1) Why was Naaman so angry when Elisha sent a messenger telling him to wash himself in the Jordan River? (verse 11)
So many people avoid reading and studying the Old Testament because it can be difficult to understand at times. While that is true, it is also rich and full in lessons and modern day applications. In this case, it all comes down to pride. We, much like our friend Naaman, often expect God, and others, to do certain things for us simply because of who we are, the position we hold, or the things we have done. It is so easy for us to become angry when things don’t go exactly as we expect. Five years ago, my husband was laid off from his employer of 28 years. This was a devastating blow that drastically changed our lives, much like the disease of leprosy had affected Naaman. We prayed and assumed God would provide another job quickly and easily. A job much like the one he had, comfortable pay, good benefits, etc.. Boy howdy were we wrong! What happened instead? Little by little, God broke down, and destroyed, our pride. He showed us time after time that we were to depend on Him and Him alone. While we continue to pray and wait for restoration, God continues to show us He is working, and He is always faithful. God has not, nor will He ever, work in the way we expect. He is God and we are not. We deserve nothing, yet He has given us everything! Like Naaman, there will be times when life deals us a devastating blow and we will be faced with a choice. Do we lay down our pride and ask for help, taking a risk to follow God’s instructions, which may seem foolish? Or, do we remain stuck in our pride, acting as our own god?
2) Was Elisha afraid to see or touch Naaman before he was cured? If not, why did he send a messenger instead of going himself? (verse 10)
The everyday application answer to this question depends on which person you identify with most in this story. Are you “Naaman”, in need of help and healing or “Elisha”, a man or woman of God, trying their best to live a life for God, or are you simply the “messenger” tasked with delivering instruction. I want to start with those of us who might identify most with Elisha. We are women trying our best to follow God and live our lives in a way that points to Him. We must not be afraid to help those who come to us for help. While we may not fear physically touching another person, we may fear getting involved, or not having the right answers, or not being smart enough, strong enough, whatever enough. We cannot let fear stop us from doing what God directs! The reality is, our world and community are full of “Naamans” trying to get up enough courage to ask for help. We must be ready when they come. To my “Naaman” friends, please come and ask an “Elisha” for help. Believers are ready and willing to take you to our Savior who is more than enough for whatever you bring. Lastly, to those of us who may feel like we are simply “messengers” in a story, don’t undersell your worth or your role. Just like the story in 2 Kings, there would be no healing without the message of instruction being delivered. So, go ahead and deliver the message, follow the Lord’s leading through His Spirit, trust your relationship with Him, and point the way to someone who can help. Who knows, it might be as simple as introducing someone new to this website or inviting them to church. You may very well be the messenger who brings someone to the feet of Jesus!
3) Was Naaman surprised that washing in the Jordan River actually worked?
Sometimes we ignore or rush past simple solutions because, like Naaman, we are looking for the “great God story” to share with our friends and family. What we truly need is to have the childlike faith Jesus speaks of in Matthew 18:3. ““Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.””
We need to look past what we want or expect, and simply do what God is asking. Let me take you back to the story I shared about my husband’s job. Five year later, we are still surviving on less income than we ever thought imaginable. God continues to provide for every single one of our needs and we continue to pray and wait on His timing and His restoration. So, yes, I can honestly say from very personal experience I am surprised how God really works in the ways He does.
4) In verse 18 it appears Naaman is asking for forgiveness in advance to the sin of bowing to another god. What does Elisha’s response “go in peace” mean?
Let’s be honest here, don’t we all do this?! It’s a bit different for us today, since Jesus did come and die to pay for our sins. But the truth is, we are no better when we make the choice to knowingly sin, because we know we are already forgiven. Some of you may be thinking, “Ok, but I’m not bowing down to another god, so is it really that bad?” Yes! All sin is equally sinful to God as it goes against His holiness. I would contend that we all bow down to “other gods” more often than we’d like to admit. The gods we bow down today may look different, the god of money, sports, success, appearance, etc., but they are gods nonetheless. Just as in Naaman’s case, the conviction that comes from the Lord is the first step towards real and lasting change. Every single one of us is on a journey. God will lead us and convict us in different ways and different times. We may even ask a fellow believer if they think it’s ok, or if we will be forgiven. When it comes down to it, no one but God can convict or forgive. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask our brothers and sisters for help or guidance. They can be a huge help by praying for us, and with us, leading us to God, the only One who can truly forgive our sins. Our responsibility is to trust and follow as God leads, stepping out in faith and obedience.
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Catch up with Naaman!