was going to help them in any way. He had come to the point of saying, “Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” (2 Kings 6:33 ESV). But the king was not alone in his pessimism. Others had begun to doubt God as well. Their dire circumstances had caused them to lose hope.
What does this passage reveal about God?
But even in the midst of the extreme difficulties that Israel was experiencing, God was there. In spite of their open rebellion and years of unfaithfulness to Him, God had not given up on them. God, speaking through His prophet, Elisha, told them, “Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria” (2 Kings 7:1 ESV). This news was met with skepticism and doubt. What Elisha was telling them was unbelievable, even ridiculous. For years, food had become so scarce in Samaria, that “a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver” (2 Kings 6:25 ESV). Now Elisha was telling them that all that was going to change – overnight. As bad as their circumstances had become, God was telling them that He had the capacity to change those circumstances – immediately. He had the power to remedy their problem and could do so in no time at all. Their condition was going to go from famine to plenty in less than a 24-hour period.
What does this passage reveal about man?
But many doubted Elisha’s words. They just couldn’t trust what he was telling them about God. Their circumstances overwhelmed their capacity to trust God and take Him at His word. The king’s captain put their doubts into words. “If the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” (2 Kings 7:2 ESV). This man expressed what everyone else was thinking. He could see no way for God to intervene and change their circumstances overnight. There is a certain degree of sarcasm in his statement to Elisha. It is as if he is saying, “Even if God could open up the windows of heaven and pour out resources from His heavenly storehouse, this couldn’t happen.” It was impossible. He saw no way for their conditions to change. It would take a miracle from heaven. And he was right. Elisha told this man that he would see what God was going to do with his own eyes, but he would not get to benefit from it. God was going to work a miracle from heaven, but this man would not get to taste a single morsel of God’s gracious provision. And the next morning, much to the surprise of everyone in Samaria, they woke up to find the Syrian camp deserted and all of the food and provisions left behind. “For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.’ So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives” (2 Kings 7:6-7 ESV). God had intervened. He had opened the windows of heaven and poured out a blessing, but in a way that was unexpected and unbelievable. He used the very enemies of Israel, who had come intent to destroy them, to bless them. Their conditions were radically changed. Suddenly, they had an abundance of food. So much so, that the prices for flour and barley plummeted overnight – just as God had said they would. But the king’s captain was in for a surprise of his own. When the king discovered the good news regarding their situation, he appointed this very same man to oversee the gate through which the people would pass as the raided the Syrian camp and brought the new-found booty into the city of Samaria. Ironically, this man was trampled in the rush of people storming out of the gates to take advantage of God’s blessing.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
It is also ironic that doubt should come so easy to those of us who call ourselves believers. We say we believe in God. We claim to believe that the Bible is the word of God. But we doubt what it says. We question God’s ability to work miracles in our lives. We become focused on our conditions and fixate on what we believe to be the reality of our lives. But believing requires faith and faith requires action. It is not enough to say that you believe. You must put that faith to the test, by trusting in God’s love and faithfulness to provide a solution to your need. You must also have faith that God has a purpose behind every circumstance in your life. I doubt that the people of Israel saw any benefit to having their city surrounded by Syrians. They could not have seen any good coming out of a severe famine. But what they needed to understand was that God was in control of all that was going on, and that He had a purpose for what was happening in their lives. He was going to use even these dire circumstances to reveal His power and provide for their needs. The famine was a result of their own sin and rebellion against Him. But had the Syrians never have invaded their land and surrounded their city, their suffering as a result of the famine would have continued. God didn’t end the famine, He simply provided them with an unexpected source of good in the midst of it – from the hands of their enemies. The apostle Paul reminds me, “He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God” (2 Corinthians 13:4 ESV). When the disciples watched Jesus die on the cross, they thought their hopes and dreams of a new kingdom had died along with Him. They couldn’t understand why their Savior had to die. They couldn’t fathom why their King had to be killed by the Romans. But it was all part of God’s plan. He was in complete control. God would use the Romans, the enemies of the Jews, to accomplish His will and bring new life to the people of Israel. He would use death to bring about life. He would use weakness to accomplish His power. It’s interesting to note that lowly lepers were the first to benefit from God’s unexpected bounty that morning outside the walls of Samaria. In their desperation and need they risked everything in the hopes of receiving something that might sustain their lives. And they were rewarded with food and treasure beyond their wildest expectations. When we trust God and step out on faith, we too receive far more than we could ever imagine.
Father, forgive me for the many times I doubt You. Forgive me for the many times I express my belief in You, but fail to step out in faith and trust You to do what You have promised to do. I place way too much stock in my circumstances and not enough faith in Your power. I want to see and believe. I want to trust Your character and lean on Your promises. You can turn my enemies into a means for blessing me. You can turn even the darkest moment into an opportunity to see Your light shine and Your power revealed. You are faithful and good – all the time. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men