Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.”
II Timothy 1: 12, N.I.V.
Let me Thy power, Thy beauty see;
So shall the hopeless labor cease,
And my free heart shall follow Thee
Through paths of everlasting peace.
My strength, Thy gift – my life Thy care,
I shall forget to seek elsewhere –
The wealth to which my soul is heir.”
Anna L. Waring
Today’s Study Text:
“And he (the king of Syria) 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.’”
II Kings 6: 13, K.J.V.
The God of Dothan – Part 1
“What Are You Doing In Dothan?”
“When God shuts a door, He opens a window.” John Ruskin
Have I ever found myself in some out of the way place like Dothan and asked, “What am I doing here in __________?”
What personal life experience has taught me that if I am following God’s will, then I am in the right place no matter how deserted I may feel?
“If God’s will is your will and if He always has His way (with you) then you always have your way also.”
Hannah Whitall Smith
“In me there is darkness, but with Thee there is light. I am lonely, but Thou leavest me not; I am feeble in heart, but Thou leavest me not; I am restless, but with Thee there is peace; in me there is bitterness, but with Thee there is patience. Thy ways are past understanding, but though knowest the way for me.”
The king of Syria must have had a moment of satisfaction for he had finally found out who the “leaker” was and who was warning the Israelites of impending danger. This was only one vital piece of information, though. Now that he had found out “who” was the problem, his next challenge was “where” was the problem.
We find in II Kings 6: 13 that information had been uncovered which gave a “GPS” reading that pinpointed the exact location of Elisha. “And it was told the king of Syria – he is in Dothan.”
Here’s where this story gets very interesting, indeed! For we can only wonder to ourselves, “What in the world was Elisha doing in an out-of-the-way place like Dothan?” The last we read, he was in Gilgal by the Jordan River, providing training for the young men who were students at the School of the Prophets. Why didn’t Elisha stay there teaching? Or better yet, why didn’t he move on to another school to provide encouragement to the students at that facility?
The Bible doesn’t provide answers to these questions. What we do know is that somehow and someway, Elisha ended up in a remote little village called Dothan. Historians have been able to shed light on this city and it seems the town itself has been around for thousands of years. In 1953, an archeological excavation was begun at the ancient site of the town and it showed that Dothan began about 3,000 B.C. As noted by J. P. Free, “though (the city) was destroyed and rebuilt many times, it was a thriving town in every main period of Biblical and Near Eastern history from 3,000 B.C. through New Testament times.”
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, Dorothy, I didn’t come to Transformation Garden today for a geography lesson, I came for encouragement. What in the world does Dothan and its location have to do with God’s will and His guidance in my life?”
The answer is very straightforward! For every one of us, at one time or another has entered the city limits of a “Dothan” in our own lives. In fact, I’ve lived in Dothan on several occasions. Maybe you are in Dothan and you are wondering why in the world God would stick you in this seemingly God-forsaken place. Let me get specific. It may well be that you are in a job that is totally a dead-end, at least from your perspective. And now, living in Dothan seems like a pathway to nowhere. Or perhaps, your marriage is “on the rocks” – it’s like you are living in Dothan. You find yourself attacked on every side. Or possibly, you believe, like I do, that God has called you to work for Him. Without hesitation, you have obediently followed, only to suddenly have every footing in your foundation crumble and you are left dangling in the air wondering why God would call you and then pull the props out from under you.
At this juncture you may be wondering why “Dothan” is the city I’ve chosen to use to describe those tough times in all our lives when we are left in a cycle of discouragement, questioning God’s guiding hand and His heavenly purpose for us.
Well let me explain. About two years ago, when I first began to study about Elijah and Elisha and the work of God in these prophets lives, I just happened (I don’t really believe it was by accident at all) to come upon a reference to Elisha being trapped in Dothan by the Syrian army. You see, once the king of Syria found out who the “leaker” was and where the “leaker” was located, he moved with efficient effectiveness to shut-down Elisha’s spy-game. He sent his army to surround the town of Dothan, something Bible scholars tell us would not have been difficult to do. Furthermore, the king of Syria’s potential of successfully capturing Elisha was very great.
As I read about this expedition, I began doing some research on Dothan and low and behold, another great Biblical character’s name appeared. It was Joseph. In Genesis 37, we are told that Jacob sent his adult sons down to Shechem so they could “feed the flock.” There was only one big problem with Shechem. Remember how in Genesis 34, Dinah, the daughter of Leah, fell for the prince of Shechem. To make a long, bloody story short, Simeon and Levi two of Jacob’s sons, in revenge for the “soiling” of their sister, entered the city and, “took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males” (Genesis 34: 25, K.J.V.) The whole debacle became such a huge mess that in the end this is how Jacob summed up the situation: “And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘Ye have troubled me to make me stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites” (Genesis 34: 30, K.J.V.).
