Outlined in 2 Kings is a time in Israel’s history that the country became divided into two kingdoms, Israel to the north and Judah to the south. During this time of history the people of Israel were lead by a succession of evil kings and gradually slid into lives of idolatry, corruption, and sin. The prophets Elijah and Elisha stood in opposition to this demise. Today’s story about Naaman illustrates how leprosy is used in the Bible as an illustration of sin; it is contagious, destructive and leads to separation from God.
Key Verses: (NRSV)
1: “…because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.” – God had blessed this non-Israelite, a despised Syrian, a victory over Israel.
1b: “The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy.” – The disease, perhaps still in its early stages, had not yet debilitated and restricted Naaman from his responsibilities as commander.
2: “Now the Arameans…had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel.” – With the victors go the spoils, including slaves captured in Israel such as this unnamed child.
3: “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” – Samaria was a region within the northern kingdom of Israel. This slave girl showed enough love and concern for her captive and enough belief in God that she came forward and spoke to her mistress.
4: “So Naaman went…” – Amazingly Naaman listened to what the slave girl had to say and acted according to her advice. The disease must have been causing him great distress.
10: “Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go, wash in the Jordan seven times…you shall be clean.’” – Elisha illustrates the belief that sickness and disease, especially leprosy, was due to uncleanliness or sin. The simple act of washing was to be the cure.
11: “But Naaman became angry.” – The cure was too simple. It was not dramatic enough. Elisha had not shown respect for Naaman’s station. There was no VIP treatment…simply wash in a muddy river.
13-14: “But his servants approached him…” – Again Naaman listens to the advice of a servant or slave and because of this “his flesh was restored” and “he was clean.”
Points to Contemplate:
Are you diseased?
Is there something eating at your heart that is growing and undermining the blessings your have received from God? Does this darkness gnaw at you and cause you to wonder why it has taken hold, in spite of your love for God? When you read verses in the Bible about leprosy, consider the similarities that this flesh-eating disease and its destructive powers to the outward appearance of a person has with sin and its corrosive capabilities within your heart. Should you seek God’s healing power of love?
Are you listening? Dos God speak to you through unexpected sources? Twice in these verses, servants or slaves came forward to provide advice to Naaman illustrating God’s tendency to use people to communicate His will. Are you open to listen to what God has to say to you even if His words come to you from a child or from another unexpected source? Why does God do this? Could it be that He is revealing to you that “even you” have a role to play in building His Kingdom? That no one lacks the ability to serve?
Do you follow God’s advice? Naaman was outraged by the simplicity of Elisha’s request. When you are struggling with an issue in life do you tend to make the problem more complex than it really is? Do solutions to problems such as: forgive, repent, or believe leave you with feelings that there must be more to it than this? Can you accept that God loves you and then realize that nothing else matters? That when you become washed in His love, you are restored and made clean?
Where do go to find success, health, and happiness? Put yourself in Naaman’s shoes and deliberate on the idea that all you have comes from God. Think of the times that God has provided you with success and victory. How does He measure greatness? Think of those days you experienced great happiness. What created this happiness and how was God involved? In what ways can you get in touch with the personal love of God that He promises to have available for you? Will you allow Him to lift you to greater heights than you could ever imagine? Promises of the Gospel:
When we come to Christ with humility, amazing things can happen in our lives. Issues that we have carried with us our entire lives, things that seemingly are out of control, simply wash away with His love. All we are asked to do is to be open to God’s ways, be obedient to His Word, and repent of our sins. Once we do, we can accept His love and the wholeness He has to offer. He will wash and cleanse our diseased hearts and move us into the roles of discipleship He has in store.