Due to the delay of The Ghan, we will not be in Alice Springs where we had intended to worship at the Desert Life Church. We must fly directly to Uluru from Adelaide and they only have flights in the mornings.
I found a Saturday night church in Adelaide that started at 5:30pm. Just as we were about to leave, we noted that the service would be in the Farsi language.
We have gone to non-English services on Sundays but felt that us showing up on Saturday would be very strange indeed. What are we to do?
This put me on a search of how people attend a church when they live in remote locations.
Everyone agrees that proximity is directly proportional to your involvement in church.
Some articles wonder if attending church is obsolete or unnecessary. Some people are done with church but this is often because of a sense of entitlement as opposed to servanthood.
Church really isn’t a building. You don’t attend church. You are the church.
Rob and I had a chance to discuss what we look for and are looking for in a church. We go to church to:
- Collectively worship our King
- Fellowship with like-minded people
- Serve other Christians within the church
- Encourage each other to spread the good news of Jesus Christ outside the church
- Dig deeper into the Word of God and learn the context about when it was written.
- Be a conduit for doing great things for your community in Jesus name that one could not do themselves. By pooling resources and by having larger numbers, one can have a bigger impact.
Here is a list that my church-seeking daughter and I came up with, and Rob and I added to it. No church is going to have all of these points and some are more important others.
Punctual beginning and end
Music with tolerable volume
No inside information given
Can easily bring visitors
Strong community-personal bonds between attendees
Strong children’s program
Jesus name is lifted
Outreach activity – faith in action
No darkness during the service
Communion is germ free
My faith has found a resting place
Bonus: knowledge of Perspectives or Unreached People Group (UPG); strong missions
Close in proximity to home
Traditional building preferred
Size-small to medium
Strong Church leadership and willingness to drop what isn’t working
I will add one more thing that: my daughter requested that the sermons be on lesser known Biblical scriptures. She is tired of the recycled sermons and well known characters. The Bible is a big book!
Rob enjoys scripture based on geography or history. I like strong Biblical exposition. During our travels, I had downloaded a church app that I felt had most of the church characteristics that we would hope to find in a church. So I went to the app to look up an archived sermon.
The sermon was called The Seige of Samaria. Rob read the Bible passage, and we both agreed that it was difficult to understand and looked forward to the pastor’s sermon. We needed and wanted guidance.
So without further adieu, I introduce Travis Smith of Evangelical Church of Bangkok.
Sermon: The Siege of Samaria – https://subspla.sh/6kgqg7m
2 Kings 6:24-7:20
Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.
Aram is modern day Syria
PLIGHT (2 Kings 6:24-33)
24 Now it came about after this, that Ben-hadad king of Aram gathered all his army and went up and besieged Samaria.
25 There was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver.
26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!”
27 He said, “If the Lord does not help you, from where shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?”
28 And the king said to her, “What is the matter with you?” And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’
29 So we boiled my son and ate him; and I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.”
30 When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes—now he was passing by on the wall—and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath on his body.
31 Then he said, “May God do so to me and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat remains on him today.”
32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. And the king sent a man from his presence; but before the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, “Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold the door shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?”
33 While he was still talking with them, behold, the messenger came down to him and he said, “Behold, this evil is from the Lord; why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”
PROMISE (2 Kings7:1-2)
1 Then Elisha said, “Listen to the word of the Lord; thus says the Lord, ‘Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.’”
2 The royal officer on whose hand the king was leaning answered the man of God and said, “Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” Then he said, “Behold, you will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat of it.”
PROVISION (2 Kings 7:3-7)
3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why do we sit here until we die?
4 If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ then the famine is in the city and we will die there; and if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us go over to the camp of the Arameans. If they spare us, we will live; and if they kill us, we will but die.”
5 They arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Arameans; when they came to the outskirts of the camp of the Arameans, behold, there was no one there.
6 For the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.”
7 Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents and their horses and their donkeys, even the camp just as it was, and fled for their life.
PARTY (2 Kings 7:8)
8 When these lepers came to the outskirts of the camp, they entered one tent and ate and drank, and carried from there silver and gold and clothes, and went and hid them; and they returned and entered another tent and carried from there also, and went and hid them.
PROCLAMATION (2 Kings 7:9-11)
9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent; if we wait until morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come, let us go and tell the king’s household.”
10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and they told them, saying, “We came to the camp of the Arameans, and behold, there was no one there, nor the voice of man, only the horses tied and the donkeys tied, and the tents just as they were.”
11 The gatekeepers called and told it within the king’s household.
PROOF (2 Kings 7:12-15)
12 Then the king arose in the night and said to his servants, “I will now tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know that we are hungry; therefore they have gone from the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, ‘When they come out of the city, we will capture them alive and get into the city.’”
13 One of his servants said, “Please, let some men take five of the horses which remain, which are left in the city. Behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who are left in it; behold, they will be in any case like all the multitude of Israel who have already perished, so let us send and see.”
14 They took therefore two chariots with horses, and the king sent after the army of the Arameans, saying, “Go and see.”
15 They went after them to the Jordan, and behold, all the way was full of clothes and equipment which the Arameans had thrown away in their haste. Then the messengers returned and told the king.
PLUNDER (2 Kings 7:16-20)
16 So the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. Then a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord.
17 Now the king appointed the royal officer on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate; but the people trampled on him at the gate, and he died just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him.
18 It happened just as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, “Two measures of barley for a shekel and a measure of fine flour for a shekel, will be sold tomorrow about this time at the gate of Samaria.”
19 Then the royal officer answered the man of God and said, “Now behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?” And he said, “Behold, you will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat of it.”
20 And so it happened to him, for the people trampled on him at the gate and he died.
A siege is an army tactic used to minimize the loss of life by the attackers and maximize the loss of life on the enemy.
The siege had lasted a long time which had produced famine. Food prices were at an all time high. People were starting to eat their children. They were all under a death sentence. They were trapped and starving and resorting to cannabalism.
The king tore his robe in horror and grief that they were eating their children. Underneath his robe was sackcloth which means that he was already pleading for God to intervene.
In verse 27, the exasperated king feels that if Lord does not help, what can I do?
If you can’t attack God, attack the man of God. Joram, Ahab’s son, was already angry at Elisha. He sent a messenger for the head of Elisha. The royal officer or messenger is an assassin.
This passage starts with: Now it came about after this so this is a continuation of an earlier story. This is a history between Joram and Elisha.
Elisha, a spokesman for God or, in other words, a prophet, said to the royal officer that food will be in abundance and it will be affordable within 24 hrs. The officer said that this miracle would be impossible even for God. Unbelief!! Elisha tells the officer that he will witness the salvation but not participate in it.
The four lepers were outcasts from the city and were going to die anyway. They used sound logic. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain to go to the enemy camp.
The lepers were alone but God provided. God used supernatural means to cause the Aramean army to flee.
God provided to the lepers for the most pressing need of food. Then money and clothing followed. They were the first to experience the blessing.
If the story ended here, the lepers would have been selfish villians. They elected to go back to tell the city the good news.
This news seemed unbelievable and more like a trap. The king’s servants begged for the king to check it out. It was reasoned that they would either be killed by the Arameans or die of starvation.
There was an abundance of food. The royal officer was in charge of watching the gate and he was trampled to death as was foretold.
When there is repetition in the Bible, it means, PAY ATTENTION. Repetition of the royal officer’s death accentuated his unbelief of God.
In the Bible, we read about how God gloriously delivers His people. Examples are Moses, Gideon, and David.
So do you see the gospel in this story? The excitement of deliverance. Salvation. Good overcomes evil.
Let’s overlay the gospel in this story:
Our plight is that all humanity sits under a death sentence of spiritual death. Physical starvation is minor to our spiritual starvation. We cannot save ourselves.
A savior is coming. He alone will reverse it. He brings life not death.
Armeans ran for their life out of fear. Who do you know who is running for their life in fear?
We are rescued by God. We couldn’t save ourselves. Jesus took our place.
The salvation of the lepers is a salvation of the dying man. The party is a reconciled relationship. They rejoiced and had fellowship with others who had been saved from certain death.
These lepers couldn’t keep this news to themselves. This party without proclamation would be a tragedy. The story would be incomplete. There is still a city full of starving people. They are dying.
Responses will vary:
- Not believe. The royal officer rejected God. It resulted in death.
- Proof needed. Samaritans needed more proof or evidence. The good news is too good to be true. They were hesitant. God provided for their wants and needs. Go ahead: God can handle your doubts and questions. Be proactive about it. Ask Him to reveal himself.
- Hear, believe and follow. Multitudes place their trust in Him. The dead have come to Life.
Spiritual plunder is what we need and long for. There is bounty outside the city gates. There are multitudes who do not know this.
Our church is so glad to have people visit. We call people who visit preChristians. They are on a journey to a faith.
We have a program called Alpha that is designed to ask the hard questions.
The lepers could have been content to keep the good news to themselves. We as lepers might be content to just attend church and be fed. We may have no strong desire to tell others about Jesus. But what about the starving world? To coin a phrase from Greta Thunberg, “How dare you!”
We are living in a starving world that is desperate for a Savior that I know personally. There is a spiritual famine. It is a privilege and responsibilty to share Jesus with them.
- With which character(s) do you identify in the passage? Why?
- How is Jesus Christ the perfect provision for our plight?
- Describe the blessings of being saved. What does the “party” look like for you?
- Think of some people in your life that are still “inside the city”. Have you told them about Jesus yet? If not, when will you?