There is a wonderful story in 2 Kings Chapter 5. You may know the one… The cast of characters includes a true prophet of God, a small Israelite girl kidnapped from her home, and a high ranking commander in the Syrian army who is badly in need of a wash! Well, seven washes to be correct, but that’s getting ahead of myself. As the story unfolds I’m sure you will agree with me that there is, in this passage in 2 Kings, a wonderful picture of salvation and the need to come to God on His terms. Let’s have a look!
2 Kings 5:1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the
Right from the start of this chapter we are introduced to our main character. You might know him. His name is Naaman and he is a man who has it all. You see, through his hard work, courage, and dedication, Naaman has risen to the top! He is the commander of the Syrian army and has earnt the respect of all around him. He has got wealth, power, and honour. In short, Naaman is a winner! Who could ask for more you say? He has got it all… well, apart from that one small ‘but’ that scripture reveals…’but he had leprosy’!
I said in the previous paragraph that you might know him. To be more accurate, you might know many ‘Naamans’… They are people that seemingly have it all! They have wonderful homes, wonderful jobs, and wonderful families, and yet there is emptiness inside. In short, there is always a ‘but’! Now, in scripture, leprosy is often used as a picture of sin, and as such, it gives this whole passage a whole lot more meaning for us. You see, we all know people who despite their elevation in the eyes of the world, still have not answered the question of their own sinfulness, their own leprosy. So let’s look at how Naaman had to deal with that question.
2 Kings 5:2-5 Now bands from
Leprosy is incurable. Naaman knew that. You
can imagine his surprise then when he heard from a small Israelite girl that
she knew someone who could cure the incurable! Here was this girl… kidnapped
from her family and taken as a slave into a foreign land. And yet her simple,
yet rock solid faith in God and His prophets never wavered. For Christians, their
responsibility is to play the role that this girl did. That is, to point the
way, in simple faith, to the only one who can help… God! ‘I know a man who can
cure you’ she said. ‘The incurable is curable when God is involved!’ And so it
is with ‘curing’ the burden of sin that weighs upon all that don’t know the
Lord. For man it is an immoveable load. Yet God can move it. So an
excited Naaman set out! And with him he took gold, silver and ten sets of
clothing. ‘Materialism’ had served him well in the past… why not this time?
‘Surely he should pay for his cure’ Naaman thought to himself. Well, we’ll see
if Naaman’s money was going to help him later. In the mean time, let’s look at
the reaction of an ‘unbelieving’ king of
2 Kings 5:6-8 The letter that he took to the king of
So Naaman came to
2 Kings 5:9-12 So Naaman
went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
Elisha sent a messenger to say to
him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the
So Naaman finally arrives at the home of
Elisha. Unfortunately, Naaman brought his high horse with him. It was his
favourite, and one that he was reluctant to get off! You see Naaman, as we have
already seen, was held in very high regard. Both by those who knew him in
2 Kings 5:13-14 ‘Naaman’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, ‘
The New Testament tells us of something called ‘the offence of the cross.’ In a similar vain, it speaks of the ‘stone of stumbling’ and the ‘rock of offence’. (See Gal 5:11, Rom 9:33, 1 Pet 2:8, 1 Cor 1:23) What is it talking about? What is this stone or offence that people trip up on? Well, good question, for it is the same offence that Naaman felt oh so many years ago. Naaman was offended because he was willing to ‘do some great thing’, but he didn’t want to humble himself and simply wash in a river. That was too far beneath him. It is the same for those today that come to the Lord. Salvation cannot come to those who will not humble themselves and acknowledge that there is nothing they can ‘do’ to purchase their salvation.
have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but
This remains the most crucial issue facing those who seek salvation. Who do you trust in? Yourself or Jesus? ‘Religious’ people hate this. It is as offensive to them as it was to Naaman in the days of Elisha. They always have to have their list of ‘great things’ which they have done to ‘help’ in their salvation. A simple faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus on their behalf is not enough for them.
But what about our friend Naaman… did he
come to his senses? Thankfully we read in verse 14 that he listened to the advice
of his servant and ‘went down and dipped himself in the
2 Kings 5:15-16 ‘Then 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
Here we see the response of Naaman after his healing. He finally sees that the God of Israel is the only true God in the entire world. And isn’t that the truth! He also felt that he should, in some way, pay for the healing he had just received, and offers Elisha a gift. Elisha is adamant however… ‘I will not accept a thing!’ The blessings of God are not for sale. They are free gifts of God to those who humble themselves and acknowledge their need of God.
Scripture says that ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ We have seen that there was healing for Naaman, but he had to get off his high horse first! So it is today. The worst of sinners can be forgiven when they come to God on His terms. How important is it that we believe the true gospel! ‘Many’ Jesus said, will come to Him at the judgement, and speak of all the great things they did. (Even things done for Jesus, and in His name). Yet He will say ‘Depart from me you workers of iniquity… I never knew you!’ Why? Because they had never truly been saved. They had never seen their lost state and their absolute need of Jesus’ work on the cross… plus nothing.
