The God we serve specialises in calling forth the improbable, using the unlikely and doing the impossible. If you could think of a million ways in which something could be done, He will do it in that first way after a million that no man could have imagined. He tells a 99-year old man with a barren, menopausal 89-year old wife that they are going to have a child within the next year. When she “justifiably” laughs Him to scorn, He asks, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” He tells a young virgin that she will give birth to the Son of God by the Holy Ghost, and her barren geriatric cousin, Elisabeth would also give birth. When she wonders how these things will come to pass, He reminds her that “for with God nothing shall be impossible”.
Our text opens with God speaking through His prophet into a similarly seemingly impossible situation. Samaria had been blockaded to the extent that the severest type of shortages had resulted. In desperation, mothers were being forced to eat their children and, even items of minuscule nutritional value were being sold for a king’s ransom! Now, a donkey’s head sold for two pounds of silver and a half-pint of dove’s manure for two ounces of silver. Yet God was saying in 24 hours, 24 cups of the best flour and 48 cups of barley would each sell for half an ounce of silver!
I sense prophetically that many of us as God-fearing saints are in these kinds of dire straits where the very mettle of our salvation and it’s moral components are being passed through the furnace of affliction. The temptation may be overwhelming – to bow or burn, to come lie with the Mrs. Potiphar’s of this world, to turn the stones of memorial to bread to satiate our hunger, to fiddle that cv or work with your friend’s details, to sleep with that boyfriend/girlfriend lest we lose them to someone else, to give that small bribe so as not to lose the big contract,to provide a false alibi for a loved one, to withhold some vital detail in a litigation, to sacrifice our children at the altar of abortion and ambition rather than pay the price ourselves.
Yet, God is saying by this time tomorrow, the impossible would have manifested in your life. Are you willing to take Him at His word and like the prophet Habakkuk wait to see what He will say; and like Mary when He has spoken,to present yourself saying “behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”?
The lord on whose hand the king leaned heard the prophecy but could not, rather would not believe it. Instead he opened his mouth to question God’s ability to bring this miracle prophesied to pass. The consequence? Instant judgment. God’s word would come to pass releasing His blessings but the lord would have no part in it.
“WHERE IS THE LORD GOD OF ELIJAH?”
Before we look at how God turned the situation around, let us attempt to find out why He even permits situations to degenerate like this in the first place. Since the fall of man, most decisions that men make are self-serving, carnal and ultimately self-destructive. One fundamental principle of life is that we will reap what we sow. If God were to keep a record of sins, no one would last long,the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 130:3. Yet as a just God, He cannot let rebellion, oppression and injustice continue unabated and unpunished. So many situations are the inevitable consequences of sin.
Most times when God is dealing with His sons, honoured and esteemed citizens of His Kingdom, though, it has nothing to do with sin. While our priority is convenience,comfort and currency, God on the other hand as a good Father is more concerned with the cultivation within us of charity (love), character and contentment. Paul explains in his second letter to the Corinthians that one of the reasons God puts His great glory in our earthly bodies made of clay, is so that it may be seen that the amazing power we have comes, not from us, but from our glorious God. Alleluia!
The same Paul in his first epistle to the same Corinthians gave them some insight as to why God would even permit the heathen to look upon us as foolish, weak, unimportant and inconsequential. Hear his argument in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29(CEV)
26 My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn’t think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families
27 But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame.
28 What the world thinks is worthless, useless, and nothing at all is what God has used to destroy what the world considers important.
29 God did all this to keep anyone from bragging to him.
The bottom line is that when God saves or helps a strong man, the temptation is for that man to attribute his victory to his strength, the wise man to his wisdom, the man of estate to his pedigree etc. So to silence every tongue, God calls the unqualified, uses the unimportant,raises the bypassed and places weighty responsibilities on the feeble , debilitated and impotent.
