"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Raising The Standard: Hospitality Is Providing Leadership For A Peaceful And Harmonious Surrounding

"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." ~ Romans 12:20
From The Pages Of Scripture
A person may open his home to many guests, share his belongings, and sacrifice for their comfort; but if his home does not have a spirit of harmony he has missed the real essence of hospitality. A harmonious atmosphere is aided by organized surroundings, restful music, pleasant conversation, and a tasteful decor; but the major contributor will be the inner spirit of the host. He or she must provide the leadership for peace and harmony. On one occasion a king sent a large detachment from his army to capture a prophet. The prophet welcomed them as his guests and showed hospitality to them. the amazing results demonstrate the power of providing leadership for a peaceful and a harmonious surrounding.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Hospitality In Providing Leadership For A Peaceful Surrounding?
Scripture teaches that if our enemy hungers we should feed him, and if he thirst we should give him drink. What man obeyed this teaching, and as a result conquered an entire army? Elisha. Early one morning the servant of a great prophet arose and went outside. What he saw caused him to stare in astonishment. During the night, a powerful detachment of cavalry and foot soldiers had surrounded the city. He knew why they were there. They had come to capture the prophet whom he served. Every time their king made secret plans to attack this country, the prophet reported them to his own king who was then able to outmaneuver the enemy. Frightened and alarmed, the servant rushed to the prophet and reported what he had seen. The prophet listened and remained calm, almost unconcerned. This astonished his servant. He was soon to learn that the prophet whom he served had two secret weapons more powerful than any attacking army. Spiritual vision was required to see the first weapon. The prophet prayed, "Lord, I pray thee, open my eyes that he may see." The Lord opened the eyes of that servant, and he suddenly saw a huge army of horses and chariots afire. They surrounded their enemy and could have easily destroyed them. The prophet prayed a second time. His request was granted as God struck every on of those enemy soldiers with temporary blindness. Then he walked up to their general and said, "Follow me, and I will bring you to the one you seek." The prophet's servant was about to witness one of the most unusual strategies ever employed to conquer an invading army. The blinded general and his men were led by the prophet straight to the capital city where the king and defending army were stationed. The king could hardly believe his eyes. All the enemy soldiers had been brought right into his hands. Excitedly he asked the prophet, "Should we slay them?" "You shall not kill them, " commanded the prophet. He knew that to destroy this military detachment would only result in others coming in their place. He would use a different strategy, one that would be even more effective. The prophet instructed the king to prepare food and water for these captured soldiers and send them back to their land. The surprised king obeyed. He prepared a great feast for them, then sent them away. By sitting down to eat a meal together, these armies were committing themselves to the tradition which is symbolized by sharing a meal --- the friendship and protection of each other. So effective was this strategy that it marked the end of the marauding bands which had plundered the land. Elisha the prophet had won a battle without bloodshed, and his leadership provided a peaceful and harmonious surroundings for the people. (From 2 Kings 6:8-23)
Why Did Elisha Help The Wicked King Of Israel?
Jehoram was a wicked king who "cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin; he departed not from from them." (2 Kings 3:3)He protected his idolatrous mother, Jezebel, in the capital city of Samaria and tolerated false worship. When Elisha helped him in the war against Syria, he was acting in accordance with the word of the Lord. The Syrian raids were not directed against the heavily defended capital where Jehoram dwelt. They were directed against smaller, unprotected cities. The Lord used Elisha to protect innocent people in the outlying countryside. The Lord was raising up other men --- Jehu and Hazael --- to replace Jehoram and the king of Syria (cf. 1 Kings 19:15-17). Jehu was to kill Jehoram, Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal in one sweep at the proper time. (2 Kings9:24, 33;10:17, 25). Until that time, it was the Lord's will that the nation he spared from the cruel and destructive raids of the Syrians (2 Kings 6:23).
Why Did Elisha Pray To Have His Servant's Eyes Opened?
Elisha wanted to train his servant just like his master, Elijah, had trained him. It was obvious that Elisha's former servant, Gehazi, would not succeed him. Although Gehazi had seen the prophet perform many miracles, he was never able to perform many miracles, he was never able to see past the miracles to the Lord Himself. Because of his focus on material things. Gehazi was punished with leprosy (2 Kings 5:26-27). Now Elisha desired that this new servant actually see a vision of the heavenly hosts. The servant must learn to be amazed at the resources of the Lord rather than merely the miracles of a man whom God chose to use. When Elisha and the servant led the Syrians through the gates of Samaria, the servant would not be filled with pride at his master's accomplishment but would be reverently awed by the Lord's mighty power.
