But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
2 Kings 5:11 (KJV)
I thought – YHVH doesn’t always act in ways we think He should. There is a valuable lesson here. We can so easily place ourselves in the shoes of Naaman, because often enough, God doesn’t live according to our expectations.
Read the story of Naaman again. He was not an Israelite, but rather the captain of the army of Syria. He was honorable, valorous, and God used him to enact His will on the earth (2 Kings 5:1). This can be us, right? We may not be born as an Israelite, and many of us might be Gentiles, but we’re honorable, virtuous, and God uses us for His will – but we have a problem. Naaman was a leper, and we individually might have our own challenges, but as a community our problem is disobedience.
So Naaman goes to the door of Elisha because he knows that Elisha can heal him of his disease. But instead, Elisha doesn’t come to the door, he sends his messenger to speak to Naaman. The messenger tells Naaman to simply dip himself in the Jordan river 7 times and he will be healed. And Naaman gets upset. Can we see ourselves again? We stand at the door of the greatest prophet ever, Yeshua, and knock. But most often, it’s not him that answers, but rather a simple no-named messenger which He sends. And the messenger gives us a message that requires obedience.
Naaman expected more. He expected the great prophet to appear, call on the name of God, and strike his hand over the place. He expected a big show. Again, aren’t we just like him? We expect a big show in church. There should be a prophet who comes out and shakes his hands and calls on the name of God. Then we’ll listen, and only then will we be obedient. But a simple messenger? Are you kidding?
And so the messenger tells Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan river. Naaman’s reply is that aren’t his waters better than the waters of the Israelites? Can’t he just wash in them? Here we are again. These messengers speak of returning to the waters (word) of the Israelites (the commandments of God) and wash ourselves therein. And healing will come through obedience. But we might reply that our waters (our way and rules) are better. We don’t need the laws given to Israel. We’re different.
But finally a servant of Naaman approached and suggested that if the messenger asked something difficult, he would have done it, but the messenger only required something easy to do. The correlation continues. Doesn’t John teach that the commandments of God are not grievous? (1 John 5:3)
Naaman concedes and washes himself in the Jordan… and he is healed, completely. He humbled himself before the Almighty and washed himself in the waters of Israel. This step is yet to come in our community. Right now we’re still expecting the big show. Until we humble ourselves and heed the advice of the messengers, we’ll never see a complete healing.