Scripture Focus: 2 Kings 7:8-9
8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.
9 Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
Reflection: An Officer and Four Leper Men
By Jon Polk
The city of Samaria was under siege by the Arameans! A great famine overwhelmed the city! Food prices skyrocketed! The people became so desperate that mothers made deals to cook and eat their own children! Oh, the humanity!
But Elisha prophesied, “Hear the word of the Lord! By this time tomorrow, food prices will plummet!”
One of the king’s highest officers scoffed in disbelief. Elisha insisted, “It will happen, but you won’t get any.”
Overnight, God caused the Arameans to hear sounds of a mighty army approaching. Quaking in their boots, the Arameans fled for the hills, leaving food and supplies behind in their camp.
Who made the joyous discovery of the enemy’s empty camp? The king of Israel? His officers and commanders?
No, the heroes of this tale are four unassuming men with leprosy, the definitive social outcasts of the Bible. Four men who sat every day outside the city at the gate, their ‘proper place’ according to tradition. Talk about social distancing.
These men had decided their lives were so miserable that they would rather surrender themselves to the Arameans than to stay put and die from the famine. Four men with nothing to lose but everything to gain.
So they stumbled upon the empty camp and began to feast upon their unlikely bounty. But wait! “This is great news! We cannot keep it to ourselves! We must immediately go back to the city and report this!”
(Sound familiar? Centuries later, in a pasture outside the sleepy, little town of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds, the social outcasts of their day, heard some great news and did the same.)
The king was informed. The people rejoiced. Food prices dropped, just as Elisha predicted. And what happened to the disbelieving officer? He was assigned to the city gate and in a Black Friday style surge, he was trampled to death by the crowds out plundering the camp for food.
One officer did not believe and was left out of the blessing. Four outcasts had nothing to lose and cashed in the biggest lottery winnings of their lives. They were also responsible for bringing the good news to the rest of the city.
Who are the “outcasts” in your world? Who do you consider outside the reach of God’s blessing? Who do you go out of your way to avoid?
As the church, we ignore the voices, participation, and contributions of those whom we call “outcasts” at our own peril. For God does not call them “outcasts,” he calls them “my precious children.”
Music: “God Help the Outcasts” by Cynthia Clawson
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything to his hands.
Anyone who believes in the Son had eternal life, but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life: God’s retribution hangs over him. — John 3.35-36
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Kings 7 (Listen – 3:55)
1 Timothy 4 (Listen – 2:05)
Read more about The Beautiful Feet of Lepers
Most stories of lepers in the Bible end with them being healed but these weren’t.
Read more about Separateness Not Superiority
Like the coal taken from the altar that cleansed Isaiah’s unclean lips, Jesus cleansed what was unclean.