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Naaman

Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1-27
Date: 01/29/2005 
The story of Namaan teaches us that sin, like leprosy, separates us from God. The Jordan River is a symbol for baptism and death. Salvation cannot be paid for with money. God’s grace is freely given.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I would like to share with you a message that is one of the great stories in the Bible. Matter of fact I heard about a ministerial professor who was teaching ministers and he told them, “If you travel and you’re ever in doubt about what you should talk about, talk about Naaman because it is a story that is rich in symbols and just every spectrum of the human experience that it is worthy of our attention.” I would like to actually take you to the New Testament. You know Jesus refers to Naaman and you can find this in the gospel of Luke when Jesus began preaching in his earthly ministry. Chapter 4, verse 24, He said, “Assuredly, I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.” And then you jump down a few verses and he says, “But I tell you truly many lepers were in the land of Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” And of course Jesus was saying God not only speaks to and works with his people but he works with others. Now for the young people if you would like a little extra challenge you keep track of Pastor Doug this morning.

Every time you hear me say the word Jordan you jot that down and then afterward you let me know how many times I’ve said it and if I say the word Jordan more than fifty times your parents will give you extra dessert, okay? So you keep count of that and make sure you’re listening carefully. So the message today is on Naaman. You find that story in the second book of Kings, II Kings chapter 5 and it’s the whole chapter and by the way I will probably not go, take note of the phrase “probably” not go as long as I normally do with the message. I’m going to see if I can shave a little time off today. But I do want to share this very important study. Chapter 5, II Kings, verse 1, “Now Naaman,” the word Naaman means pleasant. “Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man.” Well we learn right off that he was a man who was great meaning that he was well known. Now some people are well known because they’re infamous. Hitler was well known. He wasn’t famous, he was infamous.

Great means well known in a positive sense because the next word, he is “honorable,” he is a man of honor, he is respected. He is “honorable man,” he was great also “in the eyes of his master,” who was the king of Syria “because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria.” He was a man that the Lord could use to give victory. Something else you notice here, the Jews often thought that the Lord only used them, and here it was saying that the Lord was using a Syrian general to give victory to his nation. God works with people all over the world, doesn’t he? Not any one group. He was a man who could be used of God. And it says “he was a mighty man of valor.” He was a strong man. He was a valiant man. He was a brave man, a courageous man. He had all these things that so many people might want. Obviously he must have had some substance, he was strong, brave, well known, respected and if we closed the book here many of us would think, “Boy, I’d like to be Naaman!” A great man. At least most men would. But then you read the last phrases here.

In the King James Version it adds up to about five words and it says, “But he was a leper.” And that changes everything. Would you want to have a reputation for being great and for being honorable and for being brave, be respected and be terminal? That’s what it amounts to. I was on the phone last night calling two people, very different people, but some I’ve known for years and respect who are both struggling with terminal illness and prayed with them and talked with them and you know there are very few things that we value more than life. And it’s hard to enjoy any blessing in life when you know you’re running out of life. I mean what profit is it if you gain the whole world like that fool who fills his barns that are bursting and builds bigger barns and God says, “Your life is required.” What good is it? So Naaman had everything going for him but he was dying. Could he enjoy any of those things? Now in Bible times leprosy was what we might equate with AIDS today. It was something that was potentially contagious. You didn’t always get it through contact.

It had a certain social stigma with it. It was that you know it was like sometimes thought to be the curse of God. They called it the finger of God. It separated. See leprosy is a type of sin in the Bible and as sin separates, leprosy would separate you from company. One of the kings, one of the good kings of Israel, King Uzziah, sometimes called Uzzah, he came down with leprosy and here he is the ruler of the people and he’s got to live sequestered in this isolated house by himself quarantined from his people. So his son did all the practical business. A king who is isolated, separated. Leprosy is a type of what? Sin. And sin does what? It separates. We are separated from God by our sin. Sin will separate you from God. It separated Adam and Eve in the beginning not only from God but it separated them from each other. Sin separates you from you.

It separates you from God, it separates you from others. So often when there’s disputes and arguments in divorce and relationships sin, usually selfishness, is what causes that. And ultimately it separates you from you and what I mean by that is you can’t have self-respect. So he’s got leprosy. Now the story goes on and becomes very interesting. It says in verse 2, “Now the Syrians had gone out on raids, and they’d brought back captive a young girl” a little maid “from the land of Israel. And she waited on Naaman’s wife.” It was not uncommon in Bible times that these marauding bands would cross over the Jordan River (Oh, that’s once! Did you catch it?) they’d cross over the Jordan River from Syria into Israel and they would attack some of the ranches and farms, they’d plunder their goods, sometimes they would carry away the children because they could be sold on the market as slaves. And on one of these raiding expeditions this girl is snatched up by some ugly soldier on a horse and carried to the market and sold and Naaman’s wife thinks that she’d make a good household servant and she’s purchased by the general.

