2 Kings 5:1-19 – Preached @ Shalom Church on 24 Mar 2019
The passage we have read is an amazing account of how Naaman was healed of leprosy.
This is not a fairy tale.
It is factual history; it is recorded for a purpose.
The bible says in 1 Cor 10:11 “.. all these things happened to them as examples, & they were written for our admonition..”
So, Naaman is an example – an example of someone coming to faith in God.
This morning, I want to highlight some lessons we can learn from this example. Lessons for believers, as well as for unbelievers.
Especially with regard to how we can be healed of the spiritual leprosy of our hearts!
And we shall do this by asking 4 questions:
1. Who was Naaman?
2. Who told Naaman how he could be healed?
3. What misconceptions did Naaman have regarding how he could be healed?
4. How was Naaman eventually healed?
Children, as you listen & take notes, I like you to draw a picture of Naaman.
A picture of Naaman with leprosy & another picture of Naaman after he was healed.
Do show me your pictures after worship today.
Let’s begin with our first question.
1. Who was Naaman? (verse 1)
There are 2 key things we learn about Naaman in v1.
Firstly, he was the commander of the Syrian army.
He was a great & honourable man in the eyes of his king.
Most kings were usually afraid that their generals become too powerful….
But this was not the case for Naaman.
He was highly regarded by his master – the king of Syria.
Because – v1 “..by Naaman, the LORD had given victory to Syria”.
So here we have – a great and honourable man in the eyes of the world.
A pagan man who does not know God.
Yet, the bible ascribed his every success to the LORD.
You see, God carries out His will & purpose in this world through believers & unbelievers.
Sometimes, we see people in authority behaving in a proud or abusive manner.
We should not despair; instead, we should just pray for them.
Because we have a God who is higher than them.
It is God who placed them there for His purposes.
And God can remove them – if He so desires – just as He did to Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4.
Now, in as much as Naaman was a great man, the 2nd thing we are told about him is that he was a leper.
And this is a great lesson to keep every man & woman in this world humble.
Because, you can be the richest man on earth.
You can be the smartest scientist we ever know.
You can be a great and honourable man in the eyes of the world just like Naaman…
But you can never control what kind of illness will afflict you.
And most importantly, you can never control when you will die.
Because your very existence is under the control of God.
And God decided that Naaman would be afflicted with leprosy.
And it was His design that Naaman would be healed & led to God in this way.
Naaman is now an example of how we too can find grace in the eyes of God.
Now, I want you to know that the Bible often uses leprosy as a picture of sin.
So I am going to spend some time to explain this.
Leprosy is an example of spiritual leprosy – the sins inherent in our hearts.
The book of Leviticus in the old testament has 3 full chapters 13-15 describing what must be done with people who have leprosy.
This was the only disease where those infected had to be put out of the congregation – separated.
And if they were ever healed, a priest must certify that they were indeed healed.
Because in those days, there was no cure for leprosy, except by divine healing.
So what is this awful disease?
Leprosy is a bacterial disease that starts as a small skin defect.
But it is contagious and it spreads.
You feel no pain because it attacks your nervous system and numbs your sense of touch.
And because of that, you don’t feel it when you get bruised, scalded or injured.
Your wounds may get infected & your body deteriorates with all kinds of complications.
It’s like a living death – that’s the horror of leprosy!
The spiritual leprosy of our hearts is similar in many ways.
It all started as a seemingly insignificant event.
The first man and woman – Adam & Eve were given a specific instruction.
They were NOT to eat from a particular tree in the Garden of Eden – Gen 3.
Some of us may say – What’s the big deal? It is only taking a fruit from a tree isn’t it?
But it was an instruction from the God who created the heavens & the earth.
And to disobey that instruction is rebellion against the sovereign Creator.
And that sin contaminated all creation.
And we are now cast out from fellowship – separated from a holy God.
And just like how leprosy attacks the nerves, man has no sense of his sin.
He is spiritually dead, although he is physically alive.
And on this trajectory, he is heading to an eternal death.
