Sermon: A Portrait of Salvation (2 Kings 5:1-15)

A Portrait of Salvation

2 Kings 5:1-15

 

In our passage today we are forced to deal with many things about God that stretch our understanding.  We just get to the place where we think we are starting to understand God and then He throws a passage like this at us. 

In this passage we have God giving Syria success in battle against His chosen people Israel.  We have God turning His back on His people and coming to the aid of foreigners.  We have God including a Gentile who is unclean in His covenant. 

We leave the land of Israel and enter a pagan nation.  We step into Syria to the north, a heathen, pagan nation surrounded by darkness, a place of idolatry, and blindness.  Naaman’s healing is a portrait of what God would later do through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Here is a classic picture of the love God has for those in darkness.  We get a glimpse of God’s sovereign work in salvation. At times God shows grace, even to His enemies.

Romans 5:8-10 (ESV) 

    But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  [9] Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  [10] For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 

Aren’t you glad today that God shows mercy to His enemies?

2 Kings 5:1-15 (ESV) 

    Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.  [2] Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife.  [3] She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”  [4] So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.”  [5] And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothes.  [6] And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”  [7] And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

    [8] But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”  [9] So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.  [10] And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.”  [11] But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.  [12] Are not Abana 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.  [13] But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”  [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.

    [15] Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 

1- The Commander and His Leprosy (2 Kings 5:1)

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. 

Good News-Naaman was very successful.  He was second to none in his achievements.  He was the commander, great man in the king’s eyes, He led the Assyrians to battle against Israel and God gave him victory, and he was a mighty man of valor.  That’s the good news. 

Bad News- Naaman was a leper.  Not only did he have leprosy but he was a leper.  Naaman actually means, delightful, pleasant or beautiful.  This was far from the truth.  Naaman was horrid to look at.

There was none of Naaman’s successes that could undo the fact that he was a leper.  He was a commander, but a leper.  He was in good with the King, but he was a leper.  The Lord had given him success but he was a leper.  He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.

It is clear from Scripture, in many places, that Leprosy is often compared to sin.  It is a picture of sin in our lives. 

-As the Leper’s disease becomes worse and worse so his deformities become worse and worse. 

 -Also, the representation is clear because it was not a physician that was called on but the priest.  Today, we are priests who must examine sin, whether it is in our own life or someone else and turn to the only cure, Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:8-10 (ESV) 

    If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  [10] If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

What good would it have done Naaman to deny that he had Leperosy?

-Another is there was no cure for it apart from a miracle.  The Leper was cut off from God’s people. 

-The ceremony for purification clearly pointed to Jesus Christ making atonement for sin.  It was also viewed a visible sign of how God viewed the sinner. 

Matthew 8:2-4 (ESV) 

    And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”  [3] And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  [4] And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

Many other comparisons could be drawn.

-Starts very small

-Inherited

Romans 5:12 (ESV) 

    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-

-Highly infectious

If you could imagine the horrid physical appearance of a leper, we may come a little closer to seeing how sin looks to God.  A Leper’s appearance in the physical realm may be what sinners look like in the spiritual realm.

So the words of Jesus become even more powerful, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Now the account takes a turn and introduces someone who could be the exact opposite of our successful general, an insignificant slave girl.

The contrast is so apparent it has to be arranged by God.  God used the sin of Naaman and his army to capture this little girl to get her to Syria with the answer to Naaman’s deadly disease.  God is sovereign.

2- The Maiden and Her Life (2 Kings 5:2-3)

 [2] Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife.  [3] She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

God will place messengers where He wishes to share and be His witness.  Did she want to be in the situation she was in?  Would she rather be somewhere else?  Was she where God wanted her?  Rather than dwelling on her problems, she was using her life to be faithful to God.  Rather than being bitter she was obedient. 

I have question, Why do you think Naaman listened to her?  Maybe her life gave credibility to her words.  Maybe she was diligent in her work.  Maybe she was using her circumstances as a springboard for her witness.

3- The Commander and His Journey (2 Kings 5:4-7)

 [4] So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.”  [5] And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothes.  [6] And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”  [7] And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

These verses illustrate very well our human pride, our natural tendencies, and our carnal mind.  Naaman was thinking in terms of gaining this healing or gaining salvation by trusting in his power not in God’s grace.  He was trying to gain some sort of leverage with those who had what he so desperately needed. 

Rather than going to the prophet like the maiden said, he went to the king.  He was much better at speaking and with negotiating with kings than relying on the grace of God.

Even in Naaman’s negotiations, God was at work.  God was shattering Naaman’s trust and dependence in people.  God was showing Naaman that his healing would only come about as a result in his faith in God who could do what humans can’t.  Naaman thought he would try his own ability, his power, and his riches to gain for himself his own healing.  There are things money and power cannot purchase.

This is an excellent description of Namaan and a pretty good likeness of us as well.

Rev. 3:17-18 (ESV) 

    For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  [18] I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

God applied eye salve to Namaan through the Prophet Elisha.

4- The Prophet and His Invitation (vs. 8)

    [8] But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

God gets Naaman to the prophet Elisha.  God orchestrates magnificently the steps of our lives.  In every single event, God is doing a thousand other things.  With each step He is drawing the lost sinner closer and closer to salvation. 

Elisha, who is God’s representative, makes an amazing statement.  He says, like the Lord often said, Let him come now to me.

Jesus is our only hope.  He is the only place we can turn to be cleansed of our sin disease.

Matthew 11:28 (ESV) 

    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

5- The Prophet and His Command (vss. 9-12)

 [9] So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.  [10] And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 

Here Naaman shows up at the prophet’s front door with horses and chariots, his gold and silver, his fine clothes and his pride, which might have been the last sin that God was breaking Naaman of.  Can you picture Naaman and all his servants riding in pride to meet this lowly Israelite prophet?

Elisha does not even come to the door in person but sends a servant to give Naaman the message. 

Proverbs 6:16-17 (ESV) 

    There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:  [17] haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

God hates human pride and will have nothing to do with it.  Naaman’s pride had to be removed.  God had to knock him off his horse, much like the Lord did to Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9 at Paul’s conversion.

Elisha may have seemed rude but his actions were really loving.

Naaman thought he knew how God should work.  He thought that God should operate on his terms.

 [11] But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.  [12] Are not Abana 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. 

Why can’t I do things my way?  Why can’t I go to heaven based on the fact that I am a nice moral person?  Why can’t I go to heaven based on my devotion to Islam or Hinduism?

God prescribes the remedy and we believe and act.

In a strange way, Naaman was willing to pay any price for healing. Pride was what he wanted to hang on to. 

If the cure comes from bathing in a stream, well there are better streams in Syria than these old dirty rivers here in Israel, I’ll just pick my stream.

This account shows us two of the greatest barriers that God breaks through to grant repentance and forgiveness. 

Our Pride

Our Opinion

God has to continually break through barriers in our Christian lives.

God is not interested in our opinions and He must break our pride if we are to trust Him rather than ourselves.  If we are to continue walking with Him we must continually ask Him to break us.  “Overcome my sinful pride Lord so I can be restored.”

To be cleansed, Naaman had to believe and then act on that belief.  He had to leave his abilities and his money behind and fall before God claiming, “I can’t do it God, would You do it for me?”

 [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.

He did it according to what God said through the prophet.

Naaman was recreated.  He was born from above.  Not only was Naaman healed physically but spiritually as well.  Everything about him was different.

[15] Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 

God’s portrait of salvation.

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