Today I want to examine the miraculous events that surrounded the healing of
Naaman the Leper
in 2 Kings 5, 1-14
Folks tell us that “first impressions” last and are usually important yard-sticks by which we measure or evaluate the particular individual in question. Our first impression of Naaman, in 2 Kings chapter 5, is that he is an important figure in Syria, a man who holds a high ranking office as “Captain” or a Commanding Officer, – highly favoured by the King, and one whose Valour or personal courage or bravery had brought his country to victory. So to all intents and purposes an individual of no mean consequence! However, there is a fly in the ointment, a blot in his copybook, a stain on his record, we are told “he was a leper!” Immediately the evaluation, the “first impression” etched into the mind, becomes a little less favourable one, he becomes one who we would obviously think twice about meeting, or about any social contact. Leprosy can be contagious, it could get on us, it could colour our skin, it could infect our bodies and ruin our future, so if you don’t mind Naaman, we will give you a wide-birth for the time-being.
Have you been able to imagine with me how this must have been the way that Naaman was being treated in his own city
and by his own comrades, officers and men?
He was what I am calling
A Man with a Miserable Condition.
Leprosy was, and still is a most miserable diseased condition, although thankfully Medical Science today has made great strides in alleviating the suffering and preventing the spread of the infection. Naaman was a suffering man, and a man in need of help and healing. I meet people some times who would despise our way of life as Christians, and say that we only use
our religion, we only use God as a Crutch! Years ago when I was in a car accident and broke my leg, I was very glad of a “crutch”- something to lean on, to give me support in my crises. So I say, yes to those who would criticise us, for like Naaman, we are all “broken” people, born into this world, diseased by what the Bible calls “SIN” and suffering from the “misery” it often brings.
Yes I do need a crutch, a shelter in the time of storm, a staff to lean on, and so do you, for I have yet to meet a soul who is not broken in some area of their lives. Today you may be breaking Physically like Naaman, or, you may be breaking emotionally, breaking financially, breaking mentally, breaking spiritually, and glad that there is help and healing offered to you today in Jesus Christ. All around us people are struggling and breaking up, moving from one problem to another – from one difficulty to another, and wrestling with fears and uncertainties without and within.
Like Naaman, their friends are giving them a wide-birth. Isn’t it amazing that when things are going well with you, and you have success in your life, how many will want to be your friend, to treat you to Lunch, to take you on shopping trips and enjoy a holiday with you, but when you are HIV positive, the phone stops ringing, when you are facing bankruptcy, there is no one who wants to sit beside you for Lunch, when you get fired from your job, friends cross the street in the town to pass by on the other side. When you are facing the Divorce courts suddenly all your friends evaporate! Human nature is like that, we don’t want to get involved in the hurts of others.
I imagine that it was something similar for Naaman, but it is clear from our text that not everyone was giving Naaman a “wide-birth”. There was within his own household a little serving girl from Israel, who had once been taken captive as a slave, but in spite of that she clearly had a heart for her Master and a desire for his well-being. She knew that back home there was a prophet, Elisha, a man of God, and knew that God was able to grant help and healing to all who suffer. So as we have seen in the text – word eventually circulated in high places, and Naaman was sent off to Israel, with the blessing of the King.
Thus as we have seen him
A Man with a Miserable Condition
We are now forced to admit that he was
A Man with a Mistaken Conception
His first mistaken conception was, that he went to ….
The wrong Person
Somehow or other the King of Syria thought it prudent to write to the King of Israel on Naaman’s behalf and send him there for the healing. But it was the Prophet of God – (not the King) who had the real power. Many today have mistaken conceptions about where life’s answers and solutions lie. They wrongly assume that the politicians, the press, the entrepreneurs, the rich and famous, the psychics, the best sellers have the power, the answer, – but it is not true. I heard a little while ago about one of Americas most successful businessmen, who testified that in spite of his business success, he had made a mess of his personal life, and went to see a psychiatrist who gave him a little book entitled “How to be a good person.” In the first chapter he read
Think Good, Think Good, Think Good, and he went about thinking and trying to think to replace any negative thinking with positive thinking. The Second chapter was entitled, Do Good, Do Good, Do Good, and again he set about doing whatever good he could to those around him. By afternoon he reached the third chapter which was entitled Be Good, Be Good, Be Good, and every effort was exhausted in his striving to be a good person. At bed time he opened the book to the final chapter which said: “You are Good”, and he says I tore the book in pieces and threw it in the bin, for I was still the same rotten sinner that I was, when I had started the day. What was wrong was that he “went to the wrong person”. The only person who can deal adequately and effectively with the “sin problem” in your life or mine is the person of Jesus Christ! The Hymn writer asks, “Have you been to Jesus for the Cleaning power, are you washed in the blood of the Lamb”?
