If we wait until morning light, punishment will overtake us. The implication is we will be consumed by our own guilt. Come, let us go and tell the king's household.
See, this is the lesson for every generation. Good news is to be shared. The message of Jesus Christ that you received is not to be hoarded. It is to be heralded. The grace of God that has shown into your heart is not to be retained.
It is to be reflected. Suppose you discovered a fountain of youth and it had the power to make you youthful forever. What would you do? Would you give that water to others as well or would you keep quiet about your discovery? Well, the church has a far more important message of hope to share. The gospel is a fountain of living water. But far too many believers are keeping the message of the gospel to themselves. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, we're in a passage from God's Word that illustrates this.
Stephen Davey is continuing through his series on Elisha. We're in 2 Kings 6 and 7 with a message Stephen called, The Sound of Silence. Luigi Turricio was found dead one morning when friends and family came to gather his things. They found a room or a home barren of creature comforts. This reclusive man stayed for the most part alone and by himself and without little money.
He barely made do. And yet as they begin to search his home, they eventually made it to the attic where they discovered to their great surprise 246 violins. He had hidden them in his attic. He had wrapped them in blankets. He had stuffed them in drawers. And to their utter amazement, they even discovered a nearly 200 year old Stradivarius. Can you imagine an obsession that would rob the world of such wonderful music so that these violins had been kept silent and secret his entire life?
I cannot help but think as I read things like that, what is the church doing to communicate to a starving world that Jesus Christ makes a difference? I fear we are doing more like Luigi. We are hiding our violins in the attic and we are robbing the world of the music of grace. What are we doing?
Well, I think that question is put well. In fact, it's put in living drama in the Book of Second Kings. Let's go back to our study and pick up where we left off. As Jeremiah takes us behind the scenes, away from what would be center stage, that is the war, the besieging of the Aramaeans, and shows us several scenes behind the scenes of the horror of cannibalism for one, an attempt on Elisha's life for another. And finally, we are taken behind the scenes outside the city walls to observe four lepers who make an amazing discovery. Let's pick up the narrative at verse 24.
Now it came about after this that Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, gathered all his army and went up and besieged Samaria. Now I want to stop here because you students are going to pin me to some corner after the service and ask about the contradiction or apparent contradiction between verse 23 and verse 24. I will just in a couple of sentences say that I think the apparent contradiction can be handled simply by taking both verses at face value. Verse 23, which we studied last time, tells us that the raiding bands no longer came. Okay, they didn't. Some time elapses between verse 23 and verse 24.
It might have been a day, a month, it might have been years, we do not know. But verse 24 tells us that Ben-Hadad launches not a raiding party, but an all out full scale war with his entire army this time. He comes and surrounds the capital city of the northern kingdom, Samaria, and he cuts off their food supply.
Let's look at the results. Verse 25, and there was a great famine in Samaria and behold they besieged it, that is they surrounded it, until a donkey's head was sold for 80 shekels of silver and a fourth of a cab, that's two quarts, of doves dung for five shekels of silver. Yuck.
I won't say any more than that, other than to tell you it's going to get a lot sadder and worse. Verse 26, and as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him saying, help my lord, oh king. And he said, if the lord does not help you, implied he isn't helping you, from where shall I help you?
From the threshing floor or from the wine press, which are empty by the way. And the king said to her, what is the matter with you? And she answered, this woman said to me, give your son that we may eat him today and we will eat my son tomorrow. So we boiled my son and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, give your son that we may eat him, but she has hidden her son. You read this and you ask is it possible for anyone to digress to the point of committing such a terrible deed?
It was possible here. It may help to remember that in this day, in idolatrous nations among people who would sacrifice children to please their gods, children were given a very low view. In fact, you could take that to say, even in this day where the gospel of Jesus Christ is absent, life is cheap. Verse 30, and it came about that when the king heard the words of the woman that he tore his clothes. Now he was passing by on the wall and the people looked and behold, he had sackcloth beneath his body, which is interesting to me. The implication here is that outside the exterior where the kingly robes that he wore, he looked like any normal king, but underneath he is wearing the standard garb of a man confessing and repenting before God.
He is wearing sackcloth. It's interesting how this passage is tied together with people keeping secrets. You have lepers who will keep a secret that will save a city and here you have a king who is, as the king should, repenting as the leader of the people before God for forsaking him and yet he's keeping it a secret. It's silent. He hasn't gone public with his confession.
People are shocked as he rips his clothing to see underneath sackcloth. The truth was his half-hearted repentance was not repentance and it becomes obvious in verse 31. Then he said, may God do so to me and more also if the head of Elisha, the son of Shaphath remains on him today. In other words, let's kill the prophet.
And with that, we are introduced to another behind the scenes look. We're taken to the home of Elisha, who by way of revelation knows that the executioner is on his way to behead him. For the sake of time, let me at least say briefly that the king has announced an execution of the best friend that Samaria at this moment had. If there was anybody that could lead them to safety, that could speak for God, that could help them get out of this predicament, it would be the very man that he is ordering his death over. And he is on his way and the king is coming closely behind. I couldn't help but read this and think about the execution of Jesus Christ by means of crucifixion.
