If you feel insignificant sometimes and inferior to others, the Bible is the Book for you. It’s full of accounts of seemingly unimportant individuals with insurmountable problems as far as man is concerned, and along comes God and uses them for great purposes.
Almost all of the Old Testament stories where God delivered an individual are about the down and out. Sometimes He worked through other people to deliver them and sometimes He intervened divinely. It’s not surprising that the story of four lowly lepers is included right along with the mighty deeds of Israel’s Kings.
If you took all the stories out of the Old Testament that have to do with the poor and afflicted it would be a pretty small book. There are the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the minor prophets like Hosea, Psalms that deal with grief and sorrow and repentance, they all contain accounts of God’s dealings with the despised and rejected by men.
There is a story of a boy who was sold by his brothers and was put in prison in Egypt that covers a lot of pages. Later, as prime minister of Egypt, he saved the Egyptians and his people from starving.
There’s also a long story about an abandoned baby found floating in the Nile in a basket. He grew up in Egypt and spent forty years in the desert and then led the Children of Israel through the wilderness for forty years and to the Promised Land.
One book is about a man with tremendous faith in God. He lost all his property and all ten of his children were killed in one day, he was covered with boils and sat in the ash heap.
Then there were two widows who came from Moab with nothing and the younger one had to gather barley in thc fields of Boaz just for food to stay alive. She later married and bore a child who became one of Christ’s ancestors.
Then there was the woman who had a sorrowful spirit because she couldn’t have children and another woman taunted her constantly because of that. God gave her a little boy who became the prophet who anointed kings in Israel.
God also records a story about a country boy He used to save Israel from the army of the Philistines with just a rock and a sling. Later this same boy was called in from tending sheep again and anointed king of Israel and afterwards was hunted like a partridge on the mountains by the jealous reigning king.
Then there was the man who was trying to hide from God on a ship. He was thrown off the ship into the sea and swallowed by a big fish, but again, God saved him and used him.
God gave the widow of Zarephath a bottomless barrel of meal, and He gave the prophet’s widow who couldn’t pay her husband’s debts an endless supply of cooking oil to sell so the creditor couldn’t take her children for slaves.
In every case, God took care of them because they trusted in Him.
Turn to 2nd Kings. We have two stories of lepers recorded close together there. In chapter 5 we have Naaman, the famous Syrian general, and in chapters 6 and 7 the four starving outcast Israeli lepers outside Samaria’s gate. The four lepers were forced to live apart from their fellow man in Israel but the God of Israel still claimed them and provided for them.
Some day, when God’s books of history are completed, (and only the angel who is writing them knows what is being written,) their contents will be revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ and at the Great White Throne Judgment.
Your story may be read and it might be just as memorable as Hannah’s or Joseph’s, and God will get as much glory from what He has done for you as from any recorded in Scripture.
The New Testament runs in the same vein as the Old. It was the Lord Jesus who called the poor to be His disciples and lived among fishermen and peasants.
1 Corinthians 1:27-28. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28: And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:”
If you’re a believer and among the poor and despised, you’re in a divinely chosen and well favored group. God often chooses from that group to magnify His love.
In 2 Kings 6, the city of Samaria had been besieged by the Syrian army for some time and hunger had driven people to do some horrible things. You can hardly stand to read about hunger and stress so bad that some mothers cooked and ate their babies. Let’s read that.
2 Kings 6:24-33: "And it came to pass after this, that Ben-hadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. (Ben-hadad is a title, not a name.)
25: And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it until a donkey’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab ( a measure) of dove's dung for five pieces of silver."
During the 1930, farmers in Iowa would butcher a hog and give our family the head. There isn’t much meat on a hog’s head but Mom would cook it and patiently scrape it off. We didn’t eat any dove’s dung that I recall, but we did eat a lot of lamb’s quarter and dandelion greens and the meat from the hog’s head and we were grateful for it. Incidentally, dove’s dung is actually a small weed eaten by the poor, something like lamb's quarter, not what we obviously think of.
26: And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. (Joram was the king, he’s the grandson of Ahab and Jezebel)
27: And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? (He thought that she was asking him for food and said “if God doesn’t provide for you, I can’t. What’s the matter with you?”)
28: And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son tomorrow.
29: So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.
30: And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh. (Sackcloth is made out of coarse black goat hair worn as a sign of mourning or repentance and the king was wearing it under his royal robe.)
31: Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day. God spoke through prophets in those days, and Elisha was His channel of communication with Israel at that time. The king and the people had sinned by worshipping idols and now they blamed Elisha for God’s judgment on them.)
32: But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and the king sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: is not the sound of his master's feet behind him? 33: And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the LORD; what should I wait for the LORD any longer?
(Elisha would tell this grandson of the infamous Ahab and Jezabelle that the next day there would be an abundance of food in the gates of Samaria. Elisha was openly ridiculed for that statement and blamed for Samaria’s predicament.)
2 Kings 7:1: Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.
2: Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
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 donkeys, 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 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.
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.
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.
17: And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him.
