The Haftarah reading this week is an amazing story about four lepers who were sitting outside of the city of Samaria during a time of great famine. Knowing that they were likely going to die of starvation if they stayed put, they took a risk. Little did they know that God would use them in their particular circumstance to save His people.
Our reading takes place at a time when Samaria was under siege by the Syrians, and the people of the city were starving to death. Even though this difficult situation was a well-deserved judgment from God because of Israel’s rebellion, the Lord is merciful. Thus, God decided to rescue His people by bringing an end to the famine. He declared through the Prophet Elisha that on the following day, instead of a shortage, there would be such an abundance that the prices of flour and barley would fall dramatically (2 Kings 7:1).
How would the Lord do this? As the story develops, we discover that it was God’s will to use four lowly lepers to bring about the fulfillment of His Word. These unlikely heroes were sitting outside of the city and discussing ways they might be able to survive the famine. They decided to go over to the camp of the Syrians and surrender to them since that option was the only one in which there was a small possibility they wouldn’t die (2 Kings 7:2-4).
What they didn’t yet know is that in the middle of the night, the Lord had caused the Syrians to hear the sound of a great army approaching their camp. The Syrians feared that Israel had hired other nations to help fight against them. So they fled the camp, leaving behind all of their food and supplies.
When the lepers came to the campsite to find it abandoned, they immediately ate, drank, and hid the gold and silver (7:5-8). But after a while, they felt convicted in their hearts about keeping this miracle to themselves. They said, “This day is a day of good news … let us go and tell the king’s household” (7:9).
Thus, the lepers told the gatekeepers of the city, and then the gatekeepers informed the king’s household of what was found. After sending people to make sure it wasn’t a trap, the people of Samaria went to the abandoned camp and gathered all of the supplies that were left behind (2 Kings 7:16).
Thus, the prices of flour and barley fell and the famine ended! Prophecy was fulfilled! Hallelujah! What does this story teach us about the Gospel and our calling as disciples of Yeshua? Three things come to mind.
1) People are under siege and in need of salvation.
The people of Samaria were under siege by the Syrians. They were trapped, starving to death, and the Syrian army was just waiting for the right moment to destroy them. Likewise, people are under spiritual siege by the enemy of our souls, Satan. They are spiritually starving and on the brink of death. Yet, the Lord is merciful. Even though the famine in Samaria was a well-deserved judgment upon the people for their rebellion, God provided the means for their rescue. In the same way, God sent His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, to rescue from death all who call upon Him.
God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)
2) God chooses to use us to bring His message of salvation to others.
Just like the lepers in our Haftarah reading, we as Christians have been blessed to discover and receive the Lord’s salvation. And just like the lepers were convicted in their hearts to “go and tell the king’s household,” we are commissioned by the Lord to share the good news of salvation with others.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
3) No, God didn’t make a mistake by choosing you.
You might be thinking: “But wait! Who am I? I’m not some great teacher or communicator or whatever. How can God possibly use me?”
You are right. You are probably a total loser. But you are in good company. Many of the great men and women in Scripture were nobodies and had many flaws, yet God used them in amazing ways. Case in point: The unlikely heroes in our Haftarah reading were lepers—outcasts! In addition, they were motivated primarily by their selfish desires. But despite their circumstances and character flaws, God used them to fulfill His Word and rescue His people. All they had to do was be obedient when God spoke to their heart. In the same way, you might feel like a nobody. You might not feel good enough. But just like the lepers in our story, you will be surprised at how God can use you in your particular circumstance for His glory.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:16-29 ESV)
God has placed you in your current situation for a reason. Despite your flaws, He has given you a calling to share His message of salvation. Trust His divine wisdom and obey His voice. “This day is a day of good news.”