2 Kings 7: 1-9 (“tidings“)
Luke 15: 20-24
2 Corinthians 9: 15
I suppose we could have really started with where we finished, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable free gift”. I do not think Paul means that there are things you cannot speak about, but that they are so great we can hardly encompass them. Think of the language Paul uses in relation to the glad tidings. He speaks to Timothy of “the glad tidings of the glory of the blessed God”, 1 Tim 1: 11. He speaks to the Corinthians earlier in this epistle of “the radiancy of the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ”, chap 4: 4. In Ephesians 3: “to announce among the nations the glad tidings of the unsearchable riches of the Christ”, v 8. What language! Oh, how unspeakable God’s free gift is! What is it? There are things that you cannot buy. If we speak of salvation, the price has been paid, paid in full, paid to God’s satisfaction. If God is satisfied, what can man say? Are you going to raise a question with God? God is satisfied. God is satisfied in Jesus. Are you satisfied in Jesus?
“A day of good tidings”, what a picture we have in Kings. It is a famine. God would use famines to speak to people, to speak to men. He used a famine in Luke’s gospel to speak to the younger son. He would use these things to speak to us. You might say, 'These are hard times; these are difficult'. No, it is good, a good day. We are in a good day. Why is it a good day? Because Jesus is proclaimed as Saviour for sinners, proclaimed as your Saviour. Have you come to know Him yet? Have you come under the shelter of that precious blood of the Lord Jesus? Have you? Oh, it is “a day of good tidings”! Think of what we sang -
Soon Jesus’ voice of love may cease appealing’
When will that be? I do not know. You do not know. The Father knows. The Lord is awaiting the Father’s time, and He is going to come and take everyone that loves Him to be with Himself. What a moment! Will you be there? It is very solemn!
The first man we read of, the one that speaks to Elisha, does not believe. Can it be? Is anyone here like that, unbelieving?
Why unbelieving? Why wilt thou spurn
Love that so gently pleads thy return?
Here is a man who does not see it. He is not going to see it; he is not going to taste it. Think of that, lack of faith. He does not believe what he is told. The gospel is a message of faith. It goes out from faith to faith. The one who preaches has faith, and you must have faith to answer to it. Do you? Have you answered yet? Have you answered? Are you waiting? Are you disbelieving? Oh, that no-one here has a heart that is hard! The more often you hear the glad tidings and you do not accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, your heart becomes a little harder; each time it becomes a little harder. You are doing that yourself. How solemn if anyone in this room, having heard the wonderful news, the wonderful good news, has not yet come to know Jesus as their Saviour. As well as all your sins, and what you are as away from God in your sins, you are heaping up upon yourself the responsibility for rejecting God’s Man, God’s chosen Man, the One whom God has provided. He is God’s “unspeakable free gift”. He is what God has provided. It is not what man has provided. We have this dearth here. In an earlier chapter we are told that things that are completely worthless are going out for a huge price. That is like this world. If this world can get something more for something, it will do it. It will not care what true value is. It is worth what it can get. That is the way this world proceeds. That is the way commercialism works. That is what this world is built upon, man’s greed. Think of what God is providing. What a price has been paid, dear friend, what a price! It has cost God His own Son. Think of that! Think of how He could say, “I will send my beloved son: perhaps when they see him they will respect him”, Luke 20: 13. Think of God’s feelings in that, God‘s feelings in His giving, God‘s feelings in His provision of His own Son. His own Son was the One upon whom He poured out His righteous judgement on the cross at Calvary. Think of that! The Lord Jesus, a perfect, holy, sinless sacrifice! What a One He is! Do you know Him yet? Have you come to know Him for yourself? It is “good tidings”. When that door of mercy closes, these “good tidings” will be no more. What a terrible place this world will be to live in! If anyone who has known the gospel and not believed is left here, they will know what has happened. The world at large may not know what has happened, that all the believers in the Lord Jesus have gone. What a miss they will be! This world will degenerate. God’s judgement will come upon it. How terrible! And anyone left who has heard the glad tidings will know, but for them, sadly, it will be too late. When that door is closed, it will not be opened to you again, but it is open now. This is “good tidings“.
Think of these men! These men knew what they were, four leprous men. It is a universal number, four; so it represents all men: “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God“, Rom 3: 23. That is what these four leprous men represent. Dear friend, they recognise what they are. They recognise what they are in their state and in their condition as far from God. They recognise it. That is the first step you need to take in coming to know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour. As you look to Him in all His perfection, in all His sinlessness, in all His glory, where He is now on the Father’s throne, and all He has accomplished and done and the way He has gone, as you look on that, you realise what you are, and what it cost Him to go that way. Oh, dear friend, it cost Him His life! He laid down His life for you. Do you accept Him? Do you accept Him yet?