Reader, do you know that assurance of your salvation that the Holy Spirit brings to those that are His? (See 8:15-16). Have you descended from your high horse to see that your absolute need for Jesus?
 Without the Lord, all wealth, power and respect mean nothing at all. A Christian friend of our family recently asked his mother (who is not currently a Christian) what the meaning of life is. She couldn’t answer him. She had no idea. A line from an old Randy Stonehill song says ‘I don’t want my life to end, not ever knowing why it began.’ Without the Lord everything is meaningless. With the Lord everything becomes meaningful.
 The biggest ‘but’ in scripture (excuse my language!) which relates to all these people that have it all, but not the Lord, is Matt 16:26 – ‘And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process?‘ (TLB) That has still got to be the most penetrating question non-Christians can face.
 Like sin, leprosy is incurable, defiling, and fatal and one spot is enough to declare the leper ‘utterly unclean’ (Lev 13:3). In nearly all instances in the Bible where there is a miraculous healing, the leper is said to be “cleansed” (like sin). Leprosy brings separation and they had to live outside of the camp, just as sin separated us from God. (Lev 13:45-46) The leper couldn’t come back into the camp but the Priest (as a picture of Jesus) could go to him. (Yay!) Like the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, a blood offering would be made by the Priest which the leper had to be sprinkled in before he could be pronounced ‘clean’. (Lev 14:3-7)
 Peter once asked ‘who then can be saved?’ A good question! “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Like leprosy, only God can ‘cure’ the sin question and bring salvation. But we have to come to Him on His terms.
 D.L Moody said “Naaman had two diseases: pride and leprosy. The first needed curing as much as the second. Naaman had to first get down from his chariot of pride; afterwards, to wash in the prescribed way.”
 The same is true of course in carrying on in this Christian life. We love to be highly regarded. We love to think that we have something great to offer God and that He should count His lucky stars that He’s got us! It seems that pride is never too far below the surface. I read something recently however that was really cool. Well, I thought so. It was a quote from Corrie Ten Boom and spoke of the attitude that all of us should take. Corrie had a great ministry and was once asked whether she found it hard to remain humble. She replied ‘when Jesus came into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, with all the people lining up, singing praise laying down the palm branches for Jesus to go over, do you think that it was going through the mind of the donkey that ‘some of this must be for me!’ ‘If I can be the donkey that the Lord uses for his glory’ Corrie continued, ‘then all praise, honor and glory will go to him!’
And that is the attitude we should take! We are just dumb old donkeys that the Lord chooses to use for His glory!
 False religions and cults are easy to spot because they all add their own ‘works’ to salvation. Whether it be the Jehovah witnesses, the Mormons or the Roman Catholic Church… They all add man’s works, in an attempt to make themselves ‘acceptable’, to the once and for all finished work of Christ on the cross. But, as E. Stanley Jones said ‘Religions are man’s search for God; the gospel is God’s search for man. There are many religions, but only one gospel.’ God is now calling all to behold His Son. It is absolute foolishness to tell God to behold your works instead!
I had a really sad experience of this recently. My cousin’s mother in law (stay with me!) had cancer and was in the last stages of her life. She was not a Christian and began to get extremely frightened at the thought of dying. So frightened in fact, that she was afraid to go to sleep at night because she wasn’t sure whether she would wake up. As she was staying in a special home at the time she called for the chaplain. After explaining her fear of dying due to not being sure where she would go, the chaplain asked her ‘Have you been a good person?’ She replied, ‘I’ve only been to church once in my entire life.’ The chaplain then told her ‘that’s fine and when she died she would go to Heaven to be with her husband’ (who wasn’t a believer). The chaplain then asked ‘Does this help you?’ To which she replied ‘No…no it doesn’t.’ And the chaplain didn’t have anything else to tell her. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that. What an absolute idiot… giving advice on the things of God and eternity and not even knowing the very basics! A blind guide! As a sad postscript to the story…On hearing what had been said, my mother and sister planned a trip to see her to tell her the truth (she was staying in a different city) but she died before they could arrive.
 While it is outside the scope of this study to explore what happened to Elisha’s servant Gehazi, I would encourage you to read the rest of the chapter (2 Kings 5:19-27). You see, even though Elisha knew that he shouldn’t be rewarded for the miracle that God had done, Gehazi had other ideas! And through lying and deceit, Gehazi got Naaman to give him two talents of silver (approx 68 Kg!) and two sets of clothing. While, as the New Testament says ‘the labourer is worthy of his wages’ (1 Tim 5:17-18), what we see with some ministers in this age taking money and gifts way above and beyond the norm for their personal wealth is just plain sin! Look at what Elisha said to his servant Gehazi – “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money, or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or menservants and maidservants? Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and he was leprous, as white as snow.”
Today, some so-called ‘ministers’ in the church have even changed the gospel (though it is not the real gospel) to include their own greed and lust for wealth and worldliness. Be careful what you set your desire on. If you continually crave for things other than God, then He may just grant you your desire… but it will be to the detriment of the spiritual health of your soul. Ponder on these brief words from Psalm 106:14-15
“They lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (KJV)