Summary: Four men with nothing to lose discover great wealth and realize the peril of not sharing good news.
INTRO.: The king of Aram lays siege to Samaria and the people are starving, even to the point of engaging in cannibalism. The prophet Elisha promises quick relief. He is not believed and the king even sought his life, blaming him for their troubles.
The prophet’s word is honored. Abruptly the siege is lifted.
About this time, four lepers are outside the city gate pondering their future. (Tell the story leading up to the text.) These four teach us something about the relative value of our worldly possessions.
I. They are four men with nothing to lose:
A. They have no future, humanly speaking.
1. A terminal illness made them untouchable.
2. If they went into the city, they would starve.
3. If they stay at the gate they will starve.
4. If they go to the Syrians (Arameans) they may still be killed.
5. There is no right thing to do. They must choose between multiple bad choices.
B. Yet, they feel compelled to do something:
1. They choose the unknown over certain death.
2. Most would rather “go down fighting.”
3. It’s better to be wrong than do nothing and lose their lives by default.
C. They had no idea what God had in store for them:
1. Our God often surprises us.
2. His ways are above our and His actions often unpredictable.
3. To handle a “no win” situation like this use your best wisdom, pray, and do something. Trust God to make it right.
4. Remember, the lepers would have starved if they had done nothing. There’s death in doing nothing.
II. They discover unexpected wealth. A great surprise:
A. Their first thoughts are immediate rewards:
1. There is food and drink and they are starved.
2. There is silver & gold. It represents relief from privation and suffering.
3. Costly, sturdy garments lepers could not just go to market and buy.
4. They become “hogs in a cabbage patch,” eating and drinking all they can and hiding anything they can carry off.
B. Eventually, they realize they have something more precious, a message. “This day is a day of good tidings.”
1. Best possible news and they alone have the “scoop.”
2. It’s in their power to make everyone happy.
3. They become evangelists bringing good news.
C. There is a lesson for those who put selfish desires ahead of God and His message:
1. We have something better than a “gospel” of health and wealth.
2. “Faith more precious than gold.” I Pet. 1:7
3. Church life and fellowship are important but winning souls is primary. We must share the message.
III. There is danger in withholding the message:
A. “We do not well” - It isn’t right.
1. People were dying and stooping to subhuman behavior just to stay alive.
2. “Some mischief:” the wealth may be taken or they may be killed by others when the word spreads.
3. They may have feared divine punishment.
4. They realized they would be held accountable for the good news they had stumbled upon.
B. Consider the Christian’s privilege and peril:
1. We have the Gospel. Men do not know it and prey upon each other in a mad quest for satisfaction they will never achieve.
2. We will be held accountable for the message.