Dwight Fletcher | The power of hope - Part 2
This week, we continue our discussion on hope. Last week, we said that hope is integral to all our lives, but that it does not come from our individual desires or wishes, but from God, who is Himself the hope of all men.
We looked at 2 Kings and saw that when people become hopeless to the point of despair, this can impair their judgement. This week, we continue with how God restores hope to our lives. Let's look at some steps to restoration.
Elisha said, "Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria." The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, "Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?" "You will see it with your own eyes," answered Elisha, "but you will not eat any of it!" 2 Kings 7:1-2 NIV.
In this account, Elisha, against the odds, foretells that within 24 hours, God would intervene and there would be plenty for everyone to eat. The king was despairing but God was about to execute His plan. Man's extremity is God's opportunity to magnify His own power. His time to appear for His people is when their strength is gone. From this we learn a few things:
Hope springs from believing God's word
Elisha said, "Hear the word of the LORD". This meant hear it, heed it, and believe it. When the word of God comes to us, the appropriate response is to believe it.
Hope in God's power
2 Kings 7:6-7 describes for us how the miracle occurred. Four lepers decided they wouldn't accept death sitting down. To wait in the city was death; to go into the Samaria was death, so they decided they might as well go to the enemy's camp and the Lord used this otherwise 'foolish' move to achieve what sceptics said was impossible. He chose to use the action of the lepers, who were the despised group, feeble, sick men unable to fight. Why?
Because it's "not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6 NIV
We see here that:
i. What the enemy - (the Arameans) planned for evil God turned around for his people's good. Which enemies do you have aligned against you? Hope in God.
ii. The wants of Israel are supplied in a way that they could not have imagined. This should encourage us to depend on the power and goodness of God in our greatest trials. Hope in God.
iii. The word of Elisha fulfilled exactly: A measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel; after plundering the camp there is excess, enough to sell. God's word is fulfilled. God's word is sure. His promises are sure!
God is to be trusted
God is to be trusted even when the facts seem to point to something being impossible. In this case, God promised to deliver Israel and God always fulfils His promises. However, truth be told, the promises of God are often conditional. While available to all they are only accessible by some. For us to experience the full blessing that comes from the Father we must believe. This belief will translate into obedience to God and His word. On the flip side, unbelief disqualifies us from the blessing of God, from the hope God provides.
Let us revisit 2 Kings 7:2-3
We realise in the story that what Elisha prophesied regarding the officer of the king's army, happened. Posted at the gate of the city, this officer saw the blessing of God but was trampled, so he did not get a chance to receive any, just as the word of God had indicated.
What could God be trying to communicate through this part of the story? God dislikes our distrust of Him, of His power, providence, and promise. God never promises the end without knowing where to provide the means. But, there is a thief called unbelief.
Unbelief can rob our lives of so much. In much the same way that this servant was robbed of enjoying the blessings of God, so, too, can Christians be robbed by unbelief in our lives.
1. Unbelief can rob us of our memory. Unbelief never considers what God has already proven in the past.
2. Unbelief will rob us of the power of God's word. Unbelief can trivialise the word of God until it has no real meaning in our lives.
3. Unbelief will rob us of our hope. We can spend our existence worrying, fearing, and fighting if we choose to let unbelief guide us. Elisha wasn't sitting at home worrying that the enemy would take Samaria and then his entire country, he was resting in the word of God.
4. Unbelief will rob us of partaking. The greatest disservice that unbelief did for this messenger was to prevent him from partaking in the blessings he would see with his own eyes.
If you feel like you are in an impossible situation and need God's intervention, then maybe you can pray this:
Oh Lord my God, I need Your help now. All my hope is in You and I believe that You have the power to deliver me from my distress. I will trust in You Lord with all my heart because I know that only You can save me. Thank You now Heavenly Father for hearing and answering my prayer. I wait expectantly for You. In Jesus' name. Amen