Summary: A sermon about the four lepers who made a great discovery, but held their peace ! However, they recognized their error, and spread the good news.
Sun. evening message
Don’t Hold Your Peace !
I. The Dilemma Of The Lepers. V 3
a. They were sick.
In Biblical times the disease of Leprosy was regarded as a awful punishment from the Lord. It’s very name means "smiting". Those who were afflicted with the disease were considered to be unclean.
(From Smith’s Bible Dictionary)The disease began with little specks on the eyelids and on the palms of the hands, and gradually spread over different parts of the body, bleaching the hair white wherever it showed itself, crusting the affected parts with shining scales, and causing swellings and sores. From the skin, it slowly ate its way through the tissues, to the bones and joints, and even to the marrow, rotting the whole body piecemeal. The lungs, the organs of speech and hearing, and the eyes, were attacked in turn, till at last, consumption or dropsy brought welcome death. The dread of infection kept men aloof from the sufferer; and the law proscribed him as above all men unclean. The disease was hereditary to the fourth generation.")
The awful disease of Leprosy reminds us of the sinful condition of mankind, and it’s affects. Like leprosy the sinful nature of man is inheritied. Every person born into this world outside of Christ himself is born in sin. The writer of the Psalms declared "In sin did my mother conceive me." Like leprosy, sin spreads. Leprosy affected those who were in immediate contact as does sin.
Leprosy started off seeminly innocent with just specks, but would soon spread like cancer and consume the individual. Sin, like Leprosy brought shame and disgrace upon the individual. The leper was hopeless apart from a work of God as is the sinner. Outside of a miracle from God the Leper would die in his condition. Apart from the work of grace, the sinner is doomed !
b. They were separated.
We see in our scripture tonight the separation of the Leper. They were outside the gates of the city. No leper could live in a walled city. And wherever he was he was required to have his outer garment torn as a sign of deep grief. He was required to go bareheaded, and to cover his beard with his mantle as if lamenting at his own virtual death. He was obligated further to warn passers-by to keep away from him, by calling out "Unclean ! Unclean ! A leper was not allowed to speak to any one, or receive or return any salutation since this involved in an embrace. The Leper was cutoff from the house of God, and was excluded from priesthood. They lived a shameful, segregated, and separated life. What a awful glimpse of the results of our sinful nature. We are separated from God because of our sin ! We are unclean !
c. They were starving.
Not only were the lepers forced to deal with the disease that ravished their body, and the shame that occupied their soul....they were starving. Look at their dire situation.
Look at 2 Kings 6:25 "There was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold they beseiged it(referring to Syria) until an asses head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.
The famine was so severe that it lent opportunity for the Syrians to beseige Samaria. The Syrian army literally had the people shut in, and intended on starving them out ! Food was so scarce that the head of a donkey was selling for 80 pieces of silver, and a 1/2 pint of dove dung was selling for five pieces of silver. The donkey was a unclean animal, and so to resort to the eating of it especially the head demonstrates the severity of the situation. And before this could even be done one had to be able to afford it. The dove dung could have been purchased for several reasons. For the use of fuel, for fertilizing of crops or it could have been for consumption since there have been times in history when people collected dung to eat in times of serious famine.
As bad as this sounds, some had actually stooped to the point of consuming human flesh.
If there were any food to be had, the Lepers would probably have been the last ones to receive any hand-outs !
II. The Decision Of The Lepers. V4
a. We see them dying.
Though Leprosy itself was and is rarely fatal, it is like a living death because of the pain associated with it, the deformity that it brings, and the stigma that accompanies it.
They were alive.....but dead ! In Europe during the Middle Ages people with Leprosy were declared dead. They then witnessed their own funeral and symbolic burial before they were banished. The person without Christ is alive physically, but dead spiritually.