He was the best friend the world could ever have. He was the friend of sinners. And the very city Jerusalem that he wept over would be the city that would raise their voices and shout, crucify him.
You see, we have nothing to do with the word from God and now they will set out to kill the messenger of God. Look at chapter 7 verse 1. Then Elisha said, by the way, the king has arrived, the royal officers and the elders that are there, listen to the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord, tomorrow about this time, a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel in the gate of Samaria.
This is startling news. And the royal officer on whose hand the king was leaning answered the man of God and said, behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, could this thing be? Then he said, behold, you shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it. Now this officer represents to the Bible student the voice of rational unbelief. The royal officer at this moment makes great sense and Elisha at this moment makes absolutely no sense. The royal officer said, look, if God opened the windows of heaven, that still doesn't solve any problem.
We don't have flour and barley. Surely that could never happen. It just can't be done. I've never seen God do that before in my life. So the rationalist says, God certainly won't do it now. By the way, I can't help but make an analogy to the church here as well. The motto of a dying church has always been, we've never done it that way before. And the other rather encouraging counterpart, we've always done it this way. I have to admit to you that my mind and heart have been stretched recently. Two weeks ago, two weekends ago, we sponsored a 10 mile run.
You should have seen it. We had banners flying outside here. We had the dedicated team that put this thing together to try to introduce our church to a community that would never perhaps come to a service. But they introduced this to all the running clubs. They garnered everything from police to stop traffic as they ran out of the parking lot and came back over the finish line. They garnered corporate sponsors and there were tables lining the front parking lot loaded down with huge containers of gourmet coffee and boxes of fresh bagels.
And there were piles of bananas. And I noticed they hadn't gotten Krispy Kreme to donate anything. I was a little disappointed about that though.
We'll fix that next year. And all they asked me to do was just pray before the race began, just to pray for a beautiful day and thank the Lord. And it was very generic. At the end, they came back across the finish line and gathered around and we had a little awards ceremony and they asked me to say just a few words. And I was able to tell them that this church is glad to be part of what you're doing and what you enjoy. And we also believe that life is like a race and we want to help you learn how to run that one.
Basically that was it. You won't believe how many runners came up and said, what a first class run. Great traffic control.
You should have seen it when the policemen out here, when people would come across the finish line, the speakers would would bellow out their name. Here comes John Doe and the traffic would stop. The policeman was better than Sundays. I was out there saying, man, the cars are backed up all the way down here to the intersection. It was great.
I just imagine somebody in their car. Well, what's that church up to now? What an interesting way to communicate the truth.
For me, it was brand new. I think hidden in the words of this unbelieving Jew are the words, look, if God is going to save us, there's going to have to be a little bit better conventional method used. He's going to have to take time to overthrow Samaria. There's no way that 24 hours from now we're going to have flour and barley.
It's impossible. And Elisha prophesies in verse two that he will see it, but he will not enjoy it. Now, the final scene where we really want to focus takes us outside the city walls, away from the panic of the city and the horrible tales of cannibalism and even from the prophet. And it takes us by way of this inspired pen to watch for lepers who make this amazing discovery. The text tells us in verse three that they are in the entrance of the gate.
That is, they are on the outside of the city walls. It was common in this day, according to law, in fact, that lepers were not allowed to enjoy life from within the city. And so historians tell us that lepers would often build little crude huts just outside the main gates of the city and they would beg for their food.
I also found it very interesting that many of the rabbis of old believed and taught that these four lepers were none other than Gehazi, the former servant of Elisha who was stricken with leprosy, and the other three lepers were his three sons. Now, I want you to climb into this scene here and follow these lepers closely. I'm just going to read a few verses.
They'll explain themselves. Let's start with verse three. Now, there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate and they said to one another, why do we sit here until we die? If we say we will enter the city, then the famine is in the city and we shall die there. If we sit here, we die also. Now, therefore come and let us go over to the camp of the airmans. If they spare us, we shall live.
If they kill us, we shall but die. And they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the airmans. When they came to the outskirts of the camp of the airmans, behold, there was no one there.
For the Lord had caused the army of the airmans to hear a sound of chariots and sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to come upon us. Therefore, they arose and fled in the twilight and left their tents and their horses and their donkeys, even the camp, just as it was, and fled for their lives. They entered one tent and ate and drank and carried from their silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them.
And they returned and entered another tent and carried from there also and went and hid them." Can you imagine being one of these lepers? Your life has been one scrap for food after another. You've begged for food outside the city gates. Your clothing is nothing more than a collection of rags. You have nothing that you could call your own except for maybe some little hut.
This camp was a beggar's paradise. Somewhere in all of this excitement, one of them, maybe two of them stopped and said, hey, wait a second fellas. Why? What? What is it?
What's wrong? Well, I was thinking about our countrymen in Samaria. Tonight there will be more people dying, more children sacrificed.
