"I Thought..." Everyday Practical Applications of the Story of Naaman
by Ray King
transcribed by Sid Womack
The story of the healing of Naaman is related in 2 Kings 5: 1-14. Naaman was the commander of Syria's armies, but he was a leper ( 2 Kings 5: 1). He had a horrible disease which was always fatal. Leprosy was a long, slow, painful agonizing death in which the skin of the victim slowly rotted away, eventually exposing the bones and internal organs. It was like athletes' foot, only much worse. Also, leprosy was very contagious. Lepers died not only painful deaths, but lonely ones as well.
Naaman tried making all the mistakes before he tried the most sensible approach, i.e., going to the man of God in his neighborhood, to ask for God's intervention. How much was Naaman like us today! "When all else fails, pray!" seems to be many people's modus operandi. Naaman went to the king first instead of asking God for help. Secondly, Naaman already had his mind (Yea, he thought!) made up about what the solution must look like before he gave Elisha a chance. When Elisha conveyed God's direction to Naaman--go to the river Jordan and immerse himself seven times--this didn't match Naaman's preconceived idea of what the cure must surely look like. He thought Elisha's method was too common and too ordinary.
Naaman's third mistake was in getting angry. Naaman thought that "He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and strike his hand over the place and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? And he turned and went away in a rage."
Problem. Naaman still had leprosy. It didn't matter what "he thought." He was still going to die an early and torturous death unless he humbled himself and let God heal him in God's own way. Of course no one ever elevates himself before God in this way today, does he? (/sarcasm/) How many are unhealed from their looming spiritual deaths because they will not let God heal them from their sins in the way God wants to heal them? When God says to hear his word (Romans 10: 17, Acts 2: 37), believe that Jesus is Lord (Acts 2: 37; Hebrews 11: 6), repent of their sins (Acts 2: 38; Romans 10: 9, 10), confess Jesus as Lord (Acts 8: 37; Matthew 10: 32, 33), and be baptized (Acts 2: 38), this is how He wants us to do it. We will no more be saved from our sins by trying to substitute some other form of obedience than Naaman was healed from his leprosy by trying to substitute something else.
Naaman wanted to substitute a dipping in the Jordan river for two rivers somewhere else, foreign waters. Today people want to substitute hearing and believing for a real change of life, something called repentance. Baptism is not necessarily the point of contention--repentance is. Repentance is to chart a different course for one's life. It is away from the sins that previously had consumed and devoured them, instead choosing a path of spiritual health ( 2 Peter 2: 19; Romans 6: 23). Without repentance, confession of Jesus as Lord and baptism into his Name are hollow and meaningless. Jesus said in Matthew 7: 21-23 " Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. "
Eventually Naaman's subordinates shamed Naaman into following Elisha's directions in simple, trusting faith (2 Kings 5: 13)--"And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?"
Would that there were modern-day servants who would tell people "Just do what the Bible tells you to, in order to be saved. Be done with coming up with your own solutions!"
Naaman went to the river that God through Elisha had told him to go to, dipped himself seven times, and upon the seventh time was instantly healed (v. 14). Man is healed from his sins when he obeys in God's way.
It didn't matter that Naaman had thought that the healing ought to have happened some more grandiose way, a way that gave deference to his high social standing. Obedience to God was what mattered ( 2 Kings 5: 14). This is what matters to us today. "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments," Jesus said in John 14: 15.
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