The Men At the Gate
2 Kings 7:3-8
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?…

The city of Samaria was in sad plight. Ben-hadad, the King of Syria, had gathered all his armies together with the determination to conquer Israel and make it a subject province. He brought all his force against Samaria and besieged the capital city. He cut off all their communication with the surrounding country and was slowly starving them to death. Now, while this was going on in the city of Samaria, four lepers, who lived in little shanties outside the gate, and were not allowed to come inside, talked the situation over with one another. They were starving to death and there was not much choice for them. It was certain death if they stayed where they were, and it was probable death if they went anywhere else. So they said to one another, "Why sit we here until we die? If 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." So in the early twilight they rose up and staggered along till they came to the camp of the Syrians. They saw no one as they drew near, no sentinels on guard, and no one about the doors of the tents. It seemed strange to them, and at first they thought everybody was asleep in the tents. Now the secret of this strange occurrence was that through the prayer of Elisha God had interposed to save Israel, and He had caused the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots and a noise of horses until they were sure that a great army was coming to the relief of Israel, and the officers of Ben.hadad, King of Syria, deceived and confused by what they thought they heard, 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." And they were so sure of it and so demoralised with fear that they arose and fled in the darkness and left their tents just as they were. These old stories are gold mines of spiritual truth where we shall not fail to find wealth if we search with humble and earnest hearts. Let us look at some of these nuggets of spiritual truth suggested to us in this theme.

I. THE MAN WHO FEELS HIS SIN THE KEENEST IS THE MOST LIKELY TO FIND SALVATION. Of all the people of Israel these four leprous men were in the most pitiable condition. Ordinarily, when there was plenty, food was let down over the wall to them; but when food became scarce, it was easy to forget the lepers on the outside. They decided to take their chances because they felt so keenly the extremity of their condition. This illustrates what Jesus meant when He said to certain people in His day that the publicans and the harlots would go into the kingdom of heaven before themselves.

II. INACTION IS OFTEN AS BAD AS POSITIVE WRONG-DOING. See in this case. These four lepers used good logic. They said one to another, "Why sit we here until we die?" They did not need to take poison in order to commit suicide; they did not need to do any violence on themselves in order to bring about death. They were far gone on the way of starvation. They could just stagger about a little. Let them only sit still a day or two more and there would not be any help for them, they would surely die. Their only hope was in immediate action, and if they were to act there was only one way open that had any promise of relief. So they decided to act in the one way open to them that had a chance of relief. I pray God that some of you who are without God and without hope in Christ may learn this great lesson. When you are wrong, when you are failing to do your duty, to sit still is to die. You do not have to do anything more in order to make sure that in the great judgment day you will be shut out of heaven and condemned. No, you have just to sit still to be lost. You do not need to get worse; you do not need that the stream of your evil thoughts or your wicked conduct shall grow wider and deeper and more soiled, as it undoubtedly will if you live longer unrepentant; you need only to sit still just as you are to have the gate of heaven closed before your sorrow-stricken eyes and to hear the awful words of doom from the tender lips of Jesus, "Depart from me, I never knew you." All you have to do is just to sit still, and in the very nature of things death must happen. But if you want to be saved, then you must awake, and arise, and act.

III. SALVATION CAN ONLY COME THROUGH DEFINITE DECISION. These men considered what was open to them and decided that there was just one way that had a ray of hope. It was by no means bright; but, if followed, there was a possibility that it might mean food and life. They made up their minds to take the one chance, and they followed that chance to safety. How much better is the outlook for you when I invite you to forsake your sins and come to the feast of Divine love. You do not have to come following such a forlorn hope as did these poor men.

IV. THE SPIRITUAL FEAST IS ALREADY SPREAD. The lepers found food in abundance in the Syrian tents. The Gospel feast is ready. The invitation is, "Come, for all things are now ready."

(L. A. Banks, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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?

WEB: Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate. They said one to another, "Why do we sit here until we die?

The Leprous Men as the Gate
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