Now just a few chapters over in the Bible, we find that Jacob must have slipped a memory cog for he sent his boys to Shechem, hoping to find grazing land for his flocks. However, as we find in Genesis 37, the boys didn’t settle in the city of Shechem. They moved on to Dothan. Having no knowledge of where his sons were located, Jacob sent their younger brother, Joseph, on a search mission to try and find the family and flocks. When the 17 year old Joseph got to Shechem, the Bible tells us, “A certain man found him, and, behold, Joseph was wandering in the field; and the man asked Joseph, saying, ‘What seekest thou?’ And Joseph said, ‘I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.’ And the man said, ‘They are departed hence, for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan.’ And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan” (Genesis 37: 15-17, K.J.V.).
I don’t want to get ahead of the story but let me tell you, Dothan wasn’t a great place to be for Joseph or Elisha, that is if you just go by what we see or how they may have felt being inside Dothan’s city walls. But here’s the vital element that we will uncover as we study about the God of Dothan. Sinclair Ferguson wrote, “Guidance, knowing God’s will for our lives, is much more a matter of thinking than of feeling.” To be honest, I had to read these words several times before I really connected to their meaning. For when I end up in Dothan, whatever Dothan is for you or me, and when I don’t “feel” like God is with me or I don’t in some way sense His mystical spirit, it is at that very point in time when I must rely on what I know and what I have found to be true about my heavenly Father. In other words, when we are truly acquainted with the God of Dothan, with the qualities of His character and the depth of His gracious, loving behavior toward His children, it is then that we will be able to look upon any Dothan experience, no matter the way we might feel on any given day and say, in the words of hymn writer, Edward Plumptre, “Thy hand, O God has guided.”
In describing the scene in Dothan as the Syrian army came after one individual man of God, Elisha, author and Old Testament scholar Dr. Leslie Hardinge shares this word picture:
“The spies fanned out. Soon they discovered that Elisha was in Dothan, ten miles or so from Samaria. Thereupon the king of Syria secretly brought south a large detachment of his heavy equipment, chariots and horsemen as well as infantry. They crept in by night and surrounded the little village. Dothan was on a low hill surrounding rolling plains, and could easily be invested by an army. The Syrians felt confident that they had their noose around the neck of Elisha. They waited impatiently for the light of the new day to pull it tight and strangle him. Within the city of Dothan, Elisha had gone to bed. He knew that his testimonies might well make him enemies. Sometimes we are prone to make our pillows a battlefield, and to spend sleepless nights tossing and turning and worrying! But Elisha slept. He believed that ‘He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.’”
This is the God of Dothan. The God we are going to get to know, up close and personal in the coming days. It is our Father who art in heaven but whose love and tender care for each of His children on this earth is a sustaining love that delivers and rescues and carries us through every trial we face – no matter how we happen to be feeling.
I love these words penned about our heavenly Father. Yes, the Father we will find in Dothan, written in a volume entitled, We Believe in God: “God does not promise that we shall be protected from the accidents and ills of this life, but that those who open themselves to Him will be empowered with the resources of endurance and insight…The well-known words of Philippians 4: 13 in the older versions (of Scripture), ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ are in the truest sense rendered, ‘I have strength to cope with anything.’”
This is the God we will really get to know in Dothan. A God who we will come to believe in and firmly rely on no matter if we find ourselves at the bottom of a pit or surrounded by Syrian chariots and warriors.
“I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might;
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So shall I walk aright.”
“It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me,
But if by a still, small voice He calls
To paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord,
With my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.
There’s surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth’s harvest fields so wide,
Where I may labor through life’s short day
For Jesus, the Crucified.
So, trusting my all unto Thy care,
I know Thou lovest me!
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.”
Mary Brown, 19th Century
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. During the coming weeks, gifts which are sent to Transformation Garden will help us honor requests for God’s Word, as shared through our bookmarks, with God’s children in India, Russia, Pakistan, Australia and here in the United States in women’s prisons and for Domestic Abuse Shelters. I thank you so much for the gifts you have chosen to send – Praise God! Your generosity is helping us share God’s Word in countries where the bookmarks are accepted as beautiful artwork but they carry the message of God’s saving grace. Thank you again!!
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.