The army of the Lord cannot be seen with our eyes today but we read it in God’s Word and believe it by faith. Heaven is not yet visible but it is revealed in God’s Word, we believe it by faith. We have not seen Jesus yet with our eyes but we know Him by His Word and Spirit and believe on Him through faith. Jesus is in Heaven and coming soon when we will see Him with our own eyes even as Elisha and his servant saw the army of the Lord with their eyes. Do you have faith?
As a child I remember hearing the story of missionary John Paton and his wife who in the mid 1800s were bringing the gospel to the hostile region of the New Hebrides (today known as Vanuatu) in the South Pacific. One night John was warned that the natives (many of whom were cannibalistic) were coming to kill them. He saw warriors lurking in the woods. He and his wife stayed in their home praying all night. As the sun rose, the Patons remained unharmed and the natives nowhere to be seen. Within a year the chief of the hostile tribe was born again of the Spirit. The Patons asked him why the warriors did not attack that night a year earlier. The chief responded that it was because of the army of giant men in shining garments with drawn swords surrounding the mission grounds. Quite simply the natives were outnumbered and outmatched.
What exactly happened that night nearly 200 years ago I cannot confirm, but I can confirm this: the unseen spiritual world is real, powerful, and used by God for the glory of His name and the good and protection of His people. The story of John Paton is reminiscent of our text today. Surrounded by the hosts of Syrians, Elisha did not panic but only prayed to God for the eyes of his servant to be opened.
When Elisha prayed, God who is rich in mercy, did something rare in Biblical history. He opened up the servant’s eyes to see the angelic army of the Lord all around him. “And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.” Let us learn several lessons from this verse:
First, the army of the Lord is real. This army was there before the eyes of the servant were opened. The Lord Jesus Christ is real, though we cannot see Him. The Holy Spirit and God the Father, our Triune God, is real though we cannot see Him with our eyes. Heaven is real. Angels are real. Hell is real. The invisible world is not ordinarily seen with our eyes but it is real. Those unseen things that we look for in the future we look at now by faith for they are those things that endure. “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18).
Second, the army of the Lord is large and mighty. The army on the mountain around Elisha was no small skirmishing line. “The mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire.” This was a large army that no kingdom of the world could muster a force strong enough to compete with. It was not merely large in number but it was mighty in power. The army was made up of horses and chariots of fire. Who could stand against such an army? When the angels appeared to the Shepherds in Luke 2:13, “a multitude of the heavenly host” appeared praising God. When we gather to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth, we join an “innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22). The army of the Lord is large and mighty.