Sermon Illustrations

Introduction: Leprosy was and is a very serious disease, affecting the skin in any number of ways. Anyone who ever came down with the disease faced a sad future. Leviticus 13 has detailed information how the people of Israel were to be examined and declared either "clean" or "unclean" if he or she faced certain problems on the skin.

We don't know what regulations were in place for people who were not Hebrews. Naaman, a general in Syria's army, had become infected with this disease, and seems to be living away from his home and family (implied in verses 1-4). What was he going to do?

Text, 2 Kings 5:11-14, KJV: 11 But Naaman was wroth, 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 strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? 14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Thoughts: In what could be considered a comedy of errors, the king of Syria wrote a letter to the king of Israel asking the king of Israel to heal Naaman of his leprosy! The truth is that a young Israelite girl, captured in a raid, was serving in Naaman's house and told Naaman's wife about "the prophet. . . in Samaria" who could heal Naaman. When the king of Israel read the letter from Syria's king, he became upset, even tearing his clothes in rage, frustration, or who knows why! Then Elisha sent word to the king of Israel, saying, "Send Naaman to me and he'll know there is a prophet in Israel". And Naaman did so.

But when Naaman arrived at Elisha's house, Elisha didn't even make personal contact with Naaman--he sent a "messenger" to Naaman and gave Naaman this command: "Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean (verse 10b)". And Naaman, once he heard this, was furious!

His servants (we're not told how many) waited, it seems, until Naaman had cooled off a little and appealed to him. These people said, in so many words, "Wouldn't you have done something great if he had asked you to? Why not just wash in the Jordan and be clean if that's all he asked?"

No doubt, Naaman gave careful thought to what his servants said. And, to his credit, he listened, he went to the Jordan River, and "dipped himself seven times in Jordan" according to Elisha's command.

And the result? He was healed of his leprosy!

The servants, the unsung heroes of this story, helped a hot-tempered man reconsider and eventually receive the healing he wanted. YOu and I may never be in that position, but we can still be salt and light--and gently appeal to others--in order to help them achieve the best. Let's start doing this today!

Scripture quotations from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).

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