college travels

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Value of Stories #5

The seer’s goal is transformation, and while we can see these things throughout all of Elisha’s ministry they are especially evident in 2Kings 6.

As a prophet, Elisha’s knowledge comes from the Lord. The Arameans suspect that there is a mole, but the reader of 2Kings 6 knows that it is God who divulges their military secrets to Elisha. As advisor, Elisha is able to brief the king. As king, Jehoram is able to effectively organise his troops to safeguard Israel’s national security. But there is more than the question of national security on view in 2Kings 6.

Amid ongoing hostilities between Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and Aram, the king of Israel is inclined to see Aram as ‘the enemy’ and its soldiers as ‘hostiles’. When the Aramean army descends on Dothan, Elisha’s servant is terrified. But Elisha has access to the bigger picture. He has a perspective that allows him to keep his cool. He shares this with his servant so that they can get on with the task in hand.

If Israel and the angelic armies engage these soldiers in battle, they will win. We can call this a win-lose situation. Alternatively they will win the battle only to trigger a retaliatory strike against them at a later date when the Arameans reassert themselves, lose-win. If Israel loses the battle the outcome is clearly lose-win, and this will be worse still if it results in punitive measures inflicted against them.

Elisha executes a plan which will change the situation altogether. He reminds us of the human-ness of the Aramean soldiers and then shows them mercy. More than that, he has the king of Israel show great generosity towards them. This completely diffuses the situation and leads to a period of peace, win-win.

Whenever we find ourselves in the midst of long-running issues there are options open to us which compound the problem and prolong the tensions or there is the option of creatively looking for an approach that will build understanding, build trust, build friendship and work towards real and lasting peace.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”

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