The Unseen Reality
2 Kings 5-8
In 2 Kings 5, we find the king of Syria was anxious to dispose of the prophet Elisha. Under God's guidance, the prophet of God had foiled Syria's plans to attack Israel "not just once or twice" by warning the king of Israel of where the next attack would take place. He learned through informants that the prophet was in the city of Dothan, and thinking that turnabout was fairplay, he sent a "great army" overnight to dispose of the thorn in his side once and for all. In the morning, the servant of Elisha went out, only to see he and his master surrounded by the Syrians. Seeing the horses and chariots, he exclaimed, "'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" (2 Kings 6:15-17). The story concludes with Elisha asking the LORD to strike the Syrians with blindness, and they are lead into Israelite captivity.
We are not prone to think on a daily basis of the spiritual world around us. Oh, we know that it is there. We believe in angels and demonic forces, certainly in God and the devil. But, we live in a physical world and think about spiritual things. This story reminds us there is an hidden reality out there; a whole spiritual realm that while unseen is very real—in fact, it represents the true reality of all existence. If I understand this story correctly, there are invisible spiritual forces around us all the time. Some, like these found in 2 Kings 6, are benevolent (remember the words of Hebrews 1:14 concerning angels, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?").
But, the apostle Paul reminded us of a more sinister undetectable cabal we face: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Paul said that we engage these demonic forces. Not physically, but we wrestle with their influence. The point is they are around us everyday, working against us, and we need to be aware of them.
All this is not to say that angelic armies are going to swoop into our lives in dire times rescue us from all evil. Nor is it to say that demons can take us over or even make us do things. Those days of direct spiritual intervention—both good and bad—it seems from scripture have passed. It is to say, however, that as spiritually minded people, we need to know every day that those forces are still very real and active in our world in their own ways, and Paul warns we need to be careful of the evil ones in particular. We need to open our eyes to this spiritual reality.