Kings and Prophets
Elisha, Naaman and the offense of the cross
by I Gordon
There is a wonderful story in 2 Kings Chapter 5. You may know the one… The cast of characters includes a true prophet of God, a small Israelite girl kidnapped from her home, and a high ranking commander in the Syrian army who is badly in need of a wash! Well, seven washes to be correct, but that’s getting ahead of myself. As the story unfolds I’m sure you will agree with me that there is, in this passage in 2 Kings, a wonderful picture of salvation and the need to come to God on His terms. Let’s have a look!
Without the Lord, all wealth, power and respect mean nothing at all. A Christian friend of our family recently asked his mother (who is not currently a Christian) what the meaning of life is. She couldn't answer him. She had no idea. A line from an old Randy Stonehill song says 'I don't want my life to end, not ever knowing why it began.' Without the Lord everything is meaningless. With the Lord everything becomes meaningful. ↩
The biggest 'but' in scripture (excuse my language!) which relates to all these people that have it all, but not the Lord, is Matt 16:26 - 'And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process?' (TLB) That has still got to be the most penetrating question non-Christians can face. ↩
Like sin, leprosy is incurable, defiling, and fatal and one spot is enough to declare the leper 'utterly unclean' (Lev 13:3). In nearly all instances in the Bible where there is a miraculous healing, the leper is said to be 'cleansed' (like sin). Leprosy brings separation and they had to live outside of the camp, just as sin separated us from God. (Lev 13:45-46) The leper couldn't come back into the camp but the Priest (as a picture of Jesus) could go to him. (Yay!) Like the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, a blood offering would be made by the Priest which the leper had to be sprinkled in before he could be pronounced 'clean'. (Lev 14:3-7) ↩
Peter once asked 'who then can be saved?' A good question! 'Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' Like leprosy, only God can 'cure' the sin question and bring salvation. But we have to come to Him on His terms. ↩
D.L Moody said 'Naaman had two diseases: pride and leprosy. The first needed curing as much as the second. Naaman had to first get down from his chariot of pride; afterwards, to wash in the prescribed way.' ↩
The same is true of course in carrying on in this Christian life. We love to be highly regarded. We love to think that we have something great to offer God and that He should count His lucky stars that He's got us! It seems that pride is never too far below the surface. I read something recently however that was really cool. Well, I thought so. It was a quote from Corrie Ten Boom and spoke of the attitude that all of us should take. Corrie had a great ministry and was once asked whether she found it hard to remain humble. She replied 'when Jesus came into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, with all the people lining up, singing praise laying down the palm branches for Jesus to go over, do you think that it was going through the mind of the donkey that 'some of this must be for me!' 'If I can be the donkey that the Lord uses for his glory' Corrie continued, 'then all praise, honor and glory will go to him!'
And that is the attitude we should take! We are just dumb old donkeys that the Lord chooses to use for His glory! ↩
False religions and cults are easy to spot because they all add their own 'works' to salvation. Whether it be the Jehovah witnesses, the Mormons or the Roman Catholic Church... They all add man's works, in an attempt to make themselves 'acceptable', to the once and for all finished work of Christ on the cross. But, as E. Stanley Jones said 'Religions are man's search for God; the gospel is God's search for man. There are many religions, but only one gospel.' God is now calling all to behold His Son. It is absolute foolishness to tell God to behold your works instead!
I had a really sad experience of this recently. My cousin's mother in law (stay with me!) had cancer and was in the last stages of her life. She was not a Christian and began to get extremely frightened at the thought of dying. So frightened in fact, that she was afraid to go to sleep at night because she wasn't sure whether she would wake up. As she was staying in a special home at the time she called for the chaplain. After explaining her fear of dying due to not being sure where she would go, the chaplain asked her 'Have you been a good person?' She replied, 'I've only been to church once in my entire life.' The chaplain then told her 'that's fine and when she died she would go to Heaven to be with her husband' (who wasn't a believer). The chaplain then asked 'Does this help you?' To which she replied 'No...no it doesn't.' And the chaplain didn't have anything else to tell her. I couldn't believe it when I heard that. What an absolute idiot... giving advice on the things of God and eternity and not even knowing the very basics! A blind guide! As a sad postscript to the story...On hearing what had been said, my mother and sister planned a trip to see her to tell her the truth (she was staying in a different city) but she died before they could arrive. ↩
While it is outside the scope of this study to explore what happened to Elisha's servant Gehazi, I would encourage you to read the rest of the chapter (2 Kings 5:19-27). You see, even though Elisha knew that he shouldn't be rewarded for the miracle that God had done, Gehazi had other ideas! And through lying and deceit, Gehazi got Naaman to give him two talents of silver (approx 68 Kg!) and two sets of clothing. While, as the New Testament says 'the labourer is worthy of his wages' (1 Tim 5:17-18), what we see with some ministers in this age taking money and gifts way above and beyond the norm for their personal wealth is just plain sin! Look at what Elisha said to his servant Gehazi - 'Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money, or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or menservants and maidservants? Naaman's leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.' Then Gehazi went from Elisha's presence and he was leprous, as white as snow.'
Today, some so-called 'ministers' in the church have even changed the gospel (though it is not the real gospel) to include their own greed and lust for wealth and worldliness. Be careful what you set your desire on. If you continually crave for things other than God, then He may just grant you your desire... but it will be to the detriment of the spiritual health of your soul. Ponder on these brief words from Psalm 106:14-15
'They lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.' (KJV) ↩