Posted by: arieliondotcom | May 22, 2013

Out of Sight (Part C)

Out of Sight (Part C)
2 Kings 6:24-7:20

We continue to read the true stories of the prophet Elisha and how these circumstances also symbolize Spiritual truths. GOD sees everything but unless we see Him as our Savior we are left without hope.

In today’s Scripture we see the aftermath of the previous story. The King of Syria has discovered it’s useless to try to trap the people of Israel. Whenever he sends out a raiding party the prophet Elisha sees it in a vision from GOD and warns the King of Israel who avoids the King of Syria’s traps. This spiritual vision is why prophets are also called “seers.”

Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, says “Enough is enough!” and commits his entire army to surround Samaria to starve the people of Israel or have them surrender to their death.

GOD was already bringing a famine on Samaria to discipline them. Remember that although they were His people of Israel they had broken off of the tribe of Judah which remained faithful to GOD in Jerusalem. These disobedient tribes in Samaria were idol worshippers. But GOD, through the Seer Elisha, continually tried to make them see the error of their ways.

So they are under a famine from GOD already and now their enemies are cutting them off from supplies so they starve to death. They’re eating animal manure, even paying all their money for bird droppings and scraps of rotting animals. As GOD warned them in Deuteronomy and as has happened in many cases in history, they even turn to cannibalism and eat their own children rather than starve.

This story of women fighting over dead children to eat should make us think of the incident many years earlier. Back then King Solomon demonstrated his wisdom in a dispute between two whores over a living child each wanted. There’s a contrast between life in the abundance GOD provided Solomon and all 12 tribes, when they obeyed, and the starvation and lack they have in their idol worship. But they still don’t see it.

Although Elisha has repeatedly saved his life, when women call the King of Israel to split their dead children to eat he decides to kill Elisha. He blames Elisha. The king had been wearing sack cloth, mourning clothes to show he was sorry for whatever he’d done to cause this. But it had done no good. Now he wants Elisha to get GOD to stop the famine somehow or die.

Elisha is sitting with the wise men in town when He sees a vision of the king’s guards coming to get him and the king following to watch them kill him on the spot. In an uncharacteristic moment he panics and says to the other men to block the door! He knows the king in his sinfulness has killed many men before and will have no problem killing him.

But it’s too late. While he’s still telling the others to block the door, the messenger comes in with the king and his soldiers beside him. The messenger gives the King’s verdict to Elisha: Since GOD is the One behind starving them and this so-called man of GOD isn’t stopping it, there’s no point in keeping Elisha, the man of GOD, alive.

But Elisha shouts out a prophecy just in time: Just as scraps are sold for food for huge amounts of money today, great amounts of the best food will be sold cheaply at the city gate that same time tomorrow!

We know from earlier stories of the Prophet Elijah whom Elisha assisted that kings had a special soldier always with him. This was the “right-hand man” to literally lean on when bending, as when Namaan asked for permission, as the one who had this duty to his own king, to bow to the king’s idol only when the king bowed so the king wouldn’t fall. The King of Israel has such a “right hand man” as well. And when Elisha makes this prophesy of abundance within a day the king’s right hand man laughs that even GOD can’t do such a thing. Elisha says that the man will see it but won’t be able to eat any of it.

Now the scene changes to four lepers. You’ll remember that Elisha had once had an assistant named Gehazi who had become corrupt trying to get rich off of the LORD using Elisha to heal Namaan of leprosy. And so the leprosy that had been on Namaan was put on Gehazi. As with all lepers, his skin began to rot and he went off to be with other lepers. Jewish scholars say he is one of these four lepers.

These lepers are sitting by the city gate in Samaria dying of their disease and starvation on top of it. Finally, one (perhaps Gehazi) tells the others there’s no point in sitting there. And there’s no point in asking inside the city for food. Their only hope for food is to ask their enemies the Syrians. Best case scenario the Syrians pity them or out of superstition of getting leprosy themselves, feed them. Worst case scenario, the Syrians kill them for being Israelis, diseased and starving not withstanding. Either way, the leper tells the other lepers, they have nothing to lose. They’re dying anyway.

What the lepers don’t realize is that GOD is already acting. The King of Israel blaming GOD and Elisha was a sort of back-handed compliment. He had acknowledged it was GOD causing the famine. He knew his idols couldn’t help. He knew GOD’s prophet had something to do with it. Although he still hadn’t opened his eyes completely to seek GOD on his own, he was peeking out. And that was enough for GOD, in His mercy, to act.

Before the lepers reach the Syrian army, the Syrians hear a huge army marching to attack them. Chariots, horses! Hundreds of them by the sound of it! Far more than Israel even had! Thinking Israel had gotten other countries (including their enemies) to attack them, the Syrian army runs. Because it’s about to get dark they don’t pack anything. They run for their lives even leaving their horses and donkeys behind. They run from an army…that doesn’t exist!

GOD had only let the Syrians think an army was attacking and they ran, sight unseen. But there was none.

Instead the lepers snuck into one tent on the edge of the deserted Syrian camp. Finding it unguarded they carefully took everything they could, hid it and came back…Only to find the enemy camp still empty.

We can’t miss the irony that GOD kept the Syrian armies from plundering the Israeli army. But He is using four half-dead, starving lepers to plunder the Syrian army!

After a few times they realize there’s no reason to hide anything and they can’t possibly eat all this food before it spoils or carry all this gold. And the gold is useless to lepers anyway.

So one of them, perhaps Gehazi, tells the others they must tell their fellow Israelites the treasure they see. He says they will be punished by GOD if they dare wait until sunrise to share what they know.

The lepers tell the guards at the gate and word soon spreads even to the king. He’s still doubtful until one of his men recommends, as the leper had to his friends, that they will die of starvation anyway and had might as well “Go and see.” They do, only to find a trail of clothing and property strewn off by the terrified Syrians leading the way to the abandoned camp, just as the lepers had said.

The Israelites plunder the Syrian camp. And as Elisha had predicted, the food that was so scarce the day before is now so abundant that it’s sold for next to nothing in the gate. That’s the same gate where the King of Israel placed his “right hand man” to guard the food distribution. But the riot for food was so strong that the “right hand man” who didn’t think his eyes would see such a thing got trampled to death under foot by the crowds. Also just as the Seer Elisha had seen, the Syrian had seen the food but was never able to taste any of it.

Until we see our need of a Savior, from our circumstances, from our sin and for our souls we will never see answers from GOD. Even if we can only peek.

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