NAAMAN FOUND FAITH IN GOD IN ISRAEL (II Ki.5).
Naaman was a valiant soldier and commander of the army of the King of Aram. He was highly regarded at home and abroad. Israelis, too, felt that he was used of God to punish them for their sins. Naaman was a leper. On one of his soldier’s exploits, a Jewish girl was brought back to serve Naaman’s wife. She told her mistress that there was a man of God in Samaria that could heal her husband. Naaman shared the news with his King and the King ordered him to go to Israel. The King of Aram sent a letter to the King of Israel practically ordering him to cure Naaman of leprosy. The King of Israel panicked, tore his clothes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this man sent his servant to me to be cured of leprosy? Obviously, he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
The King’s predicament reached Elisha and he sent him a message to point Naaman his way. This incident was necessary to proof that there still was a man of God in Israel. The general proceeded to Elisha’s place and parked his chariots in front of the house. Before he could disembark, Elisha’s messenger ordered Naaman to “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” The General was angry and felt insulted. Why should he wash in Jordan when the rivers in Damascus were cleaner? And why did the prophet not even bother to meet him and pray to his God? As he departed, he had revenge in his heart. His servant calmed the General with a question, “Would you have done it if the prophet had given you a difficult task, then why not do the simple thing, ‘Wash and be cleansed’?” Naaman dipped himself seven times in the river Jordan and came up healed.
Back to the man of God the caravan went. Naaman stood before Elisha and declared, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.” He offered the prophet ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. Elisha declined and the General promised that he would no longer sacrifice to any other god, but to the Lord. Even when he has to bow with his King before the King’s god “Rimmon,” he will pray that the God of Israel would forgive him. Elisha told him to go in peace and he did. Naaman’s healing became evidence that Israel had a God and that there was none like Him. Naaman also learned that one cannot please God with gifts, but one can by being obedient to what His servants proclaim. The story did not end here. Gehazi, servant of Elisha, saw an opportunity to take advantage of the miracle to Naaman. He accepted a small payment for services rendered and as punishment, he contracted leprosy.
Naaman, in many ways, was like most of us are. We want God or his servants to demonstrate to us that He or his servants are real. We look about us to see whether there be any people of God left that can do what God only can. And when we are plagued by a problem or illness, we look for difficult solutions. Just washing seven times to clean the wounds was too simple a task. It seemed silly that water can have such a cleansing effect on sores. What healing chemicals could be in the river Jordan that could not be found in the rivers at Damascus? Why did the General not wash frequently and allow dirt to incubate sickness? Is not cleanliness clsoe to godliness? Little neglects become insurmountable problems down the road. And getting angry, if things are not done our way, does not produce healing. My blood pressure goes through the ceiling!
The bigger issue, in this lesson, was that Naaman learned that the Lord God was in Israel. In spite of the small number of believers in Yahweh, God was still available even to outsiders that needed Him. He could not be approached anywhere else but through a man of God in Israel. God had chosen to identify with an Elisha and his people. God bestowed the grace of healing on those whom His servant blessed (Eph.1: 6). It was a free gift and no charge was required (Mt.10: 8). Naaman was the recipient of the relationship that existed between God and Elisha. A far greater relationship exists between Jesus and His Father in heaven. This Father also identifies with those who believe in His Son (Jn.10: 38; 14: 10). That is why so many of us came to this country because God had visibly identified with America. How could we have known that America would reject God’s Son and opt for another (Jn.5: 43)? What has happened to the “Glory” that once filled this land (I Sa.4: 21)?
Elisha was the way to God for Naaman. In a similar way, Jesus is for the rest of humanity (Jn.14: 6). If we remove Jesus, then, we have severed all our relationship with God the Lord. This is not my idea. This is what Jesus taught. Without Him we cannot be where God is, here and in the hereafter (Jn.14: 1-3). Is there still a God in America that can heal us and our land?