“This is a Day of Good News…”

easter2_2A coaching word from
Pastor Jack Witt

 I was reading in 2 Kings chapter seven a couple days ago and fixed my attention on this odd story of the city of Samaria (capital of Israel at the time), having been surrounded by a vast Aramean army for so long that they suffered a great famine as no provisions could be brought into the city due to this besiegement.  Four leprous men stood at the gate of Samaria and reasoned that they were certain to die of starvation if they stayed in the city, so perhaps they should go over to the Aramean soldiers.  They would either receive mercy from them and enjoy the provisions of food and water that they needed, or the Aramean’s would kill them on the spot.  They weighed out the options of: (A) dying a thousand deaths through starvation in Samaria, or (B) a quick death at the sword of an Aramean soldier.  The second option, however, included a slight possibility that as lepers, they would not be killed, but rather given mercy by their enemies.  They decided to take option “B” and set out at dusk to go to the Aramean camp.  When they arrived they found that it had been deserted… in haste.  God had caused the Aramean soldiers to hear the sound of a huge army rushing toward them.  In crazed fear they left everything behind, even creating a trail of belongings that they threw down along the way of their escape; trying to lighten their load as they ran away.

When the four leprous men discovered this abandoned city of tents, they started having a private party among all the food, wine and possessions left behind by the fleeing army.  They even took some possessions out of the camp and hid them in case someone else would discover this gold mine and chase them away.  At some point their consciences were stirred about keeping this abundance to themselves while the inhabitants of Samaria were going to sleep hungry and suffering.  “We’re not doing right,” they said to each other, “This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.”  Even though it was now well into the night and the people would be settled in their beds, they would rouse them and tell them this good news.  Matthew Henry in his commentary on this passage wrote, “Though it wake them from sleep, it would be life from the dead to them.”

This story and the decision of the leprous men to not conceal this good news from the famine-stricken city reminded me of the call that we have been making for believers to “invite, invite, invite” friends and family members to Easter services this weekend.  Part of this appeal is based on the fact that people in our society are more inclined to attend church on spiritually significant days like Christmas or Easter, but the greater reason is that the night of a protracted spiritual famine is upon the lives of the inhabitants of this city.  You may be concerned about their reaction to your invitation; wondering if they will be offended or put off that you are poking into their lives or recommending something to them that is none of your business.  You must not be intimated by that fear, or allow your perspective to be informed by those who claim that spirituality is a private matter, relegating it to some politically correct “off-limits zone.”  The reach of the church into the unbelieving world must be driven by a Biblical belief in the radical power of the Gospel that must be communicated in order to be received, and a Biblical understanding of what is truly at risk for those who live a spiritually besieged life; cut off from God and His life-giving Spirit.  If we adopt Scriptural beliefs and understandings, there is no other conclusion we can reach besides this:  This is a day of Good News… we are not doing right, keeping it to ourselves!

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