And Naaman not only went to the wrong person, he took with him The wrong Price.
With his Camels weighted with Silver, Gold and many changes of fine clothing, Naaman arrived eventually at the Prophet Elisha’s door. Eager for his healing and deliverance from the disease, he was willing to part with any treasure to secure it, and pay any price to have it. Little did he know that the miracle was a free gift from God! So it is with the Miracle you need today. Whatever you need from God, whatever misery needs removing, whatever burden needs lifting, whatever pains needs relieving, whatever sin needs forgiving, whatever sickness or disease needs healing, Gods miracle is there for the taking it is yours by faith – not by payment. You cannot buy God, his mercy is not a bargain basement offer, his pardon and salvation are not cut-price deals. Salvation is a FREE gift, and you can give a gift only to someone with an outstretched hand. Reach out today and accept the “gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23. The price has already been paid, the transaction has already been finished at the Cross at Calvary. Jesus paid a very high price for your Miracle, for your Salvation, he bought it on that cross with his precious blood. It will cost you nothing, but it has cost him everything! It is not about what you have to offer, but all about what He has already obtained for you.
Down through the years of Church History, there have been many documented evidences of those who tried to buy favour with God. Many have donated large sums of money, large stipendiary benefits , large chunks of property and lands to Church and Clergy alike in order to win favour with God …. but it cannot be done. While God expects and demands our Tithes and our Offerings, as good stewards of his provision, yet nowhere in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments does he imply that this brings us into favour or special grace with Him. Grace and favour are both unmerited and undeserved gifts. The Hymn Writer put it: “It is not try but trust, it is not do but done, our God has wrought for us great victory through His Son!”
So while Naaman went to The wrong Person
And took with him, ….The wrong Price
His third mistaken conception was that he assumed
The wrong Procedure
On arrival at the Prophet’s door, Elisha simply sent a messenger to tell him to go to the “Jordan River“ and wash in it “seven times.” This was not what Naaman expected, and he became angry! The very fact that the Prophet, the man of God did not even greet him, did not come out to him, did not minister personally to his need, did not pray with him, did not even speak to him, a high ranking officer in the army…. He said “I thought he would come out to me, and stand and call on God, and wave his hand over the disease, and cure the leper…”v11
Things were certainly not going according to plan! But often times God is not swayed by the plans of men, the purposes of men, or the procedures of men. Man Proposes and God
Disposes! “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord” Isaiah 55.8. The Miracle of our Salvation as well as the Miracle of our healings are only possible by Gods way, not by mans way. Whether we like it or not and whether we agree with it or not, God way is the way of “faith” not the way of “sight”. Stop looking at what your natural eye sees, and start looking at what your spiritual vision tells you that God is the God of the impossible. See your impossibilities as possible. If you can see that then you are seeing well.
Naaman was governed, as most of us are by their senses… he was influenced only by the things he could see and understand. What a strange and unusual path the prophet had asked him to take. “Go and wash”? It is likely that he had already washed before he left home, it was not that he was dirty, he was diseased! Clearly the Prophet didn’t understand or appreciate his dilemma. It would not be fitting or suitable for him to lower himself to such an exercise. At any rate, the waters or rivers of Damascus, Abana and Pharpar were better – cleaner by far than all the muddy waters of the Jordan, could he not wash in those and be clean? Like Naaman, many today find the way of the Gospel, and the plan of Salvation, a strange and unusual way, and some find it even unacceptable, in its simplicity.
There are those for whom the absence of personal sacrifice or suffering of some kind seems strange. Surely God expects me to pay for my sin, to make amends for my mistakes, and to repair my mess? I cannot accept this “all of Christ” Gospel of Grace, there needs to be “some of me”- so I’ll do it my way!
And just like Naaman, they not only
Go to The wrong Person
With The wrong Price
Assuming The wrong Procedure
But they head for The wrong Place
Naaman, his chariots, his horses, his entire entourage, all turned around and headed for the Abanna and Pharphar Rivers of Damascus! Heading for the wrong place, they were moving in disobedience to the revealed word of God through the Prophet
Elisha. Thank God there were some wise Counsellors amongst Naaman’s companions – who understood that the simplest way is often the better way. They counselled Naaman to consider the simplicity of the request, after all this was no great task, if it had been, would Naaman not have attempted it, was he not a man of valour, a brave and courageous man?
