- Sermon Notes
Elisha and the Healing of Naaman
2 Kings 5:1-19
January 22-23, 2022
This story is about a man named Naaman. He is not from Israel. He’s a captain in the army of Aram. Naaman was a great man with the king of Aram; highly respected. He was valiant warrior. He was even used of the Lord when God wanted to bring strong correction to Israel by raising up an adversary against her. In other words, God gave victory to Aram because of Israel’s hard heart.
Although Naaman was a highly respected officer, he had a great trouble. He was a leper. He was highly successful. No doubt he was a hard worker, self-assured, self-disciplined, self motivated, and self-sacrificing. But none of that could help him. He had leprosy and leprosy was terminal.
Throughout history, leprosy has been a debilitating disease that was greatly feared in all civilizations. It was incurable at that time and has been incurable throughout the centuries. With modern medicine, the disease can be completely halted, but the devastating effects cannot be reversed. Today there are less than 100 cases reported in the US each year, but there are hundreds of thousands of cases reported every year throughout the world, 60% of which are in India.
Today leprosy is called Hansen’s disease. In 1873 a Norwegian doctor by the name of Hansen discovered that leprosy was caused by a bacterium. This bacterium is exceptionally resistant to antibiotics and in fact by the 1960s, the world’s only known anti-leprosy drug became virtually useless. Only by utilizing a powerful multi-drug antibiotic therapy can leprosy be effectively treated today. And that treatment may take 2-3 years to complete.
In the Old Testament, leprosy came to represent sin. Notice the comparison; there was no cure, it was progressive in nature, it was contagious, and it was fatal. There are powerful life lessons from the comparison. And just like sin, there was no known cure. It was terminal.
Interestingly, God made a provision in the Law of Moses for what a priest should do if a man was ever healed of leprosy. But leprosy was incurable. In fact, the only person in the entire Old Testament that was ever cleansed of systemic leprosy was Naaman and he wasn’t a Hebrew, he was Syrian.
This is an amazing story, filled with personal application and spiritual significance because it pictures the person and work of Jesus Christ very powerfully. Being healed and cleansed of leprosy is a picture of the salvation found in Christ Jesus. The picture here of a Gentile being the only leper cleansed is important as well.
I. Salvation is Impossible Without God
- The young servant girl of Naaman’s wife was from Israel and she knew that there was help, that there was a way for the impossible to be possible, “I wish my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”
- This young girl was raised learning of spiritual things. Her faith and her willingness to speak boldly was about to make an eternal difference in her master’s life.
- When Naaman came to the king of Aram with what the little girl had said, the king offered to send a letter to the king of Israel.
- Naaman departed for Israel with gifts of tremendous value along with the letter requesting that the king of Israel heal Naaman of his leprosy.
- When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes, a sign of deepest grief. “Am I God, to kill and make alive that this man expects me to cure leprosy?”
- In other words, this is impossible! Only God who has power over life and death can do such a thing.
- The king of Israel interpreted this as an attempt to stir up a conflict. But Elisha, the man of God, heard about Naaman and sent word. “Now let him come to me, and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
- So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, millions of dollars worth of gifts and a letter from the king of Aram. You couldn’t come with more pomp and circumstance, yet Elisha wouldn’t even see him. He sent his servant with a simple message, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.”
A. Don’t let your pride stand in the way
- What a picture of pride is Naaman. And his pride almost kept him from receiving the greatest gift of his life.
- Pride is the root of many troubles in life. People are too proud to humble themselves and it gets in the way of many relationships, including relationship to God.
- When Naaman heard the simple instruction, he became furious and stormed away saying, “I thought he would come up to me, and stand and call on the name of Jehovah, and wave his hands over the place, and cure the leprosy.”
- Naaman expected things to happen according to his way of thinking. “I thought he would do some great religious thing. But no, I must dip myself in the Jordan seven times? That’s far too simple. Are not the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel?” And he turned away in a rage.
- Naaman wanted things according to his terms. But God doesn’t do terms, you come to Him on His terms, or you don’t come at all.
- He wanted to be treated like a great man, “Give me something great to do, give me a difficult task of penance, give me some great feat that can only be accomplished by self-discipline and great self-sacrifice, and I will show you what a great man can do.”
- He wanted to be treated like a great man, but what he needed was to be treated like a leper, a man who had an incurable, life ending disease.
Illus – Jesus gave an illustration of this when He taught how important it is to acknowledge your need for a Savior. When he had called Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him, Levi then invited Jesus to his house. Many tax gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and when the Pharisees saw that, they objected… “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Mark 2:17, And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Isaiah 64:6, All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.
- Jesus confronted the pride of the Pharisees with bold words that confront our own pride as well. He spoke of tax gatherers and prostitutes that were repenting and being transformed by the preaching of John and then said to the Pharisees…
Matthew 21:31, Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.”
