The Unlikely Missionary

The Unlikely Missionary

Scripture: Luke 4:27, 2 Kings 5:1-27, Mark 1:40-45
Date: 07/18/2015  Lesson: 3
"Personal life disruptions, tragedies, and transitions can make people more open to spiritual truth and set them on a search for God."

Ministry to the Cities by Ellen White

Ministry to the Cities by Ellen White
NOTE: If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate. Please be civil to one another.


Hello friends and welcome again to Sabbath school study hour coming to you here from the Granite Bay seventh-day adventist church. A very warm welcome to our friends joining us across the country and around the world. Thank you for taking the time to study the Word of God together with us today. A very also - also, a very warm welcome to our church members here at the Granite Bay church - good to see you all here this morning on a beautiful, sunny, California, warm summer's day. Thank you for joining us.

Our lesson, as we've been studying over the past few weeks, deals with biblical missionaries. And, for our friends watching, if you don't have a copy of the lesson for today, you can download lesson #3 at the Amazing Facts website - just amazingfacts.org - and you can follow along with us as we study together. We have a free offer that goes along with our study today entitled life in the Spirit and, for anyone wanting to receive this gift, all you'll have to do is just call our resource line. The number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #155. That number again is 866-788-3966 - ask for the book called life in the Spirit - it's offer #155.

We'll be happy to send that to you. Oh and, by the way, you can also read this for free online at the Amazing Facts website. Well, we have a special guest group that'll be bringing some wonderful music to us this morning. It's actually three families that have joined together and sing as a group - the stephen family, the crumb family, and the dodson family. So, at this time, we'll listen as they lift our hearts into the presence of God for worship.

Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature, o thou of God and man The Son, thee will I cherish, thee will I honor, thou, my soul's glory, joy and crown. Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, robed in the blooming garb of spring; Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing. Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight, and all the twinkling starry host; Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer than all the angels heaven can boast. Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations! Son of God and son of man! Glory and honor, praise, adoration, now and forever more be thine. Amen, amen, amen.

Amen. Thank you so much for that beautiful song. I love four-part harmony. It was just gorgeous listening to it behind the wall. Thank you so much for blessing us at Granite Bay today.

Those of you who are joining us from across the country and around the world, it's your time to join with us in singing your favorite songs. And this morning we're going to start with #524 - 'tis so sweet to trust in Jesus - join with us - the first, second, and fourth stanzas. 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at His Word; just to rest upon his promise; just to know, thus saith the Lord Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, how I've proved him o'er and o'er, Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more. O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust his cleansing blood; just in simple faith to plunge me, 'neath the healing, cleansing flood. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, how I've proved him o'er and o'er, Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more.

I'm so glad I learned to trust thee, precious Jesus, Savior, friend; and I know that thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, how I've prove3d him o'er and o'er, Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more. Pastor Ross will now have our prayer. Let us just bow our heads as we begin with a word of prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, we thank you for the opportunity, once again, for us to gather together to study Your Word.

And, Lord, as we're talking about missionaries, I pray that you would reveal to us how we can be missionaries, maybe in not some far-distant country, but maybe right in our own home and in our neighborhoods. Thank you, Lord, for these lessons. We ask a blessing as we study together, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. At this time I'd like to invite Pastor Doug bachelor to come forward and lead us in our study of lesson #3, dealing with the subject of unlikely missionaries. Thank you, Pastor Doug.

Thank you, Pastor Ross. I want to thank those who both led the special music and the special music that we had. I sure enjoyed that and, as has been mentioned, we want to give a special warm welcome to not only those who are part of our class here at Granite Bay this morning, but those who may be watching. We know we have an extended class around the world and when we say 'warm welcome' from Sacramento, we're not just using a figure of speech. Summer has officially begun here and this is a place where your seatbelt can also double as a branding iron and in the afternoon the asphalt will liquefy.

So I think we have 105 but that's just the beginning of summer for us, right? So this is a mission field here. Anyway, we're going into our lesson dealing with - lesson #3 - the new series on biblical missionaries and this lesson, in particular, is talking about the unlikely missionary. I really would like to rephrase this lesson a little bit and say the unlikely missionaries because, as we go through the lesson - and this is from 2 Kings chapter 5 - it's the story of naaman the leper. You're going to see there's three or four missionaries that are in this account and so if you'll turn to that passage in the Bible - and that is 2 Kings chapter 5 - I guess I should say, before we go there, we want to read our memory verse. The memory verse actually comes from the words of Jesus in the new testament.