How Did Elisha Provide The Nation With A Peaceful And Harmonious Surrounding?
When Elisha marched the blinded band of Syrian soldiers into the Israeli capital, the king wanted to kill them. Elisha, however, knew that such a tactic would not only provoke the Syrians' anger and prolong the terrorist raids. Elisha wanted to show the Syrians that they were dealing with a prophet of the true God that they might learn to fear Him. He decided to eat and drink with them instead. Eating and drinking together among the people of the East signified a bond of friendship that was highly respected. when they ate together, there was bread and salt (cf. Numbers 18:19) between them. They were no longer strangers, regardless of their previous relationship --- to share a meal was to forget past grievances. Eating a meal together was considered a sacred affair. The strange tactic of Elisha was successful. The Syrian king realized that small raiding parties were no match for a nation under the Lord's protection, and that his nation's honor was at stake because of the meal. The raiding stopped, and peace returned to the land.
Illustrated In The World Of Nature
It is unusual to see a solitary bighorn sheep. If an animal is by itself it is probably sick, injured, or old. Under normal conditions bighorns are very sociable and form too well-defined groups. One social group --- the rams ---is made up of six or more adult males in or just past their prime, averaging seven to eight years of age. The second group is composed of ewes, lambs, and young rams. This group numbers anywhere from twenty to forty. Bighorns are extremely shy and suspicious creatures.
How Does The Bighorn Sheep Illustrate Hospitality By Providing Leadership?
Every fiber tensed in its sleek, muscular body as it maneuvered its low slung frame to position. Like a loaded spring, the powerful beast suddenly sank its sharp claws into the loose gravel. With split second timing the mechanism was triggered, hurling the beast through the air straight for its victim. It had taken the mountain lion a long time to even come within striking range of grazing lambs and ewes. One ever present, unchanging factor made the mountain lion's job extremely difficult. If it was not for this handicap, the powerful cat would have feasted on mutton more often. Past experience had painfully taught that if the cat was to be successful, it would have to outrun, outhink and outmaneuver the leadership of the bighorn herd. Ewes were always on guard and alert for any intruder or sign of danger. But in addition to and even more important than their watchfulness was the presence of one old, wise ewe --- the main leader of the bighorns. She had been bellwether and was grandmother to most of the flock. Having lived on the home range all of her life, she was aware of all the choice places for food, especially in times of scarcity. She knew all the drinking holes as wells places of safety. But even more important than this, she knew every predator's trap and every route of escape. In emergencies, she knew exactly where she could or could not go. she would coolly and cleverly choose an escape from whatever threat the flock faced, and her wise leadership ensured protection. For this reason there was harmony among the flock even when danger approached. They had confidence in her judgment and were quick to respond to her earning and example. The cat had taken every precaution and after a long stealthy approach had precisely executed the attack. But its cunning was in vain. The predator's movements had not escaped the alert eye of the old ewe. Before it sprang form the ground, she had already warned the group. The mountain lion watched as the last male bighorn easily scaled down the sheer cliff and disappeared out of sight. The path on which they fled was far too steep for the cat to even consider pursuit. Once again the old ewe's leadership had brought the herd to peaceful grazing where she resumed her watchful vigil.
Scriptural References To The Bighorn Sheep
"Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats." ~ 1 Samuel 24:2
The Scriptural counterpart of the bighorn sheep is the mountain goat found in the ranges of Palestine. David and his six hundred men fled to one of these mountain ranges --- the wilderness of En-gedi. Its name means "the fountain of the goat." Their in the highest and most craggy part of the mountains he found safety and an abundance of this animal. It requires great skill to catch a goat. The animal leaps from ledge to ledge recklessly, amazing a pursuer with its surefootedness. It is reported to be able to slide down the mountain, halt with all four feet drawn together on a projections scarcely larger than a penny, and then leap over a wide crevice, alighting with precision upon a projecting point of rock.
"Knowest Thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? Or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?" ~ Job 39-1
The mother goat seeks privacy in which to have her young and she will go a considerable distance to obtain it. Usually the only way a hunter can find the kids is to follow the mother to the rock cleft some timer after they are born.

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