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6th Sunday after Easter

Grace, mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance through God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.  Dear friends in Christ, things aren’t always what they seem to be.  Are they?  One of the jobs I had in college was to drive truck.  I remember one of the big contracts we had during the summer was a great big outdoor country music festival.  It was a couple of days long and so lots of people camped out there.  As I drove through the campground, I remember lots of people coming up to me and asking, “Can I purchase some fresh water from you for my RV?”  I would usually smile and say, “No, I’m sorry, I…I really can’t help you, you see that big, shiny, clean tank on my truck…well that’s not water…I work for the porta-potty company.”  Things really aren’t always what they seem to be, are they?  And for many reasons it’s very good for us to realize that.  It’s also true in our lives as Christians.  What you see is not full reality.  That’s what we’ll find out in our text for this morning.  But first a little background…

They finally made it.  It was the most glorious place in the world.  Beautiful, fertile, lush land…and it was all theirs!  The Israelites made it to the Promised Land.  But it wasn’t easy.  Questions needed to be answered, questions like “what happens when an argument arises, who’s going to solve it?  Who’s going to protect us from the nations around us?  Who’s going to rule us?  We need a king like all the nations around us.”  So in love God let them have a king.  He gave the people of Israel king David.  King David was a great king, ruled the nation well, but he had some shortcomings.   After him his son Solomon took over.  He started off great…but soon married many different women and even sought after false gods.  It got so bad that God promised that He would take the majority of the kingdom away from Solomon’s family and give it to someone else.

Well, when Solomon died, this is what happened.  Israel was split: the southern kingdom of Judah stayed in David’s family and the northern kingdom of Israel was ruled by Jeroboam.  God promised the new king, Jeroboam, “If you’re faithful to me, then I’ll bless your kingdom and your ruling.”  But unfortunately what was one of the first things Jeroboam did?  Disobeyed God and set up altars in rebellion to God’s Word.  So, the northern kingdom continued to decline.

But God remained faithful.  He continued to send prophet after prophet to the people in order to win their hearts back to Him.  One of those prophets was Elisha.  Elisha took the place of the great prophet Elijah.  Elisha spoke the Word of God to the people calling them back to the Lord.  God let Elisha do all kinds of miracles in order that the people would see that he’s serving the only true God.  The nation continued to have enemies.  One of their enemies was the nation of Aram (or Syria).  The king of Aram wanted to attack and take Israel over.  But there was a problem.  Every time he’d move his army, God would let Elisha know where they were and he would tell the king of Israel.  Do you think that would be of some advantage?  Certainly!  The king of Aram got pretty upset about all of this so he sent his army out to capture and probably kill this Elisha guy who was messing up all his plans.  So his army surrounded the city where Elisha was in.  That’s where we pick it up… (read text)

The reality is God’s in control.  Really?  What do you suppose Elisha’s servant was thinking as he gazed over the city at the possibly thousands of troops surrounding him?  “Hmm…this is sure a funny way for God to show His power, wisdom, and love to many people.”  I’m guessing probably not.  I’m guessing he was thinking things like, “What in the world!  This is what happens to us even after serving God faithfully, teaching God’s Word truthfully!  Now we’re going to be captured and probably die!  We’re going to have to take this into our own hands…but I don’t know what to do… I don’t know what to do!”  Fear and fright?  Yep.  Taking matters into his own hands?  Sounds like it.

Sounds a little familiar to us too, doesn’t it?  For a moment take a look at your own life, what do you see? How might you describe your life?  Hopeful but also still full of worry, fear and sadness?   Happy but also depressed, disappointed, and disillusioned?  Medical problems, fractured relationships, financial difficulties?  A successful job, but still unsatisfied?  Decent income, but still feeling like something’s missing?  Calm on the outside, but guilt of the past, frustration, and anger inside? Do you see some of that, most of that, all of that?  Ouch!  Are those things sometimes all you see when you look at your life?  And don’t we often answer all this with thoughts like,   “I guess I’ll be facing life on my own today.  What can I do to make my life better?  How am I going to handle the pressures today?  What am I going to do?”

But brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s far better for us to ask a different question: What’s the reality?  Thank the Lord that things aren’t always as they seem to be.  Listen to God’s Word, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  Certainly there are things that make life difficult, make life uncertain: pain, hardship, temptations, threats, disasters, etc.  If our hope rested only in the things that we see, soon we would discover life to be… hopeless.  But there is One who stands far above everything in this world.  A God who is far more capable, far stronger, and far more superior than anything in this world.  There is a God who holds the ultimate authority of heaven and earth in His hands.  There is a God whose infinite power controls all things.  That’s reality.

Take a look as God opens your eyes to the reality.  Things aren’t always as they seem; God’s people aren’t on their own to fend for themselves.  Through His Word God opens our eyes to the reality, just like He opened Elisha’s servant’s eyes, “and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  God Himself is certainly powerful enough to watch over the lives of His people night and day.  But God doesn’t deal in minimums, no He piles on the comfort and assurance.  He’s given His thousands upon thousands of angels the task to guard over and protect His children day after day.  Angels all around serving God’s people, watching over them, intervening on their behalf!  Yea, things aren’t always as they seem, angels are all around carrying out the will of God!

Take another look as God opens your eyes to the reality.  Does everything always make perfect sense in your life?  I’m guessing not.  Do you think it made sense to Elisha?  To lead this blind army into the capital city in order to sit them down for a feast?  Things aren’t always as they seem to be.  Why did God do this?  God showed both the Israelites and this army of many unbelieving Arameans that He’s in control, things will happen according to His plan.  Safety isn’t found in military strength, but in the Lord.  It’s useless to oppose God and His people.  God isn’t out to annihilate people; He is a God of love who wants all to be saved.  Can you see God’s plan now?

Finally look at something else that wasn’t quite as it seemed.  A man familiar with sorrow and suffering.  A man accused and sentenced to death on a cross.  It seemed like He lost everything; it seemed like His followers were the greatest losers.  But things aren’t always as they seem.  Yes, Jesus gave up His life on that cross, but He wasn’t losing, He was winning; we’re not losers, we’re winners.  Take a look into that grave, it’s empty!  Jesus won the ultimate victory for you and me!  Jesus won the victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil for you and me!  Jesus won you for God and so that God, who controls all things…He’s your God!  He is worthy of your trust.  He knows what’s best for your life.  He’s looking out for you, He cares about you.  He’s with you.

Yea, there are many reasons why it’s good to realize that things aren’t always as they seem to be.  Not only for practical things like telling the difference between a water truck and a porta-potty truck, but also for spiritual things.  Despite whatever is happening in your life right now, no matter how things seem to be, know for sure, that the God who remains in control of all things, who has an invincible army of angels at His command, who works all things out according to His plans, who can turn anything around for good- that God-that one and only God- He’s on YOUR side, He’s YOUR God, and He’s fighting for YOU!  Amen.