A LESSON FROM THE LEPERS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, January 17, 2004


"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).


The king of Syria sent his army against Samaria, and surrounded the capital city. With the city surrounded, the people could not go out to get food. A terrible famine gripped the city. Food became so scarce that the head of a donkey sold for two pounds of silver. A pint or two of dove dung sold for about two ounces of silver. The people were starving in this desperate situation. They actually resorted to cannibalism.

Outside the city wall sat four lepers. They were not allowed into the city because of their leprosy. They were in an even worse situation than the people inside the city walls. The story of these four lepers is told to us in II Kings 7:3-10. The Bible tells us that

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16).

Since "All scripture is given by inspiration, and is profitable," I believe that this little story of the four lepers was given for our instruction today. I think that there are at least five lessons you can learn from these men that could help you toward conversion.

I. First, they were leprous.

Look at II Kings 7:3,

"And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate" (II Kings 7:3).

Leprosy in the Bible is often spoken of as a type or illustration of sin. The Scofield note on Leviticus 13:1 says,

Leprosy speaks of sin as (1) in the blood; (2) becoming overt in loathsome ways; (3) incurable by human means (Scofield Study Bible, note on Leviticus 13:1).

The Bible says,

"He is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head" (Leviticus 13:44).

Leprosy is a picture of man's totally depraved condition, ruined by sin. Isaiah said,

"Ah sinful nationthe whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores" (Isaiah 1:4-6).

This is a terrible description of man's sinful nature, "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).

We are told that these men were "leprous." They were in a truly horrible condition. This speaks to your awful, lost state. You have within you the sentence of death. You are "utterly unclean" (Leviticus 13:44). You are truly as hopelessly lost as these men were.

II. Second, they were dying.

Look at what they said to each other in verse four,

"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" (II Kings 7:4).

These men were dying of starvation. You, too, are dying. You have the sentence of death in your body right now. The Bible says, "death passed upon all men" (Romans 5:12). The Bible says, "It is appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27). Richard Baxter often said that he was preaching to "dying men."

Each hour takes you closer to your death. Each day brings you twenty-four hours closer to your death. Each year brings you twelve months closer to your death. Someone ran into my car Sunday afternoon. Two hours later another car nearly ran into mine. This reminded me that every time I get into an automobile I might never come out of that car alive. And so it is with you.

Yes, these four lepers were dying men. And so is every lost person here tonight. Matthew Henry said of these lepers,

They were ready to perish for hunger; none passed through the gate [of the city] to relieve them. Should they go into the city, there was nothing to be had there, they must die in the streets; should they sit still, they must pine to death (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, volume 2, p. 580).

Where can you go to escape from death? If you leave the church, and go out into the world, you will still die. Leaving the church and going into the world will not help you escape from death and judgment. Yet, if you remain here in the church, in an unconverted condition, you will also die and face the judgment.

"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"
    (II Kings 7:4).

These men faced death no matter whether they stayed where they were, or went into the city. That is also true of you, isn't it?

III. Third, they were outsiders.

Look at verse three.

"And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate" (II Kings 7:3).

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, and the parable of the Older Brother, both men were outsiders. Both of these brothers were outside salvation. Just as these lepers were shut out of the city, so you are shut out of salvation.

The Prodigal "took his journey into a far country" (Luke 15:13). He travelled far away from God. But his older brother was also outside. He "drew nigh to the houseand would not go in" (Luke 15:25, 28). Although he was religious, he would not enter in to salvation. The Prodigal and the Older Brother were both outside. They would not come in - to Christ. Isn't that your condition? Aren't you as lost, "at the entering in of the gate," as these lepers were?

IV. Fourth, they used reason.

Look at verse three again.

"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?"
    (II Kings 7:3).

"Why sit we here until we die?" They were using their minds. They were reasoning. God said,

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow"
    (Isaiah 1:8).

The Hebrew word translated "reason" means "argue, convince" (Strong). In other words, think it over. Look at all sides of the question until you are convinced.

Isn't that exactly what these four lepers did? They turned the question around in their minds. "If we go into the city, we will die. If we stay here, we will die."

"And they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?"
    (II Kings 7:3).

This was the verse that first began to awaken my mother. She came to church every Sunday for a long, long time. But she was still lost. Then one Sunday she heard me preach a sermon on this text, "Why sit we here until we die?" A few days later I was talking with her and she suddenly mentioned this verse. Even though she had come to church for a long time, she had never spoken to me before about any sermon she heard me preach. But that day she finally did. Mother said, "That was very true what you preached last Sunday." I said, "What was that?" She said, "What you told us about not sitting here until we die." Something from the Bible finally got through to her! She was converted not long afterwards. Reasoning led her out of death and into Christ.

"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).

And so I say to some of you who have been coming to church for a long time, Why sit here until you die? You may sit here until you commit the unpardonable sin, and are given up by God forever, dead in sin. Or you may sit here until you die physically, in an unconverted state.

"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).

V. Fifth, they rose up and got what they needed.

Look at verse five.

"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" (II Kings 7:5).

There is no need in this sermon to comment on the providential move of God that caused the Syrian army to flee from their tents, leaving everything behind. Suffice it to say that God was behind it. Now look at verse eight.

"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" (II Kings 7:8).

Look up, please. There is great evangelistic truth illustrated in this verse. It speaks of

"the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7).

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God" (Romans 11:33).

These men went into the abandoned tents of the Syrians and carried out armloads of silver and gold, and expensive clothing. When you rise up and come to Christ - you, too, will get what you need! God will give you "the exceeding riches of his grace." You will be loaded down with "the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God." You will be saved!

They had been leprous men, dying from starvation, shut out from the city, waiting to die. They reasoned and thought about their situation. They said, "Why sit we here until we die?" They rose up and went - and got what they needed. All that their hearts desired had been providentially prepared for them by God.

Now, I ask you, Why sit here until you die? Rise up and come to Jesus. True, you are an awful sinner. You have sinned long and dreadfully. Your heart is so hard. But why sit here until you die? Why not, now, rise up and come to the Saviour? He will take you in His bleeding arms and save you, and give you spiritual riches beyond anything you could imagine or hope for.

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow"
     (Isaiah 1:8).

As Joseph Hart put it,

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, joined with power.
He is able, He is able, He is willing, doubt no more,
He is able, He is able, He is willing, doubt no more.
     ("Come, Ye Sinners" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Kings 6:24-7:8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Come, Ye Sinners" (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).


THE OUTLINE OF

A LESSON FROM THE LEPERS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Why sit we here until we die?" (II Kings 7:3).

(II Kings 7:3-10; II Timothy 3:16)

I.   They were leprous, II Kings 7:3a; Leviticus 13:1, 44;
Isaiah 1:4-6; Ephesians 2:1.

II.  They were dying, II Kings 7:4; Romans 5:12; Hebrews 9:27.

III. They were outsiders, II Kings 7:3a; Luke 15:13, 25, 28.

IV. They used reason, Isaiah 1:8; II Kings 7:3b.

V.  They rose up and got what they needed, II Kings 7:5, 8;
Romans 11:33; Ephesians 2:7; Isaiah 1:8.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."