The people of Israel were in major trouble. They were under siege from a neighboring army that had basically built a wall around the capital city of Samaria, and for SEVEN YEARS waited for Israel to surrender or starve. Imagine if you were stuck on the property where your house is, unable to leave for seven years. You'd ration out your food, but it wouldn't be terribly long before you start to take drastic measures. And that Israel did… desperation and survival instinct set in and it got gross (Think Donner Party). They were trapped in their own mess and death was the only escape.
But, the king had been praying. (That’s always a good sign.)
One day, four men with skin diseases who were quarantined outside the city got tired of it. They said, “We might as well surrender to the enemy. We’re going to die here anyway. Maybe they will let us live as slaves or captives, but at least we will have food to eat.” So they got up and walked toward the enemy lines with their hands raised.
The men came over the ridge to the enemy camp and, to their surprise, no one was waiting for them. The whole camp was fully intact, but the soldiers were nowhere to be seen. The tents were still in place. Horses were still tied to hitching posts. Campfires were still smoking. But there were no soldiers. God had answered the king’s prayers and acted on behalf of Israel. He’d made the enemy hear the sound of a massive army and, assuming Israel had hired another army to carry out a surprise attack, they split for their home country as fast as they could go, shedding clothes and weapons on the way!
Seeing no one, the four men cautiously walked into the camp, found some food, and started eating. Then they started taking stuff. After hiding a few loads of loot, one of them said, “This is wrong. Our friends and family are starving back in the city. We should tell them about this. This is a day of Good News!”
So the outcast men went back to the city, spread the news, and within a few hours the city had plundered the enemy camp and had enough food to restore their health and put an end to their desperation.
IT’S A DAY OF GOOD NEWS
The good news for us today is that Jesus Christ has met God’s demands for us. We don’t represent God like we should, but Jesus did. We don’t love our neighbor like we should, but Jesus did. We don’t worship God like we should. We are men and women diseased by sin, held captive by fear, guilt, and shame.
But God hasn’t left us to starve in the city. He has acted on our behalf! He has abundantly provided for us all that we need for life and salvation in the person and work of His Son Jesus! On a hill just outside of Jerusalem, called Calvary, stood a bloody and violent cross where the Son of God conquered the enemy of sin when he shouted, “It Is Finished!“
DON’T STAY IN THE CITY
News alone won’t save you. Some of the Israelites in the story said the news sounded too good to be true. It’s too risky to leave the city. It’s probably a trap! It was only those who stepped out of the city believing the good news was true that found abundant blessing on the other side of the hill.
Dear friends, do not stay in the city! Jesus has acted on our behalf, winning the battle against sin and death! Do not stay bound up by shame or the guilt of some failure(s) in your past. Don’t be held captive by your anxiety about what you can’t see. Run in faith to Calvary’s hill and find the abundant love and unmeasurable grace of the Father at the cross of Christ, and rejoice in his empty tomb on the other side.
Grace and peace,Rodney