Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.” And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice. And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” And one of his servants said, “None, my Lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord , please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria. As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord , open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” He answered, “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.
2 Kings 6:8-23 ESV
There are people who say that the God of the Old Testament is strict, brutal and violent while the God of the New Testament is loving and merciful. I know where they are coming from, most Bible stories that people are familiar with are those from a) Exodus, where God judged the stiff-necked Israelites b) Joshua, where God commanded the destruction of the inhabitants of the promised land c) Judges to 2 Kings, where Israelites fell in a cycle of disobedience and God punished them each time. They cannot reconcile that a loving and merciful God judges with violence.
I must say that when I started reading the Bible, I got the shock of my life too thinking that it is supposed to be a wholesome book. However, reading the Bible from page-to-page, chapter-to-chapter has given me insights how God operates, who He truly is. So far, I find Him consistent in His character being just and faithful.
Today, I found myself reading the story of Elisha trapping the Arameans. The story started when the king of Aram was setting a trap to raid the Israelites, but through Elisha, God warned His people. The king of Aram then learned of Elisha spoiling his plan so he asked his soldiers to catch the prophet of God. They learned where Elisha was, it scared the prophet’s servant seeing the Aramean armies, but God opened the eyes of the servant to see God’s army on their side. Elisha went on to ask the Lord to blind the soldiers then he brought them to the king of Israel. Elisha prayed again for God to open the eyes of the soldiers finding themselves in front of king of Israel. The story ended when he asked the king of Israel to prepare a feast for their enemy and send them away in peace.
This story impresses a powerful message, one that defies the perception of people who I described above. Here, we see God who saves His people and gives mercy to those who do bad. Remember when Jesus calmed the storm? What about when He commanded His disciple to love their enemies? And when He also said to His followers in the sermon on the mount that blessed are the peacemakers? The God of Old Testament and New Testament are One! He is the God who hates sin, judges those who are against Him, while being loving, faithful and merciful to whom He chooses to. His character does not change, He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore.
To know God more, we really need to immerse ourselves into reading His Word. There is no story so short that will not reveal the very fiber of His character. Jesus is reflected in every story because it is His story!
Soli Deo Gloria!