You know God is interesting in his providence how he arranges these things. That little girl must have thought her life was over being taken to a strange land serving strange gods, but God works things for good, doesn’t he? Joseph, same thing happened to him, but he had been bought by the general of Egypt and now this little girl is bought by the general of Syria. There’s a parallel here. Oh by the way, that little girl knew the story of Joseph and she probably was crying herself to sleep on some nights wishing she was back on the family farm and she’d remember the story of Joseph and think, “Well, maybe the Lord has a use for me.” Well, she became apprised of her master’s condition. He may have come down with leprosy while the little girl was there. We don’t know. And then the Bible says, “She said to her mistress,” verse three, “If only my master” she doesn’t say “your husband.” She looked at Naaman as her master. “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria!”

That prophet is Elisha who has a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. If he could only be “with the prophet who is in the land of Israel in Samaria! He would heal him of his leprosy.” Did she have any doubts? She believed it. You know why? First of all Elisha already had a reputation whenever anybody came to Elisha with some kind of problem he helped them. Now the interesting thing is up to this point Elisha had never healed anybody from leprosy. One person had been healed from leprosy. That was the sister of Moses Miriam. Remember she was struck with leprosy and he took it away? God took it away after seven days, but no one else had been miraculously healed and no prophets had done it and so this was real faith. God wants us to have more childlike faith.

Now by the way, don’t miss this, what does a woman represent in prophetic symbols? Here you have a girl who is planted in, she is an Israelite girl planted in a Gentile family and she’s letting her light shine. What God did through this girl is what he wanted to do through the Nation and he would do several other times. You know it’s often true that with the people of God their witness was the strongest in captivity. They did better under trial and persecution in captivity than they did when they were free. When was it the king of Babylon makes a proclamation about the God of Israel? It’s when they were captives in Babylon. The king of Persia makes a proclamation about the God of Israel when Daniel is a captive in Babylon in Persia. And here they’re learning about the God of Israel while a little girl is a captive in Syria.

Sometimes we might wonder why God puts us in a certain situation and I meet people frequently and they say, “Doug, I’d sure like to work with Amazing Facts. It’d be so nice to work with a Christian ministry.” And you know it is a blessing. There are blessings, but God might have you working surrounded by Pagans so you can be a witness. He needs a few of you out there where the people are that are lost, right? And so don’t be discouraged sometimes if you say, “Lord, I’m just surrounded with these Pagans!” He wants you to let your light shine in the darkness. You don’t notice a candle when you’ve got blazing light all around it, do you?

You only notice it when it’s surrounded by darkness. And so she’s letting her little light shine. You might think that Naaman would say, “Ah, a little girl. You know, fairy tales! She’s playing make-believe.” But when you’re dying it’s easier to believe. You know how mortifying it would be for the Syrians were at war back during this time just like they’re at war today with Israel. Syria and Israel have been at war with each other for thousands of years. The cities of Samaria, Jerusalem and Damascus have been polarized and it hasn’t changed. Do you know how hard it would be for Naaman the general of… I mean that would be like Yasaar Arafat going to the hospital in Jerusalem. Do you understand that scenario? I mean, this is what this was like. And she says if you could just go to the prophet in Israel, but you know what? If you know that’s the only way to be saved you can humble yourself and do it. So eventually word spread to the palace. The king does not want to lose Naaman. He’s a man and if there’s any hope he seizes that hope.

Eventually “Naaman went and told his master” meaning the king of Syria. He said, “There’s this little girl in my house and she says that if I would go to the prophet that’s in Israel that he could heal me of my leprosy.” So the king of Syria says to Naaman, “Go now,” make preparations to go. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” I’ll give you the official documents. “So he departed and he took with him ten talents of silver…” How much silver? “…six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing.” These numbers mean something. Ten is often a symbol for God’s law in the Bible. Is that right? And this silver and ten changes of garment, another symbol of the law. Six is often a symbol of grace in this sense, and that gold of grace there. And he brings the letter to the King of Israel that says. Now wait a, wait a, wait a second here. What did the little girl say? If Naaman would go see the king of Israel? Did she say, “Go see the king of Israel?” She said, “Go see the prophet.” But you know Naaman is a general. He’s used to hanging out in the palace and he’s got his uniform on and the prophet probably should be brought to the palace to see him because after all he deals with kings and the elite in the kingdom and he’s got his uniform and all of his medals.

