The People of Mercy

“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19)

“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.” (2 Kings 6:16b-17)

You have probably felt all alone before. You have probably even despaired — if you’re a human being, that is. But if you were someone who always, 100% of the time, saw into the spiritual realm, and remained in complete submission to God, such as the prophet Elisha did, then you’d probably be a little more robust and unafraid. After all, in times of trouble, all you would have to do is to open your (spiritual) eyes and observe the fact that there were numerous … perhaps hundreds, if not thousands … of angels surrounding you! Now to be fair, we are talking about the prophet Elisha. Surely the prophet Elisha was “more important” than we are today … right? Well, not quite! I think there is clear precedent in the Bible for us not being too quick to judge us as “less than” the prophet Elisha (or Elijah, for that matter). Here are a few verses which I think justify this … yes, even if we don’t see the “power” exhibited in our lives that we evidently see exhibited in the lives of these men of God.

First, according to the New Testament, all Christian believers are “priests unto God”. That is a pretty high and glamorous position, compared with those who were believers in the days of the prophet Elijah and Elisha. Back in those days, there was the Levitical priesthood. Not all were priests. Not all had the same “access” to God as a priest had. And, really, these priests *did* have “quite the access”. Even at that, there were rankings of priests — for example, there was one “high” priest who enjoyed the special privilege of entering into the direct presence of God which was in the “holy of holies” portion of the temple (where the ark resided, and where God’s presence was said to dwell above the cherubim which were seated on the ark). As Christians, the Bible clearly explains that we have the same access now as these “high priests” had back in the days of Moses and David. God is truly on our side, and has given us authority to come before him boldly, as Hebrews 4:16 says:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Note the petition here is for mercy. It is the people of mercy — not those who are interested in obtaining power — that are favored in God’s books as those who will be protected by all those angels which Elisha and the young man saw in 2 Kings 6:16b-17 above. This is a key note, and one of the main reasons why some people ‘diverge’ and go astray when the topic of “power” and “authority” comes up in the church — because they lose their focus and become “power” oriented instead of “mercy” oriented.

Second, again in the New Testament, we see justification for believing that we have the same type of authority as the prophets Elijah and Elisha did back in their day. Jesus said to his disciples, in Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Then, in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) he said that ALL Christians are to be taught to do the SAME THINGS that he taught these first disciples to do! Not only this, but Jesus emphasized this when he said, in John 14:12, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” This certainly does *not* mean that Christians can do whatever they want. Instead, in John 5:19 (quoted at the top), Jesus said that HE only did what he saw the FATHER doing. In other words, Jesus was in complete submission to the Father. And remember, it was the Father’s will for him to suffer and to die on that cross — that, too, was part of God’s plan. So those who are power seeking are again in the wrong camp when they try to think about what type of miracles they can perform, etc. Again, we come back to mercy. It is those who seek for mercy on others, and who have known the loving tenderkindness of the Lord himself, that are favored in God’s sight. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8) Mercy people are Elijah and Elisha type of people, and shall see “power” from the Lord!

Third, the New Testament explicitly mentions Elijah by name as someone we should emulate in order to get our prayers answered. This means that God is encouraging us to seek for the same type of answers to our prayers that the prophet Elijah (and therefore also Elisha who had a “double portion” of his spirit) enjoyed: “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.” (James 5:16b-18, RSV)

Lastly, I bring you back to mercy again — something which will help us to understand why righteous people suffer, sometimes even when they are walking “humbly before God in complete submission to him.” Why is it? It is because these wonderful men and women are those whose eyes are set on giving mercy and not receiving it back again. This is a good example to follow, and it is the example of the Lord Jesus Christ who died for us and gave his life for us that we might live eternally with the Father who is in heaven. In other words, yes, expect the authority that both Elijah and Elisha enjoyed in their walk with God. But do not expect it to such an extent that you begin to think that you are “God himself”. No, this business requires complete submission to the Father, and sometimes that submission does require sacrifice on our part, that others might live. “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”, the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12.

The Lord bless you as you consider these things today.