All preachers, teachers and pastors should be called by God to office, otherwise they are fakes. Genuine men of God speak from God through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Here we see this in Elisha, and we also see the folly of not listening to such men... the end result was awful, and it affected everyone in the family. We either believe God totally, or we deceive ourselves and do not.
In this chapter we see an unbeliever receiving mercy from the Lord, whereas a man of His chosen people was judged for his sin. Never assume you are safe from God’s wrath just because you are saved! God does not always warn His people of pending judgment or doom. The scale of the sin we commit is not the decider of our fate. God will cause us great harm for a seemingly small thing, if we claim to be His and yet continue to sin. He will then visit upon us a judgment that might cause grave change in our lives. We must then thank Him for not sending us death, and immediately repent and change our lives!
Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
Here, we read of God helping a Syrian general, even though he was not an Israelite. It is assumed by Christians that God restricts Himself only to His chosen people, but it is a wrong assumption. It is likely that God helped Namaan because of his upright character, but, also, to show Syria there is only one true God.
Naaman was general over the Syrian army, much respected by the king; an honourable man and a powerful warrior. The most interesting fact is that he led the Syrian army to success, but the victory was given by God. One thing was wrong, though – he was a leper.
We do not know if the leprosy he had was the same as the disease we read of elsewhere, for the term ‘leper’ can be applied to many skin complaints that produce dry white skin. However, we may assume that the complaint was serious – at least to Namaan – even if it was not the deadly leprosy. The condition of leprosy (the disease we think of) is not easy to catch, but the people never took chances. Obviously, such a disease would have played on Namaan’s mind greatly, whether it was the socially-isolating disease, or one that caused him great discomfort and anxiety. It is my view that he did not have the same disease we usually call ‘leprosy’, though he probably had a serious skin complaint. (See verse 18 as evidence).
And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
After one battle against the Israelites, a very young Israelite girl was taken as slave and given by Namaan to his wife. After a while the slave girl told her mistress that if Namaan went to Elisha in Samaria, he would heal Namaan of his leprosy. Another servant went and told Namaan of the little girl’s words.
Namaan told the king, who readily agreed that he should go to Samaria. He would give him a letter of commendation to the king of Israel, seeking safe passage. Along with a small band of his soldiers, Namaan took a great deal of silver and gold, plus ten rich garments. Namaan first visited the king of Israel for his agreement.
And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
Unfortunately, the king did not quite get the gist of the letter, which he took to say that he, the king, could heal the leprosy. So, he went into a rage, thinking the king of Syria must have been mocking him, and saying ‘Am I God, who can heal leprosy?’ The Israelite king thought the Syrian king was trying to start another battle.
The account of the incident quickly reached Elisha, who sent a message to ask the king to send Namaan to him for healing. Why? So that once healed, Namaan would tell others that there was a true prophet in Israel, and, therefore, a true God. This is why Jesus did so many miracles – to prove that God was real, and that He had power over the whole world. Every man called to teach, preach or pastor, has a duty (and hopefully a zeal) to tell the world that God is real and has total power, even when evil men dominate for a short season. These are the ‘true prophets’ of God.
So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
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.
Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
The king saw sense and sent Namaan to Elisha. Instead of coming to the door himself, Elisha sent a messenger, possibly Gehazi, to tell Namaan what to do. He was to wash himself in the river Jordan seven times (the number of God’s perfection). After the seventh wash his skin would be clean and healed.
Namaan was very angry. He was a great general and yet this prophet did not bother to even answer the door to him! Namaan expected the prophet to call out to God to heal him. But no – he sent a message by a servant! He shouted that there were two rivers in Damascus, probably cleaner than the river Jordan… he could have washed in them, instead! How angry he was! Are not many Christians like this – calling on God, but when they receive an answer they do not expect, they have doubts and even anger? In my experience God gives answers in very unexpected ways. We must not bind God to our own answers, but must follow His divine will.
And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
As he raged, Namaan’s servants came to him and advised him to reconsider. ‘If Elisha had given you a very difficult task to perform, you would have done it – so surely just washing in a river was no hard task if it brought healing?’
The great general thought about it and went to the Jordan, and did as he was told by Elisha. And so he was freed of his affliction and healed. Grateful, he went back to Elisha to thank him. “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel”. Thus, Elisha had brought about what he wanted the miracle to do.