Listen to God’s verdict of man in Gen 6:5 –
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
So, it’s not a case of whether you committed the big sins of murder, robbery or adultery.
Look honestly into your own hearts.
Do you see indifference to spiritual matters and all kinds of other evil?
Jesus said in Matt 5:28 that “..whoever looks at woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart”
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” – Matt 15:19
Friends, the problem with our hearts is that it is all tainted with sin!
And there is no cure for it!
And the bible says that the wages of sin is death.
It’s not just a physical death; it’s an eternal death with no return.
And just like physical leprosy, the leprosy of our hearts needs divine healing!
We thank God that divine healing took place in Naaman’s life.
And the encouragement is that we too may experience it.
And that leads us to our 2nd question for today.
2. Who told Naaman how he could be healed? (verse 2-5)
In V2 we read that a young Jewish girl was captured by the Syrians when they raided Israel.
And that was the beginning of God’s providence at work to heal Naaman.
And the little girl became the servant of Naaman’s wife.
But think for a moment, when the siege of this little girl took place in her home….
There must have been screaming & crying when the Syrian soldiers charged into her house.
Her parents must have been shouting “Why? Why did such a thing happen to us?”
Do you think that they were able to see God’s goodness in that event?
Do you think they were able to rejoice & give thanks even in that tragic incident?
Who would have known that this was God’s way of bringing Naaman into His kingdom?
So the lesson we learn here is that God has a reason for every heart-breaking event in our lives.
We may not understand it immediately.
And it is not wise for us make judgements of people & situations hastily….
Especially when we don’t have the big picture of everything.
Sometimes, God helps us understand the reasons why things happen.
Other times, we may never understand until, perhaps, when we are in heaven.
But we believe that it is all in the providence of God.
Christian friends, perhaps you are experiencing some heartaches right now.
But be encouraged by this truth: God & God alone rules this world.
And He works all things together for the good of those who love Him.
The important question is whether you are one of those who truly love Him.
It takes great faith to believe & trust God even in the most painful circumstances.
And we saw such an example of faith demonstrated in this young Jewish girl.
There was no bitterness or anger in her behaviour towards Naaman or his Wife.
Remember what it means to love our enemies?
This little girl desired the welfare of her master.
Look at what she said to Naaman’s wife in verse 3.
“…if only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria!..”
“..For he would heal him of his leprosy.”
What a witness! What a demonstration of faith!
Here was Naaman – the Commander of the Syrian army.
Here was a slave girl – we don’t even know her name.
She’s probably the lowest person in the whole of Syria at that time. He was a leper.
She knew the God who heals.
No one had smaller opportunities to be useful than this little girl.
No one could have been more bitter towards the Syrians than her.
Yet she turned those circumstances around and made the greatest impact in the life of the highest military man in Syria.
Because she was faithful to God, despite her circumstances.
You know, seriously, who would pay attention to the words of a little slave girl?
But God was in charge & He has decreed that Naaman would be healed.
So her words were heeded and even recorded here for our learning.
And Naaman quickly relayed it to his king, who also believed what she said – v4.
And the king of Syria quickly sent Naaman on his way in v5.
Now, there are 2 things that I want to point out here:
1) The words of this little girl manifested the faith in her heart.
Christian friends, are you unhappy about your current circumstances?
What does it mean to have faith in God?
Very often, how you respond to your circumstances is a manifestation of the genuineness of your faith.
The little Jewish girl was more concerned for the glory of God than her own circumstances.
And God blessed those few words she spoke and used them to change Naaman’s life.
May I encourage you that your circumstances may just be a test of your faith.
Turn your attention to God, give time to prayer, rather moan over your circumstances.
2) Secondly, some of you have been invited here by your friends.
Perhaps God has triggered a series of events to minister to your spiritual needs?
And by His providence, you are here so that you may know of His grace for sinners.
Please do not think that any of these things happened by chance.
Instead, seek to understand why we have to deal with the leprosy of our hearts.
Please clarify any misconceptions you may have about the Christian faith – there is nothing to lose by doing this.
