August 11, 2023
“So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, 'Go wash seven times in the Jordan...'”
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“So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, ‘Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean.’ But Naaman got angry and left, saying, ‘I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and will wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease. Aren’t Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and left in a rage.” 2 Kings 5:9-12 (HCSB)
When we first meet Naaman, he seems likable enough. He was the “commander of the Army of Syria” and is also identified as “a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master.” (v. 1)
But we soon discover that Naaman was a very proud man. Losing his temper outside Elisha’s house, along with his claim of the superior qualities of the rivers of Syria, put Naaman’s pride on display. Naaman was filled with nationalistic pride. Syria meant everything to him. He loved Syria’s military superiority, her religion, and her culture. He loved his own station in life, and he attributed that to the greatness of Syria.
Before we leave Naaman thinking his story is just a historical account, it is important that we recognize the “Naamans” in our own culture. We call them “men of the World.” The man of the World is an interesting (and in many ways admirable) type of man. He has a zest for life. He fully enjoys the best of all the World can offer him in culture, amusement, wealth, variety, pomp, and sport. The religion of the Bible (to the Worldly man) is completely unreal compared with his (perceived) reality in the World.
He ponders Jesus and the cross and sees little to glory in compared with all he has in the World. He feels that the Kingdom of God is distant and very unattractive compared with success in this World. From his own point of view, the “man of the World” feels quite certain that his life is vastly superior to that of the man who confines most of his life to the sphere of faith-in-Jesus and Christian community.
No, if Naaman were going to measure life’s value and worth by the amount of excitement, amusement, and adventure it offers, then it was not really of any advantage to follow YHWH. Oh yes, except for that whole “leprosy” thing. You see, once “Naamans” recognize they are HELPLESS in the World and all of its idolatrous incarnations have proved worthless and cannot be trusted unto salvation, they are left to 1) DESPAIR in their “fate” or 2) HUMBLE themselves and seek God through His Word.
What I like is how Elisha humbly displayed that the Word of the Lord is more important than God’s messenger. Through his closed front door, Elisha simply preached God’s Word for Naaman and didn’t even walk outside his house! The power of God, working through Naaman’s obedience to His Word, is what brought about Naaman’s healing, not the prophet’s persona or eloquence or his perceived innate power.