Illus – Everyone has a fatal disease called sin and all their great accomplishments and advancements are not able to answer their greatest human need.
Illus – A few years ago I ran into Andrew Palau and noticed a scar next to his eye. He survived of a plane crash in Jamaica in 2009. I wonder how many atheists convert when a plane crashes and they come face to face with mortality.
- Naaman was facing his mortality. He had an incurable disease and his pride almost kept him from receiving what he needed most.
B. Simply believe
- One of Naaman’s servants came near and said, “Had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then when he says to you, ‘Wash and be clean’?”
- Naaman listened to his servant. His perspective changed. He saw it differently. Pride keeps a person from seeing rightly. He came to his senses. It’s always a holy moment, when someone comes to their senses, and they see what God wants them to see.
- He went down to the Jordan and dipped himself seven times according to the word of the man of God.
- The cure for his leprosy, a picture of sin, was simple, but far beyond his own resources. He brought millions of dollars worth of silver and gold and other things, but no earthly treasure would be enough…
Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread? Why do you spend your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David…
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and let him return to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
- Many have difficulty accepting the grace of God. Could it be because they don’t want to let go of their pride?
- Naaman was a mighty man, an honorable man, no doubt a hard-working man. I’m sure he had a great work ethic. There is nothing wrong with any of these things; we would all say these are great qualities to have.
- But they won’t heal leprosy and they won’t cure sin and they can’t give you eternal salvation.
- God’s instructions are simply; simply believe. Religion is about “doing,” but Christianity is about the fact that it’s “already done.”
Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Romans 10:9, If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved;
II. You are Saved in Christ
- Naaman asked an interesting question, were not the rivers of Damascus better than the waters of Israel?
- It wasn’t about being washed in a river. It was that the Jordan was a picture of being baptized into Jesus Christ.
- This story speaks to a deeper understanding of who you are in Christ and what He has done for you in
A. Jesus heals the leprous soul
- There were verses in Leviticus 14 that instructed what the priests should do for the one who was healed of leprosy.
- Those verses were unused for 1,500 years. They studied them, but they never applied them because no one with systemic leprosy was healed in the Old Testament, except for Naaman, and he was a Syrian.
- In other words, no one had ever presented themselves to the priests because they were healed of leprosy.
- But then Jesus the Messiah came, and the impossible became possible. Lepers were healed, not just one, but many, and each time Jesus would say to them, go and show yourself to the priests… as a testimony to them!
Matthew 8:4, And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
- Caiaphas the high priest must have been befuddled. What is this? Lepers are being healed? And then, ten show up on the same day! This was such a clear testimony that the Messiah Himself was in Israel – His name is Jesus.
- In that same chapter 8 of Matthew there is something else very important to see…
Matthew 8:2-3, And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
- Jesus is willing with all his heart to heal the soul. He is willing, the question now is whether you are willing.
B. In Christ we die and in Him we live
- Leprosy is a picture of sin. Christ is God’s provision for healing from death so you and I can have life eternal.
- These verses in 2 Kings 5 are the shadow of what is revealed in the New Testament; that Christ heals through His death. But how?
- First, the obvious connection to leprosy is that sin is a fatal disease.
Romans 6:23, for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Next, when you receive Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, you are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the death of Christ.
Romans 6:3,5 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death?… For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death…
- In other words, Christ’s death was applied to you to pay the penalty for your sin because you were in Him when He died.
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Illus – We were in Adam when he sinned so that Adam’s sin is applied to us, but now we are in Jesus Christ in a similar way so that what Christ did is applied to each one of us who are in Christ Jesus.
- However, not only is Christ’s death applied to us, but also everything He did in righteousness is applied as well.
2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Illus – After Naaman was healed, he came back to Elisha and offered him a gift, but Elisha refused. So Naaman asked for two mule loads of earth so he could make an altar to Jehovah.
- What was in Naaman’s heart was a desire to offer his heart and life to Jehovah because of all that God had done for him. That is exactly what we should do as well.
1 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man [a]in the view of his master, and eminent, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but afflicted with leprosy. 2 Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she [b]waited on Naaman’s wife. 3 And she said to her mistress, “If only my master were [c]with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 And [d]Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “The girl who is from the land of Israel spoke such and such.” 5 Then the king of Aram said, “Go [e]now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he departed and took with him ten [f]talents of silver, six thousand [g]shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothes.
6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, [h]which said, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 But when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to keep alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking [i]a quarrel against me.”
8 Now it happened, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why did you tear your clothes? Just have him come to me, and he shall learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots, and stood at the doorway of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman was furious and went away, and he said, “Behold, I [j]thought, ‘He will certainly come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the site and cure the [k]leprosy.’ 12 Are [l]Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, not better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants approached and spoke to him, [m]saying, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, in accordance with the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.