Lesson 11 | Sabbath, 14 March 2020
“God calls upon His faithful ones, who believe in Him, to talk courage to those who are unbelieving and hopeless. Turn to the Lord, ye prisoners of hope. Seek strength from God, the living God. Show an unwavering, humble faith in His power and His willingness to save. When in faith we take hold of His strength, He will change, wonderfully change, the most hopeless, discouraging outlook. He will do this for the glory of His name.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 260.
A seemingly unbelievable prophecy
- What serious trouble threatened the inhabitants of Samaria when (around B.C. 844) the Syrians besieged the city? What did Elisha prophesy when the famine was affecting everyone and the small amount of food that was left was selling for exorbitant prices?
2 Kings 6:24, 25; 7:1, 2 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: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver…. 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 [after the Syrians sent to capture Elisha were struck with blindness], 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.
- 2. What did four starving lepers decide to do? What surprise met them in the Syrian camp?
2 Kings 7:3-7 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. 5And 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.
“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.’” –Prophets and Kings, p. 258.
Good news–the prophecy fulfilled
- What did they find? What did they know they had to do with the wonderful news?
2 Kings 7:8-10 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.
“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.
“The dealings of God with His people often appear mysterious. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. Many times His way of dealing is so contrary to our plans and expectations that we are amazed and confounded. We do not understand our perverse natures; and often when we are gratifying self, following our own inclinations, we flatter ourselves that we are carrying out the mind of God. And so we need to search the Scriptures, and be much in prayer, that, according to His promise, the Lord may give us wisdom.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 503.
- To whom was the news of the Syrians’ departure delivered? Was he completely convinced that the Syrians had abandoned the camp?
2 Kings 7:11-13 And he called the porters; and they told it to the king’s house with- in. 12And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they 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. 13And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city, (behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it: behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed:) and let us send and see.
“The continual worry is wearing out the life forces. Our Lord desires them to lay aside this yoke of bondage. He invites them to accept His yoke; He says, ‘My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’ He bids them seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and His promise is that all things needful to them for this life shall be added. Worry is blind, and cannot discern the future; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring re- lief. Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 330.
- What did he command to be done to be sure that the empty camp was not a trap? With what amazing confirmation did the investigators return?
2 Kings 7:14, 15 They took therefore two chariot horses; and the king sent after the host of the Syrians, saying, Go and see. 15And they went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king.
“God had placed His people in Canaan as a mighty breastwork to stay the tide of moral evil, that it might not flood the world. If faithful to Him, God intended that Israel should go on conquering and to conquer. He would give into their hands nations greater and more powerful than the Canaanites. The promise was: ‘If ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you,… then will the Lord drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves. Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be. There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as He hath said unto you.’ Deuteronomy 11:22-25.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 544.
- What did the people thus receive in abundance? What message of Elisha came to pass exactly?
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 mea- sure 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.
The results of unbelief
- What happened to the lord who doubted and mocked Elisha’s prophecy? How did Jesus warn against doubting and finding fault with the Lord’s promises?
2 Kings 7:18-20 And it came to pass as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, Two measures of barley for a shekel, and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, shall be to morrow about this time in the gate of Samaria: 19And that lord answered the man of God, and said, Now, behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. 20And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died.
John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
“Thus the man of God [Elisha] 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.
For additional study
“From a human point of view the outlook for the spiritual regeneration of the nation was as hopeless as is the outlook today before God’s servants who are laboring in the dark places of the earth. But the church of Christ is God’s agency for the proclamation of truth; she is empowered by Him to do a special work; and if she is loyal to God, obedient to His commandments, there will dwell within her the excellency of divine power. If she will be true to her allegiance, there is no power that can stand against her. The forces of the enemy will be no more able to overwhelm her than is the chaff to resist the whirlwind.
“There is before the church the dawn of a bright, glorious day, if she will put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness, withdrawing from all allegiance to the world.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 259, 260.