FOUR LEPROUS MEN AT THE CITY GATE ENTRANCE
Against this backdrop, you can begin to see how four men afflicted by the scourge of leprosy could become not just God’s agents of change but also His army to rout a fierce, powerful, deadly occupying force. On account of the highly infectious nature of their disease and the unavailability of medical quarantine and social welfare facilities, lepers suffered complete ostracism. They thus lived in colonies far removed from the cities and villages of Israel. When the exigencies of life forced them into “polite” society they had to shout from a distance “Unclean, unclean!”
This message should by now be resonating with all those of us who in one dimension or the other are pariahs whether social, economic, political, religious, physical or in any other sphere. Do they exclude you from their gatherings because you are different? Do they consider you as unclean because you have a child out of wedlock or have been through one messy divorce (or two); maybe it is your heavy accent, the school you went to or did not go to; the type of car you drive or the neighbourhood you live in. If from the outer fringes of social convention you are looking longingly for acceptance, approval and approbation then look no further than this prophecy from God which is guaranteeing you that by this time tomorrow “your level will change”.
Since it is God that works in us, to will and to do of His good pleasure, that is He produces in you the desires and actions that please Him (Philippians 2:13), what happens next is God-induced. The four lepers suddenly realised that if you want something different, you have to do something differently. They concluded that staying where they were or going into the city of Samaria, were non-options which would indisputably result in death. Going to the Syrian camp was risky but at least it carried a faint hope of survival. They may have been lepers on the outside, but they were lions on the inside. Someone needs to know right now that they are not defined by what they have been through or are currently experiencing. God’s word admonishes us to be strong and courageous. If you have heard God speak, then take the leap of faith. Remember another set of lepers in the New Testament who met Jesus and were told to go show themselves to the priest. As they went, they were healed. As you go, you will experience God’s salvation.
THE SOUND OF CHARIOTS, HORSES AND A GREAT ARMY
Four lepers set off for the Syrian camp in the twilight. No four humans, let alone disabled ones can generate enough noise to affect an army. Yet as they approached the camp, the Syrian army heard the noise of chariots, of horses and of a great army! Were they delusional? The answer is an emphatic “no!” Remember that this same army had encompassed Dothan in a bid to capture Elisha who was surprisingly unmoved. Elisha’s servant cried in terror and the prophet calmed him down with the assurance that they had more troops on their side than did the enemy. Elisha then prayed that God would open the eyes of the servant and God obliged him and he saw that all the mountain was covered with fiery horses and flaming chariots all around Elisha. I put it to you that as the servants eyes were opened even so were the ears of the Syrian army opened to hear the sound of this same army accompanying the every step of God’s four unlikely ambassadors.
May God strike your enemies with as much madness and confusion as He did the Syrian army. I ask you, if you were trying to escape by the fastest means possible, does it not make sense to take your horses rather than flee on foot? You see, God wanted His children to get all they had lost plus reparations and a restoration of the lost years. Even as the Syrian army fled in wretched dread, leaving all their most valuable possessions behind God was still not done with them. They felt even the very clothes they wore and the equipment and weapons they had on them were a hindrance and they hastily shed them along the way. From your enemies and the things and spirits that have troubled you 2 Thessalonians 1:6 says “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you”. They will be struck with terror, confusion and madness and their wealth which was laid in store for you will pass unto your hands.
“SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT, COMING FORTH TO CARRY ME HOME…! ” REALLY?
Where did the fiery horses and chariots come from in the first place? As Christians, Jesus warned us to be careful that we do not make the word of God of none effect by our traditions. Many believe these horses and chariots were those sent to take Elijah up to heaven. The old negro spiritual, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Coming Forth To Carry Me Home” encapsulates this pervasive religious misperception. Yet if that was the case, once they had safely ferried the prophet home, then their assignment would have been completed. Let us re-examine the story in 2 Kings 2:1
(KJV) “And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.”
