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A LESSON FROM THE LEPERS

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
with material by Dr. C. L. Cagan
preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 28, 2019

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


The king of Syria sent his army against Samaria, and surrounded the 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. The people were starving. They had no food.

Outside the city wall sat four lepers. They had the terrible disease of leprosy. Leprosy destroys the skin and nervous system. It produces horrible damage to the tissues. It produces deformities in the body. It can cause blindness. In those days there was no cure. Lepers were not allowed to have contact with others. They had to live separately, by themselves. So these lepers were not allowed into the city. They were even worse off than the people inside the city walls.

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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,” this story of the four lepers was given for our instruction tonight. Tonight I will bring out five points from these men that could help you toward conversion.

I. First, they were leprous.

Listen as I read II Kings 7:3,

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

In the Bible leprosy is often given as a type or picture 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).

A leper was considered religiously unclean, not only because of his sickness but because leprosy was an illustration of sin. 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 nation…the 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).

The Bible tells us that these men were “leprous.” They were in a terrible condition. This speaks to your awful, lost state as one born in sin. You have within you the sentence of death. You are “utterly unclean” (Leviticus 13:44). You are as hopeless and lost as these men were.

II. Second, they were dying.

Listen to verse four. The lepers said to each other,

“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 weren’t just dying of leprosy. They were dying of starvation. They would perish. 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 “as a dying man 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. These four lepers were dying men. And so are you. The Bible commentator 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. But if you stay in the church and remain unconverted, you will also die and face the judgment. The lepers said to each other,

“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? If you leave, you face death and judgment. If you stay here without Christ, you face death and judgment. You are in the same trouble as they were.

III. Third, they were outsiders.

Listen again to verse three.

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

One of the most famous parables of Jesus is the parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal Son left his father and went into the world to sin. His Older Brother stayed but was not converted. Both of these brothers – the one who left and the one who stayed – were outside of salvation. Just as these lepers were shut out of the city, so you are shut out of salvation whether you leave or stay.

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. The Bible says he “drew nigh to the house…and 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 salvation. They would not come in – to Christ. Isn’t that the same as you? Aren’t you as lost, “at the entering in of the gate,” as the lepers were?

IV. Fourth, they used reason.

Listen to 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).

They said, “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 1:18).

The Hebrew word translated “reason” means “argue, convince” (Strong). In other words, think it over. Look at all sides of the question. That’s what I want you to do with this sermon. That’s what I want you to do about your salvation.

Isn’t that what these four lepers did? They turned the question around in their minds. They thought about their situation. “If we go into the city, we will die. If we stay here, we will die. We’re dead either way.”

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

This verse makes me think of Dr. Hymers’ mother. She came to church every Sunday for a long, long time. But she was still lost. Then one Sunday she heard Dr. Hymers preach a sermon on this text, “Why sit we here until we die?” A few days later Dr. Hymers 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 him before about any sermon she heard him preach. But that day she finally did. She said, “That was very true what you preached last Sunday.” Dr. Hymers 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 I say to you who have been coming to church for a long time, Why sit here until you die? You may leave and die in the world without Christ. You may sit here until you commit the unpardonable sin, and are given up by God forever, dead in sin. You may sit here until you die physically, in an unconverted state. Some of you have been sitting for year after year without trusting Jesus. That won’t help you. You’ll sit until you die. The lepers were sitting, waiting to die. But they were not like you. They said,

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

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

Listen as I read 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).

Tonight I won’t talk about what God did to make the Syrian army run away from their tents, leaving their food and everything else behind. I’ll just say that God was behind it. Now listen as I read 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).

They got plenty of food. But they got much more than that. They got gold and silver and clothes. That has great Gospel truth in it. The verse speaks of

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

And the Bible says,

“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! God will give you greater riches than you can imagine!

They had been leprous men, dying from starvation, shut out from the city, waiting to die. They reasoned with each other. They thought about their situation. They said, “Why sit we here until we die?” They rose up and went – and got what they needed. Everything they needed was 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. The Bible says,

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow…” (Isaiah 1:18).

If you would like to speak with me about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“Come, Ye Sinners” (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).


THE OUTLINE OF

A LESSON FROM THE LEPERS

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
with material by Dr. C. L. Cagan

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

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

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

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

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

IV.  Fourth, they used reason, Isaiah 1:18; II Kings 7:3b.

V.   Fifth, they rose up and got what they needed, II Kings 7:5, 8;
Romans 11:33; Ephesians 2:7; Isaiah 1:18.