Dothan—Learning to See Near and Far in Your Spiritual Life

As the ancient International Highway cut its way though Israel, it divided three ways through the Mount Carmel range. The eastern fork passed through a valley named after the town of Dothan.

Dothan—Learning to See Near and Far in Your Spiritual Life

(Photo: Dothan with a well in the valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

On the day Joseph’s brothers dropped him in the pit at Dothan, neither they nor Joseph gave one thought about how that decision would affect eternity. It was all about the here and now. But in hindsight, both Joseph and his brothers saw God’s hand in the events and interpreted them accordingly.

Hindsight provides insight. It always can.

In our lives we can get so caught up in today’s issues that they blind us to tomorrow’s purpose for them.

Interestingly, Dothan appears only twice in the Bible. In both places, we learn how to see near and far in our spiritual lives.

Tel Dothan—What’s Left to See

Archaeological discoveries at Tel Dothan include:

  • An ancient cemetery
  • A Middle Bronze city
  • An Iron Age II storage complex
  • Assyrian structures dating after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC.
Dothan excavations and view of Dothan Valley

(Photo: Dothan excavations and view of Dothan Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Dothan—Joseph and Opening Eyes

The day Joseph’s brothers pastured their flocks in the Dothan Valley, they sold Joseph to some Ishmaelites traveling the highway on their way to Egypt (Genesis 37:12-28).

Everything seemed to play out against Joseph. At the time of the crisis God seemed very much absent. Yet He wasn’t. The participants only saw the present events. But in hindsight, they saw God very much involved (Genesis 50:20).

Map of Joseph's journey to Egypt

(Green line shows the Ishmaelites’ and Joseph’s journey to Egypt. Map courtesy of Satellite Bible Atlas)

Dothan—Elisha and Opening Eyes

The other occasion Dothan appears in the Bible occurred centuries later, when Elisha and his servant awoke one morning in Dothan to discover the city surrounded by a vast Aramean army (2 Kings 6:13–17). The servant saw the large number of chariots and horses and panicked. So Elisha prayed for God to “open his eyes that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17).

Suddenly, the servant saw angelic “horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Elisha saw both realms, the natural and the spiritual, and told his servant:

Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. —2 Kings 6:16

Foresight provided insight. It always can, just like hindsight.

Learning to See Near and Far at the Same Time

Like Joseph and Elisha, we need to trust that the details of our present struggles in life serve as vital parts of God’s grand plan.

  • With one eye we see our struggles.
  • With the other eye we see by faith that God has purpose for it all.
  • One eye sees the chaos in the world.
  • The other eye sees God working.

We must see today’s activities with an eternal perspective in order to keep a balanced view of life. We need to focus on both perspectives through the lenses of Scripture. As we do, our minds are renewed and we see both perspectives clearly.

Tel Dothan reminds us: we need to see both near and far—at the same time.

Question: What helps you keep eternity in view today? To leave a comment, just click here.

Tel Dothan on the Map

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