And this leads us to our next question…
3. What misconceptions did Naaman have regarding how he could be healed? (v5-12)
1) First, he thought that healing was directed by people in authority
Look at verses 5 & 6.
The king of Syria sent a letter to the king of Israel asking him to get Naaman healed.
That’s how they do it in the world, isn’t it?
Get the important people to shake hands & give the directions.
After all, important things are done by important people & these things are sorted out by kings.
Now, this is a mistaken view of how leprosy could be cured.
Because there was no cure for leprosy except by divine healing in those days.
So Naaman has gone to the wrong place and to the wrong person for help.
Sometimes, we think that all our problems can be solved by who we know.
Remember what Jesus said in Matt 11:25?
“…I thank you Father, Lord of heaven & earth, that you hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes”.
Naaman & the King of Syria had no idea how leprosy could be cured.
Yet, the little slave girl – the lowest of all in Syria knew the cure.
When it comes to the spiritual leprosy of our hearts, no one in the world can help you.
The prescription is found only in the word of God, the bible.
2) Secondly, Naaman thought that he could pay & contribute to his healing
V5 tells us that he brought with him the equivalent of >$30,000 in today’s currency.
He thought he could buy that healing.
He wanted to contribute to his own healing.
Now, if you were to compare all the religions in this world, there are actually only 2 types:
Those that teach that Salvation comes by works or those that teach that salvation is by grace.
Salvation by works means you get to heaven by your own merit.
You discipline yourself by meditation, philosophy, yoga or other restrictions imposed by some human teaching.
You do good works such as charity, financial contributions and other things that make you feel you can be accepted.
My friends, if heaven can be attained by such means, I suggest to you that it is not worth going.
Because you are going to find a lot of people there who are so proud of their achievements.
And some of us may already feel embarrassed because we don’t even have the $30K that Naaman carried with him.
On the other hand, there is salvation by the free grace of God.
Heaven is such a wonderful place because Jesus Christ – the God-Man who is without sin is there!
And none of us sinful creatures deserve to be there!
And if we ever get there, it is because God has graciously opened our eyes to see how unworthy we are.
And in spite of our unworthiness, He paid the price required to bring us there.
Jesus gave His life to pay for the sins that we have committed.
And He lived a sinless life – which is the requirement for anyone to get into heaven.
And all these are accorded to us when we believe in Jesus Christ…..
That’s grace – totally unmerited salvation.
You can’t do anything to achieve it – it is totally a gift from God!
Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
3) Thirdly, Naaman thought he could dictate how he should be healed
In v9, Naaman went to Elisha’s house with his horses & chariots. (Children you can also draw this if you want to).
Elisha didn’t come out to meet him.
He simply sent his messenger to tell him to go & wash in the river Jordan.
This made Naaman extremely angry!
If I were to paraphrase what Naaman said in v11-12…it would sound something like this….
“Elisha, I am the general of the Syrian army.
You should feel great that Naaman the General has come to visit you.
So don’t tell me to go and wash in your river Jordan.
I have better rivers in my country.
I give the instructions – so, come out here now.
Call on your God, wave your hand, say presto and heal this leprosy.
You know, Naaman was actually told exactly how he could be healed.
But Naaman simply wanted to dictate the terms for his own healing.
In the same way, God has put it clearly in His word regarding how we can be healed of our spiritual leprosy.
But everyone has his own ideas of how they can get to heaven.
Some turn to philosophy, others to meditation.
Some think that by simply doing no harm to others or just by being vegetarians.
If you want to be saved, if you want to get to heaven, you have to listen to the God who owns heaven!
And that leads us to our final question for today….
4. How was Naaman eventually healed?
3 things happened leading to Naaman’s healing.
1) First, he humbled himself
Naaman thought Elisha would be delighted to be visited by such a great man.
But as far as Elisha was concerned, the one standing at his door was a leper.
A leper was to be cut off from the people.
Yet Naaman was asking for VIP treatment.
That’s the problem with high & mighty people like Naaman.
