The Feast of Lepers (a meditation on sharing the good news of Jesus)

And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried over silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them. Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the kings’ household.” ~2 Kings 7:8-9

Desperate days drive people to desperate actions. During the time of the prophet Elisha, Ben-hadad king of Syria laid siege against Samaria in the northern kingdom Israel. Because of the siege and famine, food prices skyrocketed and people went hungry and acted in desperation. Some of these acts were beyond disturbing as two women conspired together to eat their sons as a meal (6:24-30). But another act of desperation led to salvation for the people.

At the start of 2 Kings 7, God sent word through Elisha that relief was coming the very next day. Indeed, God caused the Syrians to flee and leave behind all of their food, money, and supplies for the people of Samaria to plunder.

Yet before this fact became known, four men suffering from leprosy schemed a way to try to save their own lives. They would go into the Syrian camp and surrender. If they Syrians spared them then they would live and find help, if not then no matter since they were as good as dead anyway. When these men came into the camp instead of finding an army they found the empty tents, food, and supplies.

At first they planned on keeping the bounty to themselves, but then they realized the wrongness of their actions: this was good news, a cause for celebration, a fact that must be shared! So they returned to the city, went to the king, and declared the victory. Shortly thereafter food was sold in the market for pennies on the dollar of what prices had been. Salvation came to the people.

When we think about our lives in our sin, we are like the desperate lepers. We are in trouble, teetering on the verge of death and hell, with no hope and no rescue in sight. Yet God provided a way in Jesus to find life, hope, forgiveness, and satisfaction. If we have tasted the goodness of the Lord and have eaten the bread of life and drank the waters that never run dry (John 6) then we have indeed experienced good news.

With faith in Jesus as the great Savior-King and a desire to turn from our sins and turn to him, we have life. But this is something we must not keep to ourselves.

Like the lepers who initially hid the good news, we do wrong when we keep to ourselves the feast of life in Jesus when our family, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and others in the world around us are lost and starved of the goodness of God. The grace and love we have experienced is a grace and love we are meant to share.

So let’s eat our fill of the lepers’ feast but let’s also run back to our homes, towns, and cities with the good news that hope has come!

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

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