Of course he’s got leprosy on underneath it. Uniform can cover a little bit, doesn’t change what’s underneath, does it? And so he goes to the king and he expects the king to summon Elisha. And this became a real political disaster because in essence the king of Syria sends a letter to his enemy the king of Israel and says, “I’ve sent my general who’s been beating you in battle that you might heal him of his leprosy.” This is not a faithful king. This king happens to be the son of Ahab who didn’t worship Jehovah anyway. So are you getting a picture of the political dilemma that’s happening here? It wasn’t a smart move. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel that says, “Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, I have sent Naaman my servant to you…” They knew who he was! “…that you might heal him of his leprosy.” They left out the part about Elisha. Now the word Elisha you’ve heard me say before is very much like the word Jesus. His name, he’s one of the great types of Christ in the Bible. The name Jesus in Hebrew is Yashua. The name Elisha is El-ashua. One means Jehovah is savior. The other means Elohime the Lord is savior. Very similar names. Here instead of going to God he goes to the government. Where are we supposed to go for our salvation?

We’re supposed to go to God, but he’s using human channels to try to accomplish something supernatural. It never succeeds. And you know it’s often true even in America we want a political program for every human dilemma. It’s almost like our government is training us to just trust the government instead of trust the Lord. So he brings his letter to the government and he’s got the right protocol, he’s got the money to pay for it, but he’s not doing what God said. We don’t acquire cleansing from leprosy with documents and money. I’m going to say that again because that’s an important point. You do not obtain forgiveness for sin, cleansing from leprosy, through documents, sealed official papers, gold, silver, clothing. You can’t pay for it. He went to the wrong place. He went to the right country, but he went to the wrong place. He went to the king. The little girl had more sense than Naaman did. She didn’t say, “Go see our king.” The king was apostate. She had said, “Go see our prophet.” She knew that God was with Elisha not the king. He said, “He’s trying to start a war with me!” By the way, he brings the equivalent of $3,840,000.00 to pay for, and that’s with the old basis for gold when it was about $32.00 an ounce. What is it now? $300.00, $400.00 an ounce?

It’s worth a lot more now. “It happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?’” His general no less. What an insult! He’s been beating us in battle. “Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.” He’s trying to start a war! He’s trying to create an incident. This is his Pearl Harbor, his Lufthansa. He’s trying to look for some excuse to launch this war. “So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes…” Word must have traveled very quickly. Elisha did not live very far from the king’s house. You read about the famine that happens in another chapter, chapter six I believe and seven, that he actually lived right there in the city. Word pretty soon came to Elisha you know the king has torn his clothes because the Syrian king has sent his general who’s got leprosy and saying the king is supposed to heal him. Did Elisha know what was going on behind the scenes? He did. And I like this statement.

He says to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes?” Why are you all upset? Obviously you have no faith in God. He’s taking it all himself. “Let him come to me.” Who does Elisha represent? “Let him come to me, and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” Was Jesus a prophet? Sure he was! Look at any definition of a prophet and Jesus was much more than a prophet but at least he was a prophet too. “Let him come to me, and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel” and might I say to this church and those who are watching there is still a prophet in Israel? God still speaks to and through his people. He has not left us without his Word and Jesus is still in our midst. Amen? “Then Naaman went with his horses and his chariot,” and he’s got this whole entourage with him. They’re taking, you know how much, this gold and silver is heavy.

He’s got chariots, semis following him with his soldiers. And he “went with his horses and his chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha.” He went to the prophet’s house as he was told. Now he expected the prophet to come out, have a little fanfare to maybe perform his incantations and he would maybe you know dance around the fire and throw in some gunpowder and shout and scream. Karen and I were watching some religious programming last night and I am almost embarrassed to tell you that we were watching this during the Sabbath. We thought it’s a preaching episode. I don’t know that I have ever seen, it was not of our particular faith. It was another church that believes in salvation by screaming and yelling. And I have never seen. This auditorium was filled with so much bedlam and the preacher actually is yelling to the congregation, what did she say? “Don’t hold back.

Go crazy!” Something like that. The essence of it was, don’t hold back, go crazy. Is that a message to the church from the Lord? And everybody began to just fall down and scream and writhe and jump and shout and I mean I have never seen so much chaos! Well, you know that’s what the Pagans do. They think that you need to get God’s attention by doing all these bizarre, crazy things like the prophets of Baal you jump on the altar, you scream and you shout, you chant, you repeat, you cut yourself and what did Elijah do? He knelt down and prayed a simple prayer and the fire came down. Naaman was expecting a show, you know, like the magicians, the witchdoctors. He expected some kind of carrying on. Elisha does not even come out to see him, but he sends his servant with a very simple but humiliating message. Gehazi his servant comes out and he says, “Go wash in the Jordan River seven times, and you will be cleansed.” And he turned and he walks back in the house and shuts the door. Now this is really bothering Naaman. First of all, he’s a little indignant that he’s gone to see the king and the king didn’t receive him. It’s already embarrassing enough he a Syrian general has to come to his enemy to ask for cleansing. He’s getting the cold shoulder and he sort of expected that.

