2 Kings 5:1-19
Naaman was a commander of the Syrian army and a great and honorable man, but he was a leper. In those days, leprosy was an insidious and incurable disease that was a slow and certain death. When he heard that there was a prophet in Israel who could cure him, he spoke to the king of Syria who wrote a letter to the king of Israel.
“And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?’” (2 Kings 5:7, NKJV)
The king tore his clothes because he thought the Syrian king was trying to pick a fight. Elisha heard about this and sent word to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came to Elisha, bringing a great amount of wealth to pay for his healing. But Elisha didn’t even come out of his house. He just sent a messenger, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” Naaman was furious because he assumed that Elisha would come out, call on the name of the LORD, wave his hand over him, and heal the leprosy. Elisha did not meet his expectations. Furthermore, Naaman was offended that Elisha told him to wash in the Jordan, which was muddier than the rivers in Damascus. But Naaman’s servants said to him, “If Elisha had told you to do a great feat, then wouldn’t you have done it? So why not do this very simple thing?” What did Naaman have to lose by doing what the prophet said?
“So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2 Kings 5:14, NKJV)
This story illustrates the tremendous power of salvation by grace through faith. Leprosy is a picture of sin: it starts out small and quickly spreads; man cannot cure it; it leads to death; it separates us from God and others. God gives to us the Gospel, but it doesn’t meet man’s expectations. It is so simple that a child can grasp it. It’s an offense to people’s intellect and an insult to their self-righteousness. Salvation is so near, but people don’t receive it because they won’t come the Lord’s way. Their expectations are a stumbling block, keeping them out of the kingdom of heaven. God has so much mercy and goodness in store for them, but they insist on going their own way instead of submitting to the Lord.
May God help us to trust in Him with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding. May we believe in the simple Gospel of grace that saves us. And may we obey the Lord’s commandments, even when they aren’t what we expect. We all have the incurable disease of sin, but perfect cleansing is nearer than we think.