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 all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 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’!”
14 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.
15 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. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord.
18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.” 2 Kings 5:11-18
As we saw the last post Naaman is a man of action, a warrior, who is use to speaking and having his orders obeyed and commands accomplished. He believes Elisha could simply speak (v.11) and make him well so he is angry, confused and feels disrespected when told to go down into the Jordan River and wash in the water.
Verse 13 is one of the great verses of the Bible. Naaman’s servants tell him “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’!” That’s the Gospel—isn’t it? We don’t become clean by doing great things, working hard, and accomplishing amazing feats of valor. Instead we are declared right with God when we listen to His words and the result is our sins are washed away in His grace and love. “Wash and be cleansed”. How our world needs to hear those words of encouragement and hope.
When Naaman comes out of the water his skin is restored and his heart is changed. He is born again. In verse 15 He comes back to Elisha and says, “’Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.’”
You want to know the mark of a follower of God? It is found in Naaman’s confession of faith. First of all he comes back to Elisha, which is the mark of a grateful man. Remember when Jesus healed the men with leprosy and only one came back to thank Him? Gratitude to God for His blessings is something many of us pass over in our every day life. We take His love, protection, and mercy for granted and we forget to take time to come back to Him in prayer and thanksgiving and worship. But Naaman was a better man than that.
Secondly, notice Naaman doesn’t say God is greater than any other god that he’s encountered. He says, “I know that there is no God in the world except in Israel.” What an amazing shift in thinking on the part of Naaman. His encounter with the God of miracles knocks his self-reliance and macho persona for a loop. When he came up out of the water for the seventh time he couldn’t escape the reality that God is infinitely bigger, stronger, greater and holier than he could ever dream. And as a man of integrity he was honest with himself and acknowledged the reality that God is God and he is not.
Something else we need to notice in this story that is of the utmost importance. Naaman tries to pay Elisha for the healing, “So please accept a gift from your servant. ” (v. 15b) By the way did you notice how Naaman addresses himself in the presence of Elisha – “your servant”? This was a man who was humbled before the Lord and simply wanted to pay tribute to Elisha for the healing. This would be an unprecedented temptation for some of us because the wealth that he offered was probably more money than existed in the entire kingdom of Israel. Elisha would have by far been the richest man in the Kingdom!
And yet, there is not a hint of Elisha even contemplating taking the money. And you know why? Because the gospel of grace and cleansing is free. Jesus paid the price, He took the cup of the Father’s wrath, our judgment and every sin the world could ever offer to the cross that we could freely come and wash in the grace of God that poured out from Calvary. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples just before His arrest and execution He was re-enacting the truth of the power of cleansing that comes through the “living waters” of His own life.
When the children of Israel came out of Egypt they were baptized in the waters of the Red Sea and the next generations were baptized in the waters of the Jordan. In both cases the baptisms represented a surrender to the will of God and an acceptance of His leading. And when Naaman came up out of the water he also was on a new journey, a new adventure where God would be His everything.
The mark of a Christian is a person who is thankful to God for the blessings that are poured out to him/her. It is also the confession that there are no other gods but One. In our modern world this is considered too difficult for many people to accept. They chase the gods of wealth, success, career, money, sex, power, looks, ego, fame, and pride. But, Naaman got it right—there is no god but God. In light of his confession of thankfulness and pronouncement that there is only one God, he is transformed into a man who knows who he is and where he stands in relation to the Holiness of God.
Next post we will contrast the attitude of Elisha’s servant who has lived in the presence of God, and yet missed the point of being a follower of God, with the character of Naaman.
* Folks, the persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…