Now he comes to see the prophet. The prophet does not even come and see him. Why is that? Why did Elisha not go out to see him? Who does Elisha represent? Why can’t we see Jesus face to face in his glory right now? Because we’ve got leprosy. We are separated by our sins. So he speaks through his servant. How does Jesus speak to us now? Through his servants. And you’ll notice in the story of Naaman here that God saves Naaman through a series of messages through different servants. And the message is what? Go wash in the Jordan. How many of you, show me your hands, have you been to the land of Israel and seen the Jordan River? Got a few hands here. I remember, I’ve been there a couple of times, but I remember reading the Bible and reading about the Jordan and you’d sing these songs, “Mighty Jordan, Roll.” And in my mind I’d concocted these images that the Jordan was this great big massive cataract of water like the Amazon or the Mississippi or the Missouri or the Nile or the Yangsee or something like that. Big river, River Jordan. You hear about it so much in history you think it’s this great big river. The American River behind the church is bigger than the Jordan. You could throw a rock across the Jordan River. In the summer in places it is a series of stagnating pools.

In the best of times it’s brown or green. Matter of fact, I think I’ve got a picture of the Jordan. You go ahead put that up. While I’m talking about it you may as well look at it. Yeah. So now, when someone tells you “Go take a bath,” what do they imply by that? You’re dirty. When someone tells you to take seven baths what does that imply? You’re real dirty. When someone tells you to take seven baths in a muddy river… You know when I was a kid… I don’t want you to show your hands. Oh, maybe I do. How many of you have siblings? Show your hands. How many of you when you were growing up your parents would make you get in the bath before or after your brother and sister? Let me see your hands. Come on! Fess up! How many of you were the last in the train? I don’t know why I was always last, but I can only surmise now that it was because I was dirtier than my brother and he didn’t want to get in after I’d been in there, my older brother. And so when someone tells you to wash seven times in a dirty river they’re implying that you’re still dirtier, you’re cleaner as a result of washing in muddy water. The rivers in Damascus were much cleaner because they came down from the mountains of Lebanon. They had some very crystal clear rivers there. So now listen to the way that he responds to this.

Wait, I lost my place here. Bear with me. Oh here we go. Thank you very much. “Naaman became furious,” I’m in verse 11 of chapter 5, “and he went away” how did he respond? He was enraged! “And he went away and said, ‘Indeed, I said to myself, “He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God…”’” Notice he doesn’t say my god. “…and wave his hand over the place.” That was the show I’m telling you about. Get your wand out, wave your hand over the place. Do something! Say abracadabra you’re healed! I mean, that’s quite literally how he’s expecting it. “…and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leper” whoever he is “the leper”. He doesn’t say heal me. He doesn’t say my god. He was still a little too proud to admit that he was the leper. So he begins to argue, “‘Are not the Abanah and the 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 he went away in a rage.” He’s had enough. I don’t need this kind of humiliation! I’d rather die with some dignity.

Go home and just rather die with leprosy than have to humble myself like that. And he spins his chariot around, squeals his tires. I don’t know how you do that unless you’ve got a lot of horsepower. And then he starts to gallop off to Israel. Why did Elisha tell him to wash in the Jordan River? What does the Jordan represent? The word Jordan means descending. It is the lowest river in the world and it actually transits in a very short space it goes from above sea level to the lowest point on earth 1300 ft. below sea level. It is an interesting river in that in the middle of the river is a sea. Most oceans are fed by the rivers, but here you’ve got an ocean that feeds a river. The Jordan runs into the Sea of Galilee at the north, runs out the bottom into the Dead Sea. The Jordan runs into the Dead Sea. The Jordan is a symbol for death. The Jordan is a symbol for baptism. Baptism is a symbol of death burial and resurrection and as you read later in the Bible about Jesus and John and others baptizing in the Jordan. How many times have you sung in the hymnal, if you look in your hymnal every time you find the word Jordan the hymn writers understood the symbology. They always equate it with death. Crossing Jordan, “through Jordan’s stormy billows thou leadest me.” You’ll see the language there.

It’s the symbol for death. And he’s saying if you want to be clean you’ve got to wash in the Jordan seven times. You know what? If you would like to have new life, if you want to be born again you must die first otherwise you’re schizophrenic. He says, “You’ve got to go to the Jordan.” Now God is good. In order for Naaman to get back to Syria guess what river he’s got to cross. You know it’s hard to stay enraged for long. It takes too much energy. When he first leaves Elisha’s house he’s stomping and he’s snorting and he’s fuming and he’s galloping but eventually his horses get tired and he slows down. He’s still mad and he’s sputtering and then he sees he’s getting near the Jordan River and he’s got to cross it. That tells you something else about the Jordan; you can ride across it in places. And as he’s by the Jordan it’s very interesting. It says, “His servants,” verse 13, “His servants came near to him.” You know what that implies? Because he’s got leprosy they’re keeping their distance up until now. They’re going to take a risk. They’re going to expose themselves.

