Chariots of fire. What does that mean?
Elisha, the prophet of Israel, had foreseen the plans of the King of Syria. He warned the King of Israel and he was able to prevent that confrontation. The King of Syria was 'sore troubled' about this and looked among his people for a spy. They assured him they were all loyal, it was Elisha's prophetic ability to know what the King was planning in secret council. The King sends soldiers to find out where Elisha wass staying and when they report back that he was in the village of Dothan, the King sends an impressive army, complete with horse drawn chariots to capture him.
They arrive in the night and completely surround the village. The next morning, Elisha's servant gets us early and steps outside to see that they are surrounded. He panics. "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" But Elisha is unruffled. "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." Elisha prays and asks God to open the servant's eyes, that he might see. Now when the servant looks again he sees that they are surrounded with horses and chariots of fire.
The army of the King of Syria was impressive, but the army God sent was awesome. Not just horses and chariots, but chariots of fire. I could not find information in various translations or Bible commentaries about just what those chariots of fire were. I'm not sure they were visible to the enemy. But Elisha knew that he was safe and completely protected by the mighty power of God. And his servant could see it as well. The rest of the story is not in this week's Bible Lesson but Elisha solves the problem without firing a shot and eventually sends the Syrian army back to their King unharmed and well treated. The account ends by saying that they did not try to war against him again.
So what were those 'chariots of fire'? I think they were spiritual messages and spiritual messengers sent by God to assure Elisha, His chosen prophet, that no power can go up against God and be victorious. The battle is the Lord's and He always wins. Bright and shining thoughts of God as the only cause and creator. God as the preserver of man. God as the great I AM.
Today I will watch for my own 'chariots of fire' whenever something appears to suggest that I am completely surrounded by error of some kind, encircled by a threat to my health or well being. In the past I once felt surrounded by a host of unpaid bills long overdue and dealing with a flood of unpleasant and threatening phone calls. It was time to choose. I could just say, "Alas, how am I ever going to pay all these debts? What is going to happen to me"? Or I could pray to have my eyes opened to God's ever present and unfailing supply. I got astounding proof of the 'chariots of fire' coming to my aid as I was able to meet each and every one of those debts without harm to myself or to those who needed to be paid. I never got into financial trouble like that again.
Nice to be reminded of that experience as proof of God's care. Each of us is His beloved child, made in His image and likeness, under the protection of His generous love. Should you ever feel surrounded by a hostile situation just remember those 'chariots of fire', those heavenly assurances that the answer is right at hand. They are really quite beautiful.