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Naaman

Loyal
At first glance, Naaman seems an unlikely subject to study.
There are only a few verses about him. Most of these are found in 2 Kings 5;.

Naaman was a captain in the army of the king of Aram. Aram was a non-Jewish (Gentile)
nation is what is modern day Syria. Naaman was highly respected...

.. because the LORD had given victory to Aram.

He was a valiant warrior, but he was also a leper. The word used for leper here is tsara.
It doesn't actually mean leprosy, but rather diseased skin. It could be leprosy however.

I find it interesting that even though Aram was not a nation that followed God, and even
though Naaman was likely an Aramean ... God gave them victory.. and Naaman was respected
because of this.

Naaman knew victory, and he knew respect.

The Arameans had taken a little girl captive from the land of Israel. Her name is not mentioned
but it says she was a servant to Naaman's wife.
One day she says to her mistress (Naaman's wife) ... "I wish my master would go see the prophet
in Samaria, because he would cure him of his leprosy."

It's interesting here... that even though the girl was taken away from her people, and is now a slave,
She still had enough humanity and love in her to care about Naaman's well being.
The other thing we notice here is that "the prophet" is not named yet (verse 3) but he is in
Samaria. (hmmm... why not Israel?)

It isn't recorded in the Bible, but apparently Naaman's wife told him what the little girl had said to her
because in the next verse (verse 4) Naaman goes to his master and tells him what "the girl from the
land of Israel" said.

Sometimes even servants and slaves can have an effect on people. We may sometimes feel like we are
beneath getting involved with what someone important is doing... but God can use us in any situation.

.... to be continued ...
 
Loyal
As I read this story... I wonder if Naaman knew it was God that gave him the victory mentioned back in verse 1.
In any case, he thought enough about God to listen to what the little slave girl had said.

In verse 5 the king tells Naaman to go ahead and go see the prophet. The king says he will write a letter
to the king of Israel. It says Naaman took ten talents of silver, 6,000 shekels of gold and 10 changes of clothing.

A shekel was thought to be slightly over half an ounce, or about 18 grams. At today's market value, each
gold shekel would have been about $500.00. So he was well financed. We don't know if the king gave him
this money, or if this was his own money. If so, army captains were paid well in those days.
I'm not sure why the 10 changes of clothes are mentioned. It seems odd that it is included here.

In verse 6 Naaman comes to the king of Israel and gives him the letter from the king of Aram.
as the king is reading the letter he finds out that Naaman was sent there 'to be cured of his leprosy'.
It says that when the king read the letter, he tore his clothes.

The king says.. "Am I God... that I can kill, and make alive, and cure leprosy?" We have to give credit
to the king of Israel here... he knew he couldn't do this on his own. However the king concludes with saying...
"It seems that he is seeking a quarrel with me". ( verse 7)

The king knew deception, he knew suspicion. I think we can gather from these verses that the king of Israel
felt like the king of Aram was asking him to do something impossible, just so he would have an excuse to
fight with him. I wonder if we are ever suspicious of people without reason?

.... to be continued ...
 
Loyal
2 Kings 5:8; It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
2 Kings 5:9; So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha.

We finally find out who "the prophet" is here. The stories of Elijah and Elisha would make a great study. Elisha was the prophet
that Elijah more or less passed the torch to. Elisha is known as the prophet that got a double portion. Elijah did seven great
miracles, but Elisha did fourteen.

When Elisha hears that the king of Israel tears his clothes, he tells the king to have Naaman come to his house...
"so he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel". ( verse 8 )

So the captain of the army, comes with his entourage of horses and chariots, it sounds like perhaps there were
other soldiers and escorts with him. ( verse 9 )

Now we get to the meat of the story here.

2 Kings 5:10; Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”
2 Kings 5:11; But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’
2 Kings 5:12; Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.

Elisha doesn't even go out and meet the "mighty and valiant" Naaman. He merely sends a messenger.
I notice several things about this. Sometimes God didn't speak directly to people in the Bible. Sometimes he sent messengers.
Sometimes this was angels, but more often than not, it was just a person. Maybe not the person we view as the most important
person, but a person none the less. I wonder if sometimes we are looking for a message from someone we view as important,
and all along God is speaking to us through someone we barely notice because they aren't important to us.

