Old Testament Passages Good for Every Christian to Know, Part 16
Old Testament Passages Everyone Should Know, Part 16
by Doug Jacoby
We're 80% of the way through this year's OT passage series. So far we've explored the significance of the following passages—all important texts for those who love the OT and want to share scripture with others.
Each reference above is clickable—taking you to the corresponding newsletter article. To cement our knowledge, it may help to review these passages from time to time. Do any of the references look unfamiliar? Quiz yourself—and your friends. Experience the excitement and usefulness of the Old Testament.
Second Kings, like 1 Kings, is chock-full of important passages. Here we learn about Elijah and Elisha, his successor. We also meet Naaman the Syrian, who overcame his sense of self-importance and was cleansed of leprosy in the Jordan. Other fascinating characters include Jehu, Hezekiah, and Josiah, to name only a few.
Today's passage is set in the context of the Aramean (Syrian) siege of Samaria, capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel (roughly 800 BC). The siege has gone on long enough that there is runaway inflation and people are starving—some inhabitants of the city even resort to cannibalism. We now turn our attention to four desperately hungry lepers. Please read the passage attentively.
3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army... 7 So... they left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.
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.” 10 So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them... (2 Kings 7:3-10).
After they discover that the enemy camp is abandoned, the lepers satisfy their hunger and slake their thirst—then proceed to loot the camp. Yet they realize it is unwise to keep the news hidden—and when it becomes public knowledge, their inexcusable behavior will bring punishment down on their own heads. So they do the logical thing: they return to Samaria and share the great news. The people stampede out through the gate of Samaria; the famine is ended.
Now the lepers are hardly heroic. In burying the silver, gold, and clothes, they resemble Achan (Josh 7:20-21)! And what about their motives? They were only trying to save their own necks, both in leaving the city, as well as in publicizing their discovery. Nevertheless, there is much to learn for followers of Christ.
So how might this passage speak to you and me?
- The lepers' discovery wasn't the result of their skill, virtue, or hard work. It was all grace! They stepped out in faith, prepared to meet death at the hand of their enemies, yet hoping their lives will be spared. Yet are rewarded beyond their wildest dreams. So it is with salvation through Christ. Apart from a willing spirit and genuine faith, we bring nothing to the table. It's all grace.
- Besieged by the evil one, the world is hungry for truth (1 John 5:19; Luke 1:79; John 3:19; Col 1:13; 1 Pet 2:9; Matt 5:6; John 6:35; Amos 8:11-12). We too know what it is to be spiritually famished, and—if we know Christ—realize how badly the world needs the gospel.
- It would be wrong for those who have tasted the goodness of God's Word and drunk of the living water to keep the news secret (Matt 4:4; Heb 6:4-5; 1 Pet 2:3; John 4:10; Rev 7:17).
- In fact, if we disobey God's command, judgment will surely overtake us (Luke 11:23; 12:48; Prov 24:10-12; Esther 4:14).
- Each one of us is called not to private, self-directed faith, but to open proclamation and impact (Matt 5:13-16; Acts 4:20; 1 Thess 1:8). Even if we aren't public speakers, all of us can share how God has had mercy on us (Mark 5:19). We have something precious—the pearl of great price (Matt 13:45)—and there are millions who will willingly give up everything to know Christ.
- Consider too the N.T. story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). For further articles and podcasts on lepers, take a look here.
Once again we realize not only how interesting the Old Testament can be, but also how it foreshadows and connects with the gospel (good news) of the New Testament. Yet the point is not to learn a new O.T. passage, but to act on it.