Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent…
2 Kings 7:9
2 Kings 7:1-16 relays the story of four lepers, outside the gate, dying, rotting in their flesh – a leprous congregation of four wretched men to whom God is going to speak and bring blessing. As you read the text you see how God miraculously provides for His people at the expense of the unbelief of the Samaritans. Just like the world today, the Samaritans dwelled in fear and unbelief; but what an astonishing thing their unbelief will result in for the children of God.
Now, as wretched as they were, they recognize their unbearable starvation. Even the garbage that had been handed over the wall, which they had survived on in days passed, had ceased altogether, and they became emaciated. So they said to one another in their despair, “Why do we sit here until we die? If we go into the city, the famine is there and the gate is shut. And if we sit here, we starve in agony. Let’s go to the Syrians. And if they slay us, it will be better to die with one death stroke, than it will be to sit here in this long and lingering wretchedness.” The recognition of their desperate condition leads them to take a courageous step of faith which begins with a question. What a good question for all men to ask themselves – why sit we here until we die? Oh that men would ask this from the midst of their tombs of worldly ambition and their rotting corpses of carnal pursuit.
The four lepers ask, “Why sit we here until we die?” And they begin to walk. We can hear them as they approach the city with words of faith mixed with worldly fear, “Be encouraged, our next step may be our last, our next step will certainly challenge us, but be of good courage. Let’s press on and go.” But as they walk, to their surprise, there is no death that faces them. Instead, they come into the camp and find abundance! No fear of death; no fear of judgment; no fear of damnation; no fear of hell; no fear of the darkness – only the overflowing of the mercies of God. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”
One hundred thousand Samaritans have fled; and God’s miserable wretches sit down to the banquet God has prepared for them. How amazed they were, as they looked on the gold and silver and raiment and food – on the vast bounty left behind by the fearful Samaritans! But they do not leave it at that. They said one to another, “This isn’t right. This is the day of good tidings, let’s tell the king. Let’s tell him of the bounty available to miserable wretches who need no longer starve! Let us announce that God has opened the windows of heaven, for us to freely enjoy.”
There is perhaps no finer illustration of what it is to be a preacher of the Gospel, what it is to be a witness, what it is to be a Christian. We are calling sinners such as ourselves, miserable wretches, to the way that a man might be saved. We are proclaiming to a dying, decaying people, that there is a way that they might live in abundance. We are saying, “Come see the abundant eternal life which God has set before those who trust in Him. Come. Come. Come! There’s bread enough for all! Bread for the soul! The Bread of life! There is life for death. There is freedom for captivity. There is Christ and the fullness of God, so Come! Why be lost in perdition and damnation, when God hath opened the palace of glory? Why live cooped up in this little part of this mortal life, when God has set our feet in a wide and spacious land – giving us freedom, liberty and eternal life? Why choose to die when the crimson cross is so nearby? Why? Why not come to Jesus?”
May the judgment and death that we inevitably face drive us to Christ; but may it not end there. Like the four lepers who made a difference, let us go into all the world and teach and preach the good news of the kingdom to all nations. What a glorious reality we own as children of the kingdom of God – may God make us faithful as witnesses and heralds of our inheritance to the leprous world in which we live.