2 Kings 5: 2-3 “Now bands from Aram had gone out and taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, if only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman was a commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was highly regarded by his king. We read in 2 kings 5:1 “Through him (Naaman), the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.”
Briefly, what happens further is that Naaman travels to meet Elisha, is instructed to dip himself seven times in the Jordan. Although initially reluctant, Naaman listens and is healed.
When Naaman goes to Elisha, he travels with his horses, chariots, silver and gold. He initially is very angry that Elisha does not even bother to meet with him, but instead sends a messenger to deliver the instructions that Naaman had to follow.
We read in verse 11 “Naaman went away angry and said, I thought surely he (Elisha) would come out to me and stand and call on the name of God, wave his hand over and cure me.”
The instructions were to dip himself seven times in the Jordan river, the river was known to be muddy. We read in verse 12 Naaman complaining about that too “Are not Abana and Pharphar, the rivers of Damascus better than any of the waters of Israel. Couldn’t I be washed in them and be cleansed.”
Eventually Naaman’s servants who were with him coax him into listening to Elisha’s instructions “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you have done it? How much more then when he tells you wash and be cleansed.”
So, Naaman obeys God’s word and he is healed. He says to Elisha in verse 15 “Now Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God (Elisha). He stood before him and said “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”
Naaman did not seem to hesitate to stand in front of all his attendants and proclaim that there is no greater God. I do think that with the healing of the leprosy, there was a cleansing and renewal of his heart too in the process.
In verse 17 we read “Please let me, your servant be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make any other burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord.”
In those times, it was a common thought that a deity could be worshipped only on the soil of the place where the god resided and hence Naaman’s thinking that he requires the soil of Israel to be able to worship the God of Israel. But most importantly what we need to take away from this is that Naaman made a decision to not worship any other god but the Lord hence forth. Now that is definitely a change of heart and a clear indication that his renewal was more than skin deep.
What a shift in perspective for Naaman.
- Naaman expected his miracle in a certain way
- He thought it would come with more theatrics
- He expected to be treated with more importance by Elisha, but was not.
- He thought that the gold and silver would somehow entice or guarantee God’s prophet to work in his favour.
- He could not fathom how the muddy waters of the Jordan would cleanse him.
He eventually understood that it was not his importance, wealth, the miraculous properties of the waters or even by the power of the prophet that he could receive his miracle. But it was purely by the Grace and Mercy of God.
As we get into this month and the joyful mood of Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus through whom we receive our very own miracle – Salvation. The Son of God who came down from heaven for each one of us, who came as man and endured the cross for us. He came to save the lost, He cleanses us from our sins and renews us from within and it is purely by His grace that we receive that miracle.
Naaman had to listen and be obedient, shed his pride and any pre-conceived notions to receive his miracle. Similarly, may we listen to His calling and be obedient to what He asks of us.
This story is not only one of healing but also of Naaman’s salvation and we automatically think of Elisha’s role in it. But I want us to just back track to the servant girl who served Naaman’s wife. She was the one who shared about Elisha. She was a captive serving her captors and yet she selflessly shares about God’s power present through Elisha. She says ‘He would cure’, would and not could. It reveals her faith and knowledge of God. She is mentioned in just two verses and her role although small is significant, it sets the ball rolling for Naaman to seek Elisha and eventually experience the Lord through it all.
God uses those who are willing and available. This is a powerful reminder for each of us who know the Lord, to share about God in any way possible, the simplest way possible and even to those we might not necessarily feel like sharing the love of Christ with. This time of the year when we tend to focus a lot on decorations, food and gifts, let us be mindful of simple ways to share the love of Christ for that might be what sets the ball rolling for someone on their path to knowing Jesus.