The memory verse is from Luke chapter 4, verse 27. I've got it here from the new king James version - Luke 4:27. You ready? "And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except naaman the syrian." So Jesus actually refers back to this story that we're going to consider today about the unlikely missionary. Now, in the first section, it talks about he had it all and we're going to begin with 2 Kings chapter 5, verse 1 and there's an awful lot we can learn right here. Kings chapter 5 sets up the story: "now naaman, commander of the army of the King of syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to syria.

He was also a mighty man of valor," - I'm going to pause right there and not read the last five words in this verse. It's three words in the new king James version, five words in the King James version, but it changes the whole picture. Let's just stop and consider what we know so far about naaman. And without reading those last few words it tells us he was a great man, he's a brave man, he's an honorable man, he's a man the Lord could use. Now, that makes you think: here he is, the commander of the army of the nation that was often at war with Israel and yet it says the Lord could use him.

You know, sometimes God used enemy armies to do his will in punishing his own people. the Lord used Nebuchadnezzar to teach a lesson to Israel. And the Lord sometimes used the syrians as a judgment on the people of Israel. And it wasn't just that the syrians fought with Israel - they also fought with other kingdoms to the east and to the north - and this was a man that God could use. It also tells us that God used people who were not necessarily part of his nation.

A man of valor - he was brave on the battlefield. He was a man respected by the King. He was obviously a man that was famous - when he went up and down the streets of damascus in his chariot, they all knew who naaman was. Just underneath the King, he's the general and so he had a - probably a good place to live. By the way, what was potiphar's position in Egypt? Wasn't he captain of the guard for the pharaoh? And did potiphar have a Hebrew in his household servants? Joseph.

Uh huh - that's going to - you're going to find some similarities here. So, if you say, 'what do you want to be happy?' 'Well, you know, I'd like to have a good job.' Naaman had that. 'I'd like to be respected.' Naaman had that. 'It'd be nice to have money to pay the bills.' Naaman had that. A good reputation - he had everything the world would want except those last words: "but he was a leper.

" And the original actually says, 'a leper' - that's all it says, 'a leper.' It changed the whole picture. You'll notice, if you have the italicized version it just says 'a leper.' King - new king James says, 'but a leper.' And that changes everything. Why? Leprosy was about the most dreaded disease that you could get in Bible times because it meant not only a long, slow, painful death, it meant separation from others. In the Bible leprosy is compared to sin and when anyone came within a stone's throw, you'd cry out 'unclean! Unclean!' You'd warn them you're a leper and they'd flee the other direction. So here naaman, he's got everything anybody could ask, but he's a leper.

Now it's interesting - and I was reading out of Matthew henry's commentary. He says, "no man's greatness or honor or interest or valor or victory or wealth can set him out of the reach of the source calamities of human life. There is many a sickly crazy body under rich clothing." People may outwardly have so many things that you think, 'oh, I wish I could have their life.' And people adore and idolize these people in hollywood and little do they know they've got aids and they'd give everything they could to have your health and live in obscurity. "But he was a leper." Naaman was as great in the world as it could make him and yet, the lowest slave in syria would not want to be in his skin. And so if naaman said, 'who would like to trade places with me?' The lowest slave in syria didn't want to trade places with him because what profit is it if you gain the whole world and you're terminal? So it changes the whole picture.

And that's kind of the way sin is. Now the story gets interesting here. It says - if you go to the next verse - again, in 2 Kings chapter 5 - it says, "and the syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on naaman's wife." They'd go rampaging through the borders of their various countries - Israel's soldiers would go on forays up into syria and they would ransack the farms and they would plunder, and they would carry off captive the women and sometimes the children and would often kill The Fathers and burn the farms and this young girl - we don't know all the circumstances, but she was captured in one of these raids and then sold to be a slave. And instead of totally despairing and wishing the worst on her captors - you know, she's longing for home, her master gets a disease, she's been sold as a slave - she might be thinking 'good riddance.

He deserves it. I hope he dies a slow death.' But instead, she's interested in his concern. And the same way that Joseph decided 'if I'm going to be a slave, I'm going to be a good slave and God'll work it for good' - this girl, don't forget, knew the story of Joseph. This girl already knew the stories of Elisha. She was acquainted with her history and so she maybe had thought - it doesn't say how old she was but, based on the language, she's probably like twelve or under.

