Monday, April 2, 2012

2 Kings 5 - Elisha and Namaan's Healing

LINK: 2 Kings 5

BACKGROUND

Namaan was a commander in the army of King Aram (Ben Hadad II). King Aram is the same person King Ahab had set free in 1 Kings 20. Namaan was respected but had leprosy (or some disease of the skin). The Israelite girl captured during one of the Aramean battles and working in his home as a slave knew of Elisha. 

Namaan went to King Joram of Israel carrying a letter from Ben Hadad II, but Joram was anxious because he thought Ben-Hadad II was just trying to pick a fight like Ben-Hadad II had done with his father. When Elisha heard of Joram's anxiety, he told the king not to worry. Namaan would learn that there was a prophet in Israel. Namaan did not like Elisha's simple remedy of washing in the Jordan River seven times without any pomp or ceremony. Also, he did not want to wash in a muddy river, but his servants convinced him to give it a try and Namaan was healed!

Have you ever wondered why he was to wash seven times? According to my research, God prescribed that Namaan wash seven times because "seven is the stamp of the works of God" (C.F. Keil, 1 & 2 Kings, in Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, 3:319).

Jesus referred to this incident when he was in the synagogue: “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Namaan the Syrian” (Luke 4:27).

God's prophets administered miracles to Gentiles while Israel was in unbelief. King Joram and his people did not have faith, but Namaan did. That was quite an indictment on Israel's apostasy at the time.

Namaan testified that Israel's God was the true God (even though the king and many of the people of Israel did not.) Although Elisha refused gifts, Namaan wanted to carry back earth in order to offer burnt offerings to Israel's God. (Many polytheists believed that gods needed to be worshiped in their own land or on altars build with dirt from their land.) Even though he would worship the true God, he would still have to outwardly perform his duties toward Rimnon, the god of rain and thunder and of Damascus as part of his civil duties as a commander of the army. Elisha still told him to "go in peace."

Elisha refused gifts, Gehazi was greedy! He followed Namaan, lied to him about Elisha wanting gifts, and when he returned, Elisha knew it all. So, the Lord gave Gehazi Namaan's leprosy.

REFLECTION

Here we have an example of the "Top Line/Bottom Line" message. We see God as a healer in the "Top Line," but the "Bottom Line" point of this passage was that a man of key influence from a Gentile nation acknowledged God as the ONE TRUE God who had the power to heal! God wanted the world to know that there was a God in Israel, and this was one of the ways He was accomplishing that.

APPLICATION

God is doing miracles all over the world today to display His power to those who do not know Him. Do some investigation. Interview some overseas workers who have been on the front line of seeing people come to know the ONE TRUE GOD through Jesus Christ. Better yet, read this exciting biography called And the Word Came with Power: How God Met and Changed a People Forever by Jo Shetler, Wycliffe Bible Translator from the Philippines:

I had the pleasure of having lunch with Jo and her partner, Amy, in October 2007. What a treat! Jo is second from the right. 



PRAYER

Lord, You are still alive and working miracles in our midst. You want to show Yourself to those who do not know You. Show Your power to those who are seeking and have yet to believe. Amen.
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