I went down to the shops this morning to collect a few groceries at a supermarket. It’s always difficult to read a person’s face when a mask is on, though some people’s body language described themselves pretty well. One elderly man walked passed without a mask. He had a real sour face … a rebel. Others were in a hurry, some husbands were out shopping with their wives and slowing down to the wife’s pace. Mostly people in the store were very kind as they pushed their trolleys allowing others to go in front of them. At the checkout I realized I forgot my loyalty card at home. I asked the cashier whether I could use my cell number or ID and she said I could not. I turned around and saw a man about my age or slightly younger at the till behind me. I asked him whether I could use his loyalty card to prevent losing the points … that is that he would gain them. He gave me his card and soon I handed it back to him. He had cleared the checkout before me, yet waited until I had cleared the checkout to thank me for the points I gave him. It was probably worth just under R10 but what impressed me was the manner in which he thanked me. That was a good experience but not every encounter with someone is a good experience as we will see today. Back to the servant girl and God using her evangelistically we see the story passes to Naaman carrying the king’s letter of request.
1) The letter is received by the king of Israel and
2Ki 5:6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
We need to understand that there was no love lost between these two countries and their kings. Look at one example:
2Ki 6:8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel.
The king of Israel reads the letter and sees it an instrument of confrontation. Under the circumstances we would too. He responds in fear and fury! He tore his royal clothing … the letter implies Israel’s king must heal Naaman of leprosy. He sees this as fighting talk saying … “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy?” It’s almost as if he is saying … “Do they think I’m a miracle worker and if I can’t do the healing it’s a full scale war?” My personal experience over the years is that I prefer to talk face to face instead of on the phone and especially using emails, SMS’ and WhatsApp Messaging. It’s so easy to misunderstand communicating without personal contact.
2) Elisha heard about the Israeli king’s response.
2Ki 5:8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
(a) Where Elisha’s words are firstly directed at Naaman, he is also saying that the king needs to trust God, not himself and his idols. What follows is an invitation from Elisha to prove to the king of Israel that there is a man of God, a prophet in Israel. The king of Israel at the time was Joram. He was the son of Ahab and Jezebel, and brother to Ahaziah and Athaliah. He was wicked, a Baal worshipper practicing a religion that rejected the True God.
(b) Naaman, the military commander for king Ben-Hadad II of Aram was the one who needed salvation. Although king Joram needed a to hear about the true God … rendering him excuseless on the Day of Judgment, the real target here was Naaman.
3) Naaman’s instruction.
2Ki 5:9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
What an entourage arrived at Elisha’s house. What follows must be carefully observed. The prophet does not go to Naaman. He sends a messenger with a message. “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” Although “seven” could be used as the complete number it also means “many times”. He does not see the leper. All he does is send a message. You might think this rude in the face of Elisha telling the king to send Naaman to him … but what Elisha was doing was insisting that Naaman exercise faith in the God of Israel. Remember his words? “He will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” Faith in God was required before healing could come … meaning that salvation precedes any other benefits. Do you see where this is going? It started with the captured young Israeli girl who became Naaman’s wife’s servant!
4) Naaman’s anger.
2Ki 5:11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?”
So he turned and went off in a rage. Before you condemn Naaman to much, remember he was a pagan … just as we were before our salvation. He wanted magic not a miracle. He wanted methods his religion used for his healing. He did not trust Elisha’s God. There was no faith at all and he leaves in rage.
We will pick the Note up from here tomorrow … but consider this. So many people want God to help them. They come to the pastor seeking help. The help they want is “what they want” not what the pastor says as he uses the Bible to point out what God wants the person to hear and do. They respond in anger because they can’t get what they want in place of what they need. I have personally been down this road many times where people become enraged when they refuse faith and want miracles to suit themselves. They want God as a “lucky charm” only.
Dear God, mercifully help us to trust You even when we don’t understand what is happening in our lives. Amen.