In the time of the Kings the Jewish nation was split between Judea in the south and Israel in the north. The Syrian, Ben-Hadad, led his forces in a siege of Israel’s capital, Samaria. This would be the second time this general had besieged Israel, the first being in the time of King Ahab. The Syrians had been defeated then but had returned during King Jehoram’s reign and had a death grip on the city. There was a severe famine as a result with the desperate people eating such things as donkey heads, dove droppings, and even their own children. (II Kings 6:24-29)
King Jehoram assumed that the famine and siege were from the Lord. This was a proper assumption as he and all the kings of the northern kingdom, previous and to come, did evil before God and man. He sought to have the prophet, Elisha, the Lord’s representative killed in retribution. It was not to be. Instead, the Lord was about to show this murderous tyrant His power to save. Even to save a nation of wayward people. Elisha announced to the king and his messengers that the famine and the siege would end in one day, in fact, the very next day. This of course was met with great skepticism.
That evening four lepers sat at the entrance of the gate to the city and made a decision. They were going to die there for certain, so, why not go to the Syrians and be taken? If they died so be it, if not, the enemy might feed them. At twilight they came to the great camp. No one was there. Why??? Because “…the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses – the noise of a great army…” and they had fled, leaving everything behind. The four lepers began with a private feast, then gathered up silver and gold and clothing and hid them. “Then they said to one another, ‘We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent.’”
The besieged city and beleaguered people were indeed saved just as the prophet had promised. God has the power to save. Even a world wayward and lost and plagued by a famine of God’s fellowship can be saved in a day. Though surrounded by enemies the doomed can be saved in a day. Despite the reality of death stamped on all of us, we can be saved in a day. When we “were in bondage under the elements of the world…when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son…” to save us. (Galatians 4:3,4) The Day of salvation occurred two thousand years ago. And each today, for every individual since, can be the day of salvation. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2b) In Christ there is no more famine nor siege. Come out of the city. Come out to die and find the enemy scattered and a feast of salvation.
The four lepers found life and gathered it and hoarded it and then found their conscience and concern and God’s call to tell others and share their bounty. And therein the picture is complete – the saved are to tell those still in the city the “good news” that they too may be saved.
For those who are already in Christ this day is a day of good news. This is the day of salvation for those still in bondage. Shall we remain silent? No, we must do the right thing and share with everyone what we have found – this is a day of good news.