They draw near to their master and they spoke to him tenderly, respectfully and they say, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would not you have done it?” You know King Saul said to David, “You want to marry my daughter? Then you go and you kill and you bring me the foreskins of two hundred Philistines.” No, actually he asked for a hundred. David brought him two hundred. If he had said, “Climb this mountain.” Naaman would have said, “I can do that. I’m a soldier. I’m a man! Give me something like that.” You know you ask a man to… Peter, he could pull out his sword and lay down his life for Jesus, but stand up against ridicule? He didn’t want to do that. The humiliation. He said, “If he had asked you to do something hard, you would have tried to do it.” If you could have looked like you’re doing it yourself you would have done it.

You get that? If you can work your way then you’ll do it, but if it’s a gift, just wash, then it’s tough. You know there are traditionally, statistically more women in church than men. Not only because there are a few more women in the world, but there are disproportionately more women in church than men. You know why? It is a little easier for the way women are wired to admit that they’re helpless than for men to admit it. Men want to, no, I’d do it myself. That’s why we don’t ask directions. We’ll drive around in circles for hours before we ask direction because it means I need help and I don’t want to. I can do it myself! And the idea that you’d have to say it’s a gift is very difficult and so they draw near to him. Now notice here first the message of salvation comes to Naaman through a little girl. Humble instruments. Then the message comes through the servant of Elisha, poor servant of a poor prophet, then through his own servants. God is speaking to Naaman but he doesn’t speak personally. How does God speak to the Gentiles? Through his servants. How does God still speak to us? Typically through his messengers. Sometimes they’re humble instruments. A little girl, not always. A little girl, his soldiers, apprentice to a prophet and we later learn that Gehazi his heart wasn’t right.

You know God can even speak through flawed instruments, can’t he? Can God speak through a donkey? Yeah. So he gets this message. Now Naaman thought his problem was what? Leprosy. What was his problem? He was a good man but he still had the big sin that we all wrestle with, the same one that dropped the devil, pride and he has to humble himself. They said, if he’d asked you to do something hard… “How much more, when he says, ‘Wash and be clean?’” This is what the Lord is saying to you and me, “Come, wash, be clean.” But you must humble yourself and be willing to be crucified with Christ. “So he went down…” The word Jordan means descending. He goes to the banks of the river and the looks at the muddy water and he probably sighs and he thinks, “What have I got to lose? You know, I could go home with my pride intact and my leprosy and I’ll just have to die still separated from everybody I love.” Can’t hug his wife, can’t hug his children, he goes down the streets and the people respect him but the part the way for him because he’s contagious. He thinks, “I don’t want to go on like this anymore. I want to be clean.” You know this is the appeal that Jesus makes to everybody. Would you like to be clean or do you want to be stubborn and say, “I can do it myself.” You know he probably didn’t go down in his armor.

He had to take off his uniform, lay aside his medals, get off his horse, had to humble himself, step down in the water. You know you come to Jesus naked. You lay aside your filthy rags which represent, well, what does a leper take off when they take a bath? Filthy rags because they’re contagious. They have touched that which is unclean. And we lay aside our self righteousness. All our righteousness is like filthy rags and we have to get in the Jordan, the symbol of baptism, the cleansing of Christ. And when he first got in the water there, you know, I like the way C. D. Brooks tells us. He says he had to sweep aside the scum and the mosquitoes were everywhere and the green algae and it must have been humiliating. Makes it very colorful. And he gets down in the water and he thinks, “Ah, I don’t want to do this!” And his servants said, “What have you got to lose?” And so he dunks himself and he comes up and he still has his leprosy probably stinging a little bit because it could have meant there were open sores.

Evidently he was actually at the advanced stages where he was already missing parts of his extremities. I’ll prove that in just a minute. So he’s got some serious case of leprosy here. And he thinks, “This is foolish! Why am I doing this? I’m getting out of here.” And his servants say, “No, wait a second. You’re here. You’ve gone this far. Why not go all the way? What have you got to lose?” So he dips himself again and he comes up, he’s got his leprosy. And he dips himself again and he still has his leprosy. And he does this three times, four times, five times. Was it the number of times? Was it the scouring with the muddy water that was really washing away his sin? No, it was the surrender to do what he was told to do. Might I suggest to you that God can release power and miracles in our lives when we obey him explicitly? Does God mean what he says? Is God particular? When he came up the fifth time, was he physically any cleaner than he was the forth time? Probably not. Nothing that you could detect. When he had come up the sixth time did he have any less leprosy? But after he went down the seventh time and he came up, what happened? He was cleansed, he was healed, and you know the Bible says, “His flesh came to him again.”

