OBC 160: THE MARCH OF FAITH (2 Kings 6:14 -7:20)
It is the time of Elisha, a great prophet of God. Syria, Israel’s enemy are continually frustrated because Elisha knows their plans by the Spirit making Israel ready. When the Syrian King thinks he has a spy, he is told about Elisha and so sends an army to get him:
2Kings 6:14-17: “Therefore he sent horses, chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the City. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an Army, surrounding the City with horses and chariots. And his servant said, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
Elisha asked God to blind the Syrian army and led them into the hands of Israel. They disarmed them, gave them supper and sent them home. FAITH SEES the Army of the Lord with us - which removes all fear. God and His Army is with every believer - so fear not! He is ready to fight for you! In the story coming up we see this Army in action, and discover the KEY that releases it to fight.
A Siege brings Famine!:
2Kings 6:24,25: “It happened after this that Ben-Hadad king of Syria gathered all his army, and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria; and indeed they besieged it until a donkey's head was sold for 80 shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab (dollop) of dove droppings for 5 shekels of silver.”
The cause of this was sin. Moses warned Israel that if they continued in sin they would be oppressed by enemies and would come into great famine but if they repented God would deliver them (Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 26). If we go away from God we will go into a spiritual famine. The Word of God will mean nothing to us. We will suffer much and it won’t be God’s fault.
The King (Jehoram), the son of Ahab was not as bad as his father Ahab but he was not a good king. He had done evil in the sight of the Lord (2Kings 3:1-3). But even this King was shocked by the depravity that this famine produced:
2Kings 6:26-29: “Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, 'Help, my lord, O king!' And he said, 'If the LORD does not help you (he was looking to the Lord now) where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?' (‘have a look at our supplies, how can I help you?’) Then the king said to her, 'What is troubling you?' And she answered, 'This woman said to me, `Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' So we boiled my son, and ate him (this isn’t what upset her but what happened next!). And I said to her on the next day, `Give your son, that we may eat him'; but she has hidden her son.'
This was too much, even for this bad king!:
2Kings 6:30: “Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he tore his clothes; and as he passed by on the wall, the people looked, and there underneath he had sackcloth on his body.”
Sackcloth was uncomfortable - so it was used as a sign before God of true repentance and sorrow for sin. Elisha (God’s law-enforcer) had said God would deliver Israel if they repent. The king was repenting, but it was somewhat superficial, as we shall see, although God responded even to this partial turning.
A Flash of anger: 2Kings 6:31: “Then he (the king) said, 'God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today!”
He was angry with Elisha (and God) because he had promised deliverance upon repentance and still they were in a mess. His faith and repentance was weak, for now in a fit of rage he decides to kill Elisha.
2Kings 6:32: “But Elisha was sitting in his house, the elders were sitting with him. And the king sent a man ahead of him (to kill him), but before the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, 'Do you see how this son of a murderer (his father Ahab) has sent someone to take away my head? (this was a supernatural a word of knowledge). Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door.
Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?”
The king was running to stop his assassin, realising his fit of anger was foolish, for killing the prophet would seal his own fate.
So Elisha delayed the soldier until the King could catch up.
2Kings 6:33: “And while he was still talking with them, the messenger, came down to him; and then the king (arrived and) said, 'Surely this calamity is (Judgement) from the LORD (upon our sin); why should I wait for the LORD any longer?”
The King now humbles himself somewhat confessing that their sin had caused this calamity. He says: ‘I’ve been repenting.
How much longer must we wait for God’s deliverance?’
2Kings 7:1: Now a stunning prophecy of deliverance!
“Then Elisha said, 'Hear the Word of the LORD. Thus says the LORD: `Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and 2 measures of barley for a shekel, at the Gate of Samaria.” That is: a plentiful supply!
God’s kindness is seen here in His responding to the king’s less than perfect repentance. Through Elisha, He declared the promise of FREEDOM, DELIVERANCE, RESTORATION, PROVISION, PROSPERITY was theirs now. God had broken the power of the enemy and their time of captivity and famine was over. God had set them free. This Word was given to give them hope and the faith necessary to arise and take corresponding action.
But for the unbeliever present, it was all too much:
2Kings 7:2a: “So an officer on whose hand the king leaned (he trusted his advice - be careful who your advisors are!) answered the man of God and said, 'Look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?' (“Elisha is hallucinating out of hunger! It’s impossible. Even if the Syrians leave - our food supply is gone, it will take months to get back to normal”).
