Luke 4:25-27 – But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” NKJV
It’s really interesting to read the Bible and have something shout out to you. That’s what happened when I read this passage of scripture. I think I totally missed that it was Elijah with the widow and Elisha with Naaman. It happens! But what stood out to me the most was that they were Gentiles and that God orchestrated these encounters.
In my previous post, we learned about the widow of Zarephath, who Elijah the prophet was sent to during the drought. Today, we will learn about Naaman, the leper, who also “caught” God’s attention! We will find this astonishing miracle in 2 Kings 5.
Naaman, was a Syrian commander, whom God had used to bring victory to the Syrian army, according to the author of Kings. The Bible states that he was an honorable man and a mighty man of valor. However, he had one little problem; he was a leper.
In the Old Testament, lepers were considered to be unclean, and as such, could not even be amongst the children of Israel. They had a special place outside the city where they lived until they either were healed or died. The disease had a horrendous affect on the bodies of those it ravished.
Naaman, went on a raid, maybe against Israel, and captured a young Jewish girl who became a servant to his wife. One day the girl said to her mistress that if Naaman was to meet the prophet in Israel, he would be healed. When Naaman’s wife shared this with him, he went to his king and requested time to go and see the prophet.
For Naaman, this had to be a dream come true. To be free of the diabolical disease that had the potential to eat away at his flesh causing parts of his body to someday begin to fall off? Imagine his hope and excitement at the chance to be whole! Such was his anticipation at being healed, that he took with him much silver and gold, and changes of clothing. He was going to Israel to be healed!
Naaman arrived in Israel with a letter from his king, to the king of Israel, that stated the purpose of Naaman’s visit: to be healed of his leprosy. The king of Israel’s response was not a happy dance, but a fear that he was being trapped. When the prophet heard what was happening, he instructed the king to send Naaman to him.
Yes! The excitement of Naaman and his entourage. I’m sure that there was much conversation and wonderment over how this miracle would happen. Naaman even shared that he thought the prophet would come out to him and do his thing!
2 Kings 5:11 – “But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘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 heal the leprosy.’ NKJV
But the prophet didn’t even stick his head out of the door. Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman and told him to go and wash seven times in the Jordan and his flesh would be restored and he would be clean. This is why Naaman was furious. After his long journey and all of his dreams, nothing was happening as he thought. Not only that, he was being told to go and wash in the muddy waters of the Jordan. What Naaman did not know or understand was that the prophet could not come out to him without becoming unclean himself. Elisha wasn’t just being rude!
Jesus tells us in our text that many men were lepers in Israel. Yet, they were not healed by the prophet. But there was a man in Syria who heard about a prophet who could get him healed; and he was willing to do whatever he had to do, to obtain his miracle. Maybe that is what was missing in Israel, people who still believed!
After Naaman finished his tirade about the ridiculousness of washing in the Jordan, his servants had a conversation with him. They knew of his desire to be healed. They had probably heard countless stories on the journey of how much he wanted to be free of leprosy and all that it would enable him to do. So they got some backbone and talked with him. (Thank God for the people in our lives who will brave our anger and tell us the truth)! They told Naaman that if the prophet had told him to do some mighty act, he would have done it, so why not go and wash?
The path to a miracle doesn’t always make sense! It’s not always going to make us feel strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Sometimes it might make us feel ridiculous, maybe even humble us. Such was the case with Naaman! But he quickly got over himself and walked into the water!
He washed as Elisha instructed him and he was made whole! Yes! It happened as the prophet said! He was clean! The young maiden had told him the truth! But he almost missed it. He almost allowed his pride and his offended spirit to cause him to miss out on his life changing miracle. How grateful he must have felt towards his servants for speaking to him! How grateful he must have felt for being able to listen to them!
God had seen Naaman. Jesus implies this in our text! He saw his heart, and heard his cry to be healed. He saw that even though Naaman was a Syrian warrior, he was honorable. Maybe Naaman even treated his Jewish captives with respect. Whatever the case, God saw Him and God offered him an opportunity to be made whole. But obtaining the miracle was totally up to Naaman.
Naaman’s response to his miracle when he returned to the prophet’s door:
2 Kings 5:15 -And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel…” NKJV
He finally gets his audience with the prophet, because now he is clean!
Naaman exercised great faith in his preparation for the journey. We see this in the fact that he didn’t sneak over to Israel, he requested to go and was upfront about why he wanted to go. He prepared to give a substantial gift for his healing, it meant that much. He went with the expectation to receive. And although he almost missed the most important part, he even yielded and obeyed the words of the prophet. By his works, he demonstrated his faith in what he heard in Syria and then in Israel.
There was just something about these two Gentile individuals, who had no known relationship or access to God. Something was happening in their hearts or around them that caused them to be open to the true and living God. That something got His attention and caused Him to get His prophets involved in a miracle.
What about us? What are doing to show that we are expecting God to move in a miraculous way in our lives? Are we anticipating His divine intervention or are we rationalizing why it could never happen? Are we willing to do whatever it takes, or are we just sitting around hoping one will fall from heaven into our laps? This is a new year. Last year we saw things we could not have imagined happen in the natural world. I think this is a great year to see things we could have never imagine from God.
1 Corinthians 2:9 – “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” NKJV
Go ahead! Anticipate your miracle! Wonderful Jesus!