The general offered Elisha the riches he had brought for him. No doubt they would have made him comfortable for life. Elisha refused the gifts, even though Namaan tried to get him to accept, probably because it was God and not he who healed Namaan. Also, no man could then say Elisha only prophesied for money.
And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD.
In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.
And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
The response of Namaan at first seems odd and unintelligible. If Elisha would not accept riches, would Elisha allow him to remove earth from his garden to put on the backs of two mules? The earth would be taken back to Syria as a reminder of God’s power and compassion, and to build an earth altar. Namaan promised that his worship will no longer be directed at false gods, but will only be for the one true God of Israel.
But, like so many who do not really understand the jealousy of the Lord, Who allows no other gods before Him, Namaan asked Elisha to forgive him when he has to enter the temple of the false God, Rimmon, with his king. In doing so he would have to bow before the false altar. (Rimmon was the god of wind, rain and storm, and was the god of Syrians).
Note that Elisha did not commend Namaan for doing this. He simply said “Go in peace”, and Namaan went on his way. None of us can commend or accept this kind of behaviour. A man has received cleansing of his bodily ailment and says he acknowledges the greatness and uniqueness of the Lord... and yet he openly says he will have to worship a false god with his king! Many Christians are like this. They do not worship false gods, but they indulge in acts and speech that may as well let them do so! God does not bless such activity.
But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?
And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.
And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.
Gehazi then embarked on a short venture that would ruin him. He thought Elisha was wrong to refuse riches from Namaan, so he ran after him to get something of value. How many think they should accept payment from those who are given compassion by God? In the past I have refused large payments, because the giver would otherwise have involved me in his own sins or false beliefs. Be very careful who you accept presents from! Or, any other help! There are those who wish to tie you up with ‘strings’ of obligation, and this should never be so for the child of God. Something is either a godly gift or it is not! Elisha recognised the danger in accepting riches from this general, so refused them. His servant, however, did not understand.
Namaan saw Gehazi running after him, and got down from his chariot to greet him, asking if everything was alright. The servant said all was well, but then he lied. He said that Elisha was expecting two young prophets from Ephraim. Could the general give Elisha two sets of fresh garments for them and a talent of silver? Now, the arrival of two prophets, may, or may not, have been genuine. But, true or not, the message was NOT from Elisha.
The grateful Namaan gave Gehazi two talents of silver, one in each bag, and handed them to two servants to carry. When the servants reached the tower, Gehazi took the gifts from them and they went after their master. Gehazi then placed the gifts in Elisha’s house. (The ‘tower’ was a fortress – the city of Samaria). We do not know if Gehazi wanted the goods for himself, or if he simply wanted Elisha to gain from them. He would soon discover the folly of his actions.
But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.
Gehazi then went into the room where Elisha was. Elisha asked him where he had been and Gehazi again lied, saying he had not gone anywhere. Elisha knew in his heart (information given to him by the Holy Spirit) what Gehazi had done. He said that Namaan had stopped his chariot to talk with Gehazi. Was it time, asked Elisha, to get a reward of money, or clothes, or oliveyards, or vineyards, sheep, oxen or servants?
Many ‘ministries’ today exist not for the benefit of subscribers, but for the enrichment of the ministers behind them. This could be of money, of continuous gifts, of a lavish lifestyle, or even of status and power. In our own ministry, we refuse to ‘market’ ourselves, for God will use the ministry to His own ends when He wishes. As a ministry, we receive virtually no gifts at all, paying all expenses from our own pockets, which are poor. The dangers of expecting money to flow in because we advertise for it are many, and we find such pleading to be repugnant. It is possible that someone at some time might consider us and send a big gift... but it will not be sought and will not be allowed to change our direction, or influence content of the ministry. Gehazi, by his two lies, subverted the purity of Elisha’s ministry.
We do not know if Elisha was angry, or just very disappointed. Nevertheless, Gehazi was now to know the wrath of God for his duplicity. Elisha told him that the leprosy taken from Namaan would now be put onto Gehazi and even into his whole family line for all time. Immediately, Gehazi was infected with the leprosy and his skin became white as snow. God made him a leper for his sin.
Could your problems be from God for your sins? It is possible. This is why we all ought to live holy lives and repent when we sin. God will not be mocked, and we will not get away with secret sins. Think carefully and act wisely. Never underestimate the lies of our own souls; listen to those men of God who counsel you to do, or not to do, something... they know more about people and sins than you might imagine.
© January 2016
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Please 'Make a Donation' to support the work of Bible Theology Ministries