- Sermon Notes
The Blessings of Believing
2 Kings 7:1-16
Life is filled with storms and difficulties and troubles. We need an anchor for our soul, a rock on which to stand. That rock is Christ, but it only becomes a foundation when we take hold of His word in all faith.
Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”
When you take God at His word, when you take hold of that word for your life, in other words, when you live by faith, you will discover the blessings of believing. God wants you to build your life on the promises of God. Storms will come, this world is filled with troubles, evil is all around us, and a wise man will be ready for the storms by having an anchor for the soul; a rock on which to stand.
The events of our study today take place in the northern kingdom of Israel. Life in Israel in those days was exceptionally dark and difficult. One of the sons of Ahab was reigning as king; the Hebrews of northern Israel had turned their back on Jehovah and were following after Molech, the Ashtoreth, Chemosh and all the other gods of this world.
And yet, while the nation of Israel was turning their back on God, He was pursuing them. He made Himself known to them, demonstrating His power through the prophet Elisha, making known the promises of His Word, but also warning that their unfaithfulness would bring death to the nation.
If you turn your back on God, he will pursue you also. God will never quit, He’ll never leave or forsake you.
In 2 Kings 7, Israel was in battle against Aram and at this point, they had besieged Samaria, the capital of northern Israel.
Things had become so desperate in the city of Samaria that a donkey's head was selling for 80 shekels of silver and two cups of dove's dung was selling for five shekels of silver; probably to make dove’s dung soup.
In the midst of this trouble God made an amazing promise; the famine would end overnight and a measure of fine flour would be selling for one shekel.
As the story unfolds, it is filled with spiritual application and insight. We certainly understand trouble, trials, and difficulties, but what we need to understand is how to respond. When we respond with faith, blessings surely follow.
I. Keep Yourself in the Love of God
- That phrase comes right out of the book of Jude we were just studying, “Build yourselves up on your most holy faith,” he wrote, “keep yourselves in the love of God.”
- When we look at how difficult things had become for Israel you have to ask, "How did this happen?"
- First of all, Proverbs 13 tells us that the way of the transgressor is hard.
- Secondly, they had turned their back on the Lord long before this. In other words, they had departed from God; they were outside of God's hand; they did not stay near to God’s love.
- “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are saved.” (Proverbs 18:10)
A. Take responsibility
- As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall a woman cried out to him for help. The king answered, “If the Lord does not help you, from where shall I help you?”
- In other words, he was blaming God for the lack of help, that’s what many people do. But this is the same king and these are the same people who turned their back on God long before this.
- Then, when the king heard how desperate things had become, his anger burned against Elisha, which meant he blamed Elisha as well.
- This is a common problem even today. How many people blame others rather than taking responsibility for themselves?
Illus - Examples of frivolous lawsuits abound. Like the man who sued Winnebago because they didn’t warn him that he couldn’t set the cruise control and then go make coffee in the back of the motorhome.
Illus – A Pennsylvania nursing student failed a course twice and sued the school for not helping with the anxiety she feels when taking a test.
Illus - A Colorado inmate sued the NFL for $88 billion over a bad ref’s call that cost the 2015 Cowboys a playoff loss.
Illus - Blaming others goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. When God asked Adam if he had eaten from the tree of which he was commanded not to eat, he responded, “It was the woman… whom You gave me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” He was somehow able to blame his wife and God all at the same time.
- Wait a minute, God was the one who warned them that if they turned their back on Him, they were moving away of God’s protection.
- Oh, how ugly things can get in our lives if we are left to our own devices. I know so many people who have said that they would have died had the Lord not rescued them from themselves.
- The answer, then, is to run to the tower of the Lord as fast as we can. For there the hand of the Lord is always with us…
- When the king came to Elisha to vent his anger he said it clearly, “This evil is from the Lord; why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”
- Through Elisha, God gave an amazing promise; the next day at about that time, a measure of fine flour would be sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel. In other words, God would deliver Israel in one day.
- The royal officer of the king responded “Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, how could this thing be?” He couldn’t imagine how God could do it, so he concluded that God couldn’t do it.
- Elisha's response was powerful and important for us to understand. “You shall see it with your own eyes,” Elisha said, “but you shall not taste of it.”
- Unbelief would keep this man from tasting the promises of God. God was about to do a marvelous thing, but he refused to believe it, therefore he wouldn't taste of it.
