Summary: We must spend time with God in order to be more like him. His acquaintance is not made hurriedly.
Two Bags Of Dirt On Two Mules
As we break into this chapter we find ourselves in a much more pleasant time in the life of Naaman than at the genesis of the chapter. Naaman was a captain of the host of Syria, a great man with his master, honorable, and a mighty man of valour; but he was a leper. Our world is full of people who are “good” people, lead an honest and respectable lives but they are smitten with leprosy of sin. Numerous places in scripture the parallel is made between leprosy and sin.
Naaman was just such a man. Upon hearing of the man of God in Israel during his illness, he goes to where Elisha is in an effort to obtain access to his God. After a dialogue with Elisha, Naaman goes to the river Jordan to dip seven times. He is miraculously healed by the power of God. Naaman returns to the man of God full of gratitude and much humility. With a misguided thankfulness he offers the man of God a monetary blessing. This offer is immediately refused and in turn Naaman ask for one more favor. The request seems most austere; two mules burden of earth.
Why would such a man make such a request and why would Almighty God want the request forever canonized in the Holy Bible? Surely there must be a distinct reason for the remembrance of Naamans request.
It is in this passage of scripture Naaman renounces the idolatry of his nation. Clinging to a new found faith the God Jehovah, Naaman intends to proceed back to his country. He seems aware that he must posses his blessing and retain his faith while living in an idolatrous nation. Syria worshiped many idols during the dark years of the nations history. Rimmon, the God mentioned here, seems to be the God of choice during the time of Naaman. Naaman is startlingly aware that he will return to this idolatrous atmosphere. Man must have a God. If men cannot find God, they will create one to worship. The same is true of our nation/world today. Men worship sports, fashion, money, drugs, illicit relationships, and many other spirits of darkness. These “gods” are lifted up, promoted, idolized, and seemingly forced on the young people of this generation.
Back to Naaman's day for a moment, the prophets and priest of this time ministered from the altar. They did not have bible stands such as we use today in our worship services. These old testament altars were a place of slaughter. A place where the blood was spilled and the entire nature of the sacrifice consumed by the altar. Today our altar is a place of slaughter and sacrifice as well. It is in this place that we slaughter our will and our way until our nature is consumed at the altar and we arise one with the spirit of God. No doubt the dirt that Naaman took home came from a place on or near the altar of the man of God. Naaman digs enough dirt to burden two mules. One commentator said that this could have been up to one acre of loosely plowed dirt. Without controversy the amount it took to burden a mule was not digged in ten minutes with a tea spoon! It took much time, effort, and energy!
We are instructed by the Apostle Paul to posses our vessel in sanctification. Young people and young converts must posses their vessel and maintain a connection with God in a world full of idolatry. The secret to this maintenance program is spending ample time “digging” at the altar. E.M. Bounds said “God's acquaintance is not made hurriedly”. The reason so many of our Holiness young people and young couples are struggling with worldliness and seem to not be able to maintain any measurable amount of victory, is they are not spending enough quality time digging at the altar!! We like Naaman will live for and worship God in an idolatrous world. Both the quality and quantity of time spent in the altar digging for the blessings of the Lord will keep you unspotted from the world that you must live in. We cannot become a closed society. Christian school as Bro. Mayhan wrote so well about is a wonderful way to keep a child from the world. I am an advocate of this type of education. Yet the fact that at some point they must learn to exist in an idol worshiping world is inevitable. We must ensure that the quality of our altar services are maintained in such a way that our children will receive what they need from God to sustain them.
Many of the churches that go by the name Holiness are failing to maintain the things that are so precious to us. The only way for the Holiness way of life (i.e. not only out ward standards but the way of worship) will survive is when each new generation prays through to the same experiences in God as the former. They must pray until their heart, soul, and mind is engulfed with conviction that Holiness is truly the only way to God. It is my prayer that we will become stirred to put more time and effort into altar services. Let us be careful to promote our altar as the place that our young people can meet God and God can meet them. May the Lord bless and prosper those that read this.