2 Kings 6:8-23 (Part 2) – The Necessary Humility of The Banquet Table

Posted: May 15, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 6:8-23 (Part 2 of 2)

Elisha Traps the Arameans

As the end of the road at Calvary Church quickly approaches and we are about to embark on the next chapter of our lives, I have come to realize that we have made some great friends and learned a lot in the short year and a half that we have been here in The Quad Cities and at Calvary Church. It is going to be a lot harder to walk out the door at church on Sunday, our last Sunday service at Calvary, and it will be equally hard to walk out the door of the church office suite on Tuesday, my last work day at the church. I am afraid that there will be crocodile tears on Sunday with friends that we have impacted and have impacted us. We have made friends through intentionality here. As a result, we have made some deep friendships here really quickly. We used meals at our table. We used ministry opportunities. We used meals at restaurants after church services (our Sundays usually don’t end until after Sunday lunch with some member couple of the church). These friendships will continue long past our departure from here but, man, it’s gonna be hard to NOT be able to see these friends daily, weekly. We were just getting started!

Then, on Tuesday, I have to let go of the work here. It has been a strange evolution in the last year and half at the job. It was kind of the path of a roller coaster. There is a hill you start out on and then you have the downslope into a valley and then back up the next hill. That’s the way the job has been. I started off on a hill, thinking I had it all knocked. Then, I realized how different this world is from the finance world I had known and how I did not grasp the structures here and down into the valley I went. Self confidence disappeared and doubt reigned. But then, with my confidence broken down (like a soldier at boot camp), I was slowly able to begin grasping the why of the way things are done here the way they are. It actually began making sense. And, now, here at the end, I am actually doing my best work here. Back up to the top of the hill on that rollercoaster analogy. That’s the hard part of leaving is that I am doing my best work now and the old confidence in my understanding of my work has returned. But it is a more humble confidence than before.

I am grateful for the deconstruction and reconstruction of my confidence that occurred here. It was necessary to realize that I am not always going to be the most talented guy on the team. It was necessary for me to realize that there is sooooo much that I don’t know, even after 30 years in my profession. It was necessary for me to realize that I had actually grown too comfortable in my previous job and had stopped seeing that I could grow and learn and that I could actually not be right. I learned that I could still make mistakes and make them weekly and often. This was necessary humility. It was painful in ways that I could not imagine going in. This was necessary humility. But on the going up the other hill side of things. The place that I am now. I am just right here at the end, at the top of the hill, and I am doing my best work so far at Calvary. No way that I could appreciate that point without the valley behind me. The confidence that I have now makes me appreciate the things that I learned back in that valley. Now, everything is making sense. Now, I understand the why behind the systems and processes that have been in place.

The lessons in humility learned here at Calvary will serve me well in my next phase of life. I have learned that I am just called to serve the Lord. I am not and will not be the savior of my next church where I will be the lead pastor, the only pastor. I have learned that I ain’t all that and a bag of chips. I have learned that this experience at Calvary will be repeated at Lamar. At Calvary, I am responsible for only one part of the spectrum of church responsibility. At Lamar, I will be responsible for it all. So the learning curve will be great. Without having had the lesson in humility here, I would not be approaching this next phase will a healthy fear that I am approaching it. I realize that I am expanding from a piece of the pie to the whole pie. I realize that I have much to learn the complete array of church life and not just part of it. Talk about healthy fear. I am going to be learning a lot, making mistakes (though not purposefully), making more than one mistake, learning, learning and more learning. And may be somewhere down the road at Lamar I will be doing my best work.

The experience at Calvary has prepared me for that. The experience at Calvary has taught me that none of us deserve to be pastors. It is just such a huge office to fill, but it is He that has led us to this and will lead us through it. Through this experience at Calvary, I have learned as a pastor you are never going to know it all and there’s only one thing you can do about it – cling to the Lord. We don’t deserve to be pastors on our own merits. We just follow the call. We just depend on His grace. We just look in humility and thankfulness toward Him that He even has allowed us to be in this place. Knowing what we know about ourselves, as people who graced by God with the office of pastor, we know we don’t deserve but humbly thank Him for the chance to serve. Thanks to my experience at Calvary, I will approach the next phase at Lamar in humility clinging to the hand of my Savior. And maybe down the road, He will have me doing my best work.

It kind of reminds you being invited to the banquet table of the Lord. He knows and we know that we don’t deserve the grace of Jesus Christ. But He has invited us to the banquet table anyway because we humbly came before the Lord and asked Him to cover our mistakes and sins through His grace. He sets a place for us at His table even though we are mistake-filled sinful people that do not deserve to be at the table. He treats us as honored guests. Sitting at the table, we are humbled by it. We know that we don’t belong on our own merits. And it is only through that realization that God can use us and work through us to do our best work for Him.

With that idea of humbly sitting at the banquet table, Let’s read the passage, 2 Kings 6:8-23, now for a second time:

8 When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.”

9 But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” 10 So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there.

11 The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?”

12 “It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”

13 “Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”

And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” 14 So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.

15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

18 As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, please make them blind.” So the Lord struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked.

19 Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria.

20 As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.

21 When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”

22 “Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”

23 So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel.

In this passage, we see that Elisha told the king not to kill the Arameans. The king was not to take credit for what God alone had done. In setting food and water before them, it is reminds us of the banquet table to which Jesus refers in Luke 14:15-24. Though we have done nothing to deserve the banquet table of the Lord and in fact we are enemies of righteousness, we are invited to his banquet table. As the Apostle Paul stated, “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life” – Titus 3:4-5, 7. That’s the thing that I see in this passage is that the Aramean army deserved death under the normal rules of war. They were trapped and should have been slaughtered. But, God showed them great mercy through the king of Israel (acting on the godly counsel of Elisha). They were given a new lease of life. They did not deserve by the standards of war. They were treated as if they were not aggressors but rather as honored guests and were treated with dignity. Instead of being killed or imprisoned and treated harshly, they were fed and sent home. They were given new life when they deserved death. That is the gospel in one scene.

That’s the lesson of Calvary for me. God does His best work in us and through us once we humble ourselves before Him. We don’t deserve the grace He has shown us in salvation and since salvation. We don’t deserve Him allowing us to serve Him. We don’t deserve to sit at His banquet table. Once we realize that humbling thing. God has us ready to start doing His best work in us and through us. When we realize that we have so much to be thankful for to Him, when we realize that we are never deserving, when we realize that we have so much to learn – always, when realize that we are not ready for what’s next and that we have one thing to cling to – His mighty hand alone, then, we are ready to do our best work for Him!

Amen and Amen.

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