Lesson 9 | Sabbath, 3 March 2018
“Courage, fortitude, faith, and implicit trust in God’s power to save, do not come in a moment. These heavenly graces are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right, the children of God were sealing their destiny. Beset with temptations without number, they knew they must resist firmly or be conquered.” –Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White (1922), p. 188.
Samaria under siege
1. What terrible siege occurred under the Syrian King Benhadad between B.C. 854 and 842?
2 Kings 6:24, 25, first part And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. 25And there was a great famine in Samaria:…
2. As a result of the siege, what became scarcer by the day? How severe did the conditions become?
2 Kings 6:26-30 And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. 27And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? 28And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. 29So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son. 30And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh.
“Will the Lord forget His people in this trying hour? Did He forget faithful Noah when judgments were visited upon the antediluvian world? Did He forget Lot when the fire came down from heaven to consume the cities of the plain?… Did He forget Elijah when the oath of Jezebel threatened him with the fate of the prophets of Baal? Did He forget Jeremiah in the dark and dismal pit of his prison house? Did He forget the three worthies in the fiery furnace? or Daniel in the den of lions?…” –Conflict and Courage, p. 369.
Prophecy of the famine’s end
3. In this seemingly impossible situation, what did a minister of the king say? While many were in complete despair, what divine revelation did the prophet Elisha give the king and people?
2 Kings 6:33; 7:1, 2 And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?… 7:1Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. 2Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
“For a time after this, Israel was free from the attacks of the Syrians. But later, under the energetic direction of a determined king, Hazael, the Syrian hosts surrounded Samaria and besieged it. Never had Israel been brought into so great a strait as during this siege. The sins of the fathers were indeed being visited upon the children and the children’s children. The horrors of prolonged famine were driving the king of Israel to desperate measures, when Elisha predicted deliverance the following day.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 258.
4. What did four starving lepers decide to do?
2 Kings 7:3, 4 And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die? 4If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die.
“But those who doubt God’s promises and distrust the assurance of His grace are dishonoring Him; and their influence, instead of drawing others to Christ, tends to repel them from Him. They are unproductive trees, that spread their dark branches far and wide, shutting away the sunlight from other plants, and causing them to droop and die under the chilling shadow. The lifework of these persons will appear as a never-ceasing witness against them. They are sowing seeds of doubt and skepticism that will yield an unfailing harvest.
“There is but one course for those to pursue who honestly desire to be freed from doubts. Instead of questioning and caviling concerning that which they do not understand, let them give heed to the light which already shines upon them, and they will receive greater light. Let them do every duty which has been made plain to their understanding, and they will be enabled to understand and perform those of which they are now in doubt.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 527, 528.
Cause of the Syrians’ flight
5. What miraculous means had the Lord used, without violence and bloodshed, to push back the Syrians and end the famine?
2 Kings 7:5-7 And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. 6For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. 7Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.
“As the next morning was about to dawn, the Lord ‘made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host;’ and they, seized with fear, ‘arose and fled in the twilight,’ leaving ‘their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was,’ with rich stores of food. They ‘fled for their life,’ not tarrying until after the Jordan had been crossed.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 258.
6. Did the lepers think only of themselves when they found the abundant spoils? To whom did they carry the wonderful news?
2 Kings 7:8-11 And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. 9Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household. 10So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were. 11And he called the porters; and they told it to the king’s house within.
“During the night of the flight, four leprous men at the gate of the city, made desperate by hunger, had proposed to visit the Syrian camp and throw themselves upon the mercy of the besiegers, hoping thereby to arouse sympathy and obtain food. What was their astonishment when, entering the camp, they found ‘no man there.’ With none to molest or forbid, ‘they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and went and hid it; and came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace.’ Quickly they returned to the city with the glad news.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 258, 259.
Fulfillment of the prophecy
7. Who were thus blessed by everything that the Syrians left behind? If we had been in the lepers’ position, would we have doubted or believed the Lord’s promise?
2 Kings 7:16 And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So 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.
“Great was the spoil; so abundant were the supplies that on that day ‘a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel,’ as had been foretold by Elisha the day before. Once more the name of God was exalted before the heathen ‘according to the word of the Lord’ through His prophet in Israel. See 2 Kings 7:5-16.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 259.
For additional study
“Thus the man of God continued to labor from year to year, drawing close to the people in faithful ministry, and in times of crisis standing by the side of kings as a wise counselor. The long years of idolatrous backsliding on the part of rulers and people had wrought their baleful work; the dark shadow of apostasy was still everywhere apparent, yet here and there were those who had steadfastly refused to bow the knee to Baal. As Elisha continued his work of reform, many were reclaimed from heathenism, and these learned to rejoice in the service of the true God. The prophet was cheered by these miracles of divine grace, and he was inspired with a great longing to reach all who were honest in heart. Wherever he was, he endeavored to be a teacher of righteousness.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 259.
“If we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear us; but the prayer of the penitent, contrite soul is always accepted. When all known wrongs are righted, we may believe that God will answer our petitions. Our own merit will never commend us to the favor of God; it is the worthiness of Jesus that will save us, His blood that will cleanse us; yet we have a work to do in complying with the conditions of acceptance.
“Another element of prevailing prayer is faith. ‘He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’ Hebrews 11:6. Jesus said to His disciples, ‘What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ Mark 11:24. Do we take Him at His word?” –Steps to Christ, pp. 95, 96.