For these men it was not much of a decision they had to make. There was no food in the city. They could not go into the city, no point in going there. So they think they will go to the army that is surrounding the city, besieging the city. The worst that can happen is that they die. What an outlook! Oh, dear friend, that does not have to be your outlook. It would not be a day of good tidings if that is all we could say. What do they find? Everything is there. Everything has been provided. The enemy has gone. The enemy has fled. He has been completely defeated. You may say, what a simple matter this is. They just heard something and they were gone. Think of that!
The Lord Jesus has been into death, the Lord Jesus atoned for sins on the cross. Think of that! He “bore our sins in his body on the tree”, 1 Pet 2: 24. What a matter! He endured the righteous judgement of a holy, sin-hating God. What a matter! And then, having completed that matter, He went into death, laid down that life, laid it down in power: “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit”, Luke 23: 46. He laid that life down, went into death. Think of that! And as He went into death, He broke death’s power. What a Victor! That is the type we have here. The enemy has fled. There is no-one there left. All that there is is plenty. What do they find? They go into the first tent, you might say it is the extremity of the camp, in a bit of trepidation. Oh, there does not need to be trepidation in your heart, dear friend! Everything has been done. The Lord Jesus has accomplished the work on Calvary and He is risen, He is living, He is ascended, He is glorified, He is at the right hand of God, He is seated on the Father’s throne. What a place is His! That is where the gospel is coming from. You do not need to fear, dear friend; everything has been done. All that is left for you is plenty. Look at what they find! They ate and they drank. That is what met their immediate need. Your immediate need is met in the glad tidings. It is met in coming to know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour. You may feel your need; they were starving. Are you starving? Do you know what it is to hunger? These persons knew it and their immediate need was met.
Then they find that there is more. The first thing is silver. That suggests redemption. They found it. They had it. It was theirs. They found that there was plenty of silver and gold, and garments, and they went and hid them. Well, that was not right. I suppose it was a bit like the woman who had the flux of blood all those years. She touched the hem of the Lord’s garments and she was cleansed. Immediately the Lord knew it. She knew it. No-one else knew it. She was quite happy to hide. She got what she wanted. The Lord brings her forth, but not to expose her, Luke 8: 43-47. The Lord would not want to expose us but He wants to bring out what the change is, so that they come to it themselves that they were not doing right. “This day is a day of good tidings”. Think of that message that they bring back into the city! Think of the message that is going out! The Pharisees and the priests, they took apostles at the beginning of Acts and beat them and said, 'Do not speak any more about this', Acts 5: 40, but they could not help it. They could not help but speak about it. Oh, dear friend, if you come to know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, you go to school on Monday or go to work on Monday, are you different? Of course, you are different! Are you going to speak about it? Of course, you should speak about it. That is a test to us; what there is cannot be hidden. It is “a day of good tidings”. They want others to come into it, what they have enjoyed for themselves. That is why we have preachings; that is why we have preachers, persons that have come into the gain of what has been provided to them, and they want others to come into the same blessing. And it is available to all. There is no shortage in blessing. God is not like men where there is shortage, where supplies run out and they need to wait until the next shipment comes in. God’s resource is infinite. Oh, how wonderful! What a day of good tidings! These persons knew it, they went to the city and sadly, alas! the man, the captain at the gate, the one whom the king leaned on, saw it but he did not taste of it; he was trampled. Think of that! Let no-one here be like that man in this “a day of good tidings“!
Luke 15 is well-known. Think of what is available there; think of the Father’s heart! The younger son comes to himself. He is in the far country. We have all known what it is to be in the far country. Let no-one in this room still be in the far country! There is no need to be in the far country because it is a place of want, a place of need, a place of dearth. Oh, dear friend, come to know Jesus! Come to yourself! He comes to himself and he recognises what he has and it is nothing, and he realises there is something better, far better, the Father’s house. You must make a move, put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, and accept Him as your Saviour. Think of how pleasing that is to the Father! Here is one who speaks of the Father, a divine Person, and He is moving, moving towards you. It has often been said that you do not have to move very far. Dear friend, you do not have to leave your seat. You will know the Father coming. As coming to know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, you will know the Father’s delight in you. The Father was waiting for this. The Father is waiting for you. The Lord is waiting for you. Think of that! Have you moved, made a move in your heart? It is a heart matter. You do not have to get off your seat. Have you made a move in your heart towards the Lord Jesus, put your faith and trust in Him? Say, 'Lord Jesus, I accept and believe that Thou hast died for me'. Can you say that? He is your Substitute. He is available to all. How wonderful that is! But unless you put your faith and trust in Him for yourself, it is of no avail.
