Sermon Date: Oct. 24, 2010
Sermon Title: I Am Second
Sermon Text: 2 Kings 7:1-20
Small Group Text: 2 Kings 7:1-20 Read 2 Kings 6:24-7:20 Here is one of the most graphic demonstrations of God’s ability to save and restore people in the worst of circumstances – a story of rescue and deliverance from hopeless despair. But the key to this story is the unlikely messengers who bring good news to the desperate people in their city. This week, “I Am Second” translates into the excitement of sharing the provision of God’s abundant life through Jesus Christ with people in our city. 2 Kings 6:24-7:20 is one of the most powerful pictures of personal evangelism in all of Scripture. Recognize the urgency of the need in your city The Syrian blockade and its effects: hopelessness in the city (v.6:24-33) King Ben-Hadad II of Syria launched a full-scale attack on Israel, putting the capital city of Samaria under siege. The result was a citywide famine – so severe that some of the inhabitants resorted to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:27-29). God had prophetically announced this awful condition as discipline in anticipation of His people turning away from Him (Lev. 26:29; Deut. 28:53, 57). But instead of recognizing this disaster as the just result for perpetuating Baal worship, the Israelite king, Joram, blamed God’s prophet, Elisha, for the desperate state of affairs and sought to take Elisha’s life (2 Kings 6:31). A message of hope and deliverance (v.7:1-2). Elisha said, "Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria." 2 Kings 7:1 As the king was breathing out threats against Elisha, the prophet announced that, within a day, food would be sold at comparatively low, bargain prices in Samaria. God would provide salvation. Some believed the prophet – and some didn’t. Elisha made the point that those who lacked trust in the word of God would see the salvation come to fruition but would never experience it for themselves (2 Samuel 2:2, 19-20). What are the needs of your city? That each of us would have problems from time-to-time is a fact of life. It’s a broken world. But for many in our city, life seems defined by trouble – by paralyzing fear, emotional upheavals and the notion that life is out of control. It’s not a far leap then to a general malaise felt throughout the community as people begin to lose their vision for a better and more life-affirming future. But there is wonderful news. God loves this city. He cares deeply for its citizens and is willing and able to provide hope and deliverance from despair.
Take an inventory of the resources you’ve been given to meet the needs of your city Four lepers experience the miraculous salvation of God (v.3-9) … for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, "Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!"  So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives. The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp and entered one of the tents. They ate and drank, and carried away silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also. 2 Kings 7:6-8 That very night the Lord caused the Syrian army “to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army.” Supposing the besieged capital had solicited help from allies to the north and south, the Arameans, in haste, abandoned their camp, their animals and supplies – hoping to escape with their lives. Enter now, the unlikely messengers of hope: four lepers. Huddling just outside the city gate were four lepers. They too were starving and hence, reasoned something like this: “If we stay here, status-quo, we die because food is so scarce in the city, not even the most generous person will toss us crumbs. If we try to enter the city for food, we die, because the citizens will kill us for exposing them to leprosy. But if we surrender at the camp of the Arameans, we have options: Sure, they might kill us; but then we’d be no worse off than we are now; and who knows but what they may take pity and give us a little food.” Granted, it was a long-shot, but they opted for this last resort. What the lepers found in the Aramean encampment was amazing! It was completely deserted. And yet all the supplies an army would bring for months of siege-warfare had been left behind. The four lepers share the good news: a picture of sharing the good news of the Gospel with spiritually hungry people (v.10-20). The four lepers spent the evening wandering through the camp inventorying the stockpiles of food, clothing, and even precious metals. But somewhere in the midst of gorging themselves on the abundance of food and beverages, they paused to give thought to the starving citizens of their city. It just didn’t seem right to be taking pleasure in so much food and wealth while their countrymen were starving. Then they said to each other, "We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let's go at once and report this to the royal palace." 2 Kings 7:9 What resources have you been given? At first, the four lepers kept the good news to themselves, as if God’s provision was solely for them alone – exclusively for their satisfaction. But coming to their senses, they remembered the starving citizens back in their city. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is also good news that must be shared. God never intended for His people to have their fill of spiritual blessings as an end-in-itself. If we have “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), we must return to our city with a message of hope for those who are dying daily without it. It’s easy to become so enamored and preoccupied with our own spiritual experiences that we neglect sharing it with those around us. And like the lepers, it is blame-worthy to “wait until daylight.” Do what you can to meet the needs of your city So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, "We went into the Aramean camp and not a man was there--not a sound of anyone--only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were." 2 Kings 7:10
Imagine the eagerness with which the starving people of the city received the good news. They would not die. They would have plenty to eat. They had been delivered, neither by a king, nor an army nor by any other human initiative. This salvation had been formed by God alone who, in His mercy and being full of grace, rescued them from certain death. If ever a deliverance was undeserved, this was it; but the “Lord of mercies” had saved them (Lament. 3:22; Rom. 2:4). Elisha had prophesied about it. The four lepers, having experienced it first-hand, testified to it, bringing hope and salvation to their city. Wary that the Arameans were setting an ambush, King Joram sent scouts to track the Syrians’ retreat. The report was positive: the Arameans were indeed on the run. Starving people flooded out of the city and plundered the camp of the Syrians. Just as Elisha had foretold, food was suddenly plentiful and cheap. What are the benefits of sharing the Good News? What happens if it stops with us? Sometimes, life in the city seems so desperate we tend to adopt a fatalistic perspective of God’s ability to intervene. But God’s people must know that He has a plan for the redemption of the world – and we, the church, play a prominent role. We are blessed as recipients of a great salvation so that we, in turn, will proclaim this life-giving news to others. The four lepers leave us no excuse: “I’m not articulate enough. I’m not as knowledgeable as I’d like to be before sharing the Gospel. I’m afraid of what people will think if I share my faith, etc.” You know the drill. These lepers were outcasts and despised. And yet, God chose them to communicate hope – God’s marvelous deeds – to people in crisis. Obviously, God can use even the most unlikely characters in His kingdom to spread the good news of His saving love (1 Cor. 1:26-31). If Jesus used humble fishermen and the hated tax-collectors of his day to preach the Gospel, then certainly he can use us – with all the resources at our disposal in our day.