2Kings 7:2b: “And he (Elisha) said, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
That is: ‘He will see it come to pass and see others get blessed, but will not enjoy it himself.’ This is the lot of those who refuse to believe God’s Word (Promise), prefering their own reason.
How did this DELIVERANCE come? What happened next?
God brings Salvation by first giving His Word. Elisha’s Prophecy would have spread around the City. Everyone would have heard the Word. (Elisha, the Prophet was the most famous man in town). Some scoffed, but others had their hopes raised by the promise, but all were too afraid to do anything about it. The story now focuses on an unlikely group who heard it and did take action, and as a result God uses them to bring deliverance. Their story is told because it is essential to the outcome. It reveals how God works through our faith. God gave His Word, but He needed to find those who would believe and act on His Word to bring it to pass.
God works through some most unlikely to fulfil His Promise. Our heroes are 4 Lepers at the gate (God can use anyone, even the most unlikely - He can even use you!):
2Kings 7:3: “Now there were 4 leprous men at the entrance of the Gate; and they said to one another, 'Why are we sitting here until we die?”
They were used to sitting there as outcasts, in passivity starving waiting for people to bring them food. Now with hope of deliverance their faith and courage rises to take action. The focus is now on them because they did something important that made all the difference. By faith they acted on the Word of God through Elisha. Now we will see how they brought about the Deliverance.
They decided that doing nothing was not an option, they arose and by faith MARCHED out of captivity into freedom and as they marched their March of Faith, God’s angelic Army marched with them, causing the enemy to flee in terror. Thus God’s Word came to pass through these 4 Lepers, who acted on the Word!
You see, God speaks His Word of FREEDOM to you, but until you BELIEVE it and ACT on it you will not be blessed, for: “faith without WORKS (corresponding actions) is dead” (James 2:17,26) “be DOERS of the Word not hearers only” (James 1:22) “he who looks (meditates) into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer, but a DOER of the work, this one will be BLESSED in his DOING” (James 1:25).
Lazy, passive Christians can’t be blessed. If we believe the Word is true, we must ACT like it is true. If your faith doesn’t move you to action, how can you expect it to move your circumstances? Until you receive the Word, and act on it, and march your March of Faith, God’s Mighty Power and Army is not released.
We saw God’s angelic Army surrounding the believers. Now we will discover the KEY that releases it into action. Elisha had given a stunning prophecy of deliverance from the famine- namely that salvation was theirs now (7:1). This word was given to impart the hope and faith needed to arise and take corresponding action.
How did this deliverance come about?
The story now focuses on an unlikely group of ‘4 leprous men at the entrance of the gate’, because they are the key to Israel’s answered prayer and victory (that is why they are introduced in v3).
Through this story, God reveals how He works generally:
1. First, He gives the Word.
2. Then, when men believe and act on the Word, His Power and His Army are released into action, bring the manifested answer. It was only when these lepers marched in faith did God’s angelic Army March and His Victory and Deliverance was manifested.
*Let’s now look at the steps of faith that these men took:
The 1ST STEP of Faith - BELIEVE the Word. Faith begins in the heart. God works through His Word to stir them out of their passivity: “They said to one another, 'WHY SIT WE HERE UNTIL WE DIE?” (2Kings 7:3). The first thing that the Word of God does is give us hope and inner strength causing us to rise up on the inside ready take action. This happened to the Lepers. They were sitting down in hopeless passivity, but now their thinking changes and they start asking the right question. They ask: ‘What’s the point of sitting down in our doubts until we die? Why are we sitting down in our depression, sitting down in fear and worry, sitting down under our circumstances, sitting down under enemy domination, defeated by the setbacks and hurts of life?’
Freedom starts by asking this question. Hope is causing them to rise out of passivity. Be an ACTOR not a REACTOR! Are we paralysed by the past, fearful of the future, quitting on life, sitting passively, accepting defeat as normal, letting life happen to us? Do we SIT and SINK or GET BACK off the substitutes bench and get back into the game? The Lepers did not seem to have much choice, but when the Word came to them saying that God was with them and would deliver them, hope sprang up in their hearts and they decided to claim their freedom.
When you come to this point you still have to overcome the doubts and fears that come to you mind, through your flesh.