Wow! Right from the outset God has just made it clear that He would take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind ( “great wind”,”strong wind”, “windstorm” and “tempest” are synonyms used in other translations). So what about the horses and chariots? As we follow the two prophets, Elijah tries to shake off his protege on their journey from Gilgal to Bethel, then to Jericho and finally to the Jordan. Elisha is however resolute teaching us that we must covet earnestly the best spiritual gifts and doggedly and undistractedly pursue them. Once they miraculously cross the Jordan, Elijah is persuaded that Elisha is worthy to succeed him. He therefore offers Elisha a parting gift of the latter’s choice. Was Elisha’s subsequent request motivated by the fact that Elijah got so discouraged that he asked God to take him home? Or was it the obvious power and fierceness of the opposition? Or maybe it was the same way the lepers had been prompted that he was too. Anyway, Elisha asks what Elijah calls “a hard thing”, a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This is not just a hard thing, it is an impossible thing! You cannot give what you do not have and you can not bequeath on a person twice as much as you possess.
Learn from Elisha who could have asked for material things,or even what was in Elijah’s power to give him. Instead, like Solomon in similar circumstances, he sought spiritual blessings which, of course, only come from God. Elijah therefore premises the granting of his request on Elisha seeing him when he was taken up to heaven. Observe what happens next in verse 11:
(KJV) “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
The chariot and horses of fire separated them from one another but unlike religious tradition has always suggested, Elijah did not jump into the chariot but was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha calls them “the chariot of Israel,and the horsemen thereof”. So the chariot and cavalry were for the living not the departed. That picture would keep Elisha going for the rest of his life. A multitudinous powerful army held no dread for him “for they that be with us are more than they that be with them”. A prophecy of instantaneous radical transformation could be freely uttered because. “of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire” (Hebrews 1:7)
And now, these same chariots and horsemen of fire, this innumerable company of angels, were making their presence literally felt in the footsteps of four leprous heralds to the consternation of the Syrian army.
One day, they were starving, bankrupt, beggarly, despised pariahs with no prospects, no help, no hope. The next day, they are wealthier than any in Israel and were respected harbingers of good news. From being social parasites, they have become the engineers of national sociological change. Where their antecedents had been lowly and despicable, their destiny would be gloriously etched in the chronicles of divine and secular achievements. Their story is a testament to the power of our God of impossibilities.
These are the last days. These are perilous times. Our enemy, the devil is raging because he realises that his days are numbered. On our part, we have made some mistakes and rendered our defences vulnerable. There is also a shaking going on. God is passing us, our motives and our works through the refiner’s fire. Hear His word in Hebrews 12:26-28 (GW)
Heb 12:26 When God spoke to your ancestors, his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the sky.”
Heb 12:27 The words once more show clearly that God will change what he has made. These are the things that can be shaken. Then only the things that cannot be shaken will remain.
Heb 12:28 Therefore, we must be thankful that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Because we are thankful, we must serve God with fear and awe in a way that pleases him.
This means we have to be Kingdom-minded and be willing to surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you are, according to the prophet Isaiah, willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.
I prophesy to someone unlikely right now, someone weak, someone regarded by others as foolish, someone disdained and classed a nonentity that in not many days from now, you are about to go from chronic debtor to being a lender; from abject lack to superabundant generosity; from barrenness to being the joyful parents of multiple births; from perennial infirmity and being bedridden to being of sound health, full of vigour and leaping like a gazelle; from being thought guilty, to being vindicated and hugely compensated; from being overlooked and bypassed to having many suitable suitors.
Just in case you are wondering how this will happen, remember how four men moved from Lepers’ Colony to Leaders’ Company, from leprous to famous, from poverty to property, from beggar to swagger. The same God is your Father and He is causing your enemies to hear the sound of chariots, and of horses and of a great army, because He that is in you and those that are for and with you are much more than they that are against you and in the world. Alleluia!
Go in peace to your next level, for you are loved, precious and appreciated.
Omawumi Michael Efueye (Pastor O)
Aslan LIFE Ministries.