She thought, 'well, if I'm going to be a slave, God worked it out for Joseph to be a witness, I'll be a good slave.' And when naaman came down with leprosy and she saw how he was suffering, it moved her heart and she went to her mistress and she said, "would God that my Lord were with the prophet that is in samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy." Whoa, she had a lot of faith. Now how did she know that he - had Elisha done many miracles? Had Elisha ever healed anyone of leprosy yet? No. No. How did she know? 'Except you become converted as a little child, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.' God wants us to have child-like faith. Had anyone been healed of leprosy before, prior to this story? Yes.

Yeah. What about when miriam got leprosy because she was not respecting her brother's leadership? And she had it for seven days and Moses prayed for her that she might be healed right away and God said, 'look, if her father had spit in her face she'd be ashamed at least a week' - so for seven days she was outside the camp and God healed her and she came back. But you know who else had leprosy very briefly and was healed? Moses. Moses. It lasted a minute or less.

You remember when God was saying - Moses said, 'who are - who am I going to say sent me?' And he said, 'you'll say that I sent you.' He said, 'let me give you a couple signs - take your hand - put your hand within your garment' - like napoleon, I suppose - 'and pull it back out again.' He pulled it back out - it was leprous. God said, 'put it back in again.' He did that pretty quick and he pulled it out and it was healed. So you could - he was healed of leprosy very quickly. So she knew that story. She knew about miriam and she thought - nobody had ever come to Elisha - you can't point to anywhere in the old testament where someone came to Elisha requesting something that was turned away.

So she said, 'Elisha can do anything. Just go to Elisha.' Now who does Elisha represent in this story? Christ. Who's a great healer? Christ. Who's our great prophet? It's Jesus. And their names are actually similar.

Jesus' Name, in the original, is yashua and that means - 'ya' - meaning 'jehovah' - 'shua' - Savior. Elisha's name is the other name of God - 'elohim' 'shua' - Elisha - and it means 'God is Savior' - it's saying the same thing, it just uses one of the different names of God. So Elisha's a type of Christ. Who do we go to if we want cleansing from our leprosy of sin? Jesus. But sometimes we don't go easy.

So he gets this message and, you know, it makes me think about a story in the Bible - I don't know - this is in several Gospels - Luke 5 - don't lose your place in 2 Kings 5 - Luke :12-15, "and it happened when he was in a certain city," - Jesus - "that behold, a man who was full of leprosy" - I use Luke's story because Luke says he's full of leprosy - "a man who was full of leprosy" - it means it's advanced - he "saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored him," - this is the first leper we know of that Jesus healed - "fell on his face and implored him, saying, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.'" Jesus had not cleansed a leper yet but he thought, 'well, if Elisha could do it and God could do it in the old testament, you can do it.' 'If you're willing you can cleanse me.' And Jesus "put out his hand and touched him, saying, 'I am willing; be cleansed.'" - When the Lord brought the world into existence, what did he say? 'Let there be light.' And when Jesus says 'be cleansed' does it happen? Yes. There is creative power in the Word of God. "Immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one," - but after you've been cleansed from leprosy, can you keep it to yourself or do you become a missionary right away? Immediately. He couldn't keep it to himself.

So when you've been healed from leprosy you become a missionary right away. You want to tell everybody. You know, God can not only heal from leprosy, there are some people in the Bible that were struck with leprosy. Who were they? Miriam - we already talked about - and who was the other one? It's in this story - oh, there's actually three - miriam, king uzziah, and gehazi, the servant of Elisha. God can heal from leprosy and God can give leprosy as a judgment and so that's important to remember.

So who is the first missionary in this story? The little maid; and she said, 'oh, if he were only with the prophet who is in samaria.' You know, how often have God's people been the best missionaries when they were in a foreign country in a position of service? Can you think of some examples in the Bible of others that were great witnesses in a foreign land? How about Esther? How about shadrach, meshach, and abednego? I heard, I think it was, dr. Leslie harding say that on the plain of dura when those three Hebrews did not bow down, they accomplished more of what God's will was for Israel as a nation by themselves than he was to accomplish for the preceding years of Israel's history. He was trying to get Israel to be a witness of jehovah's power to the other nations and when they stood up, everybody knew about God's power. And when Daniel did not bow down - the same way, when he wouldn't pray to darius - proclamation is made by Nebuchadnezzar and then a proclamation is made by king darius and there are witnesses. Joseph, in a foreign land, is a witness.

So frequently we do mission work surrounded by strange people. A lot of Christians have done some of their best mission work in prisons where they're imprisoned for their faith. So here, this girl, she still has a cheerful attitude. And does naaman listen? If you're dying - if you're terminal - normally you might scoff at the suggestion of a child that a prophet is going to heal - who had never healed anyone of leprosy - but did the syrians know that Elisha had great power? Yes. You read some of the exploits - Elisha captured a whole syrian army single handed.

