Reading through the Bible together
Chapter 7 continues with the story of the severe famine in Samaria that began in the previous chapter with the Israelites being besieged by the Syrians. The intensity of the famine was so great that mothers resorted to killing and eating their own children. The Lord had foretold through Moses this would happen if they forsook Him and worshiped other gods (Deut. 28:53).
In the first verses Elisha prophesies that within 24 hours there would be an abundance of food in the city. The next verses tell us how God used four leprous men in their camp by the city gate to fulfill this miraculous prophecy—no doubt the rest of the leprous men had died off from the famine. These four men were in especially dire straits. They could not enter their home city of Samaria because of their leprosy and they could not go far from the city which was surrounded by the Syrian Army. Realizing they too would soon die they decided to approach the Syrian Army and hope for mercy but be prepared for death.
The Christian battle is the only war that is won by surrender. It is after we surrender all to Jesus we gain the victory. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”(Mark 8:35–36NKJV).
When the leprous men came trembling into the Syrian camp they found all the men of war gone. They had a panic attack and fled in terror from an imaginary army. “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). The ravenous lepers entered one tent where they found food and ate and drank. Then they decided to carry off the silver gold and apparel they saw back to the city walls of Samaria and hide them there. Not knowing how long the famine and siege might last they cautiously ventured back to the enemy camp. Still finding it vacant they went into other tents and gathered another load of treasure. On it went through the night with the four leprous men hoarding and hiding all the provisions they could carry. Finally, one of them came to his senses - they have friends and family in the city of Samaria that are starving and they are keeping all of the good news to themselves. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that one of these four lepers was Gehazi, the former servant of the Elisha, who had received the leprosy of Naaman, the Syrian commander, for being greedy. It seems like he may have been the one convicted by his hoarding and said, “This is a day of good news, and we hold our peace?”
Friend, what does the word gospel mean! Good news! Is this a day of great news? Has Jesus provided good news and a new life to keep it to ourselves? The lepers said, “If we tarry till the morning light some mischief will come upon us. Come now that we may go and tell the king’s household.” We cannot keep the gospel unless we give it away. We are surrounded by those who are starving for a few crumbs of the bread of life. Yes, the Lord used the weakest of the weak to bring the good news to that starving city and He can use you to share the gospel with your hungry friends. The lepers did share the amazing good news with the king and soon all of Samaria was feasting.
Dear Jesus, help us always to remember that today is the day of salvation. Tomorrow is a promissory note, yesterday is a canceled check but only today we have the supply of Christian love. Help us use this powerful currency to share the abundant life so that starving souls can feast on truth. Amen.
Sacramento Central Church