What does that mean? That means that he had lost something that was restored. That means that if he was missing fingers or toes and I’ve been in countries like Africa or India and I’ve seen lepers and it’s really tragic. I remember giving an offering to a leper that had their hand out but they had no fingers on their hand and they had trouble holding it. You could lose your digits. Can you imagine that? Do you think he felt anything? Sure you would. I mean if you were missing your fingers and all of a sudden you come up out of the water and they start to pop back into place. I mean, pop, pop, pop, you’d go, Wow! You know, of course you’d feel something. And you’d probably, he felt any of the sores or disease or sometimes it causes blindness and he could see clearly and his flesh came to him again. Not only does his flesh come to him again. What else does it say? “His flesh came to him again like the flesh of a little child.” Is this a symbol of being born again or what? This is the symbol of the new birth. When you come and you are cleansed and you accept Jesus and you humble and you submit yourself and you obey that he can not only cleanse you, not only give you back your flesh, but it’s like you are, he came out of the water with the skin of a baby. And that always strikes me as hilarious because what soldier would crave baby skin? And can you picture he comes out of the water and he says, “Praise the Lord!” And they say, “Oh, master, praise the Lord!

That’s wonderful! Can I touch? Looks soft.” Are any of you like me? When I see a baby I just want to touch it because they’re so soft. It’s so pure. You know you just want to go like that. I can just see the soldiers taking turns pinching, hopefully on the cheek up here. But you know this is really what a Christian is, a soldier with baby skin, a born again soldier. Now first of all, what is the significance of seven? Does that mean anything to God? When the Lord told Joshua to march around Jericho seven times if he wanted the victory after six times the walls were just as strong as they were after five or four times. The walls did not fall until he did it the way that God said. He blew the trumpets, the walls fell. When Naaman washed himself the first time, no blessing. The blessing would not come until he did it the way it and the number that God prescribed. God is particular. Sometimes we are criticized because we believe in keeping the seventh day Sabbath. God says, “I have blessed the seventh day.

The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.” Does he mean what he says? Does he care? Does it matter what day or how many days? Yes, it does. And you know what? If you disagree with me, don’t take it up with me. Talk to the Lord because it’s his idea. We’re just doing what he said. And if you can show me a commandment where he blesses another day, another, tells us to remember a different segment of time I want the blessing, don’t you? So he says he’s blessed that day and I’m going to do it the way he said and I have received that blessing. Comes up out of the water, he’s healed so he runs home to tell his wife and praise the Lord and have a parade up the streets of Damascus. Is that what he does? What is the first response that he has when he’s cleansed? It says, “And he returned to the man of God.” He has gone a long way from Samaria to get to the Jordan. He may as well just keep on going to Damascus, but he makes a U-turn. He hasn’t gotten a medical bill. I mean, how many of you go back to the hospital and say, “Oh, you know, I’m so excited that I feel better I want to pay now.” And you know there is a correlation here between that thirty-two million that he brought with him and popular medical bills, right? He wants to go and thank Elisha and give something.

So go back to the story here with me. Verse 15, “He returns to the man of God, he and all of his aids,” he had a number of aids with him, “and he came and he stood before him.” Ah! Now Elisha comes out to see him face to face. Why? Because he’s been cleansed. You know I prayed with the ladies that were just baptized back here and I said, “One of the things that happens at baptism, the heavens are opened, access to the Father, you hear his voice, the Holy Spirit descends, the relationship changes after you come out of the water.” It was after Jesus came out the heavens were opened and he’s an example for us in baptism, right? Right? Yes, of course. Stay with me here. And so now Elisha comes out to see him face to face because his leprosy has been cleansed and because he’s obeyed. “He returned to the man of God, he and all his aids, and he stood before him; and he said, ‘Indeed, now I know…’” I hope that all of you can say with Paul, “I know in whom I believe.” Do you know the Lord? “I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

He had just banished all the gods of Syria he had grown up with. Why? They were powerless gods. The God who could really heal was the God of Israel. He had heard stories about the God of Israel but they were just rumors and every country has rumors and legends and fables about their deities. But he says, “Now I know! I’ve experienced it.” Do you think you’d ever be able to come to Naaman the rest of his life and tell him, “No, the God of Israel isn’t real”? Would you ever convince him? Why? He had had an experience. Can people challenge your testimony? Have you had an experience of cleansing from leprosy? Is it real for you? Do you know what it’s like to be dead and then be alive, to be dying and then be healed? I’m talking about sin, not even sickness. Unless we have an experience in God’s cleansing we’re not going to know him. We need to experience that. Amen? Says, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.” Oh, this is so important for you underline this, make a mark. Why does a Christian give? Because we’re being taxed by the church? As an obligation? The Lord loves what kind of giver? Cheerful giver. Why are we giving? Because I was dead and now I’m alive, I was lost and now I’m found, I am so thankful, I am so grateful, I love God, I want to do something to express that love. Love gives. God so loved the world, he gave. And so the natural response is he wants to give and he wants to give everything.

He says, “Take something. Here, I’ve got, you want six talents of gold or do you want the ten talents of silver, the ten changes of clothing. What do you want? It’s yours. Tell me what you need.” He was willing to give everything. Now what does Elisha say? He said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.” Was he telling Naaman, “I can’t take your money because it’s pagan money?” No, because they often took the offerings from the pagans. If someone comes to our church, I’ve been asked this question before. Somebody comes to our church and they’ve been winning at Reno and they want to drop it in the offering plate do you take it? Sure you do. Yeah, you baptize it and then use it, right? There’s no moral dilemma there. It’s not that we endorse the way that they got it. It’s just that if someone is going to bring an offering to the Lord then you pray that God will bless the gift and how they got it is between them and him. Now if I know they stole it we won’t do that. But the reason he refuses the money is because God wants us to know you cannot pay for salvation.

This story is illustrating salvation from leprosy, from sin, you cannot pay for it. His attitude was right and under other circumstances Elisha might have accepted it but because God told him that this is a symbol of salvation he didn’t want him to think he had paid for it. He wanted Naaman to go back to his country and understand something of the grace of God, that it was a gift, that it was not an obligation. You did not pay for it; it was freely given to you. Another time when they had captured the Syrian army they wanted to kill them and Elisha said, “No, feed them. Send them home. Show them mercy. Show them grace.” The way that you win your enemy is not by charging him but by forgiving him. He wouldn’t take anything. I wish I could stop the story right here. So finally, even though he urged him, Naaman says in verse seventeen, “If not, then please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; and your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to any god, but to the Lord.” By the way, the Syrians did offer clean animals to their gods so they had a sacrificial system. Matter of fact, one of the kings of Israel went to Syria and copied their altar and brought it back. Some of you know that story about King Ahaz. You know what he’s saying? “I’m going now back to a pagan land.

I don’t even want to offer to those gods anymore. I am going to bring the dirt, the earth of Israel; I’m going to bring a piece of Israel with me back and whatever I offer I will offer on the earth of Israel because you worship the real God.” Was he converted at this point? He was. So he starts on his way home and he’s just he’s very happy. And Gehazi the servant of Elisha, this is very sad. He’s the apprentice of Elisha. He’s seen so many miracles, but evidently his heart is not right. He’s greedy. Like Judas who saw Jesus perform so many miracles it is beyond us how he could betray Christ for earthly gain. You know the same thing happens frequently. You’d be surprised. It still happens today. Gehazi the servant, he said, “Look, my master has spared Naaman the Syrian…” He’s a Syrian! “…from receiving anything from his hands; but as the Lord lives, I’ll run after him and take something from him.” Now what’s really sad about this is the Gentile, the non-church member is bringing his gifts freely. The church member is coveting and being disobedient. “‘I’ll run after him and take something from him.’ So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from his chariot to meet him, and said,” Is everything okay? “Is all well?” He recognized him. He had given him the message.

He said, “All is well. My master has sent me…” Is he telling the truth? You know there’s some people in the church that are trying to take money from people and they say, “I’ve been sent by my master,” and they’re lying. Say amen! Haven’t you seen them on TV or heard them on the radio? They’re trying to extract people’s money from them in the name of their master and it’s really for themselves. Is that a new practice? “My master sent me. I come in the name of Elisha saying, yeah, we do need a little money for your healing.” That’s a lie. You cannot make merchandise of the gospel. You remember what Peter and John said? “Silver and gold we don’t have, but we’ll give you what we do have” which is the gospel. It’s free. And whenever people start pedaling the gospel you’d better watch out. We’re not to make the pulpit an auction block. He said, “My master has sent me, saying, just” after you left we had “two young men” that are very poor “from the sons of the prophets. They came to me,” he concocts this whole lie, “from the mountains of Ephraim.”

The reason you didn’t see them, they came from the other direction. “Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.” And that’s about $384,000.00. He didn’t even ask for a million. And Naaman is still so happy he says, “Take two talents!” and he puts it in two bags. Now was God going to bless the gift of Naaman? Yes, even though the one he gave it to was corrupt, God blessed Naaman for giving it. Are you listening? Some people give to the wrong ministries and they still get a blessing because God blesses us based upon our giving. He said, “Take two.” He handed it to two of his servants and they carried it for him. The silver and the clothing are so heavy he’s got to send servants with Gehazi to lug this stuff back to the house of Elisha. So they’re carrying these. You know how much a talent is? Like anywhere from fifty-six to seventy-five pounds of silver. They’re carrying all this back for Gehazi that greedy apprentice. Brings it to the house and he hides it. He hides it. And when he comes “to the citadel, he took it from them, and he stored it away in his house; and he let the men go, and they departed. And he went in and stood before his master” as though nothing had happened. And “Elisha said to him, ‘Where did you go, Gehazi?’ He said, ‘Your servant didn’t go anywhere.’”

He’s not only greedy, he’s a liar. Usually one sin leads to another. “And he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you?’”

