of the lepers
by Andrew Lansdown
A fascinating incident in the history of Israel is recorded in 2 Kings 6-7. The king of Aram “mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria.” As a consequence, “There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver”. Hunger began to torment the inhabitants of the city. Things got so bad that women even cooked and ate their own children!
Four lepers who lived by the city gate finally decided to cast themselves on the mercy of the enemy army.
“If we stay here, we will die,” they reasoned. “So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
As night came on, the lepers set off for the Aramean camp. However, “When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there, 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 lepers found the camp completely deserted. Entering 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.”
Then their consciences awoke, and they said to each other, “We are 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.” So they went and shared the good news.
The king sent horsemen to check on the lepers’ story and to make sure that the enemy had not set a trap. When the horsemen returned to confirm the enemy’s departure, the people surged out of the city, fell upon the abandoned food, and were saved from starvation.
Spiritually speaking, we Christians were once like those besieged Samaritans. We were once starving and doing desperate things to satisfy our hunger. Then God brought us to his banquet table and fed us with rich fare.
Now that we are sated and saved, we should follow the example of the lepers. For people around us are starving still. It is not right for us to keep the good news of the feast to ourselves. We need to report it to a spiritually famished world. Some will not believe our report, but others will. And these new believers will join with us to eat the Bread of Life and to drink the Living Water.
Note: Life Ministries has published many gospel pamphlets to help Christians share the good news that God loves us and sent his Son to die for us and will save us if we repent and believe in him. The texts of the pamphlets can be read on Life Ministries’ website, www.lifeministries.org.au , and copies of the pamphlets can be purchased from Life Ministries’ office (08 9344 7396).