Rationalism, Empiricism and Faith – Why Sit Here and Die.
We read in this chapter, a story of four Lepers who had issues that shut them out of life and particularly from relations with people. They were isolated from the other people in Samaria because they were LEPROUS.
Biblically, leprosy was one of the many menaces that the Israelites believed God had perpetuated upon mankind in payback or retribution for sins committed. Bearing a mark of leprosy thus, meant a life of alienation as lepers were forced to live a meagre and inadequate existence on the suburbs of society.
Today, biblical scholars agree that leprosy in the Bible and modern leprosy refer to completely different conditions. It was also understood that within the Bible, leprosy was a blanket term referring to various skin ailments along with mildewing of fabrics and home walls (Leviticus 13-14).
Lepers were cast out of society and expected to repent for whatever sins were the cause of the leprosy. The condition marked lepers as polluters of the community, a source of corruption to be exiled: “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be shabby, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.”
(Leviticus 13: 45-46)
While exiling a leper may have had the practical effect of quarantining, the requirement for lepers to lament their status was significantly more religious in purpose. And while lepers are not explicitly condemned as sinners, the condition of leprosy marked its victims as both physically and spiritually unclean, and unable to take part in the community.
This was the condition of the four men outside the gate country. No one cared about and for them, no one fed them. They lived a life of complete abandonment.
There was war between the King of Syria and the King of Israel, with an instruction to the King from Elisha not to pass a particular boundary because the Syrians would be dwelling in that location. The whole of Israel was saved at the Word of God through the prophet Elisha.
The King of Syria thought someone from their camp had given Israel the information but one of His servants told him that Elisha knows and can hear whatever the king says in his bedroom. The king then sent horses and chariots to get Elisha. On seeing the chariots, Elisha’s servant was scared, but Elisha prayed to God to open the eyes of his servant to see the company of angels guarding them. The eyes of the servant were opened to see the wonders of God and this calmed his fears (the mountains was filled of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha). Elisha further prayed that God will strike the Syrians with blindness. They became blind and Elisha led them through to Samaria. They made food and provided drinks for them. They all ate and went back to their master and never came back to Samaria again.
Ben-hadad, the king of Syria besieged Samaria with all of his armies. There was great famine in Samaria and he besieged it until the head of a donkey was sold for eighty shekels of silver and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. This famine led to cannibalism – two women fought to eat their children.
The King sent a messenger to kill Elisha because of the problems in the country, but before the servant got there Elisha had confirmed to people standing with him that the famine was from God. He also gave them a word from God about tomorrow and what will happen in the same country tomorrow or the day after. He had prophesied about how things will get better and better.
I have recited the story because the story is linked with these four lepers. None of the citizens of the country knew where help would come from. They were oblivious to the will of God and how God would resolve their present predicament, which looked almost impossible from the eye of reason or sensory perception. No man would have predicted what the outcome will be.
The captain on whose hand the King leaned said to Elisha that “if the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” The pressure of the present situation will make anyone say what this captain said because of the things witnessed and seen in this particular country; knowing that the witness of the senses only confuses FAITH.
No one in the country had any solution to the problem and therefore will be forced to look toward a higher force for succour. Little did the whole country know that what they rejected through the Law will end up becoming what God will use to resolve their issue.
Analysing what went on in the mind of the lepers 2kings 7;
On one hand, they analysed their situation and asked themselves a question “WHY SIT HERE AND DIE”. They said to each other that “if we go back into the country, there is famine and when we get there we will still die. So what’s the point going back to the country? There is no prospect there. Like the gardener said when Christ rose from the dead, “How can you look for the living among the dead”? They were certain that the resultant effect of going back to their country was death. The four Lepers had another alternative, which was to remain where they were. On analysing that they realised that staying in the same place will not change their situation and would most probably result in death. So this was a no go area as well as the first option they considered. Sometimes we do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result only to find out that the result we got from our first trial has not brought about the desired change. Remaining in the same place where there is death will not bring life if we still remain there. Something ought to be done, something has to happen.
They sat down again and thought about another alternative. The alternative was to go to the camp of their enemies, the Syrians. Their postulations and conjectures was that when they get there, they might be killed which would still result in death. The Syrians might take them alive and in taking them alive, they will feed them; meaning that they will live and not die. They were not sure about what the outcome would be in this case compared to the other two alternatives they had earlier thought about.
All these three alternatives can be grouped under the following sub topics, which eventually will spell out what to look out for in relating to God.
An attempt to determine reality by reason and knowledge. It is the practice or principle of basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than belief or emotional response. This includes Philosophy which is the theory that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge.
This is the theory that all knowledge is based on experience derived from the senses. It is stimulated by the rise of experimental science. It therefore determines reality through what we see, touch, smell, hear and taste. Here we base our beliefs on our experiences and anything contrary, we do not accept. How can Sarah give birth to a child at age 90?
Faith is different from RATIONALISM or EMPIRICISM because reality is determined by our confidence in the faithfulness of God and not in ourselves. This confidence can only be developed through the sacred scriptures. I can only agree that Sarah will give birth at that age because of the One who gave the promise. So Jesus will advise that we should have faith in God and not in ourselves. In faith, God becomes our OBJECT OF FAITH and SUBSTANCE OF FAITH, while we become the SUBJECT OF FAITH. Faith has its root deeper than feelings. We believe, whether we see or not; we believe, whether we feel or not.
The four lepers decided to stick with the third alternative because they were not sure of the outcome. So they moved to Syria and experienced what they never bargained for; plenty of food, money and all good things you can think of. The prophecy of the man of God also came to pass and the captain who did not believe died before the increase was realised.
For without FAITH, it is impossible to please Him. It is the belief in the faithfulness of God and not a force or energy that one would exact to get material things from God.
Rejoice for God is at work in your life.