Experiencing God’s Promise
Text: 2 Kings 7:3-16
Joke: Preacher I just
sit here till I show a profit.
Sometimes we as Christians aren’t much smarter. We think that we can reach a certain place
and just stay there, remain still and unchanging, but we can’t. To remain
inactive, to remain still, to decide not to move is to not living long it is
dying long. We have go, we have to move,
we have to go forward. It is a life or
death matter not just to us but to those who have still yet to hear the gospel
if we do not go forward who will reach them.
We are now in the northern Kingdom of Samaria, which has
been at war for decades against their own brothers and sisters in the southern
kingdom of Judah. After the rebellion of Jeroboam against Solomon’s son
Rehoboam, the two peoples never come back together and become bitter enemies.
This animosity can even be seen in the New Testament when the Bible tells us
the story of the Samaritan women at the well. The Jews had nothing to do with
Turn with me to 2 Kings 7:3 and look at this reality in a
story which makes it very clear.
Hopelessness of Standing Still
Lepers At the Gate.
The Siege and the Famine
King Benhadad of Syria had been attacking the northern
kingdom of Israel for many years. At first he sent raiding parties into Israel,
but Elisha has asked God to strike them blind and after taking them to the King
of Samaria their sight was restored were released back to Syria. This stopped
the raiding partys but in chapter 7 Ben-hadad, sends his entire army to conquer
He besieges the capital city and the siege lasts so long
that a terrible famine is within the walls of the city as we read in 2 Kings 6.
This famine went on so long that the people were forced to eat donkey’s heads
and doves droppings and for these they paid exorbitant prices, two pounds of
silver for the head of a donkey and two ounces of silver for the bird
King Joram, the son of evil Ahab and Jezebel blames Elisha,
who had struck the raiders with blindness but now is doing nothing, in 2 Kings
6:31 Joram said, “God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son
of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.”
The king sends a servant to get Elisha, but God warns the
prophet and Elisha and those in his house with him hold the door against the
king’s messenger, until the king also arrives. When he gets to the locked door,
which really couldn’t have helped his mood any, he calls out 2 Kings 6:33
“Behold, this evil is of the LORD; what should I wait for the LORD any longer?”
The king had not learned anything from the fate of his parents, nor had he
called out for the people to repent of their sin and pray to God as Jehoshaphat
and Hezekiah had done in the Southern Kingdom. Instead of praying and
repenting, Joram blames the God and refuses to trust Him.
Elisha then gives a prophecy, 2 Kings 7:1 From behind the
closed door he calls out, “Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD,
Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel,
and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.” These were
pre-famine prices and it was impossible.
One of the kings advisers mocks Elisha, 2 Kings 7:2 “Behold,
if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be?” Then Elisha in
response to the mocking and denial of God’s promise says, “Behold, thou shalt
see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.”
That gives us the setting for our story in 2 Kings 7:3-20.
And like a play or a drama, opening its second act we find ourselves huddled
outside the city gates and looking at four men, who are in far worse shape than
the people inside the city.
The four lepers. 2 Kings 7:3-4
And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the
gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? If we
say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall
die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let
us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and
if they kill us, we shall but die.
The lepers were dependent upon their family or charity from
the people of the city, but with a famine they were no longer being fed. They realize
that they must do something. They had 3 courses of action.
They could stay where they were. They could complain and
wail and wish things hadn’t changed for the worse, and they could do that until
they simply died.
Or they could try and go to another city, but the Syrians invasion
had cut off any travel.
Or they could go into the camp of the Syrians! Now that was a radical idea and that was the
course of action they chose. They said, “Why sit here until we die?” They
understood, that to remain where they were was a death, but to move, to take
action was a chance and it could even be their deliverance.
I don’t think any of us will ever find ourselves in the same
horrific place that these four men found themselves but their decision and
their actions that day can be a very strong and important lesson for us as
Christians. Here is the lesson…
As Christians sometimes we aren’t as decisive as these 4
lepers. We see that our society, our nation, our family and even my own life
has taken a change for the worse and we don’t like it. But unlike the lepers,
caught up in the terrible changes in their life, we don’t take action. We can
if we are not cognizant and alert, literally sit until we die.
Here is a the principle from Gods word “Doing Nothing Means
It’s true in our life and its true in the Lords work. We all
need 2 Kings 7:3 written in large letter on the wall of my office. “Why sit we
here till we die?” I need to remember it and practice the truth of it in all
areas of my life, ministry and relationships.
I need to think of it when I’m trying to get out and
exercise. I need to think of it when I’m trying to eat right or make plans for
the future. I need to be motivated by the question, “Why sit here until I die?”
when it comes to my broken relationships with family and friends. I need to
remember it when I have an opportunity to share the love of God and the Gospel
of Jesus Christ.
