2 Kings 7:2
Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven…

Around Samaria is drawn the fiery girth of Assyrian vindictiveness. Siege is laid to the city, and soon famine, most ghastly and horrible, appears. In the modern bombardment of a city, there is a grandeur mingled with the terror. The toss and burst of a bomb-shell kindles the eye of the artist, while the citizens perish. But there is no imagining the desolation of a city approached by an old-time siege, through years of starvation. The judgment-day only can reveal the anguish endured when Hamilcar besieged Utica, and Titus Jerusalem. Alas, for Samaria! What a crowd of hollow-eyed and staggering wretches filled the streets, crying for bread. So great was the scarcity of food that an ass's head was sold for twenty-five dollars. Mothers cooked their children, and fought for the disgusting fragments. And still hunger pinched and drank up the life of the great city and lifted its wolfish howl in the market-place, and shovelled its victims into the grave. In the midst of all this, Elisha, in the name of God, said, "Tomorrow the famine will be gone, and you will get a peck of flour for five shillings." A nobleman, who was the confidential friend of the king, stood by and laughed at the idea. He said, "If a window shutter could be opened in the sky, and a lot of corn pitched out, you might expect it. Hal ha! you silly prophet; you cannot fool me!" The prophet replied to the taunt by saying, "Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof." Before we come to the more cheerful phase of the subject, let us attend the funeral of that scoffer who was trod on in the gates. The obsequies shall be brief, for we have not much respect for him. I knew him well. You all knew him. He was an out-and-out Rationalist. Elisha, at God's command, had prophesied plenty of fine flour on the morrow. "Preposterous!" said the sceptical nobleman. "Where is it to come from? Why, every hole and corner of the city has been ransacked for flour. We have eaten up the horses. There is no prospect that the Assyrians will lift the siege; and yet, Elisha, you insult my common sense, and my reason, by telling me that to-morrow the market will be glutted with bread supplies. Away with your nonsense!" Yet, notwithstanding it seemed unreasonable, the fine flour came; and, because of his unbelief, the Rationalist of Samaria perished. At this point the great battle of Christianity is to be fought. The great foe of Christianity to-day is Rationalism, that comes out from our schools, and universities, and magazines, and newspapers, to scoff at Bible truth, and caricature the old religion of Jesus. It says, "Jesus is not God, for it is impossible to explain how He can be Divine and Human at the same time." The Bible is not inspired, for there are in it things that they don't like. Regeneration is a farce; there is good enough in us, and the only thing is to bring it out. Development is the word — development. What is still more alarming, is that Christian men dare not meet this ridicule. Christian men try to soften the Bible down to suit the sceptics. The sceptics sneer at the dividing of the Red Sea, and the Christian goes to explaining that the wind blew a hurricane from one direction a good while until all the water piled up; and, besides that, it was low water, anyhow, and so the Israelites went through without any trouble. Why not be frank, and say, "I believe the Lord God Almighty came to the brink of the Red Sea, and with His right arm swung back the billows on the right side, and with His left arm swung back the billows on the left side; and the abashed water stood up hundreds of feet high, while through their glassy walls the sea-monsters gazed with affrighted eyes on the passing Israelites?" "Oh," you say, "these Rationalists would laugh at me." Then let them laugh. The Samaritan sceptic laughed at Elisha; but when, under the rush of the people to get their bread, the unbeliever was trampled to death, whose turn was it to laugh then? The moment you begin to explain away the miraculous and supernatural, you surrender the Bible. Compromise nothing! Trim off nothing to please the sceptics. If you cannot stand the jeer of your business friends you are not worthy to be one of Christ's disciples. You can afford to wait. The tide will turn. God's Word will be vindicated; and though it may seem to be against the laws of nature and the rules of reason, to-morrow a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel; and then as the people rush out of the gates to get the bread, alas, for the Rationalist! he will be trodden under foot, and will go down to shame and everlasting contempt. You know that all the nations are famine struck by sin. They are dying for bread. Here comes through the gates a precious supply — not one loaf, but an abundance for all; pardon for all, strength for all, sympathy for all comfort for all! Will you have this bread that came down from heaven and which, if a man eat, he shall never hunger? Glorious gospel! So wide in its provisions. Whosoever! Mark you that God stopped Samaria's famine, not with coarse meal, but, the text says, with fine flour. So the Bread of Life, with which God would appease our hunger, is made of the best material. Jesus was fine in His life, fine in His sympathies, fine in His promises. It means no coarse supply when Jesus offers Himself to the people saying, "I am the Bread of Life." — "Fine flour for a shekel." That day when the gates of Samaria were opened, why did they make such excitement about the flour? Why did they not bring in some figs, or pastry, or fragrant bouquets instead? The people would have run down the bouquets, and thrown away the figs, and trampled upon the pastry in the rush for bread. Effort has been made to feed those spiritually dying with the poesies or rhetoric, and the confectionary of sentimentalism. Our theology has been sweetened and sweetened until it is as sweet as ipecacuanha, and as nauseating to the regenerated soul. What the people need is bread, just as God mixes it — unsweetened, plain, homely, unpretending, yet life-sustaining bread.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.

WEB: Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, "Behold, if Yahweh made windows in heaven, could this thing be?" He said, "Behold, you shall see it with your eyes, but shall not eat of it."

Presumptiveness of Unbelief
Top of Page
Top of Page