- There are some who only watch while others partake. But God is calling you to believe, to partake, to taste and enjoy the promises of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20, For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes;
Psalm 34:8, O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Psalm 119:103, How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
II. Feast on the Promises of God
- Israel was out of options; the situation was beyond desperate.
- But they had taken God out of the equation. God wasn't out of options; they just hadn't turned to Him for help.
- But God in His mercy was going to deliver. That's the reason Elisha was there, God kept calling them back to Himself, in spite of their lack of belief and turning their back on God, God was demonstrating that He was still on the throne.
- We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow. God would deliver, but they would have to believe.
- There were four lepers outside the city. In scripture, leprosy is a picture of sin. They were outcasts, diseased, and terminal. They had no options, so they decided to throw themselves on mercy.
- If you think about it, those same three options are available today; go into the city and join everyone else who is dying, stay here and do nothing, or go after mercy.
A. Be careful how you listen
- When the four lepers went over to the Arameans, behold, there was no one there. The Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and the sound of horses; the sound of a great army.
- Earlier, Elisha had asked that God would open the eyes of his servant to see the horses and chariots of God, but here God opened the ears of the Aramean army to hear it. For one it was a source of encouragement, for the other a cause of fear.
- What you tune your heart to has everything to do with what you tune your ears to.
Luke 8:18, “So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have: even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.”
Illus – When Israel heard the taunts of Goliath, they heard something very different from what David was hearing. Be careful how you listen.
- When Jesus was speaking to the churches in the book of Revelation, seven times he said the same thing... be careful how you listen.
Revelation 2:7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
- Paul said something similar to the church at Rome…be careful how you listen.
Romans 10:17, So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- When the lepers discovered that the camp of the Syrians was empty, they ate and drank and carried away silver and gold and hid them for themselves.
- At some point they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent.”
- Others were suffering and starving and yet they were keeping the news to themselves and they realized that it wasn't right.
- We, too, know that there is good news that transforms lives, that takes the broken and brings healing and hope.
- "But they don't want to hear," you might say.
- There are two kinds of people. There are those who know they are sick, who know they need a physician and there are those who don’t know they are sick and who don’t want to hear.
- When the Jewish leaders saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors they questioned his disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”
Mark 2:17, And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Revelation 3:17-18, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me... eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”
C. Is anything too difficult for the Lord?
- When the king heard the good news, he wouldn't believe it. He thought it was a trick.
- Unbelief will keep you from enjoying the promises of God. How many people don’t take God at His word and therefore don't have the promises that God is giving to them?
Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You!”
- Just because we can't imagine how God might answer, doesn't mean that God is out of options. Is anything too difficult for the Lord?
James 4:2, You do not have because you do not ask.
2 King Chapter 7 NSAB
1Then Elisha said, "Listen to the word of the Lord; thus says the Lord, 'Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.'" 2The royal officer on whose hand the king was leaning answered the man of God and said, "Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?" Then he said, "Behold, you will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat of it."
3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, "Why do we sit here until we die? 4 If we say, 'We will enter the city,' then the famine is in the city and we will die there; and if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us go over to the camp of the Arameans. If they spare us, we will live; and if they kill us, we will but die." 5 They arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Arameans; when they came to the outskirts of the camp of the Arameans, behold, there was no one there. 6 For the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us."
7 Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents and their horses and their donkeys, even the camp just as it was, and fled for their life. 8 When these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they entered one tent and ate and drank, and carried from there silver and gold and clothes, and went and hid them; and they returned and entered another tent and carried from there also, and went and hid them. 9 Then they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent; if we wait until morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come, let us go and tell the king's household." 10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and they told them, saying, "We came to the camp of the Arameans, and behold, there was no one there, nor the voice of man, only the horses tied and the donkeys tied, and the tents just as they were."
11 The gatekeepers called and told it within the king's household. 12 Then the king arose in the night and said to his servants, "I will now tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore they have gone from the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, 'When they come out of the city, we will capture them alive and get into the city.'" 13 One of his servants said, "Please, let some men take five of the horses which remain, which are left in the city. Behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who are left in it; behold, they will be in any caselike all the multitude of Israel who have already perished, so let us send and see." 14 They took therefore two chariots with horses, and the king sent after the army of the Arameans, saying, "Go and see." 15 They went after them to the Jordan, and behold, all the way was full of clothes and equipment which the Arameans had thrown away in their haste. Then the messengers returned and told the king. 16 So the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. Then a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord.