“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. 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. She said to her mistress, ‘Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’ So Naaman went in and told his lord, ‘Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.’ 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 clothing. 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.’ 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.’
“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.’ So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 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.’ 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. 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. 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?”’ 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.
“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.’” 
Before examining the text, note an occasion when Saul defied the command of the LORD. At that time, Samuel rebuked the King of Israel, saying,
“To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.”
[1 SAMUEL 15:22b]
Hold that thought in mind as the message unfolds.
It is easy to speak of obedience, but it can be extremely difficult to obey at times. Obedience is especially difficult when we are speaking of obedience to the Living God. There are multiple reasons why obedience to the LORD’s will is so difficult. In the first place, we naturally want to be in control of our own lives. This was the essence of the sin of our first parents. We struggle against permitting someone else to rule over our lives—especially when that Someone is the unseen God. Why do you suppose the need to make Him Master is continually emphasised? If obedience to the Son of God was easy to do, we wouldn’t need to hear the repeated insistence on obedience.
You have heard me repeatedly cite the words penned by the Apostle: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” [ROMANS 10:9-10]. The initial emphasis is to openly confess that Jesus is Lord, to confess that Jesus is Master! We don’t like the idea that anyone, even Someone such as Jesus, will actually assume the right to be Master.
If we accept Him as rightful ruler over out life, then it means that we will obey what He says. Walk with me through the Gospel of John, noting the repeated emphasis on obedience to the Son of God. Here is the first passage to consider: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” [JOHN 3:36]. Believing is equated to obeying. To believe is to obey. To refuse to obey is tantamount to unbelief.
Here is an extended exchange between Jesus and the Jewish leaders. Jesus says, “‘I tell you the solemn truth, if anyone obeys my teaching, he will never see death.’
“Then the Judeans responded, ‘Now we know you’re possessed by a demon! Both Abraham and the prophets died, and yet you say, “If anyone obeys my teaching, he will never experience death.” You aren’t greater than our father Abraham who died, are you? And the prophets died too! Who do you claim to be?’ Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is worthless. The one who glorifies me is my Father, about whom you people say, “He is our God.” Yet you do not know him, but I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I obey his teaching” [JOHN 8:51-55 NET BIBLE]. Jesus called those listening to obey His teaching. Then, He equated obedience to His teaching with obeying the teaching delivered by the Father. The appropriate conclusion is that obedience to the teaching of Jesus is identified with obedience to the Father.
Now, I will move quickly to several verses of Scripture. Note them down in your notes and look at them throughout the coming week. “If anyone hears my words and does not obey them, I do not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world” [JOHN 12:47 NET BIBLE].
We also see Jesus testifying, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”
And again, we witness the testimony of the Master, “The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.
“‘Lord,’ Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘what has happened that you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him. The person who does not love me does not obey my words. And the word you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me’” [JOHN 14:15, 21-24 NET BIBLE].
The next couple of verses are especially pointed. Listen carefully to two verses, JOHN 15:10, 20 as translated in the NET BIBLE. “If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” Then, we witness Jesus admonishing disciples, “Remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too.” Jesus insists that obedience to His commands reveals love. Those who love the Master obey His Word. Those who do not love the Master treat what He commands as optional.
I am aware that obedience is difficult because we don’t naturally enjoy someone being in control over our lives. We may enjoy someone taking responsibility when things go badly for us, but obedience is something altogether different. Thus, there is a repeated refrain calling anyone who wishes to follow the Master to obey what He says.
This brings us to the message this day—a message that introduces us to a man who was not disposed to obey just anyone. We will be introduced to a man unwilling to obey what he believes to be a command that demeans his exalted position in life. Witnessing how this man came to obey resulting in rich blessing may serve to encourage each of us to review our own willingness to obey the Son of God.