He says God showed me what you did in vision. Don’t mess with Elisha. He sees everything you do. Who does Elisha represent? Jesus sees everything we do. Can’t fool him. And then he says, his heart is breaking because this Gehazi could have been the next prophet in Israel. He could have been for Israel what Elisha had been, what Elijah had been. He was being trained to be the next prophet just like Judas was being trained to be an apostle, but he sold out because of the love of money. He said, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is this a time to receive money, to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen?” Now Elisha is looking into his mind and heart at what he was going to do with the money. “Male and female servants?” You’re tired of serving me and God.

You’re thinking about your own estate, your own fortune. You’re thinking about your kingdom here when you could have had a kingdom there. And these are some very frightening words. Verse 27, last verse in the chapter, “‘Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.’ And he went out of his presence leprous, as white as snow.” The leprosy immediately covered his body and he had this deadly psoriasis all over his body instantly. “The leprosy of Naaman will cling to you and your descendants.” Why your descendants? Doesn’t mean Gehazi got married and had children. It meant the seed of Abraham is the spiritual followers of Abraham. There’s the seed of Gehazi out there too. Judas was of the seed of Gehazi. Those that are coveting earthly treasure, they’ve got the leprosy. The love of money is the root of all evil, isn’t it?

The whole story of the gospel is here. Don’t miss this. The Gentile comes to Elisha, has his leprosy washed away and the servant of Elisha because his attitude and his faith in God was wrong he stops being a servant and he becomes a leper. One leaves a servant of God and one servant leaves a leper. The outsider starts worshipping the God of Israel and the church member goes out a leper. Did that happen to Israel during the time of Christ? A lot of people did not accept the truth and they said the gospel is going to be taken from you and given to the Gentiles. The whole story of Naaman is an echo of what was going to happen with the Nation later, but it’s a story about how we can be cleansed if we’re willing to wash in the Jordan. Amen? Hope you kids are still keeping count. Tell you what. Turn in your hymnals for our closing hymn. “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Number 3, what is it? 334 and let’s stand together and I’d like to have special prayer with you before we close.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;

Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me ever to adore Thee, May I still Thy goodness prove,

While the hope of endless glory Fills my heart with joy and love.

I would like to make a very specific appeal before we close our service today. You’ve heard the gospel today. The Lord says, “Wash and be clean.” You come to Jesus just as you are. You don’t go to the government. You don’t go to institutions. It’s not your uniform or your papers or your money. He says wash and be clean. Jesus’ blood provides that fount of every blessing. There may be some of you here today and you don’t have that joy of the Lord. Maybe you’re going through the motions like Gehazi, you’re serving grudgingly. You’re hoping for your treasure down here. The Lord is giving you an opportunity today to really experience that cleansing from leprosy. As we sing the last verse I’d like to have a special prayer for you. If you have not yet accepted Jesus or maybe you’ve not experienced that full salvation that he offers and you’d like to be washed in the blood of the lamb, come. Come as we sing the last verse and we’d like to pray for you.

O, to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind me closer still to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart--O, take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

You know before I pray I just would like to linger a moment longer. I know we’ve been here a little longer than normal, but there may be some of you who’ve never been baptized. That’s what the Jordan symbolizes. Would you like to come before I pray and make that decision now? We know some of our Pathfinders have made that decision. There might be some who haven’t yet. And some of you, maybe you’ve been in the church, you see Gehazi and you kind of resonate with him and you think, “I don’t want to be like that when Jesus comes. I want to have the experience of Naaman. I want to know what it’s like to be clean.” Would you like to come and have special prayer? It’s not enough just to be a church member. You really need to know what it means to be saved. Come, we’d like to pray for you. Praise the Lord. I sense that there are some others that are struggling that really want to experience what it’s all about. Gospel is real. This story of Naaman is a true story. It really happened and God allowed it to happen to illustrate for you and me today that he wants to save us. You can wash and be clean. Before I pray anyone else? Come. When we design our next church we’re going to make some stairs that lead to the balcony so those people can get down here effectively. Let’s bow our heads.

Loving Lord, we are so thankful for this beautiful truth that if we would but humble ourselves, lay aside our filthy rags, we can come to Jesus just as we are without money, without price and receive cleansing from sin. Oh, thank you, Lord. We know that we’ve been separated from thee by our sins and we pray that you’ll remove that disease that has been a barrier. We want to stand before you face to face as Naaman did with Elisha. Lord, I pray that if we’ve had that covetousness in our hearts we don’t want to be of the seed of Gehazi, we want to be of the seed of Abraham, spiritual children. Lord, I pray that you will help each person who has responded this morning to experience that cleansing and salvation. And, Lord, pour out your Spirit on those who were baptized today. I pray that you’ll be with them in a special way. Bless this church and our mission. I pray that we can do your will and be faithful. We thank you and pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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