The other thing I notice here, is that the messenger simply gives Naaman the message. He doesn't try to persuade him to go.
He doesn't argue with him about it. He doesn't beg him to do it. He simply gives him the message.

I think sometimes when we feel like we have a message for someone from God... we try to argue and plead with them to change.
But we can't change people. We can only give them the message. It isn't our job to change people. That's up to God.

The message was simply go wash in the Jordan seven times, and you will be clean. Nothing impossible, nothing complicated,
nothing that Naaman couldn't have done. But Naaman had an expectation. "Behold I thought he would come out to me"....
obviously Naaman was upset that Elisha didn't come out to him, he only sent a lowly messenger. "I thought that he would
call upon the name of the Lord and wave his hands".

Sometimes we expect God to ask us to do something difficult, something impossible, something grandiose and miraculous.
(and sometimes he does do that) but sometimes... he just wants us to do something simple.
If we aren't obedient in the simple things, how can God expect us to be obedient in the difficult things? Naaman had an
expectation. He thought God would do something a certain way... the Naaman way. I wonder if we ever expect God to
do sometimes "our way", and then we are disappointed when He wants to do it His way.

Naaman goes off in a rage.
He says... aren't the rivers in my country better the rivers in Israel. I am a mighty valiant warrior, I need to be washed in a great
river. A river with a mighty current and raging rapids. I don't want to be washed in your muddy little lazy river. I am important.
Too important to go to a small and dirty little river. I wonder if Naaman had a pride problem here?
I wonder if someone we feel like the things God is asking us to do are beneath us. They are too small and insignificant for us
to do. Those jobs are for small and insignificant people.

... so Naaman went off in a rage. He missed the blessing of God here. I wonder if sometimes we miss the blessing of God
because we go off and pout, or go off angry.. because He didn't do what we expected him to do.

... to be continued ...
 
Loyal
Naaman may have had a pride issue... and he may have missed out on a blessing because of it...
But the story isn't over yet.

2 Kings 5:13; Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
2 Kings 5:14; So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

Again... a messenger... actually one of his servants asks Naaman a question.
If Elisha would have told you to do some difficult grandiose thing, you would have done it, so why won't you do something simple?

Sometimes God gives us second chances for a blessing. Not always, but often. Hopefully we can recognize missed
opportunities and take them when they come around again. Hopefully our hearts are in different place when it happens.

This question causes Naaman to ponder and reflect for a while. Sometimes a question is a more effective message
than a statement. Sometimes an unanswered question while make us search for the answer.

So finally, we see in verse 14 that Naaman swallows his pride, and goes down to the Jordan river.

One thing I notice here, is that even though this was a simple thing to do... it had instructions along with it.
He had to do it seven times... not just once.

I can imagine being Naaman here.

Ok, here I am... I'm going down to the dirty little river.
Ok, I'm going beneath the water once... Hmmm... nothing changed... my skin still looks the same.
*Sigh* Ok I'll do it again... well I've done it twice now and nothing has changed.

When God tells us to do something seven times. He means seven times. Not 4 or 5 or even 6. Not even 6 and 7/8ths.
He means seven times. Now some people get hung up on the number seven, thinking it is some magical number.
After all didn't the Israelites have to march around Jericho seven times before the walls fell?

Seven is used a lot in the Bible, but in this case, it wasn't the number seven that healed Naaman, it was his obedience
in doing what God asked of him.

I suppose after the sixth time... Naaman may have been wondering if anything was really going to happen.
I think sometimes we all almost there... almost at the point of doing what it takes... then because we don't see
any results, we give up.

But after the seventh time.... well... God is God after all.
I don't know about Naaman, but if it would have been me... tears would have been running down my face.
Undoubtedly... also those who wanted him to be healed.... the servant who asked him the question.
The little jewish girl who talked to his wife... possibly even his wife.

It's interesting, not only was his flesh restored.... not as a man old enough to be a captain of the army....
but restored like the flesh of a child.

Sometimes when we are obedient to God... he blesses us, even more than we expect.

... Amen.
 
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