But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 2 Kings 5:11
As we continue with our look at the things we can learn from unbelievers, today we have an Old Testament story about a Syrian general named Naaman. Now, years ago, this was a pretty popular story for the Sunday school set, but honestly, I can’t remember it coming up in the twenty plus years that I’ve taught. That’s too bad. There are great lessons in the whole episode. I’m going to highlight just one.
Naaman was a very successful general with important military victories under his belt. But beyond that, he was known as a man a great character and integrity. Not a believer in the One True God, but by all external measures a good man. However 2 Kings 5:1 ends with “but he was a leper.”
In the intervening verses, he gets connected to the prophet Elisha for miraculous healing of his leprosy. Elisha tells him to bathe in the Jordan seven times. That brings us to verse 11 and Naaman’s indignation. He wanted, he expected healing on his terms. But … the fact that Naaman remained afflicted betrayed how little he really knew about healing. It wasn’t until he humbled himself and followed the prophet’s — that is God’s — instructions that healing came.
The required humility and submission were two things Naaman was not in the habit of practicing. Elisha demonstrated to the general that no one approaches God without them. We are beggars before Him and not conquering heroes. We have not earned and we do not deserve the things we receive from God’s hand, whether it is the daily grace He pours out, healing from leprosy or the salvation that this healing pictures.
I see myself in Naaman. All too often I try to lay down terms and attempt to tell God how and when He should intervene. And then I wonder why things don’t change. Naaman teaches me I cannot design or dictate my own solutions. He also teaches me that humility and submission are the keys to approaching God.
And the keys to restoration.
Verse 14 says, “So he went … his flesh was restored … and he was clean.”
Let’s learn from Naaman. Let’s go, and be restored, and be clean.