St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

“Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Sermon on 2 Kings 6:16,17

Text: “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Have you ever seen a movie or TV show where the heroes of the story are surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered by the enemy? All seems lost for the people. They are almost ready to give up. Then, just at the last minute, help arrives and saves the day. That theme is used over and over in one form or another. This morning, the same thing happens in our text. Elisha and the people of Jerusalem were hopelessly surrounded by the Arameans. It appeared as though all was lost. Only one person in all of Jerusalem seemed to be completely at ease. That man was the prophet Elisha. When his servant came up to him and asked, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?,” Elisha replied with the words of our text, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed that the LORD would allow his servant to see what he saw. The servant looked out and saw that, surrounding the Aramean army, was another army. It was an army composed of chariots and horses of fire. It was an army of angels. Because Elisha knew that the angel army was there, he was not afraid. The next day the Aramean army was struck with blindness and then led away from Jerusalem. The city was saved. God saw to it and assured Elisha and his servant of his protection by that army of angels.

We, too, can be comforted by the fact that God continues to send his angels to protect and help us. God did not just create the world and set it spinning, leaving mankind to fend for itself. He is very actively involved in our lives. He takes a very personal interest in each and every one of us. To this end, God sends his holy angels to guard and protect us.

We often hear people talk about their “guardian angel.” They were saved from this or that situation because of their guardian angel. It is good for us to think of, as well. Have you ever been in a situation where you could have been killed, or at least, severely injured? All of the elements were in place. Yet, somehow, you managed to escape relatively unscathed or even injury free! That wasn’t just dumb luck. That was God’s protecting hand at work. God uses his angels to protect us. We are told in Psalm 91:11,12, “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Another passage from the psalms reminds us, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” God promises his protection through his angels. We are kept safe.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we will be foolhardy with our lives. Constantly exposing ourselves to danger would be testing God. When Satan tempted Jesus to jump from the highest point of the temple, he quoted Psalm 91, which we heard just a few moments ago. In response, Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy, “Do not put the LORD your God to the test.” Even in dangerous situations, we can still be sure that those who are with us are more than those who are against us. Satan may send his evil angels, but believers have the good angels sent by God in our side, and we can be sure that victory is ours. Incidentally, we note the fact that it appears that, rather than having a single guardian angel, we have an army of angels who stand by ready to protect us. God uses his angels to keep us safe and secure. This is one way that we can say that God uses the angels for our benefit.

The angels were also very active as God’s plan of salvation unfolded. After Adam and Eve fell into sin and were driven from the Garden of Eden, an angel guarded the Garden, lest Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Life. God did not want them to remain in their sinful state and be condemned for all eternity. An angel protected the tree. Angels were there when God told Abraham that he would have a son. This son would be an ancestor of the Savior.

Before John the Baptist, who was to prepare the people for the coming of the Savior, was born, the angel Gabriel appeared to his father, Zechariah, with the news. Gabriel appeared to Mary and Joseph, telling them about the wondrous birth of the Savior, which would soon take place. When Jesus was born, angels sang praises to God and told the shepherds of the birth. After Jesus died and rose again, angels told the women, “He is not here. He has risen, just as he said.” The angels assured the disciples that Jesus would come again as they had seen him go into heaven. We are told that on the Last Day, Jesus’ return will be marked with the voice of the angel. When Jesus has finished judging all people, the believers will join the angels in singing an everlasting song of praise to God. The book of Revelation is full of songs sung to our victorious Lord. For example, in Revelation 11:15, we read these words of praise, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

The angels have seen mankind from the time of its sin to the time of Christ’s payment for all sins. They have seen Christ suffer and die for us. We are also told that they rejoice every time a sinner repents, for they know that the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sins. They marvel at the great love that has been shown to us. The good angels are holy. Jesus did not suffer, die, and rise again to save them. He did all of this for us. God used his holy angels throughout his plan of salvation.

Let me clear up a misunderstanding that you often see and hear about angels. So often you hear someone say that, ‘So – and – so died and is now an angel in heaven.’ When we die, we do not become angels. All of the angels were created during the six days of creation. There will be no more of them. When we die, our souls go to heaven where God and the angels are, to await the Last Day, when our souls are reunited with our bodies. We do not become angels. Rather we will join the angels in heaven, forever praising our God. We will finally be able to serve our God in the complete perfection that we cannot do now. We will serve God side by side with the angels.

God sends his angels to help us during this life. During our lifetime, Satan will do his level best to get us to doubt God’s love for us. He will bring one bad thing after another. Seemingly, no matter where we turn, we have troubles. Something else is threatening us. We appear to be completely surrounded by them. We may be tempted to echo Elisha’s servant’s words, “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?.” My friends, may the LORD then open our eyes to see the “hills full of horses and chariots of fire.” May we be reminded of the fact that those who are with us are more than those who are against us. God has promised to take care of his children. Rely on his words of promise, which we heard earlier, “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” With this confidence, we go through this life until we are able to join in praising God forever in heaven. Today, we pause to thank God for the angels, for they are one more reminder of God’s amazing love for us.