Alas, My Master! How Shall We Do? by John McIlvenna

by John McIlvenna

Alas, my master! How shall we do?

2 Kings 6:15

Jehoram, king of Israel worshipped the golden calves of Jeroboam and followed most of the sins of his father and mother instead of serving the Living God who delivered them out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, the Lord delivered the nation of Israel into the hand of the king of Syria who made war with them (1 Kings 6:8). The king of Syria entered the land of Israel whenever he liked and Jehoram had no power to withstand him.

However, there was one man in Israel who hated idolatry and wickedness and lived a life of godliness, in fellowship with God. By his faith and spiritual sight, this man completely overcame the Syrian army without any loss of life because God was with him.

The king of Syria tried to ambush the king of Israel by setting up his camp in some strategic place. However, the king of Israel moved under the guidance of a man who could “see” the plans of the king of Syria.

“The king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel? And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber. And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he 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.” 2 Kings 6:12 to 17

This whole passage is about blindness and sight.

  •   All the Israelites including Elisha’s servant were blind to God’s divine protection
  •   Elisha could see the heavenly horses around him
  •   When the Lord opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant, he could see the horses andchariots of God too
  •   The Syrian host was smitten with natural blindness
  •   The eyes of the soldiers were opened in the middle of SamariaThis passage is full of instruction and helpful guidance for the Lord’s people today. Blindness and astonishment of heart affects us too, if we go astray from the clear teaching of the Lord Jesus in the New Testament. However, men in fellowship with the Living God who can “see” spiritual things, are able to bring about divine deliverance from the power of the enemy of our souls by his faith and power with God in prayer.God’s Promises to Israel for Obedience“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy

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sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and He shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto Himself, as He hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them.” Deut 28: 1 to13

God’s Promises to Israel for Disobedience

“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until He have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed. The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away. The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.” Deut 28:15 to 28

Israel’s History

During the reign of David and several other kings when the nation served the Lord in obedience to His word, they enjoyed the Lord’s blessings of peace and joy. However, for hundreds of years, the Israelites disobeyed the voice of God. In the days of the judges when there was no king in Israel and every man did that which was right in his own eyes, God punished them for their disobedience. After Solomon filled

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Jerusalem with idols to satisfy his strange wives, their spiritual condition deteriorated continually until the days of Jehoram.

Elisha’s life is full of instruction and encouragement for every saint in Christ Jesus in our day who takes the things of the Lord seriously and seeks by faith to keep all the words that have proceeded out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus. (Rom 15:4)

He proved the absolute reality of the living God of Israel who is the God of Heaven, who is the same God of every true believer in our Lord Jesus Christ today. He is the same one who said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20

Alas, my Master, How shall we do in assembly testimony today?

Many assemblies of the Lord’s people today have departed so far from the divine pattern of the word of God that they hardly resemble anything in the Bible, similar to conditions in Jehoram’s day. Assemblies of the Lord’s people lack divine grace to continue because the power of the enemy [the devil] is so strong that no one can withstand him. He seems to have obsessed the saints with lust, covetousness, idolatry or something of this world, and convinced them that it is no use carrying on in testimony for God. Many are deceived to think that if they turn away from the divine pattern of the Word of God and introduce modern ideas, things will be better.

However, God is stronger than His foes and is a tremendous reality, to all who put their faith in Him and do what He says.

God is faithful (1 Cor 1:9)
God is good (Mark 10:18)
God is merciful (Heb 2:17)
God is longsuffering (1 Peter 3:20) God is gracious (1 Peter 5:10) God is happy (Rom 9:5)

God is light (1 John 1:5) God is love (1 John 4:8) God is holy (1 Peter 1:16)

The Lord’s Promises for Obedience

In the New Testament, God gives many exceeding great and precious promises to all of His saints who obey His voice. After He rose from the dead, He told His disciples to baptize the converts of the gospel and said, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” Matt 28:20. During His upper room ministry, the Lord Jesus gave many promises to His disciples for obedience to His words.

  •   “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23
  •   “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” John 15:5
  •   “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7
  •   “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” John 15:10
  •   “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14There are many more exceeding great and precious promises throughout the New Testament of peace and joy for obedient believers (2 Peter 1:4).

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The Lord’s Chastening for Disobedience

Although God promises blessing for obedience, He also promises chastening for disobedience. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Heb12:5-11

God deals with New Testament saints in a spiritual way similar to His dealings with Israel in a material way. The abovementioned Scripture is a quotation from Proverbs 3:11,12.

The History of Assembly Testimony

Since the resurrection of Christ, the gospel has spread throughout the whole world. Baptized believers gather in assembly fellowship to bear a local testimony for God in every part of the world. When they obey the voice of the Lord, they experience His promises for spiritual blessing. Saints in Acts chapter four, experienced these promises because they were wholly devoted to keeping the Lord’s commandments. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all” Acts 4:32,33. These promises are still true of all today who follow Christ and do what He says.

Alas, saints in the New Testament who were not diligent in keeping His word suffered under His loving chastening hand. The saints at Laodicea were more interested in the comforts of this life than they were in the things of the Lord. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and BLIND, and naked … As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” Rev 3:17,19. The saints at Corinth suffered for misappropriating the emblems at the remembrance of the Lord and suffered at the chastening hand of God. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” 1 Cor 11:30 to 32.


May we learn valuable lesions from king Jehoram and Elisha. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” Romans 15:4. Johoram could not see the tremendous power of God for deliverance because of his sin. Elisha saw the horses and chariots of fire because of his holy manner of life before God.

We can also learn from the example of New Testament saints. The Lord counselled the Laodicean saints to buy “eyesalve” among other things that they might see the precious things concerning Himself. “And anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” Rev 3:18. God gives us the divine formula for “eyesalve” in

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Hebrews 12:14. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” It means overcoming all the evils of our human hearts described by the Lord Jesus in Mark 7:20 to 23. All the lusts of our flesh and of our minds cause blindness of heart if we obey them and cause us to destroy the peace of God in the assembly of His saints. Therefore we need to, “Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” 2 Cor 7:1. In following peace and holiness, we must of necessity follow the Lord Jesus Christ, His teaching and His commandments (Luke 9:23). There is no divine alternative to following Christ. Peter said, “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” 2 Peter 1:9

Brethren and sisters, let us clearly understand that if we buy “eyesalve” from the Lord, God will open the eyes of our understanding (Eph 1:18), and we too will be able to see the Lord Jesus by faith and He will strengthen us against the enemy of our souls. “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Eph 3:16 to 21

Paul exhorted Timothy to turn away from evil things and seek the Lord with his whole heart. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Tim 6:11 to 14

Paul faithfully followed Christ and could “see” His divine protection. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:16 to 18

Let us be diligent to seek the Lord and His righteousness. May we diligently obey all the commandments that have proceeded out of His mouth (Matt 28:20). We will be able by faith, to see the Lord Jesus in all His glory, fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12) and overcome the wicked one (1 John 2:14)

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Phil 4:9page5image49904640

When we walk with the Lord, In the light of His Word,

What a glory He sheds on our way While we do His good will,

He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey


Then in fellowship sweet, We shall sit at His feet,

Or we’ll walk by His side in the way. What He says we will do

Where He sends we will go, Never fear only trust and obey

J. McIlvenna

Not a shadow can rise, Not a cloud in the skies,

But His smile quickly drives it away, Not a doubt nor a fear,

Not a sigh nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Redemption Songs No 459

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