Tazri'a & Mezora
For the week of April 17, 2010 / 3 Iyar 5770
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 12:1 - 15:33
Haftarah: 2 Melachim / 2 Kings 7:3-20
So they took two horsemen, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, "Go and see." (2 Melachim / 2 Kings 7:14; ESV)
This week's Haftarah is part of a slightly longer story that begins in the previous chapter. In those days the land of Israel was divided into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom was called Israel or Ephraim with its capital in Samaria; the southern kingdom was called Judah with its capital in Jerusalem. Samaria was in the midst of a great famine due to its being under siege by the Syrian army. The siege and famine came to a miraculous end because God caused the Syrians to think they were under attack, prompting them to flee, leaving all their provisions behind.
This surprising turn of events was discovered by four outcasts who were lepers. They had decided to surrender to the Syrians, thinking that it was worth taking that chance, since the situation in the city was so desperate. When they came to the Syrian camp they found it deserted. So they began to feast and to help themselves to the goods that had been left behind. Eventually, they realized it was wrong of them to keep this all to themselves. So they announced the good news of their discovery to the gatekeepers of the city. When the news got to the king, his immediate reaction was to think that the Syrians were trying to trick them in order to lure them into an ambush. A servant suggested, therefore, that some men should be sent to investigate. As they surveyed the area it became clear to them that everything was as the lepers said, and so the people of Samaria plundered the Syrian camp.
It was right for the king to be cautious. It was his responsibility to care for his people. It would not have been wise for him to send his people out into what could have easily been a trap. At the same time, the lepers' claim was suffciently reasonable and the situation desperate enough to, at least, check things out. Once the report arrived, confirming the claim of the lepers, the people ran to take hold of God's miraculous provision.
Sometimes good news is too good to be true. When we are presented with extraordinary offers for little or no money, and without effort or time spent, it is wise to be cautious. This is not to say that such things don't exist, but they should be carefully investigated before accepting them.
The good news of Yeshua the Messiah, like the claim of the lepers, also may seem too good to be true. Through Yeshua, God offers forgiveness of every wrong we ever committed, direct continual access to him, his commitment to actively work for our good forever, empowerment by his Spirit so that we can live blessed and effective lives, his joy, his peace, and an eternity free of pain and sorrow. All this can be ours in response to our turning from our sins and trusting in Yeshua as Messiah and Lord.
People find many reasons to reject God's offer. They, like the king of Israel, may think that there is a good chance that it isn't as it seems to be. They may think that people who present the claims of Yeshua may have ulterior motives or be deluded. After all, some things are too good to be true.
But is not Yeshua's offer worth investigating? What many people don't realize is that it can be investigated. What convinced the investigators in our story was that they found all sorts of items scattered over a large area and this fit the lepers' claim. Similarly history is strewn with evidence of Yeshua's reality. Most of the good in the world over the past two thousand years is due to the transformed lives of Yeshua's followers. Yet most people refuse to leave the city of their preconceived ideas and take the time to examine the abundance of evidence. There is no reason to continue in the desperation of spiritual famine when the abundant provision of God is available to all who put their trust in Yeshua the Messiah.
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