A. God’s promise and what the lepers discovered.
1. (1-2) God’s promise and the doubt of the king’s officer.
Then Elisha said, “Hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord: ‘Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.’“ So an officer on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, “Look, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” And he said, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
a. Hear the word of the Lord: Though the King of Israel blamed the Lord for the calamity that came upon Israel and Samaria, God still had a word for the king and the nation – and it was a good word.
b. Tomorrow about this time: God’s promise through Elisha was that in 24 hours the economic situation in Samaria would be completely reversed. Instead of scarcity, there would be such abundance that food prices would radically drop in the city.
i. “The gate was the market-place as well as the local court of justice.” (Wiseman)
ii. By the standards of that time, the prices listed were not cheap; but they were nothing compared to the famine conditions associated with the siege. “By the next day conditions would so improve that good products would be available again, even though at a substantial price.” (Patterson and Austel)
c. Look, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, could this thing be? The king’s officer doubted the prophecy, and his doubt was based on several faulty premises.
i. First, he doubted the power of God. If God willed it, He certainly could make windows in heaven and drop down food from the sky for the hungry, besieged city of Samaria.
ii. Second, he doubted the creativity of God. In the mind of the king’s officer, the way food could come to the city was from above, because the city was surrounded by a hostile, besieging army. He had no idea that God could bring provision in a completely unexpected way. “How often faith breaks down in this way! It knows that God is, and that He can act. But it only sees one way, and refuses to believe that such a way will be taken. The supply came without the opening of heaven’s windows.” (Morgan)
iii. Third, he doubted the messenger of God. Though the promise was admittedly hard to believe, the king’s officer could have and should have believed it because it came from a man with an established track record of reliability.
iv. All in all, the officer well illustrates the conduct of unbelief:
* Unbelief dares to question the truthfulness of God’s promise itself. * Unbelief says, “This is a new thing and cannot be true.” * Unbelief says, “This is a sudden thing and cannot be true.” * Unbelief says, “There is no way to accomplish this thing.” * Unbelief says, “There is only one way God can work.” * Unbelief says, “Even if God does something, it won’t be enough.”
d. In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it: Through Elisha, God pronounced a harsh judgment upon the king’s doubting officer. He would see the word fulfilled, but not benefit from its fulfillment.
i. “Unbelievers do not really enjoy the things of this life. The mass of them find that wealth does not yield them satisfaction, their outward riches cannot conceal their inner poverty. To many men it is given to have all that heart can wish, and yet not to have what their heart does wish. They have everything except contentment.” (Spurgeon)
2. (3-5) Four lepers come upon the deserted Syrian camp.
Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall...