Jan 20, 2021, 2:17 PM
“Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: ‘About this time tomorrow, a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” (2 Kings 7:1)
Seven years famine had ravaged Israel following its siege by the Syrian army. It got to a stage people were consuming donkey heads. In desperation, some women had even begun feeding on their children to survive.
King Ahab complained bitterly: “This disaster is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” (2 Kings 6:33) By way of consolation the prophet Elisha assured him that it would be over by tomorrow. “Tomorrow at this time ...” As usual there are always doubters in the crowd. The king’s officer was prompt to react, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of heavens, could this happen?” (verse 2)
The man of God upon hearing the officer’s remark confronted him. “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” (verse 2b) The prophet Elisha was saying to the officer, you will not live to witness the event – because you doubted.
Man has always doubted God’s intentions for his well-being. It all started in the Garden of Eden where the devil planted doubt in the hearts of Adam and Eve that led to their disobedience. God had told Adam: “You are free to eat from any tree in the Garden but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die. True to His Word, they died - a spiritual death - when their relationship with their Maker was severed.
In this account the King’s officer doubted the Prophet’s words that the situation would change by that same hour the following day. God was going to put an end to the siege. Here’s how God went about it. You would not believe it. God is going to use four insignificant lepers who had been sent out of the city, banished out of sight because they had been afflicted with leprosy – a deadly and contagious disease. The effects of the famine had hit them badly and they were at their wits end.
In the face of their predicament, they had consulted each other. “Why stay here until we die?” (2 Kings 7:3) They concluded that either way, if nothing is done, they would be as good as dead. The die had been cast. To get out of this situation, they had to take a bold step of faith which meant either to risk their lives and venture into the Syrian camp in search of food -- where it was likely they could be arrested, killed or enslaved. The second option was to return to the city gate and plead for help from the gatekeepers. “If we say, we’ll go into the city – the famine is there, and 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.’ ” (2 Kings 7:4)
When push comes to shove, then we look for certain alternatives; we take the plunge. If they did nothing, their days were numbered. They then took their courage in both hands, took a step of faith and headed towards the Syrian camp. If they are taken prisoners at least they would be fed – that would tantamount to the lesser of two evils.
God took their act of faith and worked miracles. Dear Reader, when we sit and lament over our calamities, we wallow in the mire on the one hand. When we exercise our faith and begin to do something, God will back our act of faith and change the narrative. ‘For without faith, it is impossible to please God.’ (Hebrews 11:6)
A similar phenomenon occurred to Esther who enjoyed a privileged position as first lady in the palace in Persia. She had downplayed the consequences of her inaction in the face of a plan by Haman to exterminate the Jews.
It was only after she received word from her uncle Mordecai, that if anything should happen to the Jews she would not be spared on the pretext that she was in the palace as queen. Only then did she weigh the gravity of the situation and swore. ‘If I perish, I perish!” She called upon the king without making a prior appointment. Such a move could have resulted in her instant demise - for no one went to the king without an appointment – not even the queen was exempted. But for her courage, the Jews would not have been spared. ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’
“At dusk they (the four lepers) got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was in sight, 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 Hittites and the Egyptian kings to attack us!’ ” 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.” (2 Kings 7:5-7)
The lepers had a field day. They entered two of the tents, found food and ate. Then they looted and hid their booty. At this point their conscience pricked them and they said to each other: “We’re not doing 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.” (verse 9)
God used these four lepers – outcasts and the rejects of society to save the nation of Israel from famine. In so doing, God is driving a point home that no man or woman should be discarded or abandoned because of his or her social status. In God’s eyes everybody matters. Everybody has a contribution to make.
Furthermore, we must not be condemned by any crisis. The main lesson here is that ‘no situation is permanent’. Unless and until we are totally dissatisfied with the inflictions of the devil and decide to do something about them, the status quo remains.
The four lepers turned their situation around when they jointly evaluated their dilemma. “Why stay here until we die?”
(The account continues in the next episode)