When God seems Irrational – Naaman

Military men understand authority.

Military men understand authority.

As we keep in mind that the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is where we find patterns of behavior that lead us to conclusive theologies, we are going to examine an instance when God seems to be out of his mind when Naaman the Syrian has leprosy. This disfiguring disease in recent years has been traced back to a tiny gnat that swarms at the river’s edge.  DDT and other chemicals can now make quick work of these gnats but 2500 years ago there was no known method or cure.

The person who engineered this incident is an unknown housemaid.  She gave the information to Naaman which he acted upon to bring him a cure.  There are people out there who think they are too lowly or unimportant to make a difference in this world.  This nameless housemaid is featured in God’s holy book along with the rest of the gospel story.  Don’t sell yourself short. God keeps track of everything done for His Name.  He knows your name.

Anyhow, Naaman is the equivalent of a 5-start general and because he has leprosy he is considered unclean which reduces his contact with other people since they fear they will get the disease as well. His housemaid mentions a prophet, Elijah, who has been known to pray for and cure sick people.  Naaman marches off to find Elijah who tells him to go to the Jordan River and dip in it 7 times.  Naaman gets huffy, reminding Elijah that there are plenty of much nicer rivers in Syria.  This muddy mess is no match for them.  This should be a warning to us; don’t get huffy with God.

Quoting from The Message: 2 Kings 5:2-14

“One day she said to her mistress, “Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.”

Naaman went straight to his master and reported what the girl from Israel had said.

“Well then, go,” said the king of Aram. “And I’ll send a letter of introduction to the king of Israel.”

So he went off, taking with him about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothes.

Naaman delivered the letter to the king of Israel. The letter read, “When you get this letter, you’ll know that I’ve personally sent my servant Naaman to you; heal him of his skin disease.”

When the king of Israel read the letter, he was terribly upset, ripping his robe to pieces. He said, “Am I a god with the power to bring death or life that I get orders to heal this man from his disease? What’s going on here? That king’s trying to pick a fight, that’s what!”

Elisha the man of God heard what had happened, that the king of Israel was so distressed that he’d ripped his robe to shreds. He sent word to the king, “Why are you so upset, ripping your robe like this? Send him to me so he’ll learn that there’s a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door.

10 Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”

11-12 Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet.

13 But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?”

14 So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.”

Naaman isn’t the only one in this story jumping to conclusions.  Notice that the King of Israel didn’t bother to ask God what was going on and assumed that the Syrian King was picking a fight for eventual war. (I am writing a book entitled Immaculate Assumptions.)

But Naaman did all the right things after he received his healing.  First he sought to give a reward to God.  The Lord does expect us to be grateful and to show it in some way.  Paying the prophet is an indication that he was truly grateful. (verse 16)

Then he brought up a process involved in his work as an army leader, that of accompanying his master into a idol temple.  (verse 17-18) Idol worship is strictly forbidden in the Old Testament, (and in the New too.)  He reassures the prophet that he is only obeying secular orders when he attends the shrine of Rimmon.

This idol appears to be one promising good weather, an important god to an agricultural people. But the moral of the story is that in addition to his physical healing Naaman demonstrated that his spirit was right as well.

To recap- A healing from God should generate in you first a desire to offer a sacrifice indicating your gratitude, such as money to the Lord’s work, a renewed sense of your own responsibility to keep the basic laws of God, and to avoid the appearance of evil work.  Most importantly Naaman learned the value of being obedient to God before men.

 

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