2 Kings 7:3-11 – Being A Landing Party On An Alien Planet

Posted: May 17, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 7:3-11

Lepers Visit the Enemy Camp

When I was a kid growing up as a preacher’s kid and even later as an adult, I saw the whole purpose of church being what happened on Sunday morning. The members of the church came there to hear my dad’s sermon, be challenged by it to be better than they are, and go home. Yes, there was the meetings during the week, youth on Sunday afternoon or evening, youth trips to theme parks and to retreat centers, meetings, more meetings, and that just seemed to be it, from my perspective. It was the family business. I was there all the time. Church put food on my table and clothes on my back. I did not understand the Good News until much later in life.

Back when we were kids, the church was just always there. In fact, the church and its grounds (wherever dad was serving) was our playground. My brother and I would play at church and in the church during the week, especially in the summertime. We were big Star Trek fans in those days when all we had was the re-runs of old TV show (before all the movies and Next Generation and all that stuff that came in the 80’s and beyond). We used to imagine that the church (wherever Dad was serving at the time) was our Starship Enterprise and outside were alien worlds that were there for us to explore and have encounters with the inhabitants of these alien worlds. Little did Dad or the visitors to his office during the day know but that they were these aliens. We would have conversations with them and giggle inside knowing that they were participating in our fantasy of that day without even knowing it. Ah, my brother and I had such imaginations in those days. We could entertain ourselves for hours with Star Trek adventures. Who needed video games in those days?!?! We had our imaginations. Back to the point though…These church members, they were the aliens of our daily Star Trek episodes. They were the aliens we would be encountering in these “strange, new worlds” of our “Star Trek episode” of that day.

I got to thinking about it and how it has become that church people are aliens today. They are now encountering this strange new world in which we live. It is Star Trek. Our churches are like the Starship Enterprise now. It is our safe haven for our landing party from our excursions into the alien world. It used to be that church was part of the culture of America. But somewhere along the way, we retreated back to the spaceship. We became inward focused with all the activity within our starship. We became more concerned with the operation of the starship than why the starship was orbiting the planet. We have now discovered that the earth is an alien planet. We are simply landing parties in a far off planet at the edge of the universe. What happened?

We withdraw from the world. We quit sharing the Good News. When a church starts the talk of “us in here vs. them out there” then we begin the slow process of dying. The purpose of church is not for us. It is for “them out there”. What happens inside our churches is to prepare us to go out there. Sunday morning (and Wednesday evening if you have midweek services) are not the end game. Yes, these are necessary. Don’t get me wrong. Sunday and Wednesday services are essential parts of church life. We must have them. But these services are not the totality of Christian life. These services are gas station refueling moments. They are there to fill us up. They are there to equip us. They are there for us to look at ourselves in honesty. They are there to remind us of our purpose. They are there to remind of what the Good News is and why we should share it. But it’s not the end. Church services should equip us, energize us to go out there to share the Good News with a world that is convinced that they don’t need what we have to share. Church services prepare us for the alien world that we have been sent out as landing parties to encounter.

That’s the thing I thought of this morning. How easy it is for us to sit in our starship and be preoccupied with the starship rather than seeing the purpose of the starship being at the planet was to send out landing parties – to encounter the alien planet. And then how similar that is to our situation today as Christians. We must not get preoccupied with the starship. We must use the starship as the launching point. It is on our starship called our local church that we are prepared, but being the landing party is the purpose. That is similar to what we encounter in today’s text, 2 Kings 7:3-11. Here the lepers must either stay at the camp or go out and share the good news:

3 Now there were four men with leprosy[a] at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6 for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

9 Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”

10 So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there—not a sound of anyone—only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” 11 The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.

In this passage, we see that the lepers discovered the deserted camp and realized that their lives had been spared. At first, they kept this good news to themselves, forgetting that their fellow citizens were starving back in the city of Samaria. God had miraculously saved the citizens of Samaria from certain death during the siege. That which was oppressing them and would lead to their death had been lifted. They did not deserve this favor from God. The Samarians had drifted far from God under the leadership of their sinful kings. However, the favor was shown by God. The lepers realized that this good news was too good to keep to themselves. They had to share it and share it they did. They ran back to town and shared it with everyone with whom they came in contact.

It certainly is obvious that this Old Testament story points us toward the Good News of Jesus Christ. The undeserved favor of God is shown upon us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We do not deserve it but God gives us the miraculous provision of Jesus that lifts our death sentence to eternal separation from God and all things heavenly in hell. As Christ followers, we know this Good News. We know what we have been saved from. We have stood at the edge of the cliff and had our eyes opened. We know that we have been saved from an eternity in hell through the grace of Jesus Christ on the cross. We know that we can never been good enough to earn heaven. We know that one sin, our first sin, much less the lifetimes of sins that we commit, permanently stains us and changes us and prevents us from ever being worthy to be in the presence of a perfect and holy God in heaven. It is only through Christ paying the punishment for our sins on the cross (because God defined that this was what Jesus was doing there on the cross) as the once and final perfect sacrifice for sin that we are made clean. We are made clean by believing with all our heart that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh and that he died for our sins on that cross and that He then arose from the dead. That earnest belief in Jesus Christ as being who He says He is cleanses us so that the Holy Spirit can abide within us and daily make us more like Christ Himself. That earnest belief firmly establishes us in the hands of Jesus Christ and will spend our eternity in heaven with Him. That’s the Good News.

It’s time to run to town and share it. Sunday morning is not the end game of the Christian faith. It’s just celebration time. We must gather together as Christian in our local churches so that we can band together and celebrate our Lord. But that’s just the start. We gather together in our local expressions of Christ’s universal church as the launching point to be difference makers in the world. We launch from our churches to share the Good News and be missionaries where we live, work, and play. We launch from our local church to share the Good News and take part in loving people to life. Sunday morning is necessary but it not the end game. It is the beginning. It is the filling station that charges us up to be sent back out into the world. It is our pep rally. It is our pregame speech where the coach challenges his team to look inside, change what needs to be changed to be more like Jesus so that we can go back out and win the real game outside. That game is awakening people from their blindness so that they can see what we have seen, so that they can know what we know, so that they can see faith in Jesus as necessary and not optional, so that they can see that their siege is over and they have been given undeserved favor from a loving God.

It’s time to run to town my friends. It’s time to run to town with the Good News. We cannot stay in our camp and keep the Good News of the life-saving miracle of God through Jesus to ourselves. We cannot see Sunday morning worship as our purpose, although it is a necessary part. We must see it as being equipped to be sent to town. It’s time to run to town and share the Good News. It is time to leave the starship and be the landing party!

Amen and Amen.

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