Both Expected and Unexpected
By Iverna Tompkins
As transcribed and edited by Jane Vaughn
[This is a longer scripture reading than usual, but do take the time to read it – all. It is important for grasping this message. j.v.ed.]
Please read with me this story from the Old Testament: 2 Kings 6:24 through all of Chapter 7. We’ll read it from The Message paraphrase.
2 Kings:24 - At a later time, this: Ben-Hadad king of Aram pulled together his troops and launched a siege on Samaria. 25 This brought on a terrible famine, so bad that food prices soared astronomically. Eighty shekels for a donkey's head! Five shekels for a bowl of field greens!
26 One day the king of Israel was walking along the city wall. A woman cried out, "Help! Your majesty!" 27 He answered, "If God won't help you, where on earth can I go for help? To the granary? To the dairy?" 28 The king continued, "Tell me your story."
She said, “This woman came to me and said, ‘Give up your son and we’ll have him for today’s supper; tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I told her, 'Your turn - bring your son so we can have him for supper.' But she had hidden her son away." 30 When the king heard the woman's story he ripped apart his robe. Since he was walking on the city wall, everyone saw that next to his skin he was wearing coarse burlap.
31 And he called out, "God do his worst to me - and more - if Elisha son of Shaphat still has a head on his shoulders at this day's end."
32 Elisha was sitting at home, the elders sitting with him. The king had already dispatched an executioner, but before the man arrived Elisha spoke to the elders: "Do you know that this murderer has just now sent a man to take off my head? Look, when the executioner arrives, shut the door and lock it. Don't I even now hear the footsteps of his master behind him?" 33 While he was giving his instructions, the king showed up, accusing, "This trouble is directly from God! And what's next? I'm fed up with God!"
Chapter 7, verse 1 Elisha said, "Listen! God's word! The famine's over. This time tomorrow food will be plentiful - a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel. The market at the city gate will be buzzing." 2 The attendant on whom the king leaned for support said to the Holy Man, "You expect us to believe that? Trapdoors opening in the sky and food tumbling out?" "You'll watch it with your own eyes," he said, "but you will not eat so much as a mouthful!"
3 It happened that four lepers were sitting just outside the city gate. They said to one another, "What are we doing sitting here at death's door? 4 If we enter the famine-struck city we'll die; if we stay here we'll die. So let's take our chances in the camp of Aram and throw ourselves on their mercy. If they receive us we'll live, if they kill us we'll die. We've got nothing to lose." 5 So after the sun went down they got up and went to the camp of Aram. When they got to the edge of the camp, surprise! Not a man in the camp! 6 The Master had made the army of Aram hear the sound of horses and a mighty army on the march. They told one another, "The king of Israel hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to attack us!" 7 Panicked, they ran for their lives through the darkness, abandoning tents, horses, donkeys - the whole camp just as it was - running for dear life.
8 These four lepers entered the camp and went into a tent. First they ate and drank. Then they grabbed silver, gold, and clothing, and went off and hid it. They came back, entered another tent, and looted it, again hiding their plunder. 9 Finally they said to one another, "We shouldn't be doing this! This is a day of good news and we're making it into a private party! If we wait around until morning we'll get caught and punished. Come on! Let's go tell the news to the king's palace!"
10 So they went and called out at the city gate, telling what had happened: "We went to the camp of Aram and, surprise! - the place was deserted. Not a soul, not a sound! Horses and donkeys left tethered and tents abandoned just as they were." 11 The gatekeepers got the word to the royal palace, giving them the whole story.
12 Roused in the middle of the night, the king told his servants, "Let me tell you what Aram has done. They knew that we were starving, so they left camp and have hid in the field, thinking, 'When they come out of the city, we'll capture them alive and take the city.'" 13 One of his advisors answered, "Let some men go and take five of the horses left behind. The worst that can happen is no worse than what could happen to the whole city. Let's send them and find out what's happened."
14 They took two chariots with horses. The king sent them after the army of Aram with the orders, "Scout them out; find out what happened." 15 They went after them all the way to the Jordan. The whole way was strewn with clothes and equipment that Aram had dumped in their panicked flight. The scouts came back and reported to the king. 16 The people then looted the camp of Aram. Food prices dropped overnight - a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel - God's word to the letter!
17 The king ordered his attendant, the one he leaned on for support, to be in charge of the city gate. The people, turned into a mob, poured through the gate, trampling him to death. It was exactly what the Holy Man had said when the king had come to see him. 18 Every word of the Holy Man to the king - "A handful of meal for a shekel, two handfuls of grain for a shekel this time tomorrow in the gate of Samaria," 19 with the attendant's sarcastic reply to the Holy Man, "You expect us to believe that? Trapdoors opening in the sky and food tumbling out?" followed by the response, "You'll watch it with your own eyes, but you won't eat so much as a mouthful" - proved true. 20 The final stroke came when the people trampled the man to death at the city gate.
