In 2 Kings 6, we find that the King of Syria mustered his entire army and besieged the capital city of Israel. As a result, there was a great famine, and after a long while even a donkey’s head sold for fifty dollars and a pint of dove dung brought three dollars! No one could get out of the city to get food for a long time, and food was getting scarce.
The king of Israel starts playing the blame game regarding this situation. The Bible tells us he did evil in the sight of the Lord. He vows, “May God kill me if I don’t execute Elisha this very day.” (v. 31) Elisha was the prophet of the Lord at this time. Elisha was meeting with some elders, and he foretold them that this was about to transpire. The king’s messenger arrived, followed by the king. “The Lord caused this mess,” stormed the king, “why should I expect any help from him?” (v.33)
Then it really begins to get interesting. In 2 Kings 7, Elisha then replies to the king, “The Lord says that by this time tomorrow two gallons of flour and four gallons of barley grain will be sold in the markets for a dollar!” (v.1) The officer, who was the king’s assistant, said, “That couldn’t happen if the Lord made windows in the sky!” (v.2)
At this point in the story, are you cringing like I am? This guy was arrogant enough to say, out loud, what he thought the Lord could or could not do. Yikes! It was approximately 498 years since the Exodus out of Egypt, where God literally rained down bread from heaven! And did so for forty years! (Ex.16:4) What was this guy thinking? Did he forget all the miracles of God? Or did he think since so much time had elapsed that the story was just an urban legend? Was everyone standing around him slowly backing away so they would not hit by the same lighting bolt coming down from heaven?
Elisha replied to his snarky comment by saying, “You will see it happen, but you won’t be able to buy any of it!” (v.2)
In verse 3, there were four lepers sitting outside the city gates. Leprosy is a horrid disease, a chronic bacterial infection marked by slow growing, swelling deformities all over the body. Lepers were outcasts of society and were forced to live apart from others, because if they touched someone, the infection would spread.
These lepers said, “Why sit here until we die? We’ll starve if we stay here, we’ll starve if we go back into the city, so let’s go and surrender to the Syrian army. If they let us live, so much the better; but if they kill us, we would have died anyway.” That’s just how bad the famine was, that these guys could even think like that.
They went into the Syrian camp, but there was no one there! Why? Because the Lord made the whole army hear the clatter of speeding chariots, loud galloping horses, and the sounds of a great army approaching. The Syrian army panicked and ran away, leaving behind everything! (See, God has the power to do anything!)
When the lepers got to the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating, drinking, carrying out gold and silver and clothing and hiding it. Finally, (here’s the good part) they said, “We’re not doing right here. This is a day of good news. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the palace.” They told the city gatekeepers, who then shouted the news, and it was reported to the palace.
The king thought it was a trap. If they went out to get the loot, the Syrian army would go in and take over the city. One of his officers said that they should at least send out some men to check it out. They did so and reported back to the king that is was all true. The people of the city then went out and plundered the camp, and so it was true that flour and barley were sold that day for just one dollar, just as the Lord said!
And what of the man that mocked God by saying, “That couldn’t happen even of the Lord opened the windows of heaven?” Well it seems the king put him in charge of the city gate that day, and when the people went out to get the food, they trampled him and he died. Also fulfilling what God foretold. He saw it happen, but wasn’t able to buy any of it, because he was dead.
First important lesson here, don’t mock God! “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal. 6:7 [NIV] In other words, what goes around, comes around. There are consequences for your actions and what you say!
Second important lesson here, God used this entire situation to show how he used outcasts to proclaim the good news! What are we but weak, broken people who have been saved by God’s amazing abundance through the gift of what Jesus did on the cross for us? Now it’s our turn to share that good news so that others may live!
I, just like the lepers, do not want to wait or hold back on sharing the good news! As outcasts, it was a bold move for them to go into the city, to have immediate contact from people who previously shunned them, to share the good news with everyone. I want to be that bold and unafraid, right now, not letting fear stop me.
I want people to see His power work through my weaknesses, so they can say: Wow, if she can do it, so can I! And the best part is God gets all the glory! Because His power is made perfect in weakness. I can gladly boast about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (See 2 Cor. 12:9-10)
“Make the most of every opportunity!” (See Eph. 5:16) God puts people in your path for a reason, don’t waste the chance to share the Good News!
For more Good News check out Mandisa’s new song!
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