2 Kings 5: 1-3; 9-15
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’…
…So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 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.’
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. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ So he turned and went off in a rage.
Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’ So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.
SUMMARY OF SUNDAY’S MESSAGE
At first glance it seems like Naaman was a man who had made it in life. We are told that he was a commander of the Syrian army, a brave, valiant soldier, a leader of fighting men, considered to be great by the King, highly regarded and respected by others. He’d made it to the pinnacle of his career. He had it all. Except, we read: “…but he had leprosy.”
Why do we have to have a ‘but’? Just when everything seems to be going perfect – there’s nearly always a ‘but’. A ‘but’ that tarnishes and taints everything else. For Naaman it was leprosy, a skin condition. It must have been at the very earliest stages otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to function and lead so well. While he has managed to hide it from everyone, deep down he knew that this hidden issue was eventually going to destroy him.
We all have a ‘but’. No matter who we are, how good we look, how gifted we are – we all have a ‘but’. We all have one area of our lives which is broken, where there is dysfunction, addiction, hurt, bitterness, disappointment, relational breakdown, anger, bitterness, pain from our past, struggles, sickness, sadness or heartache.
We become very effective at hiding our ‘but’, covering our weakness, looking like we have it all together. But when we’re alone, when we are at home, in private, when the armour comes off – we are very conscious of our hidden weaknesses.
As long as Naaman was fighting public battles and winning, he could keep hiding the private brokenness which was slowly killing him. He was using all his abilities to conceal his deficiencies. In our own lives, the thing you are most gifted at on the outside can eventually become the greatest barrier or hindrance to what God wants to do on the inside of you. Yet, if something doesn’t change on the inside of you, all of the external, public façade will soon start to unravel and fall apart. In any area of our lives where there is a gap between our image and our reality – given enough time that gap will eventually tear us apart.
Often it’s only those closest to us who are exposed to our weaknesses and brokenness. In this case, it was Naaman’s wife and their servant girl.
Naaman gets to the point where he has finally admits he needs help and so he travels to the house of Elisha the prophet. However Elisha doesn’t even go to the door to meet him. He sends a messenger out to give instructions to the great Naaman.
At first it might seem like Elisha’s is being rude. But Elisha knew exactly what he was doing. Because while Naaman’s leprosy was the issue he thought he needed to deal with, there was actually a much deeper issue in his life and that was his pride.
Elisha’s message to Naaman is that he should dip himself in the Jordan River 7 times and he’ll be completely healed. On the surface this was a really simple thing. But at a deeper level, I think there was nothing more important to Naaman than feeling respected. He would almost rather die than be disrespected. He's not happy and walks away in a furious rage. Ultimately he was annoyed because the miracle didn’t look like he expected it to look. Look again at his first 3 words: “I thought that…”
He had assumptions and presuppositions about how he would be healed and this wasn’t how he expected the miracle to happen. Sometimes God will offend our minds to reveal our hearts. Perhaps many of us miss the miracle in our lives because it doesn’t happen in the way we thought it would or it comes through a person that we never though it could.
Sometimes God’s purpose will override our plans. It’s possible that the obvious issue we think we need healed of is only one of a number of issues that God is actually wanting to deal with. We want healing in our bodies but first God wants to heal our hearts.
Naaman could be completely healed of his leprosy which was had been eating away at him and was eventually going to destroy him, because of his pride and ego and because it doesn’t look like he expected, he’s about to walk away from it and miss it completely.
Naaman’s servant convinces him to give Elisha’s instructions a try. He dips 7 times in the Jordan and is completely healed. How do you think this happened? Do you think he dipped once and there was some improvement in his skin, after the second time, it was looking even better and so on right through to the 7th time?
Possibly, but I don’t think so. I think after the first 6 dips, nothing had happened, his skin looked exactly the same. This miracle was more about obedience to what God was telling him to do than it was about anything else. It was about putting his pride and ego to one side and obeying the simple thing God was asking him to do. It was about stripping away his expectations and assumptions of how God should work – and simply doing what God said.
Some of us simply need to obey what we know God is telling us to do. For others, the thing we think is the issue is actually an outward symptom of a deeper issue that God wants to put His finger on.
Naaman was someone who was used to controlling people and situations, he was used to being in charge. What God was wanting him to do was to humble himself, to let go of having things done his way, to learn obedience to the One who was ultimately in charge.
Naaman’s got his miracle, his skin was transformed. But the even greater was that he personally encountered the only true and living God.
Whatever miracle you need today – maybe in your health, your family, your finances or your relationships – whatever that is, that’s really important. But the most important thing is to bow your knee and surrender your heart to the true and living God. Hand over your life and your future in obedience to Him.
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