2 Kings 7 provides the narrative of a fascinating story which would be well worth your time to read. Since many likely won’t immediately rush off to read the whole story, let me summarize it to bring it to your memory. The Syrians had laid a siege on the city of Samaria, and the city was unable to get any food. Those inside the city were starving to death. In fact, the scene had gotten so desperate some of the inhabitants of the city had even started to eat other people. Outside the city, separated from the others because of their defilement, there were some lepers who had a thought. They said to one another “we are going to die here anyway, so let’s head over and see if we can get some food from the Syrians”. Although their tactic was questionable, they proceeded to the Syrian camp, and were absolutely shocked to find it totally deserted. They ate the great food, stole the clothes, and even got some gold and silver. But very quickly, while they feasted, they remembered that their countrymen were still starving back in Samaria. With conviction they ran back to share the good news with others.
Now that you have the story firmly back in your memory bank, let’s consider together a few lessons that we can learn from this incident.
A Perishing City
The city of Samaria was a city of starving people. They would have been searching in every place they could to try and discover a little bit of food. If we were to judge the city around us by the amount of food in their fridges we would perhaps conclude that hunger is no real issue. But if we switch from physical hunger and literal food into the spiritual realm, there is little doubt that the our world is marked by devastating spiritual hunger. People all around us are starving for the truth. They are desperately searching for meaning, joy, peace and satisfaction. But in their headlong pursuit to try to address this spiritual hunger, the world has absolutely nothing to offer them. Samaria was a hungry city, literally. The Greater Toronto Area is a desperately hungry city spiritually. Don’t be fooled as you look around at all that this world seems to offer. Behind the bright, flashy façade – our world is perishing, and its inhabitants are starving!
A Powerful Witness
The lepers would have gotten quite a pleasant surprise when they first showed up at the deserted camp. Here they had come just hoping for a small bit of food out of mercy from the Syrians, but upon arriving they got something that exceeded their wildest imaginations. We too have had a similar experience. Speaking for myself, when I first came to the Lord Jesus I was primarily concerned with being saved from hell. What I have found is that eternal life is so much more than that! While I am thankful that I will never see the terrors of hell, I have realized that the true blessing of being saved is not just salvation from hell but rather a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. The challenging point here is that so often we don’t mimic the lepers. We enjoy the unsearchable riches of Christ, partake of the bread of life, and yet we are not driven to tell our countrymen. The lepers realized that it would have been wrong of them to enjoy all the provisions and leave their countrymen to starve. Likewise for us, it should logically follow that after personally experiencing the richness of what Christ brings, we should eagerly run to share it with others.
A Plentiful Provider
It is possible for us to read this story and to start to think that these lepers must have been pretty good guys. In fact, we could read the narrative and really start to think that the lepers were the heroes of the story – they really “saved the day”. However upon closer inspection we will quickly notice that the lepers were absolutely not the heroes. When they arrived at the Syrian camp it was already deserted. The lepers didn’t save the day – it was God who acted and He is the one who deserves the glory. He is the one who emptied the camp. He is the one who provided. Likewise we too should always remember that God is the ultimate victor in all of our efforts at witnessing and living for Him. We can’t save anyone, and God didn’t send us to save the world. Rather, he sent Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:3). He has accomplished everything, and therefore our only duty is similar to that of the lepers. Firstly to richly enjoy and partake of what God has provided. And secondly, to bring as many others as possible along to enjoy the same rich provision.
Throughout this week, hopefully you can think about this story, and develop these thoughts a little further on your own. You may want to think of what we can learn from the way the city reacted to the lepers’ news. You could also consider how often we are unlike the lepers and fail to eat of all that is provided. You could even ponder the irony of the instruments God chooses to share the good news – lepers! (On that note, who first told of the resurrection?). I hope that it will please God to use these feeble thoughts to draw us together in greater love of him and his son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.