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The Four Lepers Proclaiming Good News

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††††††††† Most Christians are bloated on hundreds of seminars, retreats and conferences, overwhelmed by thousands of Christian books, forging themselves with Christian TV and radio, spiritually bulging with spiritual handholding, babysitting, pampering and counseling while millions have never heard the name of Jesus. We are a nation of milk sucking believers who can hardly take spiritual pabulum and canít stand on our own feet and our world around us is heading for hell in a hand basket while we look the other way and donít care. Thatís why Islam, a true enemy of Christianity and the God of our fathers, is gaining converts faster in America than we are, even as their fellow Muslims terrorize the world and threaten our very society.

††††††††† 2 Kings 6:24 Ė 7:10 ďAnd it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung for five pieces of silver. And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? 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 to morrow. 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. 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. 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. 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? 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? 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. 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. 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

††††††††† Israel was besieged by the army of Syria that wanted to starve them to death and just march in and take over without resistance. Death became more desirable than life in this time. Even the king blamed and hated God and his prophet. But God commissioned Elisha to say that the day of freedom was near at hand. But the skeptical and cynical made fun of the news as always. The heard hearted made fun of the good news. The general made fun of Elisha the prophet, mocking him. So he was told you will see it, but not enjoy it. This is what will happen on the Day of Judgment. Those who have rejected and mocked the good news of the gospel and the people of God, after the believers are ruptured, will face eternal damnation.

††††††††† All the big mouths and talkers and braggers ran for their lives with just a word from God. The people inside the city walls didnít know that God had spoke or just clicked his finger and the Syrian army had run for their lives in terror. They were not aware of what God had done and were still living under fear and terror with starvation when there was plenty food available. They were still living in misery after the enemiesí power over them had been broken. They were still living as under a siege when there was no one outside their walls.

Isnít that a picture of what is happening right now? 2000 years ago Jesus defeated sin and Satan at the cross, but people still live in fear today. 2000 years ago Jesus opened the door to set men free, but most today donít know it. 2000 years ago God rendered sin and Satan powerless to defeat or destroy them, taking the keys of death, hell and the grave but people are still living in misery and fear because they donít know what God did for them that they might escape from the fear of death and even this life.

††††††††† How did the good news finally reach Israel ? By four Lepers! Why were they outside the city walls? Because they, as all lepers were excluded from the community! They were considered living death, as leprosy was always associated with sin, which is why only Jesus ever touched lepers and heal them.

We were born spiritual lepers, as far as God is concerned. We were living as lepers, separated, apart from God, but one day Jesus reached down and touched us and brought us into the camp, healing our spiritual leprosy and taking our sins upon Himself and setting us free and healing us of our sins. Only Jesus is able to touch the spiritual leper and heal them, and then He looks upon that leper, as if they had never sinned, as they are new and whole and were never a leper at all. But millions donít know that Jesus died to set them free. Someone told us about Jesus, about His forgiveness, about the power of the cross of Calvary, but so that we might tell others. We have a hope and a promise that no other Ďfaithí can offer. They are mere man-made religion, but Christianity is not religion, but life, eternal life. All other belief systems are spiritual death and eternal damnation, only deceiving the people into thinking they have hope when they have none. That is why Jesus said, ďIf therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!Ē (Matthew 6:23)

††††††††† These four lepers were between the two, Israel and the enemy. They thought they too would starve to death, or the Syrians would kill them. But then they thought we have nothing to loose, maybe the enemy will pity us. We have to come to the end of our rope, of our efforts before we came to Christ. When we came to the end of our adequacy and resources and we are willing to turn to Christ and ask for His adequacy and resources to touch and change us and set us free, then we can be changed and healed by the Power of God. When you come to Jesus and ask for help, when you are at the end of your rope like the lepers, and say to yourself if we stay we die and if we go out we may die, but we have nothing to lose, as the lepers that decided to leave their cells, their holes where they hid and take a chance at life, you will find it in Christ, who is the only true Savior.

When they went out, they found there were no Syrians, but lots of pita bread and tubule. They gouged themselves on shish-kabobs, lamb chops and goodies and they found gold and clothes, but no Syrians. They had more than they could use. This is a portrait of American Christians, full with thousands of Christian books, seminars and retreats, gorging ourselves with Christian radio and TV and spiritually full of all this and doing nothing to tell or reach the millions who have never heard the name of Jesus. Most American Christians are like those lepers there in the Syrian camp.

††††††††† But then they realized that what they were doing was wrong. They realized they had blessing upon blessing and more than they needed and the poorest among us is richer than 95% of the worldís population. They said we are gorging ourselves and have an over abundance while others have nothing and are dying of starvation.

††††††††† 2 Kings 7:9 ďThen 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.Ē One day we will have to face the Lord of glory and He will ask us, what have you done with the abundance I gave you. Did you take the opportunities you had to bless others and help the poor? Do we give Him our discretionary time, energy, love, money and ability?

These four lepers saw the good news, experienced the good news gorging in the blessing they had, experiencing the fulfillment of the promise of God and could not keep it to themselves. These lepers could have used any and all excuses in the book and gotten by with it. Why should we take the good news to those who hated and rejected us and threw us out of the city? They donít deserve our energy and efforts. The Love of Christ has to change us and compel us to do as these four lepers. They could have said, Ďwhat we need to do with this new found blessing is figure out how to store all we can for the future, how to invest it and use all this gold to get more or start our own businesses. Maybe we need a program on how to handle rejection, or about self-esteem or how to handle relationships. Maybe we need to learn how to eat Syrian food without gaining weight. Maybe we need a conference on how to make the good news palatable so they donít reject us or to go on a retreat and learn how to articulate the message or they wonít believe us. Maybe we need a committee to decide who should say what to whom. No, they just said, we are not doing what is right; letís do what we ought to do, what is right before God.

There is nothing closer to the heart of God than the gospel. Usually, the last words of a person are very important to them, something they donít want you to miss. Five times in the gospels and Acts He told the people what He wanted. Then, when they sat comfortable in Jerusalem, He allowed persecution to come so that they would take the gospel out into the world around them. Look at the last words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:48, John 20:21. In Acts 1:8 his last words were ďBut ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.Ē.

Could He have made His desire any clearer? These were not suggestions to his people, always in the imperative, a command of Jesus. The general saw, but was trampled under foot and died because of the hardness of his heart. Many people around us, billions, need the good news so they might respond to the love of Christ. There is only one way that God saves, and it is not through a church or rituals, but through hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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