The Lepers did this by considering the alternatives:
2Kings 7:4: “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 fall upon the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.”
‘What have we got to lose? Let’s rise out of apathy.
Let’s break out out this mould. If we die let it be in action.’ Anything was better than sitting in unbelief! Rather than sinking in the past until death, ask why should this spoil my life?,
why don’t I get up and act on the Word? vThe only real option is to face and overcome our fears and mountains, and march forwards ito where the blessing is, trusting God to go with us as He promised. When faith stirs take action and march out.
If you feel defeated read the Word to build your faith to where you can take action. “He has delivered me from the dominion of darkness (sickness, past, fear, worry, mental torment, failure)” (Colossians 1:13). God has written to you in your prison and told you that He has set you free and in the Name of Jesus you can act on that word and walk out. You can rise up and march forth. Start marching out and dominate the devil and your circumstances.
Say: “I will walk out of this worry, I am marching out of my old ways into a new life by Christ. What have I got to lose! I will not waste my life by sitting down until I die. Jesus has set me free - so now I will march the March of Faith into my Promised Land, even if it seems impossible.”
This is exactly what the 4 Lepers did.
The 2ND STEP to Victory: ARISE
2Kings 7:5: “And they ROSE UP at TWILIGHT to go to the camp of the Syrians; and when they had come to the outskirts of the Syrian camp, to their surprise no one was there!”
Notice: ‘they arose in the Twilight’, when things turn grey - not the best time naturally. Should they wait for the morning?
No - act when faith is stirred, wait no longer, for: “NOW is the acceptable time.” Enough is enough. Arise and call on the Name of the Lord. Say: “I will walk out of this in the Name of Jesus.”
The 3RD STEP to Victory: GO! We are blessed in DOING God’s Word. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2Corinthians 5:8).
They started their March of Faith. It was not easy.
They had to help each other to their feet. Every step was an agony. Only the faith in their heart kept them going. They were hungry, but they marched on. They were sick and in pain, but they marched on. Alone in the night, with death and danger stalking them, they marched on.
Look at Israel’s Army (all 4 of them) limping along, marching on the Syrians! But they were powerful (mighty) through God. They were hooked-up to God through faith. They were God’s invading Army and the enemy fled from before them!
Why did the enemy flee?
2Kings 7:6,7: “For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses - the noise of a great Army (God’s angelic Army on the March! This was the same Army that Elisha’s servant saw surrounding Israel in the last Chapter! Now it has been released into action against the Syrians), so they said to one another,
'Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and thekings of the Egyptians to attack us!' Therefore they arose and fled at TWILIGHT, and left the camp intact - their tents, their horses, and their donkeys (leaving all their provisions and food behind) and they fled for their lives.”
* When did the lepers march toward the Syrians! ‘In the Twilight.’
* When did the Syrians flee, upon hearing God’s Army marching toward them? - ‘In the Twilight.’
So exactly when the Lepers marched, God and His angelic Army marched with them. This was no coincidence! When the Lepers marched in response to His Word, thenGod’s Army marched with the them and Victory was assured! When you ARISE and MARCH your March of Faith, you do not march alone - God and His Army will march with you, and the enemy will have no choice, but to ARISE and FLEE in terror!
ONLY when they acted in Faith did Heaven march with them.
The Lepers were not incidental. They were vital to the outcome. That is why they are central to the story. Their actions released God’s Power and made all the difference. If they had not acted, God’s Power would not have been released to bring His Word to pass. The stories of the Bible are not just interesting one-off stories. They are given to teach us principles of how God generally works in our lives. In this story, God worked first by giving His Word (through Elisha), but only when God’s people (the 4 Lepers) acted upon it, could His Power be released to bring that Word to pass. Most of Israel were waiting on God to do something, but He was waiting on them to believe His Word, and then act upon it as being true. Heaven’s Army was waiting upon Israel’s Army to march in faith. Fortunately, God found 4 Lepers who would act on His Word, and so He was able to work through them to bring His Word to pass (into manifestation). God needs us to rise out of passivity and act on the Word, and march in faith against the problem (enemy). Only when we move forward, acting on His word, can He move with us and confirm (manifest) His Word.
