For the week of April 16, 2005 / 7 Nisan 5765
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 14:1 - 15:33
Haftarah: 2 Melachim / 2 Kings 7:3-20

The Danger of Doubt

It happened as the man of God had said to the king…
(2 Melachim / 2 Kings 7:18)

This week's Haftarah contains a story which shows us how the circumstances of life can suddenly and dramatically change – in this case for the better. I think we are more familiar with sudden negative changes both in our personal lives and in world events, but unexpected good things do also take place.

This story begins with the people of Israel in a grave situation. What we call Israel today in those days was split into two kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom was called, "Israel", the southern kingdom, "Judah." The army of the kingdom of Aram had laid siege upon Samaria, the capital city of Israel. This resulted in great famine in the city to the extent that some people were practicing cannibalism.

As the story goes we read about four men of Samaria who had leprosy. Realizing their desperate situation, they decided to surrender to the Arameans. They figured that they had nothing to lose. Perhaps the Arameans would let them live, but if not, they were probably going to die soon anyway.

As it turned out, when they arrived at the Aramean camp, they found no one there. What had happened was that God had frightened the Arameans by causing them to hear sounds, which made them think they were being attacked. Not only did they leave, they also left behind all their provisions in the camp. After the four men helped themselves to these provisions for a while, they let the city know what happened. The people of Samaria also rushed out to help themselves. The amount left behind by the Arameans was sufficient to completely transform the economic situation of Samaria.

There's more to this story than just these events. As we read at the end of the previous chapter, prior to the four men discovering that sudden departure of the Arameans, the king and one of his officers went to confront Elisha the prophet. It appeared he wanted to blame the man of God for the predicament they were in.

Without referring to the specific details, Elisha predicted the soon-to-come economic turn around. When the officer rejected any possibility of such a thing, Elisha then also predicted that while the officer would indeed witness this, he would not himself partake of it.

It happened just as Elisha said. When the people rushed out of the city to go after the goods, the officer was trampled. His reaction to Elisha's prediction resulted in his failure to participate in the good turn of events.

This story underscores that we need to respond to what God says to us with believing hearts. It is so much easier for us to expect tragedy, than a sudden positive turn of events. This is not about just having a positive outlook. This is about discerning what God says in the midst of great difficulty and choosing to accept his determinations instead of being ruled by appearances, no matter how terrible they might be.

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