2 Kings 7:3-9
3 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?
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
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.
9 Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day isa 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.
This text is just a portion of a story that so richly illustrates the providence and provision of God. He used four leperous men who were considered unclean – outcasts of society that had lost everything because of their terrible disease.
It really did not matter what their life story had been prior to leprosy. They could have been heroes or influential government officials. They could have been priests or anything else you could imagine. But everything changed when the priest examined that place on their skin and pronounced them unclean. That diagnosis changed everything in their life.
It is so important for us to realize the anonymity of these four men. Probably, there was nobody who was expecting them to be heroes. There was nobody expecting deliverance to come to Samaria through them.
I. The Desperation
Consider the context of this passage. It was a time of great trouble. It was a time of desperation
Benhadad, king of Syria, had set a siege around Samaria, and the city was suffering a great famine as the result. Scripture gives us some glimpses into how bad things were in the city. A donkey’s head was sold for 80 pieces of silver and a cab (approximately a pint) of dove’s dung was sold for 5 pieces of silver.
We have to remember that the people in the city of Samaria were Jews. The donkey was considered unclean to them. Conditions must have been desperate for them to even consider eating the meat of a donkey. If the head was sold for 80 pieces of silver, imagine what the more desirable cuts of meat must have cost.
Some believe that what was called dove’s dung in this account was actually a pulse or soup made from chickpeas. And yet, given the circumstances, it would not be beyond belief that they were actually eating bird dung.
We are also given another shocking illustration as evidence that conditions were even more desperate than we can imagine.
The king was walking around the perimeter of the city on the city wall. A woman cried out to him, begging for his help. When he asked her what she needed, she told him a gruesome story. She and another woman, both of whom had sons, had made an agreement together. On the first day, they ate this woman’s son, and on the next day, they were supposed to have eaten the other woman’s son.
Her problem, that she was presenting to the king that day, was that they had eaten her son as agreed. Now the other woman had changed her mind and would not follow through on the agreement.
Conditions were so desperate that they were losing all sense of common decency. They were losing all sense of morality. They were losing all hope of even surviving this siege. They were so desperate they were eating their children. How can we even imagine the depths of such desperation?
The king rent or tore his clothes. He was rightly disturbed by what he had heard but his response was way off the mark. He blamed their situation on Elisha and was calling for his head.
That was the situation inside the city walls at the time of our text. That was the desperation that they were experiencing, but our text is about what was happening outside those walls at “…the entering in of the gate…”
II. The Determination
We need to consider The Determination. Remember that the men in our text are four lepers. They are outcasts from society and they are considering a very important question: “…Why sit we here until we die?”
If things were desperate for those inside the walls of the city, they must have been even more desperate for the 4 lepers. They did not even have the protection of the city walls. They were absolutely vulnerable to any attack of the enemy.
As my grandmother would have said, they had the “gumption” to decide that they were not content with just waiting on the inevitable to happen. That is how they came to be discussing their three possible options.
If they were to go back into the city, they would die because of the famine. If they stayed where they were, they would still die because of the famine. Either of those options would result in a slow and miserable death.
The only other option they could see was to throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrians. What was the absolute worst thing that could happen? They might kill them – and they would die – much quicker. And if for some reason, they decided to save them alive, they would have food to eat and would have a greater possibility of life.
We need to realize that these lepers did not get up in the morning and make the decision to head into the camp of the Syrians with the intent of solving Israel’s problems that day. The citizens of Samaria were not even part of their consideration. This whole account was about the best option for 4 desperate lepers who decided they were not content to sit around and wait for death to come to them. No doubt, they were thinking, “What have we got to lose? We need to do something.”
When the 4 lepers entered into the Syrian camp, they found it completely abandoned. God had gone before them and made the Syrians to hear the sound of a great host. They thought that the king of Israel had hired other armies against them. In fear, they had fled the camp, running for their lives. They had left everything behind.
Imagine the 4 lepers entering into the abandoned Syrian camp, looking around and wondering what had happened. They walked all the way through the camp and found no one there. Then, they took advantage of the situation. They went into the first tent. They ate and drank what they found there. They took the gold, silver and the clothes they found and, just in case the Syrians came back, they hid it outside the camp.
They went into the second tent and did the very same thing. No doubt, they could not believe what had happened. They could not believe their good fortune. They were thrilled with what they had found for themselves. They were excited about all of the bounty that was within their reach.
In our text, they had only spoiled two tents. There must have been at least hundreds, if not thousands more. For those men, who thought that all of their options ended with starving to death or dying a violent death, the prospect of living life had to be an overwhelming discovery.
III. The Declaration
Notice The Declaration of the four lepers in verse 9.
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.
The Desperation inside the city walls – their own countrymen starving and dying in desperate conditions – finally came back to their minds. As they looked around at the bounty in that large Syrian army camp, they realized that they had some good news that could save lives. They had wonderful news in their possession that could change the situation for everyone in Samaria.
That brought them to a very important conclusion. They said, “…We do not well…” The thing we are doing is not good. “…this day is a day of good tidings…” We are enjoying the blessings of a victory that God wrought for us and we are holding our peace. Our silence is unthinkable. The title of this blog post is “We Do Not Well If We Don’t Tell.”
Remember the desperation in the city. A donkey’s head sold for 80 pieces of silver and a cab of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver. By the very next day, the situation had changed drastically. This is how scripture describes it…
2 Kings 7:16
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 LORD.
There was more than enough food available for all of Samaria. All they had to do was go out to the camp of the Syrians and take it for themselves.
If we could remember the time when we came to know Jesus as our personal Savior. God started dealing with our hearts and convicting us of our sin. He was, in essence, giving us a terminal diagnosis. Sin was the disease and death was our destiny. Paul made it clear that “…the wages of sin is death.”
The desperation of our situation caused us to consider our options. When we finally made the determination to surrender our heart, we found blessings beyond what we could possibly ask or think. From that day until this, we have been enjoying the spoils of the victory that Jesus won on the cross. We have entered into tents, one after another, partaking of the blessings of the Lord.
We often come into the tent that we call the House of God. We enjoy His blessings at our home church. We enter into other tents as well. Sometimes, it is through attending revivals or camp meetings. Other times, it is while we are at home listening to the preaching of God’s Word or the wonderful songs of Zion or when we read the Word of God for ourselves.
If we are not careful, we will forget the desperation in the city. We forget those that are living in desolate conditions and do not know the truth. They do not realize that they no longer have to remain under the power of the enemy’s siege of their souls. They do not realize the significance of the victory that Jesus has already accomplished for them. They do not recognize the provisions that are so close at hand.
At some point, we need to come to our senses. We need to realize, “…we do not well…” This is a day and an age of good tidings. We Do Not Well If We Don’t Tell.
I understand that the world is blinded to the truth of God’s Word. I understand that not everybody is going to believe our good tidings. We have to keep telling and declaring. We have to continue to spread the good tidings.
At first, the people of Samaria did not believe the four lepers.
2 Kings 7:10-12
10 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.
11 And he called the porters; and they told it to the king’s house within.
12 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.
There will be some who will not believe The Declaration. There will be sceptics who will question our motives. Some will believe that the church is just trying to take their money. Some will say that all Christians are hypocrites and the only reason we are witnessing to them is to ease our conscience. And their lists of objections seem to be endless. Nevertheless, we must keep declaring.
Because of what we know, we must keep declaring. We know that the victory has already been won. We know that the siege of the enemy is over. We know that God has provided everything we could ever need so we must keep declaring the truth.
The reason we must keep declaring is obvious. There will be some, reluctant or otherwise, who will believe us enough to come and see. And it just may be that they will be the voice that others hear and believe.
2 Kings 7:13-16
13 And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see.
14 They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.
15 And they went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king.
16 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 LORD.
It is amazing how many excuses we can fabricate as to why we are not telling others the message of the gospel. We can blame it on the Pastor or someone else in church leadership. We can say things like: “If they would just organize an outreach, I would help them with it.” “If somebody else would take a leadership role, I would start telling it far and wide.”
We can blame it on our own personality and say things like: “I just cannot talk to strangers.” The simple truth is that there are many people in each of our lives who are not strangers, and who do not know the Lord.
We can blame it on our age by saying things like: “I have done my time. It is time for our young people to step up and do their part.” The reality is that there is no age when Christians retire. There is no age when it is appropriate for us to stop spreading and sharing the gospel. We all need to be declaring the Truth.
This is a day of good tidings, and it is a day that will not last forever. So the challenge to each of us is the declaration of the 4 lepers in our text. We Do Not Well If We Don’t Tell. We have the message of the hour, and there is an urgency in this hour in which we are living. Look again at what the lepers said to each other.
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.
If we tarry until tomorrow, some mischief (judgment) may come upon us. Therefore, because of the urgency of the hour, and because of the good tidings that we have to share, come, that we may go and tell.
We need to earnestly pray for God to help us to see men as He sees them. We need to ask God for a burden for lost souls that will wake us up at night calling us to pray for the lost in our families. A burden that will call us to pray for the lost in our community. A burden that will call us to pray unto the Lord of the harvest that He will send labourers into the fields that are beyond our reach.
That really is the simplicity of this message. We Do Not Well If We Don’t Tell. And I believe that the opposite of that is also true. We do well if we do tell.
I am not the one who decides if you are doing well or not. I did not write this message as a vehicle to condemn anyone else. I wrote this message under the conviction of the Holy Ghost, and as a result of God’s dealing in my life. It is not just a message for us as a church. It is a message for each of us as individuals.
This is a day of good tidings. We Do Not Well If We Don’t Tell.