This plan was Gods plan, this place was Gods place, this provision was Gods provision. Many today are avoiding or neglecting Gods provision. They steer a pathway of their own choosing away from the Word of God, and the Way of God. Heading in the wrong direction they do not realize that they are by disobedience putting distance between themselves and the miracle they so desperately need. They seek solace in the wrong places…. Love from the wrong people…. Companionship from the wrong company, and Sustenance from the wrong sources.
Like Naaman they need to “turn back” and “go back” to God. However we must remember and reflect on the fact that what seems like the right place, may not be the right place. Going back to a dead religion, a dead Church, or a dead Vision will be of no benefit whatever. Salvation and Restoration, Healing and Recovery are not found in a place, but found in a Person. The command to Naaman “Wash and be Clean” is still the same command necessary for any change in our conditions. There is but one way, one source of cleansing, one means of grace, one hope of Glory, one fountain filled. The route to change is not via the Church Confessional, not via the Holy Communion, not via the Confirmational or Baptismal Rites, not via the place of tears and prayers, but “there’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin, there’s a door that is open that all may go in, at Calvary’s Cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus”
Naaman had to go back to the Jordan, back to the provision of
God, so do you and I, we must go back to the Cross. There is no hope for our fallen and falling humanity but that we have it in the Cross of Christ, and in the work of Christ upon it. It is a completed work, a finished work, there is nothing that can be added to it. Jesus cried “Tetalesti” (Gk) “it is Finished” and so it was! No longer was it necessary to shed the innocent blood of bulls and goats to merely provide a covering for sin, Jesus blood was not a covering, his blood cleanseth us from all sin. We used to sing in Sunday School, “Done done done perfectly, finished Christ cried when on Calvary he died, and its done done done!”
So we have seen this leper, a man with a Miserable Condition, and a man with a Mistaken Concept, but we are about to see….
A Man with a Miraculous Conversion
As Naaman comes down to the Jordan and dips himself seven times in the water, according to the word of the Prophet, Elisha. The first dip, the second, the third, the fourth, he still emerges leprous. The firth, and Sixth, still leprous, but after the seventh time immersed in the waters of the Jordan he emerges clean, his flesh, restored like the skin of a new-born baby. Now, for the first time we see a new Naaman, a man with a Miraculous Conversion, – Cleansed, and Changed. No longer the man we met in the opening lines of the story. Imagine for a moment how he must have felt, … picture him, look again and again at his disease free flesh. He was clean, and I recon that he could hardly believe it, he could mix again in high society, no one would avoid contact with him, now no one would give him a wide-birth. What a feeling, to be clean, to be changed to be converted.
Do you long to feel like Naaman, clean before God? To be made a new creation in Christ Jesus, to have the disease of sin forgiven and buried for ever, never to be resurrected. To have a fresh
beginning, a new hope of the Glory of Heaven, and a new life abundant beginning right now. Its all possible, but first you must “wash and be clean” and the blood of Jesus is still available, the fountain open is still flowing, the welcome mat is still at the door, and the voice of the Saviour still says “Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11.28. In today’s popular jargon, Jesus would simply say, “if you’re stressed out, worn out, burned out” come to me, I will give you rest, I will give you love, I will give you life!
Now this final word
There’s a day coming for each one of us, unless Jesus Christ comes back in the clouds for his Church first, when we will all pass away from this scene of time, from this world and the familiar, and pass into eternity. Our Families and Friends will gather around an open Grave, and lay our earthly remains to rest. Like me, you hope that someone will think kindly of you, and miss you or shed a tear on that day, and perhaps some may have some glowing tribute to pay to you in your memory.
A while later some may write a few words about you in the local press, or may even erect a stone by your grave in loving memory. As I pointed out earlier, each of us were born with the disease of sin, and unless we have been washed, we will die as we were born, – still diseased, and lost for all eternity. Irrespective of what may be said or written about us in tribute, when we are gone, if they cannot write
“THIS PERSON WAS CLEAN”
then whatever else they may write is of no consequence whatever.
Naaman had to get clean, otherwise he would have died in his
miserable condition with his mistaken conceptions, and without his miraculous conversion.
It is no different for you and me. We Christians are not perfect, we are not sinless, we are not faultless, but we are CLEAN.
It was not our own doing, it was a GIFT to us from God, we just reached out and accepted it. Have you accepted the greatest gift that was ever given? Do it now!
God Bless You – Amen