By J. Wiley Adams
Kings 5 is a classic account of man’s wisdom versus the wisdom of God. In Isaiah 55:8,9 we learn that God’s thoughts and ways are not man’s thoughts and ways. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours as the heavens are higher than the earth. What may seem right to man is not the criterion for pleasing God (Prov. 14:12).
In the earlier days of this century, gospel meetings used to include such basic topics as why we sing but do not play, strange fire, the comparison of the Old and New Testaments, morality, and nearly every preacher had a sermon on Naaman, the leper. Under such preaching the stories of the Bible came alive. Brethren were well-taught. Even the children sat speechless at the Bible accounts of Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, as well as the wise man and the foolish man. It has changed but it needs to be revived.
Such a subject has been assigned to this writer for this special issue. It is about Naaman, the leper reported in 2 Kings 5. No one ever preached it better than the late Fred Dennis of the upper Ohio Valley. I can hear him now as he preached the plain and simple story of the need to let God have his way — the need to obey him rather than man.
Naaman was the captain of the Syrian host. He was the Syrian king’s chief-of-staff. He was a great, honorable and brave man. At times he fought against Israel and took captives from among them. One of these captives was a little maid who waited on Naaman’s wife.
It was discovered that Naaman had the dread disease called leprosy. He was a leper. He sought desperately to find a cure. He was willing to try anything to get well. When the little maid from Israel knew that her master had leprosy, she told her mistress there was a prophet in Samaria (Elisha) who could heal him. The king of Syria heard of this possibility and told him to go with a letter from him to the king of Israel. He sent many gifts to get on the good side of him and he in effect demanded that he be healed. This nearly scared the king of Israel to death. He thought the king of Syria was trying to pick a fight with him. He tore his clothes in frustration. He said, “Am I God to kill and make alive?” No one had ever been healed of leprosy before (see Lk. 4:27).
But when Elisha, the man of God, heard the king of Israel had torn his clothes in despair he said, “Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
So, this important man and all his company came to Elisha’s door. Normal courtesy was not extended. After all, this man was an enemy of Israel. Instead of asking him into his house or going out to roll out the red carpet for him, the prophet sent a messenger with the simple message to dip seven times in the Jordan river and he would be healed of his leprosy. Sometimes we tell people we don’t like to go jump in the lake. It may have sounded like that to Naaman. He was outraged. He said in his wrath, “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.”
What a simple thing the prophet had required of him to do. He took issue about the superiority of the rivers of Syria over the muddy Jordan. His pride was badly injured. He either had to get rid of his pride orhis leprosy. In a rage he turned away. One of his servants was a wise man and appealed to him to try this simple procedure — wash and be clean. He decided to swallow his pride and obey the prophet of God. When he had dipped seven times in Jordan he was cleansed “and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
The lessons we learn from this Bible account are several. First, we must go to the right source for help
7 the prophet and not the king. Second, one must then have faith enough to do what is required — not argue the point. Third, we must not challenge God’s will at any point — we must yield. And fourth, we must obey God to obtain the desired end
7 salvation. Sin is worse than leprosy. Only the blood of Christ will take it away when we obey the gospel (Rom. 1:16).
As long as Naaman fought the will of God, he remained a leper. What a lesson for those of us who live on this side of the cross. God requires the hearing of his word to gain faith (Rom. 10:17), confessing the deity of Christ (Rom. 10:10), repenting of sins (Acts 2:38), and being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). This is plain and simple. Many like Naaman are outraged at its simplicity and turn away but they are still in their sins. Those who submit and turn to God will go away with sins removed — saved.
Are you like Naaman? Many are. Why not be like the three thousand on Pentecost (Acts 2) or the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8)?
“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 3, p. 5
February 4, 1993