THE POWER OF THE PROCESSION — Those representing the world demand obedience to their word. They appear strong, seeming to be overlords prepared to compel compliance. They attempt to awe us with ostentatious display of their wealth and with grand trappings of the authority which they wield. Making onerous demands to obtain whatever they want at the moment, they expect us to halt anything we are doing in order to give them our undivided attention. Individuals such as I am now describing are really important, if only in their own minds, and they intend to make us to recognise their importance.
How did we arrive at this point in the biblical account? What events transpired to bring together this powerful warrior from an enemy nation and the prophet of God? Naaman was a commander of the armies of Syria. He was a great man who was held in high esteem by the king of Syria. I need to take a moment to note something that may be overlooked. Look carefully at one point in the midst of the first verse of this fifth chapter of the Second Book of Kings. The divine author writes, “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” [1 KINGS 5:1a].
Did you notice that the Spirit of God reveals the means by which Naaman had achieved such great victories? God says, “By [Naaman] the LORD had given victory to Syria.” This is nothing less than a powerful acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God. Nothing happens in this world without the LORD’s permission. How humbling to read of the Son of God, “[Christ the Lord] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” [COLOSSIANS 1:15-20].
Naaman won honour and glory because God permitted him to do so. Do you imagine that those who lead the wicked nations of this world hold sway by accident? Do you actually believe that nations such as North Korea, Iran, or Venezuela hold power as they do simply because the leaders are smarter or more powerful than the leaders of more peaceful nations? Is it that their armaments are more numerous, their armed forces more fierce, their capacity to wage war less restricted than the nations of the free world? The peoples of those nations are no more evil nor more wicked than the people of Canada.
God has permitted wicked individuals to usurp power and to oppress nations such as those recognised as evil and restrictive to their populace. We can argue that this makes no sense, or that God must not have power, or that it is unfair that this should be the case. May I say, the final act in this play has not been presented. We cannot say why God permits such evil, but we hear the LORD God when He declares,
“I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the LORD, who does all these things.”
The LORD, speaking through Amos, cautions,
“Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the LORD has done it?”
Surely, humility before the LORD and acknowledgement that we don’t actually know everything is demanded in the light of this revelation. We recognise the power of evil, but if our focus is on the Living God, we do not tremble at the power manifested by those of this dying world. Powerful individuals may appear to rule over our lives, passing laws from which they exempt themselves and attempting to coerce the nation into compliance with their mad schemes, but we know there is a God in Heaven who rules over all and Who overrules all.
THE PRESCRIPTION OF THE PROPHET — According to the Word of the Lord, “Elisha sent a messenger to [Naaman], saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean’” [2 KINGS 5:10]. This powerful man presented himself for healing, and God’s servant responded by sending an assistant—an underling—to inform him of what he needed to do. Elisha directed Naaman to go dip in the Jordan seven times. If Naaman did this, he would be healed.
The Lord GOD does not prescribe difficult tasks in order for us to know His rich blessings. We are taught in the Word, and we know from experience, that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” [MATTHEW 5:45b]. God is gracious to all, even to those who do not acknowledge Him as God. Though He shall hold them to account at the last, throughout the days of life, the Lord is good to all.
I have heard sermons based on this text on multiple occasions. The text is definitely attractive to preachers. Those sermons I have heard often dealt with the necessity of baptism. The fact that Naaman was commanded to dip himself in the Jordan seems in the estimate of many naturally to tie the act to baptism. One could, I suppose, make an argument that this account somehow relates to baptism. Certainly, many preachers have attempted to make that connection.
Multiple sermons bearing the title, “Seven Ducks in Muddy Water” can be found in church literature; and many of these sermons focus on the command for believers to identify with the Risen Saviour through submitting to baptism. It might be interesting to listen to a few of the sermons that bear this title which can be found on YouTube. For the most part, the sermons are attempts to be catchy, to be humorous, though in my estimate, they utterly miss the point of the passage.
After all, baptism is commanded—commanded, and not suggested. Those who have believed in the Master are commanded to identify with the Risen Saviour in baptism. However, obedience to the Saviour is even broader than merely submitting to His charge for the initial act of one born from above. The point of the Prophet’s command is much more basic than that. Elisha was not charging Naaman to take an action based on his faith, Elisha was charging the Syrian warrior to humble himself before the LORD. At issue is obedience to the Living God.
To the natural mind, the command of the LORD does not always make sense. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” [1 CORINTHIANS 2:14-16]. Let the spiritual mind prevail so that God’s will reigns for you.
Let’s admit that the instructions Elisha delivered make no sense as we normally view such issues. Truthfully, can you imagine that it really mattered whether Naaman dipped in the Jordan? What could possible be wrong with wading out into the Pharpar in order to dip himself, or going out into the Fraser, for that matter? Water is water, isn’t it? So would it have made any difference where he was to dip himself? What practical difference could it make where Naaman dipped himself? To the mind of modern Bible readers, where Naaman was to plunge into the water couldn’t be all that big an issue.
However, I invite you to read a passage of Scripture with me, and allow me to make a point concerning God’s will. The LORD instructed Moses, “You shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
“You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you. But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, then to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male servants and your female servants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, but at the place that the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you” [DEUTERONOMY 12:5-14].
Did you notice the repeated emphasis upon “there?” God appointed a place where the people were to worship, to bring their gifts and to rejoice before the Lord. “There” was a place where God would bless—there and no other place! Note the care with which the LORD framed his command: “Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, but at the place that the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.” If the people decided that they had found a better location, it would not be the place God chose. Consequently, though they could go through the motions, they would not be in the place the LORD designated, and they would not be blessed. God appointed a place and there they must go if they would enjoy His blessings.
Just so, the man of God commanded Naaman to go to the Jordan and dip himself in the Jordan—the Jordan and no other river. Had he chosen to return to Syria, he would have disobeyed God and forfeited the healing that God had for him. If you choose to do what you want to do rather than obeying the Lord, you must know that you are sacrificing the blessings that God has reserved for you. Your blessing will be found and given at that place where you are appointed to be, and in no other place. You are responsible to do precisely what God commands, and avoid doing what you want.
Let me be somewhat pointed in pursuing this matter. You are not to work in the place where you want to be, but you are to seek God’s permission so that you do what He wants for your life. You are not to worship at “the church of your choice;” you are to worship at the church to which God appoints you! You are not to seek to gratify your own desires; you are to seek to honour the Lord your God.
Multitudes of young men and young women have sacrificed the blessings God sought to give them for a momentary fling with someone who wanted only sexual gratification. Is that plain enough? Multitudes of parents have surrendered their children to the world in order to have momentary peace. They allowed their children to act foolishly rather than being parents and making hard decisions. Fearing that they might drive their child away, they did drive their child from God because they feared the child more than they feared God. Multitudes of fathers have sacrificed the rich blessings of God because they didn’t want to do the hard work of investing time in their children as God expects a father to do. Multitudes of church members wonder why they have few blessings even though they do not honour the Lord with their time or their lives.
THE PRIDE OF THE PATIENT — “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. 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” [2 KINGS 5:11-12].
“I thought!” Those two words reveal the problem Naaman had with this affair. God graciously gave this warrior what he sought, but God’s gracious gift didn’t build up Naaman’s pride. Despite God’s goodness, Naaman wasn’t able to feel good about himself. How many people refuse the life Christ offers because it doesn’t allow them feel good about themselves! People are proud and they seek a means of salvation that will allow them to keep their pride. Let me move the needle toward the attitudes of those who profess to know the Lord. How many people fail to receive God’s best gifts because they are insulted! How many people never receive God’s richest blessings because they don’t like the way in which God is directing their lives! We often appear determined that we can do a better job directing our lives than God does. Here’s the question that must be answered—when God directs us, are we not responsible to do what He commands? If we are seeking a gift from Him, is it not our responsibility to receive what He offers? If we seek a blessing, doesn’t it make sense that we should obey what He commands?
