Four Lepers Save a City

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I’ve continued read in a book called The Last Arrow. The premise of the book is an event told from 2 Kings 14 where King Jehoash was meeting with Elisha and Elisha told him to strike the ground with arrows and rather than continually strike the ground, the king only did so 3 times. As a result, the king was only able to defeat his enemy 3 times. Our desire should be that we keep trying and trying until success or until our last breath. I highly recommend this book to those who want to be challenged in their faith.
The author recalls another story from the book of kings that will be our passage today. I did my best to prepare to cover the next chapter in Daniel for our series in Daniel, but God would not allow me to stay on that passage. My thoughts kept returning to 2 Kings 7. Turn with me there as I give you an introduction to the passage we will read.
The place is Samaria and it is under siege by the king of Aram. The siege lasted so long that the city was beginning to starve. People were eating donkey heads and even resorted to eating each other. It was bad. The king blamed the prophet Elisha as he had spoken God’s judgement on the king and the city. When the king’s anger boiled over, Elisha told him that the famine would be over the next day and food would be cheap again. Of course, when faced with the impossible promise from God, people doubt and say “Could this happen?”
The solution to the cities problems came from a very unlikely source - 4 lepers who had been cast out of the city and forgotten…let’s read.
2 Kings 7:3–4 NIV
3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
Desperate times call for desperate measures. How else would God get these men to go into the camp of the enemy, but by desperation? Out of the options they had surrendering to the enemy was the only one that had promise.
This simple act of heading into the enemy’s camp was needed in order to set the entire city free. No matter how dire our circumstances are, God can and will use you. Never lose hope. God’s Word is full of stories of people being used in mighty ways even if they didn’t think it possible.
2 Kings 7:5–8 NIV
5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives. 8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.
They were hungry and sick. They were at the end of their lives and thought their chances were slim to nothing and yet, somehow God causes the enemy to flee from them so fast that they left everything behind. They found food - their immediate need. Then they found silver and gold and clothing. They were blessed beyond what they thought possible. Their first selfish reaction was to keep it all for themselves, but that is not what God wants from His people. Doesn’t that seem to be human nature - to be selfish? There is plenty to go around and we don’t share.
2 Kings 7:9 NIV
9 Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
Conviction sets in and they resolve to share the good news with others rather than keep it for themselves. They recognize that this turn of events is for the city. This will set the city free. Even though the city turned their backs on them, they did not turn their backs on the city.
2 Kings 7:10–13 NIV
10 So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there—not a sound of anyone—only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” 11 The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace. 12 The king got up in the night and said to his officers, “I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide in the countryside, thinking, ‘They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city.’ ” 13 One of his officers answered, “Have some men take five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here—yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened.”
The first reaction to the good news is doubt. They doubted the good news set before them. They thought there was something else behind the report. There are a few sayings that come to mind here…if it is too good to be true, then it probably isn’t true. If you get an email from a prince wanting your help to transfer money from their “kingdom” and you get to keep some of it…delete the email. That is most definitely not true. There are times though that God will open doors that you thought never possible and that seem too good to be true. Do go it alone, get godly advice from a believer. That brings us to the second saying…trust but verify. That’s the advice the king gets...
2 Kings 7:14–16 NIV
14 So they selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, “Go and find out what has happened.” 15 They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. 16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of the finest flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the Lord had said.
They found out that the report was true and the king sent the people out to gather what was left behind and the city was saved. They doubted the Word of the Lord that Elisha gave, but God’s promises are true and though unlikely, God can do anything!
Now that we’ve gone through the story, I want to reinforce a few principles from this passage.

When things are the worst, step out in faith.

The 4 lepers were in the worst situation possible, enemy at their back, death where they were and death in the city. They had one possible choice and they put one foot in front of the other in the direction of that option.
I know it can be debilitating when things are going wrong. We want nothing more than to just curl up, close our eyes and plug our ears and hope that everything is just a dream and it will stop. That’s not what God has for us. Fear and intimidation are the tactics of the enemy.
Matthew 14:27–31 NIV
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Peter and the disciples were fearful and didn’t understand what was happening, but rather than sit there stunned and in awe, Peter asked to take a step. A CRAZY step. Don’t let your circumstances hold you back from taking a step in faith.

When you step out in faith, God meets us where we are

So often I think I have to have things figured out before stepping out in faith, but then that’s not really stepping out in faith. These guys heading to the camp of the enemy had no idea what to say or what they would face when they got there, but God went ahead of them and caused the army to scatter. This isn’t the only instance of God moving once a step of faith was made:
Joshua and nation of Israel are about to enter the promised land and they had just the Jordan River to cross. As he got the people ready he says...
Joshua 3:5 NIV
5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
Faith. Then this happens:
Joshua 3:14–16 NIV
14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
God wants to show us His power and sovereignty - not just in death and salvation of our souls, but in this life here and now. He wants us to depend on Him and that requires us looking at a terrible situation and saying: “God, none of these options look great, but I will step out in faith and trust you with this situation.” Not until we step out in faith do we see Him working. Can you imagine the reaction these 4 lepers had as they entered the enemy camp?

When blessing comes, share it

It is in our fallen nature to be selfish and want to keep things all for ourselves, but blessing in our lives is just as much for those around us. When these 4 lepers began walking, all they were concerned with was themselves. They wanted to live. Their choice to live ended up being a blessing for an entire city. The whole city was on the verge of death and 4 guys shunned by the city ended up being the messengers of salvation.

Don’t expect everyone to believe, but still share

Not everyone will accept good news. Doubt and fear are what holds so many people back. Excuses on why to not step out in faith are just fear and doubt expressed in words. There is a difference between saying no to something God is not calling you to and saying no because you’re afraid. The king almost missed it because of doubt. There will be people who respond to you sharing good news with doubt, but that doesn’t mean we don’t share.
1 Corinthians 2:14–16 NIV
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
If the Holy Spirit has not illuminated the things of God in a person’s life, they won’t believe, but it is still our responsibility to share the good news.
Last June, I gave an outline on how to share the good news with others. Here is a quick recap of that:
First, share who you were before Christ.
Second, share how Christ has changed your life.
Third, ask if they would like to become a Christian.
Romans 10:9–10 NIV
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
There is an abundant life available to all who would live in the Good News of Jesus Christ. Fears can be faced, troubles will seem small, and He - Jesus - will provide what you need when you need it. We are to just depend on Him.
The book I am reading, “The Last Arrow”, is a challenge for us to live each day as if it is our last. Leave nothing important unfinished. Is there someone you know who needs Jesus? Tell them. Is there something you need to say to someone…say it. Is there something you need to do…do it.
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