We are commanded in God’s Word to grow, to change, to not
2 Peter 3:18 But grow
in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 5: 12-14 For
when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you
again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such
as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is
unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat
belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have
their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I
do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those
things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus.
You can't stand still, not in our physical life, our spiritual life, or in your relationship
and service to God. Life is flying by
us. Change is taking place everywhere we look.
Some of the changes are good, some are neutral and some are destructive,
but ignoring them and standing still is not an option. If I ignore the change happening around me and do nothing then it is a slow, sure death, just like
the lepers outside the gate faced.
Illustration: The Dedication of Ezra’s Temple
The older people wept at the completion of the temple
because they remembered the glory of the old.
Ezra 3:12-13 But many
of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that
had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before
their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the
people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the
weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise
was heard afar off.
That day some wept at the changes, wept at the loss, but
more important were the people who shouted for joy at the start of a new work
for God. They could have left the Temple in ruins, but instead they rebuilt,
they went forward, they made a choice to grow and the future had hope because
they chose to act.
As terrible as it would have been to stand still and die
there was an even a greater sin that could have taken place and that was
staying silent while others died.
Harm of Staying Silent
2 Kings 7:5-9
Lepers at the Camp
They lepers move into the camp of the invading Syrian army
and there, amazingly, they find the camp deserted. 2 Kings 7:5-7 And they rose
up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come
to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man
there. For the Lord had made the host of
the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise
of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath
hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to
come upon us. Wherefore they arose and
fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses,
even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.
God had caused the Syrian army, many who had been blinded in
a previous raid, to hear the sound of a great host of chariots, cavalry and
marching men and they fled, believing Joram had somehow hired armies and
mercenaries to come to the defense of the city.
The lepers go from tent to tent taking treasure and food. 2
Kings 7:8 And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they
went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold,
and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another
tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it.
They begin to hoard God’s blessings, to keep them to
themselves and they forgot all about those starving back in the city. Finally,
though they realize to not share the good news, is to invite punishment into
their own lives. 2 Kings 7:9 Then they
said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we
hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come
upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household.
God had chosen these men to go and discover the empty Syrian
camp but He also chose these men to carry the news of the promise, back to the
besieged city. If they failed, they knew God would deal with them.
Be A Blessing
If you were in the place of the lepers wouldn’t go back to
the city? Wouldn’t you take the good
news to your family and friends, even to your enemies? There was so much of God’s
promise to go around, how could anyone not share it.
Can you imagine what joy it was for these men to run back to
the city and say, “Come and see, God has driven away the enemy. You only have to come accept the promise He has
Ah but what is a camp filled with spoils compared to heaven
filled with the promise of eternal life?
We must not keep it to ourselves.
Paul Harvey once said, "Too many Christians are no
longer fishers of men but keepers of the aquarium."
Like the lepers, we must realize not only that God has
blessed us, but that He has also chosen us to tell others what we have
experience. Like the lepers we have to know that there is a price to pay if we hoard
the promise of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Ezekiel 33:7-9
So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of
Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost
not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his
iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou
warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he
shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
Some teach that one day in heaven we will stand before the
Lord and see blood on our hands for the people we did not witness to. Of course,
nothing like that is repeated in the New Testament when we actually read about
the Judgment seat of Christ. There the Bible says we are rewarded, or we suffer
the loss of reward. There is nothing about literal bloody hands, no matter how
many times you’ve heard that preached.
So what is this passage teaching and what can I apply from
that interpretation into my life? The context of course is God calling Ezekiel
as a prophet to the exiled Israelites and it is easy to see that God is telling
Ezekiel, if you don’t preach and warn the wicked then they will die in their
sins and you will suffer my punishment for not warning them. The punishment is
right there in the verse, thou hast delivered thy soul. If Ezekiel didn’t do as
God commanded, he would be guilty of the blood of other men and God will take
But you and I aren’t prophets in that OT sense. Instead we are
commissioned by our savior, Jesus Christ to Go, Disciple, Baptize and Teach. If
we fail to do this then yes, we will be guilty of disobeying our Savior and we
will lose our reward, a reward that was set aside for me, a reward that I would
have lain at the feet of Jesus Christ one day. The principle though, is the
same, obey God and tell others of His promises of eternal life and yes also of
eternal death. If you choose to disobey then just like the lepers understood,
and just like God told Elijah, there will be a price to pay. It won’t be
literal blood on our hands, it many ways it will be worse. People who didn’t
hear the gospel because you did not tell them, died and then suffered the wrath
of God for eternity. We knew this and yet we did nothing.
We didn’t tell anyone about God’s promises, we didn’t give
to missions so a missionary could tell them, we didn’t support the church so
the church could tell the community. We sat here until they died!
