Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 King 4-6; Luke 24:36-53
9 Naaman arrived with his horses and chariots. He stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent out a messenger who said, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored and become clean.”
11 But Naaman went away in anger. He said, “I thought for sure that he’d come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the bad spot, and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t the rivers in Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all Israel’s waters? Couldn’t I wash in them and get clean?” So he turned away and proceeded to leave in anger.
13 Naaman’s servants came up to him and spoke to him: “Our father, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? All he said to you was, ‘Wash and become clean.’” 14 So Naaman went down and bathed in the Jordan seven times, just as the man of God had said. His skin was restored like that of a young boy, and he became clean. (2 Kings 5:9-14, Common English Bible)
I love the story of Naaman. Here is a man who, because of the country where he lived was able, despite being a leper, to continue his work as a general in the army of the king of Aram. Had he been in Israel he would have been banned from living in the larger community and relegated to living with other lepers outside the walls of the city, away from protection, family, friends, work, and more. And, anytime you saw someone coming, you lived by the legal requirement to yell at the top of your voice, “Unclean! Unclean!”
Naaman didn’t have to live that way. Still, watching a flesh-eating disease slowly take parts of your body away had to be painful in more ways than one. If not for the words of an Israelite slave girl who told her mistress, Naaman’s wife, if he would go to the prophet (Elisha) in Israel she knew he could be healed.
It wasn’t long before Elisha had a visitor at his door but Elisha wouldn’t even come outside. He just gave instructions for Naaman to go bathe in the Jordan. “Go bathe in the Jordan, that little muddy creek?” I can hear him complaining. “The Jordan shouldn’t even be called a river. Why we passed greater rivers on our way here.”
Naaman was ready to head home but his servants pressed him to stay and do as Elisha had asked. The servant said, “If the prophet had asked something difficult, would you not have complied? Why are you not willing to do the simple?”
It was a good question. It was also a question Naaman couldn’t argue. Still, as I see Naaman he was ever the skeptic. He enters the Jordan and dips down in the water once, then twice, then three times. He looks at his skin and there is not change. He starts to walk out of the river but that same servant (gutsy guy) tells him, “The prophet said seven times.” Naaman returns to the water and quickly drops down four more times and gets out without even looking. But his soldiers start to gasp and point. The leprosy is gone.
Three times was not enough to see change. When God gives us instructions we must fulfill the instructions we receive. Half measures simply won’t do. We must always move forward and do as God asks, all of what God asks.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved