There is a myth from ancient Egypt that says when you get to the gate of Heaven you will be asked two questions:
1. Did you find joy in your life?
2. Has your life brought joy to others?
Thesis: Naaman’s story of healing and dedication to God came as a result of hearing about another person’s story “Elisha’s” and how his relationship with God brought healing to many other people’s bodies, souls and spirits.
Scripture Text: 2 Kings 5:1-27: 1Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.2Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5“By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” 8When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” 11But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. 13Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. 15Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.”16The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused. 17“If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD. 18But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this. 19“Go in peace,” Elisha said.
Naaman was King Aram’s general and had led his army to many victories. The Bible introduces this man as a great warrior who had power, pride and prestige. He was successful because of the Lord, and people respected him. In his country everyone knew his name. Notice Naaman is not Jewish he is from Aram yet God was using him there in that country as a general.
But he had a problem.
As I read this story it formed in my mind as a old movie with different scenes. It communicated to me the importance of following the direction of the Lord even when it seems illogical or ridiculous. Naaman a man of great notoriety had to at one point in his search for healing follow the directions laid out before him. His obedience to the directive of the Word of God was what set him free. So let’s take a moment and look at Naaman’s life in incremental scenes and see what we can learn from his story.
i. Scene 1: The problem
a. Being a leper meant he was outcast in society, his disease would and was causing him to be an outcast in his own country.
i. Leprosy was a very serious and painful disease. Leprosy is an infectious disease and is characterized by disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive debilitation.
ii. Show as picture of a leper.
iii. Share your encounter with leprosy in India.
b. So our Biblical hero is facing a huge dilemma in his life - he is a successful general and popular among the people as a warrior yet this disease is eating away his flesh and deforming his body. In time if not soon he is going to be cast out from the society he has been fighting to save and protect.
i. Life just in sense seems unfair to our man Naaman!
c. According to Luke 4:27 we are told that no one had been healed of leprosy in this day except for Naaman an exception to the era of the time of Elisha.
T.S. – Our hero is successful yet plagued with a serious illness. Where does he turn? Who can help such a man? A prophet in another country? A foreign God?
ii. Scene 2: The Solution
a. Naaman discovers from his wife that there is a mighty prophet in the land of Samaria named Elisha and he hears this from his wife’s Israeli slave girl. This prophet of God is said to have healing power she says, “He will make you whole!”.
i. You could say that Elisha’s story caught the attention of Naaman.
1. Elisha’s story definitely had impacted this Jewish slave girl!
ii. He discovers hope in the midst of a hopeless situation.
1. In those days there was no cure for leprosy like there is today. He needed a miracle and this girl told him where he could find that miracle. In Israel!
iii. So here is his long shot for a cure- He hears about a man of God who has healing power in Israel and he seeks the permission of his king to go to him for help with his disease.
1. The king agrees and sends off a letter to the king of Israel to assist Naaman in his quest for a cure.
iv. The power of a person’s story is once again revealed in these few lines of Scripture.
1. The Jewish slave girl’s story!
2. Elisha’s story
3. Naaman’s wife’s story
4. Naaman’s Story
5. The King of Aram’s story
6. The king of Israel’s story
a. I could propose the following question to all of us today?
i. “Do people talk to others about you and what you are doing for God in other places?”
ii. “Is your story spreading around the world?”
iii. “Does your story give hope to the hopeless?”
T.S – We leave scene two with hope for a hopeless situation and Naaman is packing up his chariot with treasure and him and his entourage head out on a mission of hope.
iii. Scene 3: The Journey
a. Naaman request for help and assistance is okayed – he heads out.
i. The king agreed to him finding a cure for his disease!
1. He most likely loves his famous and successful general and writes a letter to the king of Israel.
2. He drafts a letter to the king of Israel for his help.
ii. The king of Israel’s response:
1. This self centered king of Israel gets mad, angry and then fearful and thinks it is a trick!
a. Interesting response instead of thinking of sending him to Elisah he goes into wailing – a pity party??
b. What with this?
c. The King of Israel is so consumed with himself so much he thinks it’s all about him.
d. Instead of seeing an opportunity to help someone he instead believes it’s a conspiracy – a set up for a fight!
b. Naaman sets out on his journey toward healing and Elisha hears of the kings unreasonable response to his request. The grieving and mourning!
i. Elisha desires to help and tells the king of Israel to send Naaman to him.
ii. Naaman shows up in grand style to meet the famous healing prophet.
1. He has money, treasures, a entourage of men and chariots.
2. It’s like the president coming to town with his parade and it stops in front of a little hut and everyone gets out.
iii. But this famous prophet does not even show his face!
