“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.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
There are two ways to understand what’s going on here (assuming on the credibility of the text). The first is that Elisha was delusional and somehow brought this poor servant into his delusions. That would not only be a pretty disappointing interpretation, it doesn’t fit the context of the story itself or the broader context of Elisha’s life and ministry very well. The second understanding is that every word here is true and happened just exactly like the text says.
Going with that second one for a minute, think about what that would have been like. Imagine if you were that young servant, frightened over the looming threat of the Syrian army here to take your master captive and probably kill you. Imagine suddenly being able to see the warriors of an even larger army, clearly supernatural in its origin, surrounding the Syrian forces. The mixture of emotions, of fear and comfort, of awe and terror, would have been almost too much for him to handle. Only Elisha’s calm, confident spirit would have kept him from completely freaking out.
Here’s the question for us: Is this real? Is this true? Did something like this actually happen? Could it? From the broader record of the Scriptures, I am convinced the answer to these questions is a resounding yes. The Scriptures occasionally, but consistently refer to the reality of a whole spiritual plane of existence that we cannot often or even ever see, but which is nonetheless absolutely real and impacts this world in ways we are only rarely aware.
Now, let me be clear that I think the fantasy worlds of mythical creatures popular in modern books and movies are just that, fantasy. We can say nothing in detail about this world other than what we see in the Scriptures, which isn’t much. But, to reject the idea of the supernatural and of a fantasy world because it’s not physical and we can’t see it is unnecessary and unwise.
What the Scriptures point to in a number of places is the fact that demons exist and angels exist. There are heavenly armies and demonic forces. The former serve God with absolute faithfulness and the latter works consistently and doggedly to disrupt His plans and harass His people. This is not some dualistic fair fight or close battle, though. The spiritual forces opposed to God and His people have already lost and devastatingly so in the cross and resurrection of Christ. Their power has been broken entirely and they are merely seeking to cause all the damage they can until the time of their impending destruction arrives. And even in this they are limited in what they can accomplish. God’s plans will not be thwarted by them. Not even close.
Just as this young servant saw when Elisha prayed and the Lord opened his eyes, there is no contest between the forces of our God and those opposed to Him. When we stand in Christ, we can stand without fear and with absolute confidence in our victory because He has already won it and He has promised to share it with us. Stand firm, then, because the one who is in you is greater than those who are in the world. You may not get a chance to see it as this young man did, but you can rest assured it is there.