But this younger son comes to himself. He realises there is nothing, comes to himself, knows where there is plenty. He has low thoughts about himself and that would be right. How wonderful to think of the Father’s thoughts! Think of the Father’s thoughts of the Lord Jesus, the Father’s thoughts of His Son! How wonderful, how great these thoughts are. The Father looks on the returning sinner, the repenting sinner, because that is what this man is, a repenting sinner. He moves in repentance. I think his repentance deepens as he moves and that is how it should be. How wonderful to have that initial thing, then to move and to find that the Father is looking on you as He looks on Christ. He is not offered a servant’s place, not a lowly place within the door. We might be satisfied with our sins being forgiven and that is all. We are going to be saved, we are going to be in heaven eternally. How wonderful that is, but how much more is on offer in this day of good tidings! Think of the Father looking on you as He looks on Christ, “Bring out the best robe”. There are other robes perhaps, but there is the best robe. I have the best robe; you can have the best robe. Every believer on the Lord Jesus gets the best robe, clothed in the worth of Christ as we have often heard. Think of the Father looking on you, looking on every one who has put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, looking on them as He looks on Christ. Think of the delight He has in that One and His delight in you because you have put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus. How wonderful!
These things rise far above our meagre thoughts. Indeed, how unspeakable is God’s free gift! How wonderful it is, dear friend. Have you come to know Him for yourself? There is one here - we did not read of him - who never comes in. Is anyone here still outside? Are you still outside? Why? Why should you be outside? Think of what is available! Think of what is on offer in the house, what the Father is giving! Think of sonship! That is what the Father is giving. The delight that He has found in His own Son, the Lord Jesus, He finds in us because we have come to put our faith and trust in that blessed One. He has made us sons. We have the gift of the Spirit. We do not become sons after we get the Spirit; we get the gift of the Spirit because we are sons. How wonderful that is! That is the way God moves. How unspeakable His free gift is! Dear friend, have you come to know the Lord Jesus for yourself. Or are you still outside in bitterness, perhaps looking at others? Oh, dear friend, do not look at others. Yes, they are sinners, but sinners saved by grace. The younger son is there in the house. He does not deserve it. None of us deserves it, but that is the goodness and grace and majesty of God’s thoughts. How wonderful they are! What a day of good tidings! What a day we are in, a day that is shortly coming to a close. The time is appointed. God has appointed that time but not so that persons may be lost. It is appointed so that persons may be saved. It may be that you may be saved tonight, maybe because of that. Oh, dear friend, what a moment! It is a wonderful moment.
We went up to the cemetery where my mother was buried after the headstone was put up. If you walk through a cemetery, it is very solemn. Look at the headstones, dear friend. I do not suppose this captain at the gate, and this elder son, would not have been very old. If you look at these headstones, you will somebody find your age there. Whatever cemetery you walk through, you will find somebody your age. How solemn! Are many years ahead of you? Who knows? Young children, God in His goodness sees to it that they are catered for. Think of that! The grace of God, how wonderful! There are those here, all ages represented in this room, some under the age of responsibility - we do not need to worry about them. God has seen to that in His divine fairness. How wonderful! If you are getting a little older, if you are about twelve, you are becoming responsible, getting older and older and more responsible. The more often you hear the glad tidings, the more responsible you are. Is anyone here still outside? The next headstone to my mother’s was a man that died the same day as her. He was in his late thirties, he was a pharmacist, and he died in a car crash. Think of that! How sudden! There was one who knew the Lord as her Saviour, peacefully waiting for Him to take her to be forever with Himself - how wonderful! - and another, who knows? I do not know, perhaps a believer. I do not know - “The Lord knows those that are his” (2 Tim 2: 19) - whose death was suddenly, violently, unexpectedly.
Dear friend, have you come to know Jesus yet? Are you still outside looking in? You do not need to be. This is “a day of good tidings“. Oh, how solemn it is, how urgent the word is. Do not put it off, do not waste any more time, dear friend. Come to know the Lord Jesus for yourself! Come to know Him now, then you can know what it is to have this “unspeakable free gift“. It includes the gift of the Spirit, another divine Person. How wonderful it is that God sets us up so that we can move through this scene. We are empowered to move through this scene, not as we were before, not like the four leprous men in the Old Testament. I suppose they remained lepers. Oh, dear friend, you can be cleansed, you are made fit, set up. You are set up for eternity, yes, but set up to move through this scene in power, bearing a testimony to what God has done in you in coming to know Jesus as your Saviour. Oh, how wonderful! Is there anything better?
Dear friend, I feel these words have been spoken feebly but I trust each one here may not be putting things off but may have their faith and trust firmly in the Lord Jesus, the One who has died for them, the One who has shed His blood for them, and the One who lives for them. May it be so for His Name’s sake.
10th February 2008