The text informs us that Naaman was angry. In fact, the Word of God emphasises his anger by informing us that he “went away in a rage!” We might legitimately question what did he have to be angry about? What had happened to enrage this great warrior? The prophet of God had sent him an answer when he presented himself for healing, but the mighty man didn’t like the answer he received. Perhaps it is more accurate to say he didn’t like the manner in which the answer was delivered. Even a cursory examination of what is written reveals that Naaman was angry for the same reason we often become angry when things don’t go according to our expectations. Naaman was offended because the man of God didn’t recognise how important he was. Elisha didn’t pander to Naaman’s status in life. The warrior’s pride led him into the dark precincts of anger, just as our own pride causes us to stumble. Look at his pride as it is on display.
Naaman grumbled, “I thought that [the prophet] 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.” When the complaint is voiced, the phrase “I thought” leaps out at us. And how petty is his reason for discontent. Naaman was expecting the man of God to make a fuss over him. He expected deference, and he received none. The prophet didn’t recognise him for his position or for the wealth that he brought with which to pay for healing. “I wanted him to show me a little respect,” the warrior groused. And like a gang-banger who always has a chip on his shoulder while living on the mean streets of some inner-city neighbourhood, Naaman felt dissed! He was angered because his pride was wounded. Much as is the case for many of us, Naaman’s feelings overwhelmed his ability to think logically. Therefore, he was piqued, but good!
Having expressed his anger at what he perceived to be a personal slight, he than complained that his pride had been wounded over the way his homeland was ignored. “My rivers are better than this muddy stream,” he muttered. Actually, Naaman objected, “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?”
Isn’t it amazing how we take such pride in things over which we have no control? “The Fraser River flowing beside Vancouver is better than the Trinity River running through Dallas,” we argue. Either provides a channel to move the runoff from the rain that falls. Either yields opportunities for recreation and comfort for those availing themselves of such. “Catfish taste better than Coho salmon,” we assert with confidence. I enjoy both, and so does anyone who eats these culinary delights. How foolish!
We are proud of where we were born, proud of our political heroes, proud of so many things over which we exert minimal control at best. We are prepared to fight over things that have no eternal worth! I don’t imagine that I’ll manage to ever stop us from boasting about those things over which we have no control, but I do trust that we who follow the Risen Saviour will reassess what is truly important for eternity!
We who name the Name of Christ will do well to adopt the admonition of the Apostle to the Gentiles. “Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” [1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-31].
The admonition mirrors what Paul wrote in a later missive to the Corinthians. “We will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” [2 CORINTHIANS 10:13-18].
THE PERSEVERANCE TO PROCEED — “[Naaman] 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” [2 KINGS 5:14]. Surrendering to the reasonable suggestions of his servants, Naaman humbled himself and did as the Prophet of God had commanded; he went to the River Jordan, stripped off his robes, waded into the water and immersed himself seven times. Nothing happened the first six times he ducked under the muddy water, but the seventh time he dipped himself, he was healed.
We can picture the dramatic scene that took place that day. The chariot draws up to the banks of the river. The water is flowing swiftly, stained with the mud of the land. Naaman alights from the chariot, and a servant assists him in removing his garments. Stripped of all the indications of his office, he wades out into the river. The stones hurt his feet, so he steps carefully. When he is about chest deep in the water, he crouches down until the water covers his body. He quickly stands, and as the water drips off his body, he looks at his arms and hands. Nothing has changed; he is still leprous. Encouraged by his servants, he prepares to squat down again.
Again, Naaman dips below the water. Rising, he looks carefully at his arms and his hands. He looks down at his chest and belly, noting that nothing has happened. Six times he immerses himself, and six times he looks, noting that nothing has changed. He prepares to squat down in the water for the seventh time, perhaps wondering what could possibly happen. Dipping in this dirty water made no sense to him. But having dipped himself six times, nothing was to be lost if he should dip himself one more time.
He squatted down until the water covered him one more time and rose from the dark water. This time, however, there was an audible gasp from his servants lined up on the shore. As Naaman rose from the water, his flesh was no longer leprous. His skin was as perfect as the flesh of a little child. He was cured! He was cleansed!
Do you suppose there was a celebration on the banks of the Jordan that day? Did the servants of this great man break out in a cheer? Surely, there were smiles aplenty among those witnessing what happened that day. No one could explain what they had just witnessed, but clearly something momentous had just taken place. The Lord GOD of Israel had shown mercy to this man, Naaman.
In war, the worst thing a warrior can do is to refuse a command simply because he does not understand it or because he doesn’t like the command he has been given. You and I are waging a spiritual war in which obedience to our King is vital. We are reminded in Scripture, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” [EPHESIANS 6:12]. Few of us understand the power of the enemy, much less the presence of the enemy. Our foe is intelligent, powerful and persistent.
If we hope to stand firm as Scripture commands, we must learn to obey the Lord who redeems us. If we hope to actually experience victory in the conflicts we face, we must determine what we will obey the Lord. If He calls us to walk by faith and not by sight, then we must walk by faith and not by sight [see 2 CORINTHIANS 5:7]. When our Master calls us to “trust in the Lord, and do good,” then the appropriate response is to “trust in the Lord, and do good” [see PSALM 37:3]. Perhaps one of the greatest reasons we aren’t more obedient is that we are unaware of what the Lord commands. This is to our shame; it means that we have not read His Word. We are functionally illiterate, having only a cursory knowledge of the will of the Lord.
I noticed an interesting point as I prepared the message. I’ve read the account many times, but this particular matter was never obvious to me in my prior studies. When Naaman was raging because he felt disrespected, he said, “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” [2 KINGS 5:11]. I thought the prophet would call upon the Name of the LORD his God! The God whom Naaman was anticipating would show him grace, was Elisha’s God! Naaman didn’t anticipate that the LORD would be merciful to him because God is merciful; he was anticipating mercy because Elisha had power.
After the LORD had shown Naaman mercy, Naaman was changed. After receiving mercy, Naaman said, “From now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the LORD” [2 KINGS 5:17b]. The LORD was no longer the God of an austere man living in a minor country; now, the LORD was Naaman’s God. God shows mercy in anticipation that those receiving His mercy will honour Him as God.
This is the message Paul delivered to the erudite and learned Greeks in Athens when he testified, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” [ACTS 17:24-27a].
God reveals His mercy to mankind in many ways. Jesus reminds us that God “Makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” [MATTHEW 5:45]. We take His mercy for granted, but it doesn’t change the fact that God, the Creator of all that is, is kind and good. As the Psalmist has written,
“The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.”
As I’ve delivered the message today, perhaps someone who listens has thought about what the Lord expects. That someone knows that God is good, knows that the Lord has shown mercy, knows that the Saviour is gracious, and that someone knows that God calls in mercy, offering forgiveness of sin and freedom to enter into the Family of God. That someone realises the truth of the promise of God, that assures all who hear His offer, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” [ROMANS 10:9-10].
That someone has heard the command of the Master, and they are prepared to turn to him in faith, believing His promise. To such a one, we say, come now and be saved. Turn to the Risen Son of God and receive the gift of life as you believe Him, as you look to Him in faith. Christ has promised in His Word, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [ROMANS 10:13].
And that is our invitation to you—believe the Lord Jesus and be saved. Then, believing His Word, openly embrace Him and obey His command to identify through baptism. Having been baptised, having openly identified with Him in His death and His resurrection, come, join with us in the assembly where the Lord is honoured. Amen.
 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers, 2016. Used by permission. All rights reserved.