Summary: This is a day of Good News--how can we keep silent?
2. God’s Mercy, verses 4-8
The Bible urges us to throw ourselves on God’s mercy. The sacrifice of Christ allows God to be merciful. Even some of those who shed Christ’s blood were saved by it.
It’s been said, “to flee God’s wrath, cling to His mercy.” Mercy means we are no longer condemned. Along with mercy comes healing. The lepers outside the city walls were brought to the point of desperation. They resolved to surrender to the enemy. Death had already stared them in the face and they had nothing to lose by going over to the Arameans. Blessed are they who surrender to the Lord, who call on Him for mercy.
At the end of the Civil War, when the Confederate Army had been defeated, Abraham Lincoln was asked how he would treat the rebellious South. The question hinted at the desire to see the South severely punished. Unexpectedly, the merciful President replied, “I will treat them as if they had never been away.”
We sometimes fail to appreciate the mercy of God. He has defeated our enemies—yet we continue to fret and worry about life. God has provided for us what we need, yet like Samaria, we’re starving, though near a feast! We don’t realize the enemy has fled and all that we need is readily available. The people of Samaria felt like prisoners, yet they were free. God tells us to cast our cares upon Him, because sin, and death are no longer issues, and we are more than conquerors through Christ. Those who cannot accept God’s promises cannot be happy. We need to live realizing the enemy has been defeated! We need to rest in Christ’s finished work and rejoice in His victory.
3. Our Responsibility, verses 9-10
The key verse of this chapter is verse 9, “This is a day of good news, and we are keeping it to ourselves.”
The lepers were forced to live outside the city gate; they were outcasts, kept apart from the city; and they were half-dead, from hunger and their disease. They approach the besieger’s encampment cautiously, expecting to be challenged—and to their surprise they discover the camp is deserted. They do what we would have done—they initially feast upon the abandoned spoils of war…but then they realize that a city is starving. They could rationalize saying nothing. They were outcasts, and it might serve Samaria right to starve. Their conscience won’t allow this. They see it as their duty to inform the city that the enemy has left. They may also have feared being punished once the news was eventually known.
They tell the incredulous good news and it reverberates throughout the city, reaching even the ears of the sleeping king. Cautiously, the king thinks this may be a feint, an offensive tactical withdrawal to lure an enemy to ground where they can be easily engaged. He sends a scouting party to confirm the report. He could hardly spare this team of soldiers, but their plight would be little worse than that which seemed inevitable should they remain in Samaria. The king and his officer are both suspicious—but the officer questions God’s prophet whereas the king questions the enemy’s intent. By the end of the day, Elisha’s amazing prophecy stood fulfilled, and the officer who doubted this prophetic word is trampled to death in the mad rush to get the food left behind.