18: And it came to pass as the man of God had said to the king, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria:
19: And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
20: And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died.
God is always true to His word no matter how small or great the promise, so before the moon came up that night God caused Israel’s enemies to leave in haste and He provided food for Samaria and the siege around the city was over.
The lepers probably made plenty of noise, like you do when you’re walking in bear country, so they know you’re coming. They wouldn’t have wanted to sneak up on the Syrians because they would have thought they were spies and been killed for sure. God may have made the flapping of the soles of their worn out sandals in the dark sound like horses and chariots coming so the Syrians took to their heels.
The town of Samaria was free but those inside still thought they were prisoners. They were starving in the midst of plenty when they might have been feasting.
Wasn’t this strange? A city besieged, and not besieged; surrounded by enemies, or so they thought, and yet not an enemy in sight; starving just a short distance from plenty of food.
God had defeated Samaria’s enemies and scattered the Syrian army like chaff in the wind, and food aplenty was there for the taking.
God had promised plenty of food the next day through His prophet but they didn’t believe the promise. He provided more flour and barley than the Samaritans could use only a short distance away. See what unbelief can do?
I know a sad parallel to this scene.
The Lord Jesus came into the world and put away sin for all people
but many refuse to accept it because of their unbelief
so they’re a prisoner of sin.
These miserable lepers who discovered that the enemy had fled wouldn’t dare to have joined the people inside the walls of Samaria. They weren’t allowed inside the city, their place was outside the gate, yet these poor creatures that Israel wouldn’t acknowledge were the first to find out what the Lord had done.
There’s another comparison we can make here. Many of the Jews rejected Christ in the same way, but many of the Gentiles have accepted Him. The stampede at the gate of Samaria makes me think of how the Bible says that the Jews will come to Christ in great numbers and in a hurry during the Tribulation. They will realize what God is offering them and accept Christ as their Messiah.
These men came to the place where they had nowhere else to turn.
They were willing to accept whatever God had in store for them.
That’s when and how we get saved.
When we realize that we have nowhere else to turn but to God
and accept His forgiveness,
we can be saved.
As long as we try to do something to save ourselves we compound our lost condition.
Review what these lepers did. They found out for themselves and then took possession for themselves. Now they can go and tell the starving city what they discovered because they know they haven’t made a mistake. They ate their fill and have riches stored up so they can speak with authority and from experience.
They also realized that with this blessing goes a duty to God to share their good fortune. Verse 9: Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace:
This is also true of the Believer in Christ Jesus.
The person who has come to Christ with full understanding of his own undeserving state
is the one who knows the grace of God best.
That person can tell others with authority and from experience what Christ can and will do for you
if you will accept Him as your Savior.
That person is enjoying the blessings of salvation and has treasure stored up in heaven.
The rich, well fed lepers, stood outside the city gate and shared the good news with the king and others. The believer in Jesus Christ can speak with conviction and share the good news of salvation with others.
These men had been sitting outside the city gate with absolutely no hope and they saw no reason to wait any longer. “Why sit ye here until we die? It’s the same with salvation. There is no justification for a person to remain unsaved today since God gave His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
If you are still unsaved,
don’t just sit there until you die and don’t let “no” be your “final answer.”
If you die without Christ you’ll be in hell for eternity.
We all know the story of the prodigal son; while he had anything left he didn’t go home to his father, but when he had spent all his substance, and was so hungry that he envied the very hogs he fed, and “when he came to himself” he said. “I will arise, and go to my father.”
The people of Nineveh humbled themselves before God when Jonah said “Forty days and Nineveh shall he overthrown." They were facing judgment so they said “Who can tell if God will turn and repent and turn away from His fierce anger; that we perish not?”
Our lepers went to the Syrian camp as a last resort. Verse 4; “If 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.”
There was no “plan B.” I’m always glad when that’s the case. If I have too many options I may make a mistake; but when there’s only one road I know which way to go. It’s not like Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” It’s a blessing when we look to God for guidance by faith alone.
I’m sure these lepers could hardly believe it when they went from tent to tent and could have anything they saw. I wonder if the they didn’t hesitate when they found a gold cup or a silver bowl. Lepers generally were poor and didn’t drink from gold cups or slurp soup from a silver bowl, but there was nobody there to stop them so they took what was provided.
When I came to Christ
I could hardly believe that all the promises of God were mine.
I couldn’t believe that I had a right
to all of the good things provided for the Lord’s people.
It almost looked like stealing
but I‘ve never yet found anything in the Word of God that forbids me
from accepting the precious things laid up for believers.
I’ve been claiming those precious promises
ever since I got saved 55 years ago and
all because someone shared the good news of salvation with me.
Do I have any regrets? Yes, one.
I wish I had accepted Him as my Savior sooner.
One of these days I expect to stand with the redeemed ones
around the throne of God and sing praises to Him.
I won’t be ashamed to stand there
because He’s the One who brought me there.
I may be ashamed of myself for a lot of reasons down here,
but when I see my Savior face to face I won’t be ashamed
for enjoying the fullness of God’s grace.
When I came to Christ