The situation for the people of Samaria was worse than bleak. Syria had laid siege and the Israelites were starving. It was so bad that a year’s salary would barely buy a donkey’s head for food. When a person died of starvation, he or she became food for the living (Yeah, I know, pretty sick stuff for my G rated site… hang with me).
King Jehoram, grieved by the people’s cannibalism, made a proclamation, “God do so and more unto me if the head of Elisha the prophet remains on him another day.” Uh Oh.
Rather than heeding the words of the prophet, Jehoram blames him for Israel’s woes. He has greatly confused Elisha’s position and authority. The prophet is merely speaking for God, but Jehoram thinks it is his words that are bringing this trouble to Samaria. He commands his messenger to bring Elisha to him.
But Elisha, instead, sends a message back to the king, “Tell that son of a murderer that tomorrow everyone will have more than enough to eat.”
By nightfall, the prophet’s words begin to ring true. The Syrians, surrounding Samaria, hear a loud rumble and believe it is an attack by a mighty enemy. They leave everything behind and run.
Enter… four lepers. On the verge of starvation (by the way, stuck in no man’s land… they’re in between the city and the enemy camp), they decide there are two choices. Remain here and die, or go to the Syrians and beg for food. They choose the latter. And guess what they find. Oh yeah, food, clothing, and shelter in abundance… and no enemy.
But something amazing happens. While set for life, one of the lepers realizes, “This isn’t right.” “This is a day of ‘Good News,’ and we’re holding it to ourselves.” “Let’s share this ‘Good News” with the city.”
And just as Elisha prophesied, the people ate plenty. 2 Kings 6, 7
The apostle Paul was desperate to carry the gospel to Rome. Remember, he was mobbed in Jerusalem, he was mocked in Athens… but he was martyred in Rome. Why was this so important to him, when death surely awaited him there?
He understood where he stood. He knew his place in Christ. In the first chapter of his letter to the believers at Rome, Paul defined his position. “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome (14, 15).” Paul firmly believed he was in debt to those who had not heard the ‘Good News.’
One quick point (I know, I’ve used up my allotment of your time).
We are the lepers. We really are. We are the outcast who have no path except to plead for mercy. And, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the ‘Good News.’
The question that must be answered is whether we will share it with the city.