This happens in later chapters but there were other things. They had heard about him making an ax head float; him pronouncing a curse and the she-bears punished 42 children that had been mocking him; and how he had a double portion of Elijah's spirit; and the Jordan river parted when he struck it with the robe; and - I mean, they had heard about - matter of fact, one time, when they tried to ambush the King of Israel, every time they tried to ambush the King of Israel, Elisha told the King of Israel, 'watch out, the syrians are going to get you here, they're going to get you there.' And the King of syria said, 'who is betraying our secret plans?' And they said, 'no one, my Lord, but Elisha the prophet, who is in Israel, he knows what you say in your bedchamber because the Lord reveals it to him.' So they already knew something, like I said, some of these things hadn't happened yet, but they knew something about Elisha. So when she said, 'oh, but if he would go be with the prophet that is in Israel.' So he's desperate and it says naaman went in and he told his master. Naaman gets a message to the King and he said, "thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel." - the King doesn't want to lose his best general. They had heard about the miracles in Israel, maybe there's a chance.

'We'll try anything and if we don't try, what have we lost? - If we try. Now, you might be wondering, 'aren't they at war with each other?' They were always at war with each other, but they had periodic cease fires. This is happening during one of those episodes where they were living under a cease fire, but the syrians and Israel, during the time of the divided kingdom, were almost constantly warring over their borders. I could just cite a number of examples, but then they did have periods where they were at peace. For one thing, there were certain seasons when they'd fight each other.

They agreed that if there wasn't food for the armies, they just were at peace. Everyone was too busy farming, they couldn't fight then. And so this was during - they did actually trade with each other and this was during one of those - so it's kind of irregular that the King of syria is going to say, 'I realize that naaman has conquered your forces in many battles, but he's sick now and I want to ask you a favor.' You know, I thought it was very interesting when the shah of iran was struggling with health problems, he flew to America for treatment even though there has often been tension between the countries. So it's not unprecedented. Anyway, the King writes this letter and he gets a lot of money - you know, who was it - Solomon that said 'money answers all things'? 'Yeah, I know we're at war but I'm going to pay you really well for this.

' And so he sends naaman with - he's got millions of dollars, by today's standards, of gold and silver and clothing. He tells the King and the King of syria says - I'm in verse 5, "go to, go," - another - go to, go means make preparations to go - "and I will send a letter unto the King of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing." - Interesting Numbers - ten talents, six thousand - ten - you got ten and six - those are Numbers that appear frequently in the Bible - Numbers of man contrasted against the Numbers of God's commandments. "Then he brought a letter to the King of Israel, which said," - now why do you go to the King of Israel? Did the little girl say that if naaman would go to the King of Israel, or did she say go to the prophet? Right? Well, the King of Israel said, 'well, naaman is your subject. He'll do what you tell him to do.

I'm going to you because you'll order him to do what I'm asking. Here's the money.' But when the King gets this message, he doesn't react very well. "And it happened, when the King of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, 'am I God, to kills and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?'" - Now why'd he tear his clothes? When did somebody tear their clothes? One time you would tear your clothes is in times of blasphemy - when a man puts himself in the place of God and when he was being looked upon as God as though he could heal, he said, 'I'm not God.' So that might be one reason and he's also tearing his clothes as a sign of mourning because he says, 'oh, look, he's trying to cause another excuse to break the cease fire and go to war. He's asking me to heal his general - and what happens if I don't heal his general? It's going to be an insult.' - He said, 'this is - there's something going on behind the scenes here. This is really tricky.

What is he up to?' You know - have you ever noticed that sometimes the devil will make you suspicious of a person's innocent intentions? Let me say that again because that's an important point: sometimes the devil will make you suspicious of a person's sincere intentions. 'Oh, what are they really thinking?' 'Why are they doing that?' 'There's must - there's an ulterior motive.' 'They're up to no good.' 'It's a trap!' And they really are being totally honest. 'Can you please just heal my servant of their leprosy.' And the King is putting the worst possible spin on it and they - you know, naaman comes and he's not by himself. You don't travel with, you know, millions of dollars in gold and silver and clothing back then - this isn't any clothing either - they got this at nordstrom. This was like, you know, the real expensive clothing.

And so naaman comes with his soldiers and his guard and they deliver the message and they're being put up in the local quarters and the King is gathering with his war counsel what's he doing?' And while the King is carrying on and having this fit, it says that 'Elisha the man of God heard it' - it had already reached Elisha, who lives in samaria - or just outside of samaria - it tells us in another story he had a house in samaria during the famine - that's in chapter 6. So Elisha lives in the city, he's not far away, and it says, "when Elisha" - I'm in verse 8 - "the man of God heard that the King if Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the King saying, 'why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel'" now why is Elisha saying he'll know there's a prophet in Israel? If you read 2 Kings chapter 1, The Son of ahab, king of Israel is sick and dying and he doesn't know if he's going to die and he sends messengers to inquire of the prophets of baal-zeebub, the God of ekron - a philistine God - to find out if he's going to recover, instead of going to a God of Israel - instead of going to a prophet of Israel, the King of Israel sends to inquire of the prophets of the Gods of the philistines. And so, that's part of the reason Elisha is saying 'there are still prophets in Israel, let him come to me.' And so, you know, sometimes - how often have you become distressed because of some circumstances you can't handle - you don't understand - and you become agitated and God is saying, 'bring it to me in prayer.' Bring your problems to Jesus. Who does Elisha represent in this story? Jesus. And we fret and wring our hands.

During our morning worship yesterday we read a beautiful quote from desire of ages that talks about how often we stress over things when we ought to just give it to God. I woke up and heard about this supreme court ruling - I tell you, I was not just a little discouraged - and we needed to read that for worship - that God is still on the throne. He has a thousand ways of taking care of things when we can't think of any. You've just got to put it in God's hands. And so - you know, I've got to be careful.

I'm just sort of transitioning into the preaching sermon mode. I forget this is a class. So somebody got Numbers 12:10 - yeah, I kind of read this already, sorry. But go ahead - go ahead and read that for us. This gives the story of the healing that she experienced.

"And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then aaron turned toward miriam, and there she was, a leper." Yeah, so God had healed her of leprosy and it had happened before and this was in Israel's history. This was also evidence that the King should not have despaired because he knew that story, didn't he? Well, if he was reading the word. Not all the Kings of Israel were acquainted with the word. So what do we learn about Elisha? Do we find that he is a spirit-filled person in the Bible? He is.

Now, did one of you have John 15:5? Nope? I'm going to read that one. And one of you has got 2 Kings :10 - okay, you'll be next. Let me read John 15:5. The Bible says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.

" Including a healing from leprosy. So the King was fretting and God said, 'look, without me, you can't do anything.' And so eventually a message comes from Elisha to the King and he says, 'why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me. He will know that there's a prophet in Israel. Alright, so you go ahead and read 2 Kings 5, verse 10. "And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, 'go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.

'" Alright, so first message comes from the little girl. She is a servant of naaman's wife. The second message comes from a servant of Elisha. So you've got a first missionary, you've got the second missionary here. What do you have to do to be a missionary? If you tell a person how to wash and be clean, spiritually, that's mission work.

Does it have to be a complicated message? How many years of seminary did that little girl have? Did she give a life-saving message? Is there a passage in the Bible that says, "out of the mouths of babes thou hast ordained strength"? That's psalm 8:2. Have you heard of children preachers? Yes. Can God give messages of salvation through men and women? Yes. Can everybody be a missionary? Yes. Yeah, absolutely.

And so it's happening through servants. All these messages are being given through servants. Now why didn't Elisha come out to see naaman face to face? And how did naaman react to that? If you look in chapter 5 it says in oh, let's see here, go and wash in the Jordan river. "But naaman" - verse 11 - 2 Kings 5:11 - "but naaman became furious," - you know, it's not that bad if you've got a general who knows how to have some appropriate rage. It can come in handy, maybe, if you're going to be a soldier, but it's not always good for a Christian.

If you lose your temper, someone else finds it. So he flew into a rage and he said, "'indeed, I said to myself - I thought within myself, 'he will surely come out to me,'" - so what's one thing that now offends naaman? Naaman has come - he is a man of prestige. He's number two in the Kingdom of syria. He has come on a long journey. He could have sent messengers to retrieve, with a chariot, Elisha and say, 'please come to me.

' But he thought, 'I will honor the King of Israel. I will honor the prophet. I will go personally. He could have come incognito and gone privately to the door. You know, that happened one time.

A queen dressed up like a commoner and went to the house of Elisha. But - oh no, it wasn't Elisha, it was abijah the prophet - and he still knew who she was even though he was blind. Naaman could have said, 'I'll disguise myself' but he went openly. He expected, because he went openly, he's got this retinue with him - he thought he'd be received. Didn't even come out to greet him.

Now Elisha's not a wealthy prophet. Elisha is described in the Bible as the one who poured water on the hands of Elijah. He was a servant himself that did menial things for Elijah. And so, now he's the prophet in Israel, but he's not wealthy. He - he didn't even come out.

Why? Who does Elisha represent? Third time I've mentioned this. Jesus. What does leprosy represent? Sin. How come we can't see God face to face? We've sinned. Our sins have separated us from our God because of our iniquities, Isaiah says.

So he sends the message through a servant - Elisha sends the message through a missionary. Does Jesus send the message of salvation personally to all the world? Well, he came in human form but 99 percent don't hear it personally from Jesus, they hear it through those that are sent by Jesus. Through the servants of Elisha the message comes. Through the servants of Jesus the message of salvation comes. And so, naaman is mad - 'you don't come out to me personally.

And I thought you'd stand and call on the name of the Lord. I thought you'd invoke your God and wave your hand over the place - I guess in syria this is how the prophets did it. They would carry on - stomp, yell, shout, wave their arms, throw some gun powder in the fire, get a big poof, and then heal the leper. He doesn't say, 'heal me.' He acts like the leprosy's out there somewhere. And then he begins to reason - 'and the prescription you're giving me is a bad prescription.

You're asking me to wash in the Jordan river. "Are not the abana and the pharpar, the rivers of damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?'" You know, there's a lot of confused Christians that rationalize using their own judgment instead of the Word of God. Is it true that the waters of syria were cleaner than the Jordan? Probably. Jordan river is the lowest river in the world. It runs down into the dead sea.

It's full of mineral salts. The Jordan, itself, has mineral salts. You cannot drink the Jordan water. There are rivers you can drink because they're, you know, they run out of the mountains and they're a little cleaner. You can't drink the Jordan.

It just washes through the farmland and it washes, not only from the mountains of lebanon, but the Jordan comes out of the sea of Galilee so it's lake water that then washes into a river, and it just is not clean. And at certain times of year it goes between - yellow, brown, and green are the colors of the Jordan. And you can understand why naaman would say, 'the Jordan? The rivers of damascus are cleaner. If I'm going to get clean, let me go to a cleaner river.' Isn't that good logic? Sometimes we substitute our rationalizations for God's command. We say, 'well, that's not fair.

That doesn't make sense.' But what does the Word of God say? Is it safe for us to put our reasoning ahead of the word of God? We need to pray for the church - we do that sometimes. We say, 'well, I know the word says that but I've got a better argument. I've got a better rationalization and my arguments make sense.' But they're not biblical. And so if it doesn't follow the Word of God, it doesn't matter how logical your arguments are. 'Are not the abana and the pharpar rivers of damascus cleaner than all the waters of Israel?' Yes, they are, but God didn't tell you to wash in those rivers.

So you do what God says if you want the miracle. Does God want us to be specific and follow His Word? Yes. You don't ever hear about a miracle in the abana or pharpar rivers. You do hear about miracles in the Jordan - where an ax head floats, the river parts miraculously for Israel, it parts for Elijah, it parts for Elisha. It's a miraculous river.

It looks dirty on the outside but it's a river that God used and he said, 'you can wash in this river.' By the way, it's the river where Jesus would be baptized. So he's basically asking naaman 'go baptize in the river seven times and you'll be clean.' So he gets upset and he storms away in a rage. Now naaman thought he had a perfect life. He thought his biggest problem was leprosy. What was naaman's biggest problem? Pride.

Same problem that the devil had. Same problem that we have. It's called the great sin. It's pride. Yes, he was a good man.

He was a brave man. He was a rich man. He was a man God could use, but he was proud. That's the problem the disciples had. 'Which of us is the greatest?' Isn't that right? They argued among themselves.

It's a problem we sometimes have: 'how come I'm not being appreciated as much as they're being appreciated? How come they're getting that office and I'm not getting that office?' You can think of a thousand ways our pride plays out. We think our problem might be the leprosy - the problem is pride - that's why we've got leprosy. And he finally blows up and he demonstrates his problem. So he goes storming - he turns and he goes away in a rage. He snaps his horse around - he begins to gallop off back towards damascus.

He starts out galloping but eventually the horse is trotting and then it ends up in a slow walk because damascus is quite a ways. And God in his mercy had arranged things providentially where he's got to go by the Jordan river to get back home. Isn't God good? So he storms off in a rage. You know what one of the works of the flesh is? Galatians 5:19, "now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies," - here's another work of the flesh - "outbursts of wrath," - he was not being led of the Spirit, he was being led of the flesh and he went off into a rage. Now we're getting ready - who's got 2 Kings 5:15? Alright, you'll be next.

Alright, third missionaries in the story: "and his servants came near." - Why does it say the servants came near? You can't come near unless you're first far, right? They had been riding at a distance - why? Leprosy. Because naaman was unclean. But as his horse slows down - you know, he starts off and he's riding off - his shoulders are back - he's mad. Now his shoulders are slumped, his head is down, and he keeps looking off to the right at the Jordan river - because he's got to ride right along the Jordan river. There it is on his way up to damascus.

Eventually he'll cross it. And his servants come and they reason with him. You know, it's a good leader that can listen to the rebuke of servants. Now they do it respectfully and they say, 'my father,' - a family approach - 'if the prophet had told you to do something great, wouldn't you have done it? How much more then when he says to you, 'wash and be clean'? You know, some of the ancient doctors, they would say as a prescription, 'to get the disease out of this part of your body, if you just hold this hot coal in your hand, the blister will suck all the poison out.' They used to make people hold hot coals. They used to make people rub on painful concoctions and they would say, 'if you go and wash in this spring a hundred miles away' - or - 'if you kill a hundred philistines' - they had all kinds of different things and they used to make them rub worm's blood and all kinds of things.

And he said, 'look, go wash.' But what's implied? When someone tells you 'go wash.' What's the implication? You're dirty. You're dirty. When someone tells you to go wash seven times, what's the implication? Really dirty. When someone tells you to wash seven times in a dirty river, what's the implication? I used to wonder why - any of you have siblings and you'd all take a bath and you'd share a bath? And you'd get in one after the other? They wouldn't run a new bath, just one after the other. Any of you - did you always get chosen last? Did you ever want to be last in the water? There's this ring around the tub and you haven't even gotten in yet? Greasy ring.

I used to get in last because they figured I was probably the dirtiest, but they still made me take a bath because they figured no matter how dirty the water was, I was dirtier and I'd come out cleaner. So when somebody's telling you to bathe in a dirty river, it's not a compliment. When they tell you to bathe in a dirty river seven times - can you understand why that would be humiliating for naaman? So he was willing to listen to his servant. You know there's a verse in job - 31:13, "if I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? And when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him?" In other words, just because you've got an employee and an employer, doesn't mean that God can't speak through the employee. That's what job says.

And you will answer - way back in the book of job it says the same God made us both. This idea of racial superiority is not taught in the Bible. Job's the oldest book in the Bible and job understood this principle. It's a good verse to remember. Alright, go ahead, read 2 Kings 5:15, please.

"And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, 'indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.'" Thank you. I left out a very important part: naaman listened to his servants. He humbled himself. He went down in the river. He washed five - did he get the healing after one time? No.

Three times? Did he get thirty percent healed after the third time? I guess it wouldn't be thirty percent if you're going to seven. But he wasn't healed in degrees. He was still a hundred percent sick - he was a hundred percent sick when he went down the sixth time. Is that correct? But when he came up then, then he was healed. Do Numbers matter to God? When God told Joshua 'march around Jericho seven times' did the miracle happen after six times? No.

No. And it wasn't until naaman did it the seventh time the blessing came. When God says 'remember the seventh day. I blessed the seventh day.' Some people think that seventh-day adventists are a little fastidious and particular or legalistic. But does God show in the Bible that when he gives a number he means what he says? And he says, 'I blessed the seventh day.

You remember the seventh day.' He means what he says. So don't ever apologize for that. So as soon as he's healed he's so happy - do you realize he's halfway to damascus? But what does he do? He returns to the man of God to give thanks. You remember the story when Jesus healed those ten lepers and one out of the ten returned to thank him. Was the one who returned to give thanks an Israelite? What was he? A samaritan.

A samaritan. So naaman, like that samaritan - the gentile - he returns to thank the man of God. What's the reason that we give, out of obligation or the Lord loves a cheerful giver? Naaman comes back, he could have gone home. He never got an invoice yet. He should say, 'I'll wait for the check - the bill to come in the mail for my healing.

' He goes back, he wants to thank God. He wants to praise God. And he realizes that the God of Israel is a - not only a true God, the true God. He goes back and he says, 'indeed, I know' - that's what we're saved by, we've got to personally know through personal conversion and cleansing. We have a personal experience that our leprosy is taken away.

