Do you remember the story of Naaman in 2nd Kings? Naaman is awesome! He’s a powerful general, the leader of the the armies of Syria. But the thing is, he has leprosy. By the sound of things, it isn’t some run of the mill kind defect, either. It’s implied that whatever it is on his skin, it’s something serious. So, his wife has a servant from Israel who tells her that their is a prophet in Israel who could probably heal him and she tells her husband who goes to the king of Syria and tells him the news. The king then allows Naaman to venture off to Israel in search of his cure. He is eventually cured but as you will see, he makes a couple blunders along the way.
Naaman takes along with him some gifts and a letter from his king to the king of Israel explaining his presence so that there will be no misunderstanding between the two nations. Nahum is looking for a cure not a fight seems to be the gist of the letter. Perhaps in Syria in those days, the king is the head of their religion because Nahum asks the king of Israel to heal him of his leprosy. Wow! talk about a serious political blunder. The king of Israel thinks this is some sort of a trick to make trouble between the Israel and Syria. “Am I God…?” he asks. He’s a king not a prophet. Why would Naaman ask such an impossible thing of him if not to cause mischief? Naaman’s honest misunderstanding has the potential of starting another war between Israel and Syria. The bigger the people, the bigger the stakes, after all.
Enter Elisha. Now Elisha sees right to the heart of Naaman. He’s a proud and powerful man who loves his country as well as his position of authority. Elisha invites Naaman to come and see him but instead of inviting him into his home or even greeting Nahum himself, Elisha sends his servant with a simple message.
There’s much that is upside down in this scenario. Elisha should have invited the great and powerful Nahum into his home or at least spoke to him in person. Who does this so-called “man of God” think he is to treat him this way? And the message. He’s to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times and that will remove his leprosy? What’s so important about the Jordan River? That’s it? Seriously? No pomp? No circumstance? Who does this prophet think he’s dealing with? Naaman is an important man. He should get the royal treatment.
Ironically, it’s Naaman’s servants who steer him straight. They were not so uppity that they didn’t listen to the prophet’s message. They pointed out to their lord that the man of God told him that he would be clean if he did as he was told, as simple as the request was. “So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:14 ESV).
“But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13 ESV)
Naaman listens to his servants and not only is he cured of his skin disease, he returns a changed man. He is made clean by obeying the Word of God. The effect is akin to being baptized only his was not merely symbolic but an effectual act itself. He is reborn a new, clean, man. No longer do we see the haughty dignitary of Syria. Naaman now is a genuinely humble and generous man who declares his faith in the God of Israel. After all, which is easier, to declare a man clean or to heal his infirmity? Naaman’s obedience to this special Word of God brings God’s blessing upon Him and he is reborn. Just like that.
What about you?
What about you? (What about me for that matter.) Can you hear that “still small voice” nudging you toward something? Not to beat it into you (and me), but discernment needs time in the Word and time with the Lord. It may also demand speaking with someone whom you trust to determine the ifs, whens, and whats of the message. But I can guarantee that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has, is, and will speak to you (and me), and no matter how simple or ridiculous it sounds, obeying Him will earn you (and me) a Blessing of some sort. The idea is that this will strengthen the bond between you and God and make communication more clear and therefore obedience may be all the more precise and the blessing all the greater and so on. That’s how relationships are established and built; trust and communication and thinking of the other first and foremost. In this case the “other” is none other than God.
Let that be a challenge for us all.
(In case you are wondering, yes this is about where I am in my journey through the Bible.)
*reposted from 6/11/2014 due to technical glitches*