by Joy Oti
As a child, my favourite bible story was David and Goliath. The reason was obvious; a little boy killing wild animals, and finally a giant. He was my hero. I wanted to be like him, and if I couldn’t, then I imagined him as my unseen hero. As my relationship with God grew deeper, and I began to study the bible, I came across many other phenomenal stories, and one in particular that took the place of David and Goliath.
Growing up in an environment where people are often defined by what they owned or have achieved, my mind, as I believed was the majority of others, was set on achievements for the purpose of societal acceptance. I believed you had to be of a certain status to be accepted by the society. Yes, even as a Christian, you can have acceptance issues. With the way things are structured in this life, it is so easy to crave the acceptance of man, forgetting the most important acceptance ever, which is of God. Well then, that mind set didn’t last for long. As I continued to study the bible, I realised how important we are to God. In Luke chapter 12:22-28, Jesus puts it this way:
22Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
27“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
For want of clarity, let me explain this scripture in the simplest term. Jesus talked about God’s providence and care for ravens and lilies, which as humans we would care less. I mean, how many times have you looked out your window and called out to a random flying bird, “Have you had breakfast?” Or how many times have you driven by a street or road, come across flowers, and asked “have you taken a drink today?” That simply doesn’t happen! But it happens with God everyday. He takes care of them circumspectly, so much that the lilies are better dressed than King Solomon who could boast of so much glory. In verse 28 He concludes by saying the reason we ever feel deficient, afraid or less than nothing, is because we have no faith. It has always been a faith problem. Now, let’s look at my favourite bible story, THE CITY GATE HEROES, as I entitle it. The story is found in 2nd Kings chapter 7, and I would be concentrating on verses 3-11. But I advise that you read chapters 6 and the entire chapter 7 to get a better picture of the events that unfolded.
There was a famine in the land, such that was so horrible people ate their children. Nobody knew what to do, including the government. But there were four leprous men who sat at the city gate and were fed from there. It is noteworthy that these men were simply called lepers, even though they had names. It’s strange when people identify you by your circumstance. Bad enough, food was thrown at them, because they were unclean and not allowed to mix with “normal” people. But this was a season of famine, and there was no food for them, not even crumbs. These men came together and considered the best risk analysis I have ever known.
They talked amongst themselves saying, “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. 4“We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.”
Wow! Isn’t that amazing? They didn’t ask for a sign from God, as some of us would do. They thought it through, and took a step. What did they have to lose anyway? The story continues on how these men started on their journey to the Aramean camp, and how God honoured their faith.
5So at twilight they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! 6For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching. “The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack us!” they cried to one another. 7So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives.
8When the lepers arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. 9Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”
How great is our God who can make one person seem like a battalion. With the horrible situation in the country, God was waiting for someone to make a move. And He found it in four lepers; the despicable, as the society saw them. This brings to me the knowledge that God waits too. The prophet Elisha had already predicted that in 24 hours, the prices of food would crash completely. But it is not enough for the prophecy to go forth. Someone has to make a move. Humans have their part in the fulfillment of prophecy, and God is no respecter of man, He honours our faith, without which no man can please him.
Sometimes I imagine how many of us have not made progress in life, because we blame someone or the system for our predicament. Those men were very sick men; so sick they decayed even while alive. If you do not understand the depravity that comes along with that sickness, then look it up on the internet and ask if you would ever sit one feet from them to eat. As a matter of fact, they were an eyesore, but not in the eyes of God. They had the courage to take an unprecedented step of faith, and God honoured them, because that is what He saw when He looked at them. He saw faithful men, not lepers. In my opinion, they should have been featured in the book of Hebrews 11 as heroes of faith. Notwithstanding, they still hold a pivotal role in the bible as great men of faith.
I must not fail to mention how they went back to the city to share the good news of their plunder. Their conscience would not let them eat alone. That tells me something about their character. They were very forgiving and of a good conscience. Remember they were treated as outcasts, and were not even allowed into the city. They could have despised the people in the city who treated them as outcasts, and kept everything for themselves. Some of us would do that today. They had enough gold and silver that they could have used in building a kingdom for themselves, if they so wished. But they were men of noble character, who by the reason of their predicament were nicknamed the city gate lepers. Above all odds, these city gate lepers eventually became the first partakers of the best in the land.
I hear people say God controls everything. I doubt it strongly. If He did, then there would be no evil in the world, and if there was evil in the world. As is written, every good and perfect gift comes from the father of light...", James 1:17. The scripture says, “the heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth he has given to the children of men”, Psalm 115:16. In Luke 13:34 Jesus cried out “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me”. Well that doesn’t sound like a God who is in “control”. No folks, the will of God is rarely done on earth. Remember Jesus taught us to pray that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. And no, God is not in control because He is helpless. But He has simply yielded control to man, with the bible as His instruction for life on earth. You are and I have a choice.
What choice have you made today? Have you chosen to live a life complaining about everyone but you? Do you believe that the system has set a limit for any reason whatsoever, and you have decided to tag along not reaching your desired goal? Or have you considered yourself as not being educated enough, black enough, white enough, pretty enough, talented enough? What is keeping you down? Remember, those four men were as a matter of fact, an eyesore, yet they got more than what they wanted. Nothing and no one is responsible for your failure or success but you. There is a God whose word has gone forth, and is waiting for a man to make a move. He is the God of all flesh and no respecter of persons.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then YOU will make YOUR way prosperous, and then you will have good success - Joshua 1:8