Illustration: Dead Sea Christians
The Dead Sea receives the same fresh, life giving water that
the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan river receives. Yet it does not live. No fisherman can fish it’s waters, no crops can
be grown from on its shores. The Sea of
Galilee and the Jordan River pass on the life giving water but the Dead Sea
holds all the water that come to it.
Ultimately the very lifegiving water it hoards destroys it.
Don’t be a “Dead Sea Christian.” Don’t hoard the blessings and promises of God by not sharing them with others. Part of experiencing God’s promises is telling others so they can experience them as well. There is no limited supply, you can’t run out of God’s blessings, you can’t exhaust God’s promises. Don’t let your life become a dead, spiritual wasteland. Experience the promise of God all over again by passing them on to others.
Don’t you love the characters of the lepers? They are dying
but they choose to act and, by that decision, they go from helpless to heroes.
What a great story.
Heroics of Shouting Strong
2 Kings 7:10-11, 14-16
Lepers at Salvation Celebration
The lepers return to the dying city, stand outside the gate
and shout the good news. 2 Kings 7:10-11 So they came and called unto the
porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the
Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses
tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were. And he called the porters; and they told it
to the king's house within.
Joram, the unbelieving and unfaithful King believes they are
being tricked by the Syrians and he sends a team to investigate. 2 Kings 7:12, 14
And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew
you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore
are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When
they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the
city…They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of
the Syrians, saying, Go and see.
After the scouts return and tell the King that the Syrians
have fled, the people of the city rush out to the camp and are saved by the
promise of God. 2 Kings 7:16 “And the messengers returned, and told the
king. And the people went out, and
spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a
shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the
The city was saved, not because the lepers were influential,
nor because they were persuasive, but because they brought back the simple
truth that God’s promise was real.
Be A Hero
It’s time for some heroes in God’s work. From this story you
know that you don’t have to be important, these were lepers, the lowest of the
low in their society. You don’t need to
be influential, persuasive or educated.
All you need to do is act and tell people the truth of God’s
word, the reality of God’s promises. Tell them…
God will save. He
saved me. God will forgive, I know because I have been forgiven. God will
bless, He has more blessing right now than we can describe and more blessing in
eternity than we can imagine.
It is up to us to be the heroes that tell our experience of
the Promise of God. It is up the those we tell to accept and expererience those
promises for themselves.
The Samaritans had to go to the camp of the enemy and see
that God had defeated the Syrians. Those we tell have to go to the empty tomb
and see that Jesus has defeated our enemy, death.
Illustration: Sergeant York.
Let me close by telling you about a another hero, Sargent
Alvin York. Sargent York was the most decorated hero of WW1. In a battle where half of his 17 man patrol
was wiped out and his commanding officer killed, York, then a corporal, took
command. While the rest of his men were
pinned down by enemy machine gun fire, he risked his life by running in plain
view of the machine guns to a good firing position. Then completely by himself with only his
rifle and a pistol, York stormed 9 machine gun bunkers, killed 25 enemy
soldiers and forced the others to surrender. On his way back to the American
lies he captured another 130 enemy troops. When asked why he did it, he
replied, “Well those machine guns were picking off my buddies and I realized
that if I didn’t do something a lot of people were going to die.”
You know what it takes to be a hero, not intelligence, or
ability but just the realization that if we don’t do something people are going
to die. Sin will slay them. They will
die physically, by drugs, alcohol, violence or an immoral lifestyle. They will die
emotionally by bitterness, anger or betrayal. But worst of all they will die
spiritually because I chose to sit, instead of go or I chose to be silent
instead of shouting the good news of Jesus Christ.
There is one last unresolved detail in this story.
Let me share it with you in our conclusion. Do you remember
the King’s advisor who mocked when he heard the promise of God’s salvation? He
said, If the windows of heaven were opened and food poured down like rain, this
still couldn’t be true.”
We pick up his story in 2 Kings 7:17 And the king appointed
the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people
trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake
when the king came down to him.
As the starving people ran out to experience the promise of
God this man was crushed under the feet of a human stampede. He rejected the
promise of God, he rejected the message of God from God’s servant, but he still
experienced the promise of God, for Elisha had told him, “your eyes shall see
it but your mouth will not taste it.”
You may be here today and you don’t think of yourself as
mocking God’s promise or God’s messenger and yet you reject the promise of
God’s salvation and forgiveness. In a sense you are right here standing at the
gate while others have trusted you just stand there and watch them go by.
There are other promises that await those who refuse to
accept the blessing of God. Do I need to repeat them? I don’t think so. You
already know them. The Holy Spirit can speak to your heart better than I can.
Which promise will you choose this morning? What action should all of us decide
to take, so that we and others can experience the wonderful blessing and
promises of God?