There are days, and there are days! Most days might seem ordinary, without surprises or great commotion and a few might seem as if the sky has fallen on top of us. Whatever happens, God is in control. We usually cannot accept it, and we grumble because those days give us a tough time, but it is all in His plan.
Christians are specially loved by God and He will do whatever is necessary to build up our faith and spiritual strength. This involves hardship and trauma. A new sword can be left as it is – forged steel; it will do its work. But, to make that sword finer, stronger and more reliable, it must be forged and then immediately thrust into cold water. And to increase even that hardening process, it can then be dipped hot into a bucket of carbon. Christians can live with no hardening agent at all, but when trouble comes they will not stand fast. That is why we all need proofing, like swords.
Here we see the people of Israel sorely pushed to their limits by an enemy, and a king who thought it alright to find answers without going to Elisha. Christians must go to God, and read His word every day, if they wish to be strong and to know answers. But, sadly, most only go to God when it suits them or when their broken cisterns have not given them water… and most Christians ignore horrible truths, and do nothing about them. The true believer speaks to God constantly, listens, and then acts in holy manner. Most, however, go through daily life in their own strength, and so their spiritual strength is nil. They can be killed by their ignorance.
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.
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.
There are times when Christians must listen to God’s fact and not be persuaded by science so-called, even if its basis is usually correct. Samaria was surrounded by an enemy, and logic said there would be death on a big scale. But, Elisha was given word that the exact opposite would be the case, against what one could see with the eyes. This is true faith and is God in action. As I have said before, God can surprise us greatly by applying His judgments and mercies in ways we would never have expected. But, few Christians see God’s responses, because of ignorance or laxity.
The city was on its knees, the people starving enough to eat their own children and dogs. The cost of buying food was enormous. But, said Elisha, tomorrow will be different and you will buy food easily for a normal cost, even giving the price exactly.
The king listened and one of his close advisers in the court whispered sarcastically, ‘Could this be? Jehovah made windows in heaven, but this is too much!’ Elisha said that the lord/courtier would see this with his own eyes at the city gate next day – but he would not be able to gain from it himself.
(Note: ‘Windows in heaven’. The early Hebrews thought the world was covered by a bronze dome. God made windows/’lights’ in the covering, through which He poured water for rain, and light at night. Though obviously a very flawed interpretation of what they could see, it shows that they believed God could do anything, because of His unlimited power. Do you believe this? Or, do you smirk, like the lord?).
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?
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.
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.
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.
Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.
Meanwhile, at the city gate, there stood four lepers. They were wondering what the best thing might be.... to just sit at the gate and just die for lack of food? They argued that if they entered the city, which was suffering famine, they would die anyway. So, they decided to try their fortunes with the besieging Syrian army. Their logic was that the Syrians might allow them to live and feed them. On the other hand, they might kill them – saving the four men from dying slowly of hunger.
We are told they “rose up in the twilight”. The word for twilight can either mean dawn or dusk. The interpretation is decided by the qualifying words. In this case, the words “rose up”, signified getting up after sleeping through the night. They walked with trepidation to the closest edge of the camp – and to their astonishment found no-one there. The Syrians had gone.
In the middle of the night, God caused the Syrians to hear a great clattering of hooves, neighing of horses and grinding sound of chariot wheels, and the sound of a massive army descending upon them. The Syrians thought that the king of Israel had brought the Hittites and Egyptians to their aid. It is obvious that the people in the city did not hear such sounds, so in this case God commanded that ONLY the Syrians would hear the sounds. Think about it – it is an incredible example of God’s power, to separate such loud sounds so that only specific persons heard them.
So, they quickly got up and ran away immediately as dawn approached, leaving everything behind – tents, horses, chariots, food, clothing, valuables, weapons... the whole camp stood empty. This is how God can dismiss an enemy in an instant. He need not kill them or cause other harm, but He effectively gets rid of them. And this is why I always suggest imprecatory prayer – let God deliver the blow against our enemies, in whatever way He wishes. Today, this is essential. Another miracle.
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.
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.
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.
And he called the porters; and they told it to the king's house within.
The lepers could not believe their good fortune! They entered a tent and ate and drank what was there. They found silver, gold and new clothes, and took them. They went into another tent and repeated what they had just done. Then they took their booty and hid it until later. In those days it was a standard thing to do.
After they had eaten their fill and taken the booty, they realised that the day was a great day, one of good tidings. They concluded that they could not just stay quiet when the city was starving. If they stayed where they were, some evil would surely overcome them, so they must go to give the good news to the king in the city.
The Hebrews believed that a good deed not done would ruin them, and that if they did not do God’s bidding, He would bring them misfortune. This is why they even offered up sacrifices for sins they were not sure they committed. Do you believe God does this today? I think He does, so none of us should be complacent about sin, or witnessing to the Gospel when the time is right, or opposing evil when we see it, or applying what we learn from God’s word to our lives.
The lepers did the right thing and called to the porter/s of the still locked gate. They shouted out what had happened, and the porters went to tell the king.
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.
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.
The message was given by the lepers towards evening. We know this because the porters rushed to tell the king the news and he “arose in the night”. He was suspicious and said that the Syrians were only playing a trick on the city... they pretended to run off and instead were hiding in nearby fields. ‘They know we are hungry’, said the king, ‘so they will wait until we come out of the city to find the food, and then attack us’. Note that he did not call for Elisha to tell him the truth, though he was within the walls!
One of the nobles suggested they use five horses of the few remaining (the rest having been eaten) to find out if the theory was true.
They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see.
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.
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.
However, only two chariot horses were obtained and sent out to the plain with two soldiers, to test the Syrians. The soldiers searched as far as the Jordan about five miles away and found no-one. Along the way they found all kinds of objects dropped by the fleeing Syrians – clothing, jugs and bowls. The messengers went back to the king with the good news.
Hearing the news, the people in the city rushed out and took what they could find in the Syrian camp. There was now so much food that a measure of flour sold for a shekel and two measures of barley sold for two shekels – just as Elisha had prophesied the day before. If God prophesies, it will come to pass. False prophets abound today in charismatic circles especially – but nothing comes to pass.
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.
And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria:
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.
And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died.
The king commanded his close courtier – the one Elisha spoke to the day before –to take charge of the gate, because the people of the city were crowding through to get hold of food and other items from the camp. Unfortunately, as the courtier was trying to maintain order, the crowd ran over him and crushed him to death.
The day before, Elisha told the man he would not be able to buy food at the gate, so his death was the proof of the validity of Elisha’s prophecy. The man had doubted God’s ability and Elisha’s prophecy, but his doubts suddenly caused his death.
When God speaks it is always truth. When He prophesies through a believer, it will always come true. Never doubt God’s word, whether by Bible or other means. We can never tell when God will have enough of a man’s doubts or sarcasm. He killed Ananias and Sapphira after only one lie to an apostle (Acts 5:1-on). Yet, He allowed wicked kings to rule His people, sometimes for many years, as a punishment. Do not assume, then, God will allow you to escape His wrath by ‘only’ committing one sin or doubt. Better to believe than to suffer His wrath.
© February 2016
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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