1. Instead of coming out to meet the famous general he instead sends his humble servant out to him who tells him to go wash in the muddy Jordan River seven times and he will be healed.
T.S. – Imagine this scene at the lowly house of Elisha the famous warrior is outside with his mass entourage and Elisha does not even go out to meet him. Naaman is use to special treatment or a least acknowledgement he gets none. This presents a pride dilemma for our hero. Let’s move to this scene:
iv. Scene 4: The dilemma
a. Another problem arises in midst of the solution to the original problem!
i. Naaman gets mad at the solution to his problem and thinks this is so stupid!
1. He has been snubbed by this great prophet who shows him no respect or honor.
ii. He does not come out and wave his magic wand or say a few words of prayer over him.
1. A servant says to him: Just “Wash in the Jordan river 7 times!” Are you kidding me!
a. I am a great general highly revered.
i. I deserve respect and honor!
b. Besides the waters were he came from were cleaner and greater than a muddy Jordan river.
c. Show picture.
i. Wash in that mud hole?
iii. I am sure He thinks – “You cannot get healed this way!”
1. Naaman wanted the quick fix and a big magical ceremony for his healing – washing in the river was a waste of time to get a healing from leprosy. This is a joke – the guy is fraud! The slave girllied to him to make him look like a fool!
a. Besides the Jordan was not a pretty river!
2. Naaman actually refused to follow the plan for his healing! He did not believe that following the prophets instruction would lead to a miracle from God.
a. He had a better plan!
i. How about you? Are you like Naaman where everything has to align with your thinking? Are you refusing to follow the plan of God for your healing because it seems foolish? Are you thinking that you deserve a better plan?
ii. Maybe it’s associated with the pal for salvation laid out in this prophetic book!
1. Many want to follow their own plan for spiritual renewal yet it’s their plan not God’s plan and it will not work!
T.S. – Scene 4 ends with Naaman marching off mad and upset. Enter Scene 5 and some servants who decide we need to talk to our master.
v. Scene 5: The wise advice
a. His traveling companions try to reason with him, maybe you should give it a try?
i. Is it not good to have friends or companions who confront you when you want things only your way?
1. Who say – maybe this guy – this prophet knows what he is doing?
2. Maybe you should listen to his cure for healing?
3. It may sound odd and even strange but it’s worth a try right?
4. Maybe you need to humble yourself and take a dip in the water of the Jordan river seven times?
5. Beside we traveled a long way for this moment in time to throw it away?
T.S. – Scene 5 leaves our hero of the faith at a point of decision do I believe and go or go back home returning the same way as I left? Scene 6 becomes the climax of the story – the point in the story when you cry and clap for joy.
vi. Scene 6 - The final solution: The cure
a. Naaman listens to his traveling friends and companions.
i. He goes and he washes 7 times and his healing surfaces.
1. He made the trip to the river to receive his complete healing and he finds it.
2. I am sure he wept cried, rejoiced and danced!
3. I am sure his servants gasped in amazement at the miracle they watched happen before their eyes!
4. Naaman found his healing! It came from the God of Israel in a muddy river! It came through a prophet he never met face to face. It came in such an unusual and illogical way!
ii. The symbolism and parallels to the New Testament
1. The symbol of the cleansing power of sin is eluded too in this story.
a. Leprosy has been associated with what the sin nature does to a person’s body, soul and spirit. It slowly eats it away until it is destroyed.
b. It’s painful and merciless and its effects are devastating.
c. It will cause you to be cast out from society and it will cause you to become debilitated.
2. Preaching Today shares the following illustration from Lord of the Rings trilogy:
a. Tolkien’s character - Gollum. What a great name. Just from the sound of it, you can tell that it is attached to a ne’er-do-well. Gollum is the slimiest character in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you are a true-blue fan of the books, you know that originally this character was a Hobbit named Smeagol. But his obsession with possessing the Ring deformed him into Gollum, a name he got after his habit of making "a horrible swallowing noise in this throat." According to a collection of literary authorities quoted on Wikipedia, Smé agol "still vaguely remembered things like friendship and love, while Gollum was a slave to the Ring who knew only treachery and violence." As Aragorn states: "His malice gives him a strength hardly to be imagined." This is precisely what happens to people tangled in sin. Their names might as well be changed, because they have become what they live for. Their greatest strength becomes their capacity to sin! Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois; sources: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (Houghton-Mifflin, 1999); http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gollum
iii. The Jesus factor and the Jordan River’s story: Years later the Savior of the world himself would be baptized in this same river. Many famous biblical characters would find their spiritual healing in this same river. Odd way to show that you have been renewed and regenerated by dipping in water or maybe it was designed by the Lord to tell your story? Could that be the real reason for water baptism to tell your story and in a sense His story over and over again?