That’s the problem with people who have accomplished much in life.
Actually, that’s the problem with all of us!
We get upset when we are treated like a nobody.
The problem with sinners is that they don’t realise how hopeless they are.
And they will find no grace till they come to a point where there realise that they can’t help themselves.
So Naaman had to be stripped of all his pride before he could be healed.
There is only one way to God and it is a small and narrow way.
Jesus said in Matt 18:3 “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“Like little children”? – Simple, unassuming, dependent and trusting.
There is no VIP treatment.
Every sinner has to acknowledge that God saves when we believe in His Son Jesus Christ. To the high & mighty, this seems the most foolish thing to do.
Because sinful man always wants to get the glory.
We refuse to accept the fact that we need to be helped.
Elisha was concerned about Naaman’s welfare.
So he gave him clear directions on how he could be healed.
And God in His providence provided some servants to nudge Naaman….
2) So that, Secondly, he obeyed the word of the prophet Elisha
Prophets are God’s mouthpiece.
Whatever the prophets convey is effectively God’s word.
And Elisha said to Naaman – “Go and wash in the Jordan 7 times … and you shall be clean”.
By obeying Elisha, Naaman was obeying God.
There was nothing to contribute, nothing to pay for.
And as he simply obeyed Elisha, dipping in the Jordan River…v14 “…his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean”.
The call of Gospel is exactly the same.
The leprosy of your hearts cannot be washed away by meditation.
Your sinful hearts cannot be made pure just by any work of your hands.
You have to obey God’s way of salvation – repent & believe in Jesus Christ!
And the blood that Jesus shed on the cross will wash away every sin that stained your conscience.
And the leprosy of your heart will be healed & restored like a new man.
3) Thirdly, Naaman repented of his sins
Just earlier, Naaman was very angry with Elisha.
Now in v15 – after he was healed, he returned to Elisha and called himself Elisha’s servant.
This is the commander of the Syrian army – humbled and repented from his pride.
Just earlier, he said there were better rivers in Syria.
Now, he says that “..there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel…”
And he want to give a gift to Elisha.
This was not to contribute to his healing (because he was already healed), but it was a sign of the gratefulness of his heart.
And he declared that he will not worship other gods, except the LORD who healed him.
And v17, he even wanted to take some soil from Israel – 2 loads of them.
He wanted to build an altar to God when he returned to Syria.
All that was on his mind now was that God should be worshipped.
He’s a totally changed man who has realised the folly of his previous self.
And in v19, he went forth in peace.
Let me summarise what we have gone through today as I bring this sermon to a close.
Who was Naaman?
He was man of great accomplishments, but he was a leper.
Let us remember that regardless of what we have accomplished in life, we are all spiritual lepers.
And we all need divine healing.
Who told Naaman how he could be healed?
A little slave girl who was taken away by the Syrians during their raid.
And this slave girl demonstrated great faith in the midst of difficult circumstances.
She just said a few words that triggered a string of events leading to Naaman’s healing.
May I encourage you that your circumstances may just be a test of your faith.
Turn your attention to God, give time to prayer, rather your circumstances. Be like this little girl.
What misconceptions did Naaman have regarding how he could be healed?
He thought healing was directed by people in authority.
He thought he could pay & contribute to his own healing.
He thought he could dictate how he should be healed.
We must not have any misconceptions regarding how we can be healed from our spiritual leprosy.
We can’t pay for it; we can’t work for it; it is a gift from God.
How was Naaman eventually healed?
By humbling himself.
By obeying the words of Elisha.
By repenting of his sins.
Now, Naaman’s servants said this to him in v13.
“….if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
Ladies & Gentlemen, boys & girls, Let me say to you what Naaman’s servants said to him –
“Would you not do it if God tells you to do something great?”
God says in Jer 33:3 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
I urge you to respond to this invitation to “call on God”.
Ask Him to open your spiritual eyes so that you can appreciate the leprosy of your hearts.
And may you find peace when you have turned to Him in humility through His Son Jesus Christ.
To God be all glory. Amen!