This is right. What would you do if you found a Stradivarius? Would you hide it away and keep it a secret?
Or would you allow the world to hear the music? Verse 9, then they said to one another, we are not doing right. Like the King James translation, we do not well.
We do not well. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent. If we wait until morning light, punishment will overtake us. The implication is we will be consumed by our own guilt. Now therefore come let us go and tell the King's household.
See, this is the point. This is the lesson for every generation. Good news is to be shared. The message of Jesus Christ that you received is not to be hoarded. It is to be heralded. The grace of God that has shown into your heart is not to be retained. It is to be reflected.
A Stradivarius is to be played. Now I think it's ironic here that outcast despised men or chosen to announce the wonderful news. Isn't that interesting? So also shepherds, you remember? Outcasts considered unclean, denied access to temple worship. It would be the shepherds who would be the first announcers that unto us a savior has been born who is Christ the Lord. Don't ever think that God can't use any of his children, those who've received his son, to be heralds for that son and to communicate the message to his or her generation. So verse 16, the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans.
Then, note this, 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. By the way, if you want to look down at verses 19 and 20 and quickly read them, it's interesting to me as the judgment of God fell on that mocking, unbelieving soldier that it's a striking illustration of all who scoff at God's plan and grace, his power because one day all unbelievers, all unbelievers will stand before our great God and they will see and they will know at that moment the truth of everlasting paradise. They will see, yet they will not be able to enjoy. I want to apply this story to our own generation, our own church two ways. If the church, first of all, is to communicate the message to its generation, it must first repent of its pathetic failure. The blunt truth is that 82 million Americans do not own one of these. One hundred million Americans do not attend church of any kind, not even on Easter or Christmas. The truth is in the year 1900, there was one Protestant church for every 12,000 people. Regardless if they were alive or dead, they just had one Protestant church for every 12,000 people.
Today, there was one Protestant church for every 27,000 people. And the average church reaches less than 200 of those 27,000. We do not well.
We have discovered paradise and yet it is our secret. The church at large does not move like a mighty army. It moves more like a tortoise looking for a soft hole in some sandy beachhead waiting till Jesus takes us home. That's how the church moves. We are not doing well. If Colonial was responsible for meeting its quotient, we would be reaching, we would need to reach 27,000 people. Don't ever get carried away in thinking we're doing well. We have yet to begin to reach our city for Christ. Number two, if the church is to communicate the message to its generation, it must rekindle its primary focus.
That's really the problem. I want to read you a parable. You've probably heard it somewhere sometime.
It's what I like to think of as a parable with a punch, rather humorous, sadly so, but true. Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in waters all around.
Streams and lakes were filled with fish and they were all very hungry. Week after week, month after month, year after year, people who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish. They talked about the abundance of fish.
They talked about how they should really go fishing. They built large buildings for local fishing headquarters and issued pleas on a regular basis for more fishermen. But they never fished. They organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. Large, elaborate training centers were built to teach fishermen how to fish. Persons with doctorates in fishiology were hired to do the teaching. But all they did was teach fishing.
They never fished. After one stirring meeting on the necessity of fishing, one young man left the meeting and went fishing. He caught two fish.
He was honored for his excellent catch and admired for his rare courage. He was scheduled to visit all the large training centers to relate his experiences in fishing. He never had time to fish again. He simply travels around telling his story to people who claim to be fishermen even though they never find time to fish either.
Even though Jesus Christ said, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Maybe you came in this morning and you thought you were in the business of computers. You are not. You are in the business of the king placed into the world of computers to reach them with your secret. Maybe you came in and you thought you were in the world of medicine or pharmaceuticals or sales or repairs.
You are not in that business. You are in the business of the king placed into that world to share your secret. What we need to do is blow off the dust and tune up the strings and allow the world to hear the wonderful music that maybe we have been keeping silent up to this point. If you wanna know what the sound of the church is today, it is the sound of silence.
While the world grows louder and louder and louder communicating the value of carbonated sugared water, we have discovered eternity. May God help us to break the silence and share the secret. I hope today's message challenged you to share the truth of the gospel with those who need to hear it. This is Wisdom for the Heart. We have a resource that can help you. It's a fairly brief gospel presentation called God's Wisdom for Your Heart. God's Wisdom for Your Heart is available multiple ways.
We have a print version that we offer in bundles. We do that so that you can share it with others and we can give you information if you call us today at 866-48-BIBLE. You'll also find this resource on our website so go there anytime. That address is wisdomonline.org. The other way you can access God's Wisdom for Your Heart is on our smartphone app. Right on the landing page of our app is a link that says the gospel and it'll take you right to this presentation. Wisdom for the Heart is a ministry of Wisdom International so when you're searching for our app, that's what you want to look for. It's the Wisdom International app and it's in the iTunes and the Google Play Store. Again, we're so glad you are with us today and I hope you'll be with us for our next Bible message right here on Wisdom for the Heart. Gary!
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-29 02:54:27 / 2023-03-29 03:03:37 / 9