Not only did God heal him, it says something else. It says his flesh was restored - that means if he was missing fingers or toes, they popped back into place and it came like - not just any flesh, but what kind? A baby. Like a child - which looks really strange on a soldier, doesn't it? I can just picture this soldier celebrating with naaman and praise to God he comes out, he's clean, his leprosy's gone, they're all jumping around. They're celebrating. They're shouting and then they look at him and say, 'wow, it looks soft.

Can I touch it?' The general - like a little child's skin. Why? Because you're born again. When you're healed of leprosy you're born again. 'Except you become as little children.' That's what a Christian is - a soldier with baby skin, right? Flesh came - how many women would like to have an ointment that did for them what the Jordan river did for naaman, amen? Wouldn't that sell? There's a name - we call it 'naaman's ointment.' And you've got a story to sell it. So he goes back and he says - he says to Elisha - now, does Elisha come out and see him this time? Yes.

Now it's face to face because he's cleansed from his leprosy. Will we see Jesus face to face? And he says, 'take something.' He urges him to take money. He says, 'I won't take it.' Now could Elisha have used that to help the school of the prophets? Sure. Sure. He wasn't rich.

Why did he refuse to take it? The same reason that Joseph refused to take money when his brothers tried to pay for the food. Because salvation is a gift. You cannot pay for it. It's not of works. It's a gift of God.

Without money and without price. That's why what gehazi did later was so offensive to God. He was cursed with leprosy because he tried to put a price on it and God had intended it to be a symbol of the free gift of cleansing. And then naaman says, 'please give me some dirt from Israel because I'm going to go home and I'm going to kneel and I'm going to pray and I'm going to worship on the dirt of the God of Israel.' Isn't that interesting? A little while ago he was dismissing the waters of Israel - 'who wants the waters of Israel?' Now he's ready to take home the dirt of Israel. Isn't that interesting? And then he - he asks for mercy.

He said, 'now, the King is getting old and when he goes to worship rimmon, he always leans on my hand. Will you please forgive me, because I expect him to still need me to hold him up as he goes and he bows to rimmon in his temple.' And you know what Elisha said to him? 'Go in peace.' He realized, 'look, you've come a long way. You've just renounced the Gods of syria. You've accepted the God of Israel and I understand you're in a hard place in your situation and God understands.' Now that tells me something about the Lord. Amen.

That God is a practical God. So naaman becomes the fourth missionary. He now goes back - so you've got the little maid, you've got gehazi who becomes a missionary - now when gehazi apostatized and he became greedy like Judas, did naaman's cleansing go away? Even though one of the messengers that God used to heal naaman was corrupt, the cleansing still stayed - because it's not the messenger, it's the message, right? And the little maid, the servants of naaman, the servant of Elisha, and now naaman. When he is healed he goes back into syria - the general - and he becomes a missionary for the whole country, talking about the God of Israel. And so this all happened because of the cleansing.

Go ahead read for us - I think this is our last verse - 1 John 5:2 and 3. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome." No burden in the commandments of God. As soon as naaman was cleansed he wanted to worship and obey the God of Israel and he became a missionary for God. This is a wonderful story of how God uses people and sometimes - you notice - one man's conversion - he got a message from three different people.

It's not any one person. One person sows, another person reaps, someone cultivates and it's like farming, everybody works together and it might be one person that's converted from several people cooperating and working as missionaries. And then that person becomes a missionary as soon as they are cleansed. Wonderful story. Anyway, we have a free offer we want to remind you of.

If you did not catch it at the beginning of the broadcast it's called life in the Spirit and all you've got to do is call -788-3966. We'll send this to you - it's -study-more. God bless you, friends, until we can study His Word together again next week. (Dramatic music) (thunder) (creaking door) throughout recorded history tales of ghosts and spirits can be found in folklore in nearly every country and culture. The Egyptians built pyramids to help guide the Spirits of their leaders.

Rome sanctioned holidays to honor and appease the Spirits of their dead. Even the Bible tells of a king that used a witch to contact the spirit of a deceased prophet. Today, ancient folklore of spirits and apparitions have gone from mere superstitions to mainstream entertainment and reality. Scientific organizations investigate stories of hauntings and sightings, trying to prove once and for all the existence of ghosts. Even with all the new-found technology and centuries of stories all over the world, there is still no clear-cut answer.

So how do we know what's true? Why do these stories persist? Does it even matter? We invite you to look inside and find out for yourself. Visit ghosttruth.com. For life-changing Christian resources visit afbookstore.com.

Name:

Email:

Prayer Request:


Share a Prayer Request
Name:

Email:

Bible Question:


Ask a Bible Question