I give no apology for the lengthy reading. We ought to be able to read the Scriptures – the whole context of the stories. I used to cut way back on the reading of the Word, to save time, and one day I thought the Lord said to me: “Since when is what you have to say more important than what I’ve already said?” :-) And so we have read the entirety of this story. We needed to do that so we can understand the whole scene and appreciate the significance in its fullness.
It’s interesting to me that if you do some research on miracles in the Bible, or find books on miracles that are declared or described in the Bible, very often this particular story is ignored. But the reality of what we have just read is truly a miracle.
I felt your groans, although I didn’t hear them, as we read the latter part of chapter 6. What a horrendous story! The people were starving to death, and here we find two women arguing over a deal they had made to kill their children and eat them. Apparently one of the women participated in the eating of another’s child but then reneged to save her own. Yes, that is a horrendous story, and yet it is a true one.
I believe it to be a picture of a lot of things that are happening today. I have a daughter in her 50’s and it’s amazing to me to hear her say, “Oh, how things have changed since I was a young woman.” And I can respond: “I’m 23 years older than you – that’s not hard for me to recognize.” :-)
Things have changed. There’s a constant turn-over from what we used to know. “He that is filthy, let him be filthier still” (Rev.22:11). How many of you know that’s a scripture? How many of you know that’s a scripture that’s being fulfilled – today?
I really and truly cannot understand – or rather, I can’t grasp – the reports of iniquity that are happening these days, even in our own little circles. It is amazing to me that. . . . I’m just not going to go into it. All you have to do is watch the news. Well, if you are happy look at the news, but if you’re already depressed and you listen to the news, you’ll kill yourself. :-) It’s not a happy report that we get about our world, day after day.
Now, the Scripture lays out this story to show the horrendous situation that existed in this particular place at this particular time in history. In view of that, along with our situations today, I believe Christians need to understand – the worst conditions offer the greatest opportunities!
I had sort of a short notice that I would be speaking tonight and thought, “Well, you know, I’ve been speaking for over 40 years. I certainly must have some message I could ‘warm up.’” :-) So I began going through some of my files, and the Lord stopped me short and declared: “I have another word to say through you.” And He directed me to what I’m sharing with you tonight. We could title it: “A Miracle: Both Expected and Unexpected.”
What is a miracle? If you look up the word in Webster’s Dictionary, it states: “A miracle is an event, or effect, in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature, or transcending our knowledge of these laws; it’s an extra-ordinary anomalist or abnormal event that is brought about by super-human agency.”
That’s in Webster’s. Read it again and be gripped by what even Webster has to say – “deviating from the known;” “transcending our knowledge;” “extra-ordinary;” “super-human.”
Why is it that Christians feel we have to make excuses for miracles? “Oh, you call everything a miracle, Iverna.” Every thing that goes beyond my natural comprehension – everything that happens that is greater than I can make happen myself – I call miraculous! And I believe it’s time for us – Christians – to learn to expect miracles! But we need to understand what that really is all about.
Miracles can be wrought only by Almighty power, as when Christ healed lepers saying, “Be thou clean.” Or, to the turmoiled waters He commanded, “Peace. Be still.”
What I’m saying is that miracles were performed directly by God, by Christ, by the Holy Spirit, by His Word, and – and by humans who were filled with that supernatural power of God.
If I asked this, and I’m not going to ask you for an answer, but if I did ask: “How many of you are looking forward to the Sunday Night Miracle Service here at the church – because you need a miracle?” I’m certain many hands would be raised – if I actually asked the question.
Then, if I asked you (the same audience) “How many of you are looking forward to Sunday Night’s service…” – remember, I’m not really asking…. But, “how many of you were looking forward to a Miracle Service – that you might perform a miracle?” Ahhhh… That makes you think, doesn’t it? The fact is, we line up as a bunch of “takers” over and over and over again.
Please understand this – if you have a need, you ought to come for prayer. I hope you know I believe that for a certainty. Let’s just put a period on that one right now. I truly believe that. But I think it’s time – especially for a body like this one who has had the incredible teaching and preaching and prophecies and opportunities to hear messengers from all over the world – it is time that the miracles begin to flow – through you!
Yet we are in service after service, and everything is pulpit or platform-centered and the rest of us sit there and – judge – or, rate - or, evaluate. :-) “How good will this be?” and “How good will that be?” And “I hope Pastor gives me a word today….”
So we sit like giraffes in our seats – trying to get our heads up high enough that he spots us! :-) [You didn’t think I noticed, did you? :-) ] Each one hoping to hear: “Sister, I call you out.” “Brother, the Lord would say to you….”
Now I do thank God for pastor’s prophetic ministry. But I’m telling you, I know and am confident I have a word from God tonight. It is time for this church to begin to flow in the miraculous in the way God has gifted us! All of us.
Go to Part 2 . . .