Monday, August 5, 2013

Girl, Naaman, King or Gehazi?

Forget Elisha for a moment – of the other four characters in this 2 Kings 5 story, which description fits us?

And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. (2 Kings 5:2-3 KJV)

The girl, a captured slave, held her faith and was concerned about her master. She held no animosity, no need for revenge. She did not look upon her master’s leprosy as God’s punishment for his treatment of her. She believed there was a way for him to be saved and she shared that. We have an even better message for the world. Dare we speak it aloud?

Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. (2 Kings 5:1 KJV)

God used Naaman in His punishment of Israel. His king heard what the slave girl said and sent Naaman to the king of Israel with a letter. Naaman, in response to his king’s command, expected pomp and circumstance, carried an extravagance of wealth and expected it to buy his cure.

And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. (2 Kings 5:7 KJV)

The king lived in fear of those stronger than he and never thought of God as a solution to the battle he thought was coming.

We know the rest of the story – how Elisha told the king of Israel that he had a solution, that Naaman was simply to bathe in the Jordan seven times and he would be cured. Angry and unable to accept or respond to the simple answer, Naaman headed home. Reason prevailed among his advisors:

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? (2 Kings 5:13 KJV)

How applicable is that to Christianity? We don’t have to do it seven times – once is sufficient when we respond to God’s call to be cleansed through Jesus Christ. As cleansed from our sins as Naaman was from his leprosy, through God’s grace as we respond to His word. Or, are we more as Gehazi?

Gehazi, first mentioned in 2 Kings 4:12, had seen years of miracles performed by Elisha and never understood the source of that power. There’s no indication he lived with faith, just responded to Elisha’s commands – until one day when he took initiative for personal gain.

But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. (2 Kings 5:20 KJV)

Did I mention that Naaman carried wealth to purchase health – “ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment”? Elisha declined any payment, but Gehazi was determined to get some of that, did so, and lied about it:

But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. (2 Kings 5:25 KJV)

We’ve had that same conversation, haven’t we?  “What did you do?” “Nothing.” “Where did you go?” “No where.”

Are we more like the slave girl? Naaman? King of Israel? Or, Gehazi? Why?

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