Friday, September 23, 2011

The Story of Naaman the Syrian

While contemplating the up and coming Ingathering I was reminded to let Him prepare me for whatever He desired to do. Sometimes our ideas of how things should be get in the way of realizing God's will. I really want God's Spirit to have His way with us. Here is a story that illustrates that perfectly.                                   

                           Naaman and Gehazi  (Read 2 Kings Chapter 5)

This is an awesome story and without much effort we can find some wonderful truths contained in it. Naaman was a good man. He was a real ‘man’s man’. He was a famous and a respected national hero.

He had the admiration of his King, the love of his household, his servants, (even the captured servant girl from Israel liked him), the men he commanded and the gratitude of his country. God had mightily used him to conquer their enemy Israel. He was probably wealthy and as stated very highly respected. In his mind he seemed to have had it all with the exception of one problem. He had leprosy.

His wife’s servant girl suggested, quite on her own, an answer to her master's problem. There was a prophet in Israel who could heal him. One of Naaman’s good attributes was he could listen to people under him. You will see later it saved his life. After hearing the young slave’s advice he decided to check it out but being a man under authority he sent his request to the King.

The King of Syria loved the idea and sent a letter to the King of Israel to take care of his beloved general. The King of Israel, having no relationship with God, freaked out thinking the king of Syria just wanted an excuse to kill him. Elisha, who did have a relationship with God heard about it and sai; “Send him to me!”

Now this great and famous man really had two major problems. He could only see the more obvious one but God saw them both. His leprosy was not the main problem. His main problem was the spiritual leprosy within him....pride. For that would keep him from ever knowing the one true God. So God began to deal with both the leprosy and the pride.

Naaman rides up to Elisha’s house with great pomp and ceremony. He vainly imagined he knew just how God was going to heal him; and it would be glorious. Being a great man there needed to be a great healing. But God had other plans. He usually does.

As Naaman pulled up with all his entourage to Elisha’s house he waited for  Elisha to come out and wave his hand over the great general and his God would send down from heaven a beam of glorious light containing his healing….or something like that.

So he waited for the great man of God to come out. And he waited, and waited, and waited.
Elisha doesn’t even come out. Adding injury to insult he sends his servant out to tell this great warrior to go take a bath. Not just one bath seven of them. Can you imagine how Elisha’s servant must have felt?

 How would you like to go out and tell this man who conquers nations to go take a bath?

Naaman was furious. How dare this ‘hick’ prophet not come out and honor him. The rivers of Israel were but mud streams compared to the rivers of Syria. This is stupid. So off he goes totally irritated and indignant.

That could have been the end of the story and Naaman, but thank God for good friends. Naaman had some real friends in his servants. They risked his wrath and indignation to say …. “Hey; if the prophet would have asked you to do something big you would have done it, why not do what he says and see what happens?”  

They knew about Naaman’s pride, but the great warrior listened to them.

Well, Naaman recants’ cause he’s not only a good man but a wise one to boot. Yet all he can bring himself to do is dip seven times in the Jordan.  Not wash …dip. His faith is small but still; it’s enough. Several times while dipping, he probably looked at his servants and fellow soldiers as if to ask… “Are you sure about this?” 

But the seventh time he dipped the proof that there was a man of God in Israel who knew the one true God and that God loved Naaman was manifested.

Filled with gratitude (and a little more humility) he returns to Elisha’s house and offers him a reward. He is clean inside and out. He has had an encounter with the living God. He got saved. Elisha says no thanks to the reward because Elisha really is a man of God. Real men of God don’t take money for things that God does.

Remember what Abraham said after rescuing the kings? (See Genesis 14:21-23) Hallelujah! He cares more about God getting glory than him getting rich.

Naaman has truly been converted; but he knows that he must go back and serve his heathen King. So he asked if would be alright if when his King went in the Temple to serve his false god if he could keep helping his king worship. What’s amazing to me is that Elisha says …. “Go in peace.” God never puts more on his new born children than they can bear. See (Acts 15:28)

But a double minded servant of Elisha’s by the name of Gehazi is plotting how he can “turn a few bucks” from this event. He figures serving God is ok but nothing wrong with making a few dollars in the process. He thinks no one will be the wiser anyway so he heads out to intercept Naaman.

Naaman sees Gehazi and stops. Being so happy and extremely grateful for his healing and revelation of God he gives Gehazi what he asks for.

When Gehazi returns he is greeted by his master with some terribly bad news …. “Gehazi you have broken my heart and defamed God”. Do you know where Naaman’s leprosy went?  It was looking for another home and it has found you. Gehazi went out a little richer and full of leprosy. Should be a lesson somewhere in this for people who think serving God should also include financial gain. (1Peter 5:2)

Some great spiritual lessons really jump out at you from this story.

The first of which is our Father loves people who do the best they can with what they have no matter what they have done previously in ignorance. Naaman was a good man… just not a spiritual one. Much like Job who went from good to godly; Naaman was found by a God who was looking for him to fellowship with.

Secondly; our ideas of how God should help us can really be a hindrance to … God helping us. Best thing to do when we’re in need is to take what comes from God’s hand and not to question how it comes. Like the Syro-Phonecian woman who asked healing for her daughter and was called a dog. (See Matthew 15:26-28) We should always remember that God is after more than what we’re asking for Him for. He is always considering our eternal well being over our temporal feelings.

Third; You had better hope that you have surrounded yourself with people who care more about you than they care about how you feel about them. If Naaman’s servants had not have had the courage to risk his wrath and correct him, Naaman would have died in a leper colony.

Forth; Men in whom God entrusts His power to, are not in it for the money and them seeking it will ruin them. Godly men’s motivation should be to bring God glory not for God’ work to bring them money.

Fifth; Hanging around or even living with godly men does not ensure their godliness will rub off on you as Gehazi learned. And it’s foolish to think that God doesn’t see everything you do. Sometimes there’s a little Gehazi in all of us.

Hopefully we have included in the collection of our relationships a few of Naaman’s friends. More hopefully; we will listen when they speak to us. See you at the Ingathering!

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