1. Scripture Text:
a. Matthew 3:13-17:
i. 13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.
14But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
b. Luke 3:21-23:
i. 21When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
22and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
c. John 1:29-34:
i. 29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’
31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
33I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
34I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
ii. Jesus modeled for us the importance of baptism for the testimony of our spiritual healing and cleansing by the Lord!
2. Paul shows us how Baptism tells our story in Romans 6:
a. 1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
b. Romans 6 is a chapter that focuses on the symbolism of Water Baptism.
i. Today toward the end of our service we will have a Water Baptism service were three people will tell their story though this act of obedience to Jesus.
ii. Today people like you and me have decided to follow Jesus’ instruction to “repent and be baptized.”
iii. Mark 16:15-16: “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
c. Peter in the book of Acts 2:38 states, “Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
d. Paul in our text today is also saying the same thing that we need to repent of our sin and be baptized because this was and is the instruction of the Lord. He talks about the symbolism behind the act of Water Baptism:
e. See power point slide.
iv. Baptism is defined as baptizo which comes from the Greek word bapto or to dip. This word was frequently used to designate the cleaning of an object by dipping it into water.
v. Steve Atkerson states this about Water Baptism: The OT is replete with examples of ceremonial cleansings accomplished through the use of water (Nu 19:11-21; 31:21-24). Thus, the Jews were not surprised that John the Baptist used water graphically to portray repentance and forgiveness of sins (Mk 1:4). Further, water is nature’s detergent, a cleansing agent well suited to the symbolism of purification.
vi. Notice how Ananias told Paul to "be baptized and wash your sins away" (Ac 22:16), and that Peter associated baptism with forgiveness in Ac 2:38.
vii. Paul used this same Greek word in Romans 6 to signify the same process occurs in Water Baptism.
T.S. – We have observed Naaman’s healing and now as we progress to scene 7 we see how grateful he is for his healing and his restoration.
vii. Scene 7: The Gratitude
a. Naaman wanted to pay Elisha for his healing but Elisha refused payment from the rich general.
1. Because God’s acts of healing and restoration are always free!
b. This whole story shows how the Lord’s free gifts and miracles of restoration and healing can change a person’s life forever.
i. Naaman took dirt back with him to spread on the ground where he had to worship bow to another god as part of his service to the king of Aram. But he let Elisha know that when he was there prostrate before the false god he in essence would be worshipping the true God.
ii. Kneeling on His holy ground!
iii. He was so grateful and thankful for his healing and restoration.
1. It changed his life and who he worshipped!
2. This is why his story is recorded in the Bible!
c. How about you today are you really thankful for what the Lord has done for you on the cross? In your salvation?
i. Have you chosen to serve Him only and to follow His commandments to repent and be baptized?
ii. Have you decided to live like a believer? Read the rest of Romans 6 and we see Paul telling us that we should be living different types of lives as baptized believers!
Final Scene: The Conclusion:
The truth is if Naaman would have never obeyed then he would never have been healed!
He had to do it God’s way no matter how foolish it sounded to get his healing!
We also must follow God’s plan for spiritual healing and lose our own plan for spiritual healing and renewal.
Because Naaman did what God wanted him to do he was the only person in this era to be healed of leprosy! God could instantly heal you like he did the man at the pool of Bethesda but maybe God is telling you that He has a specific path He wants you to walk down to receive your healing. So don’t be discouraged, don’t lose hope in your healing find out the path the Lord wants you to take and walk it out – take the journey toward healing today – take the first step! Go were God sends you.
Do you need to forgive someone?
Do you need to repent of some sin?
Do you need to take a certain action?
Do you need to believe?
Do you need to obey?
Do you need to change the direction of your life?
Do you need to _____________________________?
Healing is a choice and sometimes God tells us that we must choose to follow His directions for our healing – are you willing?
Maybe it’s a diet plan?
A healthy lifestyle?
Are you looking for spiritual healing and cleansing? Then I challenge you to accept the Lord today and then be baptized.
It may seem foolish or even illogical but it is God’s command for you to receive your spiritual healing and restoration.
Yes, it is a choice to be baptized in water and to follow the commandments of the Lord Jesus.
Point: Naaman was willing to humble himself and it changed his life, it brought him the healing he was seeking in a foreign land from a foreign God. It opened his eyes to the truth of the true God in this world. He met Him and dedicated his life to him as a result of his miracle.
God is willing to heal if we are willing to obey! God will cleanse us of our sin condition if we follow his odd but divine plan to spiritual healing and renewal.
The point of Naaman’s Story does have a message:
God is willing to spiritually heal us if we are willing to obey! God will cleanse us of our sin condition if we follow His odd but divine plan for salvation.
Are you willing?