Finding Bread

Lepers_looting_Syrian_camp
I was reading in 2 Kings 7 over the weekend. This obscure, little known account is full of tremendous Biblical truth. To really get the whole picture of what is happening, one must look back at ch. 6:24-33. The Syrian king waged war against the Hebrews, and laid siege to the fortified city of Samaria. Siege was a military tactic whereby an army would completely surround a city, cutting off all escape and reinforcement, while constantly attacking its walls and gates. Sometimes, a siege could last for months, even years. If the army couldn’t overcome the city’s defenses, they would starve them out. This was the case with the siege of Samaria.
The famine in the city became so desperate, people were eating anything they could (donkey heads, bird dung, etc.), even resorting to cannibalism. In a dramatic confrontation with a woman who had done this, the Hebrew king tore his clothes in rage and grief, and sent word to have Elisha, God’s prophet, beheaded, believing somehow he was responsible for the judgment of God upon the city.
In ch. 7, Elisha predicted the end of the siege and famine, the following day! As was often the case, there were lepers outside the city gates, not allowed within the city due to their illness, and starving also. They finally decided to act, reasoning, “Hey, if we stay here, we’ll die. If we try to get back inside, we’ll die. Let’s go over to the Syrians, and see if they will have pity and feed us. The worst they can do is kill us as well, so what do we have to lose?” Unknown to everyone, God had caused a sound of a mighty army coming upon them to terrify the Syrians, and they fled during the night in a panic, leaving everything behind- tents, clothes, money, weapons, horses, and especially vast amounts of food. As the 4 lepers entered the camp, they were astonished to find the whole siege camp abandoned. They began to gorge themselves on food, cover themselves with clothes, even took and hid some of the wealth. It was a “bonanza.”
Then they came to a realization- “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent…let’s go tell the king’s household.” They returned to the city gates, still unable to get in, so they shouted to the gatekeepers all they had found. And the the rest, as they say, is history.
As I’ve been thinking on this whole incident, I see one profound truth: making an amazing discovery that would save lives, and then keeping it from them, is among the worst of sins. Even though these guys had been ostracized and driven away by their own people, they had enough compassion for those dying within the gates to go share the incredible find. And yet, we as Christ followers possess the most amazing, beautiful, life-changing news in the history of the universe- “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” People can be set free from the siege of sin, death, and condemnation, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and yet we all too often keep it to ourselves. We distance ourselves from those who need to hear the Good News, are afraid to tell them, or sadly, we just don’t care enough. Even though the world outside our churches is becoming increasingly hostile to our faith, and wants to push us “outside the gate”, we need a God-inspired burden and passion to share the message of Christ with them anyway. Many will hear and reject, but some will hear and heed. Like the lepers in the account, we are all mere ragamuffins who have found the abundance of life in Christ, and are pointing other ragamuffins to where they can “find bread.”
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:15, Isaiah 52:7
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