All God needed was for these men to make their march in faith to fulfil His Word of Deliverance and Victory. They were weak, but God supplied the power, but He needed their obedience. God works through our faith and obedience. We must act out our faith in order to enjoy the blessing of fulfilment. Acting out our faith is compared to a WALK or a MARCH. By faith we are to walk out of worry, sin, sickness, and fear into righteousness, life, health and peace. God declares to us that He has set us free in Christ from all bondage, curse and oppression. Now we must believe that Word and by faith walk free. Only then we will see (experience) that freedom and victory! Once He has given the Word, He is waiting for our response. If we passively wait for God to do something else, we may wait a long time! We are not to wait until we see or feel it before we believe it; but to believe it first, and act on it as true and then we will see it! Let the 4 Lepers be your guide and inspiration!
The 4 Lepers had just one word from God - but we have the whole WORD of God to March on. If they could do it, so can we!
Those who marched in faith were the first to enjoy the blessings and they had the first pick of them:
2Kings 7:8: “When these Lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they went into one tent, ate and drank, and carried from it silver, gold and clothing, and went and hid it; then they came back and entered another tent, and carried some from there also, and went and hid it.”
Testify, so others can enter into the blessing (‘If it worked for me it will for you too’). This also helps us to stay in the blessing:
2Kings 7:9-11: “Then they said to one another,
'We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king's household.' So they went and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, saying, 'We went to the Syrian camp, and surprisingly no one was there, not a human sound - only horses and donkeys tied, and the tents intact.' The gatekeepers called out, and they told it to the king's household inside.”
Now others (as well as the Pioneers) had to do their own March of Faith and courageously enter and possess their blessings and claim their freedom:
2Kings 7:12: “So the king arose in the night and said to his servants, 'Let me now tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, `When they come out of the City, we shall catch them alive, and get into the City.” The King should have believed Elisha’s Word that this day was the day of freedom and victory and confidentely claim it, but He was cowed in unbelief and fear. Faced with the same dilemma as the Lepers, the same argument won the day:
‘Let us go forth. What have we got to lose, we are dead anyway?’
2Kings 7:13-15: “One of his servants answered, 'Please, let men take 5 of the remaining horses left in the City.' Look, they may either become like all the multitude of Israel that are left in it; who are doomed anyway, so let us send them and see.' Therefore they took two chariots with horses; and the king sent them in the direction of the Syrian army, saying, 'Go and see.' And they went after them to the Jordan; and indeed all the road was full of garments and weapons which the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. So the messengers returned and told the king.”
2Kings 7:16: “Then the people went out and plundered the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and 2 measures of barley for a shekel, according to the Word of the Lord.”
So, the Prophecy (God’s Word) was fulfilled.
The believers marched and entered into their blessings.
But the unbeliever (scoffer) was killed trying to stop them enter in!
2Kings 7:17-20: “Now the king had appointed the officer on whose hand he leaned (the unbeliever) to have charge of the gate. But the people trampled him in the gate, and he died, just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him. So it happened just as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, '2 measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be sold tomorrow about this time in the Gate of Samaria.' Then that officer had answered the man of God, and said, 'Now look, if the Lord would make windows in Heaven, could such a thing be?' And he had said, 'In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.' And so it happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gate, and he died.”
There are many other Marches of Faith in the Bible:
Consider: *Abraham’s march from Ur to the Promised Land,
*Israel’s Exodus from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land,
*Joshua’s March into the Promised Land,
*Joshua’s 7 day March around the Walls of Jericho.
*David going out to meet Goliath,
*Jehoshaphat and his choir going out the great enemy army,
*The slaves going out free at Jubilee,
*Jesus walking through a hostile crowd trying to kill Him,
*Peter walking on water (really he walked on the Word)
*The Woman with the issue of blood, marching into her healing.
Whenever believers marched their March of Faith, walking on the Word of God, then God and His Army went with them.
His Power was released against the problem, and as a result they marched into Victory and Freedom.
Are you ready to March your March of Faith,
acting on God’s Word as if it were true and trustworthy?
March your march of faith and God’s army will surely march with you, causing the enemy to fless in terror.
Follow Jesus’ example: His whole life was a March of Faith.
Now, He sends us all on Marches of Faith.
We too must make our March of Faith. It starts by accepting Jesus as our Lord. Then step by step, we march into greater glory. Don’t sit in passivity, but RISE UP and MARCH trusting God to go with you. God says to you: “I have set you free now walk free.” As we act on the Word, we will experience the victory of new life and eat from the table of blessings provided by God. Now arise and march your March of Faith!