“And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” – 2 Kings 6:16
The Word is more than the history of what took place in the past. The event of which our text speaks took place nearly three thousand years ago but, spiritually interpreted, it is an event that takes place today. “Thy Word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever,” It is even so. In times of distress and danger, when we are fighting against the enemies of truth and goodness, it is good to know that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” In fact since the Resurrection the Lord is more fully present with us than before. His love and care reach down to every individual. He is no less mindful of one person than of another, for He is love or goodness itself.
The hosts of Syria had come up in hostile array against the kingdom of Israel. Their plans had more than once been thwarted by the prophetic counsels of Elisha. Against him, therefore, they directed their efforts. Their king sent an army to the city of Dothan, where he was, in order to capture him. They came by night and compassed the city about. After stating these facts, the account proceeds as follows: “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
There they were, the armies of the Lord, ready to protect them. No one had beheld them with the physical eye. No one except the prophet was conscious of their presence. But they were there nevertheless; and when the young man’s eyes were opened, he saw them too. He might indeed have suspected that they were there, if he had carefully heeded and understood the Divine promises contained in the Scriptures. He would have learned from the Psalms that “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” He would have become familiar with the words, “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” The history of his forefathers would have impressed the same lesson on his mind. It would have taught him to think familiarly and trustfully of Divine and angelic care. The angels that appeared to Abraham, Jacob, and others would not be to him unreal beings. He would not consistently suppose that supernatural assistance was remote and inaccessible. When his eyes were opened and he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots unseen before, he had no real cause to be astonished at the sight.
The Scriptures are full of incidents evidencing the fact that the spiritual world is near to the natural and intimately connected with it. Its inhabitants are constantly present with those who live in this world. Angelic guardianship is one of the means by which the Lord always ministers to the spiritual needs of man. The truth is that man is interiorly and essentially a spiritual being. He belongs to the spiritual world. For a short time he is clothed with a material body and has conscious relationship only with the natural world. But the outer body is not the man. After a few days or weeks or years it dies and returns to the earthly substances of which it is composed. But not so the man himself. He cannot be destroyed, but continues to live in the spiritual world. No long journey is made from one place to the other. He simply closes his natural eyes and opens his spiritual eyes and comes into immediate active life among those to whom he has been interiorly near during his term of natural existence. The person does not die. All who ever lived are still alive. Moses and Elias were seen by the three disciples at the Transfiguration. Angels appeared to Lot at Sodom, and to Manoah and his wife. Angels appeared to the shepherds at the Lord’s birth. They appeared at His tomb at the time of the Resurrection.
Throughout the Scriptures we are taught that angels are constantly present with men on earth, and that the spiritual world is in intimate connection with the natural. Were it otherwise, it would not be true that He gives His angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways, and there would be no meaning to the beautiful words of the Lord concerning little children: “In heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” These angels are the appointed guardians of the little ones, and if it were not for them few if any children would live to grow up.
There are many other passages in the Scriptures which, if we read them understandingly, will teach us that the spiritual world is ever near us. It is recorded that an angel came and loosed Peter’s chains when he was in prison, and unlocked the prison doors.
The angels did not come flying down from some other planet to visit men. John was in the spirit on the Lord’s day when he beheld the visions of the Apocalypse. By means of his spiritual senses and faculties he was made cognizant of the wonderful things which he records. If they had been revealed to his bodily eyes, other inhabitants of Patmos would have witnessed them, but they neither saw nor knew anything respecting them because they were not “in the spirit.” Balaam, too, did not behold the angel standing in the way until, as we read, “his eyes were opened.” Likewise the young man, the servant of the prophet Elisha, had no knowledge or suspicion that the heavenly armies were about him until the Lord opened his eyes in response to the prayer of Elisha.
The spiritual body is an essential part of the human organism. It is not formed after man leaves this world. It is created with the man himself. It holds him in connection with the spiritual world all the while that his natural body holds him in connection with the natural world, and after death he merely comes into full and conscious use of its faculties. On rare occasions, and for special purposes the inner sight may be opened even during earthly life; but this is not according to the regular order of our creation. Ordinarily it would hamper our development. Whether we be old or young, strong or feeble, we know that our life here will soon be ended. The earth was not intended to be our permanent home. And while we are here, we are not separated from our heavenly homes. The future life is not wholly in the future. It is of vital practical import that we know that we are choosing our angelic associations now. They are and will be just what we choose to make them. To know this should lead us to live more wisely.
Finally, in what we know concerning the spiritual world and its connection with the natural there is wonderful encouragement for all who are struggling against their spiritual enemies. However lonely and forsaken we may seem so far as this world is concerned, if in a humble and sincere spirit we try to shun evil and do good in obedience to the Divine command, we are not alone. The Lord and the angels are on our side. Strong and numerous though our foes may be, it is literally true, as our text declares, that “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.”