Week Twenty Eight: 2 Kings 2–7
Have you ever been depressed and then felt unseen arms wrap around you in love? Or have you ever been in a hopeless situation and felt inspiration beyond your own to figure out a solution? The veil is sometimes very thin when we are in need. Loved ones beyond the veil do help and support us in our life’s trials.
The Prophet Elisha needed help from beyond the veil as the King of Syria was bent on kidnapping or killing him. The countries of Syria and Israel were at war. The king of Syria had camped in a secret location to take the king of Israel by surprise. Elisha, as a prophet of God, warned the Israelite king where the Syrians were hiding. The Lord inspired Elisha to help the Israelites. This happened so many times that the king of Syria was sure that he had a spy in his camp who was betraying him at every turn of his military campaign.
One of the King of Syria’s servants assured him that the Israelite king was not using spies. Instead, he was using a prophet to figure out where the Syrian army would be. He said; “Elisha the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.”[i] The king charged the servant to find out where Elisha was so that he could eliminate him and thus, finally win the battle.
The King of Syria sent horses, chariots, and a great host of soldiers by night and encompassed Elisha and the small town where he was living. When Elisha’s servant awoke the next morning and saw that they were hopelessly surrounded, he cried out in fear to Elisha: “Alas, my master! How shall we do? And [Elisha] answered, 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.”[ii]
We can also experience this thinning of the veil when we enter the temples of our God and participate in the work of bringing our ancestors unto Christ. As we do this great work, we will not fear, like Elisha, because we will have legions surrounding us to protect us. Elder Renlund promised us: “As Church members, we do have a divinely appointed responsibility to seek out our ancestors and compile family histories. This is far more than an encouraged hobby, because the ordinances of salvation are necessary for all of God’s children…. But as we participate in family history and temple work today, we also lay claim to “healing” blessings promised by prophets and apostles. These blessings are also breathtakingly amazing because of their scope, specificity, and consequence in mortality.”[iii]
The feeling that we are not alone, like the assurance Elisha felt during his time of trial, can sustain us and help us during our life’s battles. We can feel that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” as we serve in the temple. Elder Eyring described the feeling thus: “You have felt this, as I have, when you have experienced an increase of love as you looked at the picture of an ancestor. You have felt it in the temple when the name on a card seemed like more than a name, and you couldn’t help but sense that this person was aware of you and felt your love.”[iv]
Returning to Elisha and his predicament, he prayed to the Lord and asked the Lord to smite the surrounding hosts who had come to battle against Elisha with blindness rather than bloodshed. Elisha then said to the smitten Syrians: “this is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek.” Elisha then led the Syrians to the king of Israel. When the Syrians regained sight, they found themselves surrounded by Israelites. The king of Israel asked Elisha if he should kill them. Instead, Elisha taught the king a lesson in compassion. He counseled the king to prepare food and drink for them and then let them go.
This great show of kindness did not beget kindness in return from the king of Syria. Instead, the king of Syria laid siege to Samaria and caused a great famine in the land. The lack of food was so great that some of the Israelites resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. Israel blamed Elisha, as the prophet of the Lord, and the Lord himself for this calamity. A messenger from the king of Israel brought a message to Elisha: “Behold this evil is of the Lord; should I wait for the Lord any longer?” Elisha’s answer to the king was a prophesy that soon there would be incredible plenty in Samaria. Through a miracle of the Lord, the host of Syrians fled, leaving behind their provisions and wealth for the Israelites.
The children of Israel had suffered greatly. But the prophet of the Lord had set an example of compassion during battle and had exhibited faith that a miracle would come from the Lord to save Israel and it did.
We have a prophet today who has promised us miracles to move the mountains we face in our modern world. President Nelson taught us: “Through your faith, Jesus Christ will increase your ability to move the mountains in your life, even though your personal challenges may loom as large as Mount Everest…. Moving your mountains may require a miracle… Miracles come according to your faith in the Lord… The Savior is never closer to you than when you are facing or climbing a mountain with faith.”[v]
May we find joy in the Lord as we look to our ancestors for support beyond the veil and have faith in Christ to remove the mountains in our life.
[i] 2 Kings 6:12
[ii] 2 Kings 6:15-17
[iii] Dale G. Renlund, Famlily History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing, April 2018, GC
[iv] Henry B. Eyring, “Gathering the Family of God,” April 2017, GC.
[v] Russell M. Nelson, “Christ is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” April 2021 GC.