Anglican Morning Devotion, 6 June 2021 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:3-6 (KJV)
In the days of the prophet Elisha, Syria was perhaps the mightiest power of the known world. Her armies were dreaded and feared, and her seat of power in Damascus boasted of opulent palaces and formidable defenses. There lived in Damascus a great commander of the armed forces of Syria named Naaman – highly regarded by the people and held in great regard by the king. Naaman wore robes of silk and shining armor in his daily duties as the top military leader of the land; but Naaman had a problem that he tried to keep secret. “ . . . but he was a leper.” 2 Kings 5:1 (KJV) The ‘BUTS’ of Holy Scripture are profound reversals in the narrative. That problem grew more and more difficult to hide as it grew more serious day by day. Naaman was a leper. It is likely that only Naaman’s immediate family and the king were aware of that fact.
Leprosy, like sin, is difficult to cover up. It emits a horrible odor and disfigures the body in morbid ways. It forces its victim into isolation from all other ‘respectable’ citizens. Sin likewise separates its proponents into clans apart from the righteous. Like unrepented sin, it grows until it kills its victim. Both sin and leprosy lead to death, and only God can quicken the dead. Only God could cure the leprosy of Naaman as well.
Naaman’s army had captured many inhabitants of Israel and carried them off as the chattels of war. One such captive was a young girl whom Naaman presented to his wife as a servant. Regardless of wealth, fame, or power, there remains an enemy common to the race – death – and this specter faced Naaman every moment of his waking hours. The young girl, being party to the inner circle of Naaman’s home life, was aware of Naaman’s affliction and pitied the good master. She opined to her mistress, “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.” 2 Kings 5:3 (KJV) This word having reached the ears of the king, Naaman was sent to the king of Israel with letters of introduction and gifts of great value requesting that Naaman be cured of the leprosy according to the word of the young girl.
The king was terrified believing that the Syrian king was trying to provoke a war by asking the impossible, but Elisha the prophet sent for Naaman to come to him for healing. Elisha lived in very common circumstances and was a man of plain and simple quarters. Naaman arrived before Elisha’s door with a large entourage fitting a great field commander. “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.” 2 Kings 5:10 (KJV) Now, Naaman had perhaps seen the antics of too many TV evangelists in their fake healings. Naaman took umbrage at this simple and informal approach. He 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) Moreover, the little Jordan River was nothing to compare to the mighty rivers of his homeland; but his aides insisted that there could be no harm in trying this simple counsel. Naaman acceded to obey Elisha. He bathed in the Jordan seven times and, not until he emerged the seventh time was his leprosy cured.
He returned to Elisha offering elaborate gifts, but Elisha was the servant of God and not of any man, so, he refused the gifts. This might be a rare quality in men who claim the call of God in their lives today.
But the story of Naaman is one of the simple solution of God over the elaborate and ceremonious antics of man. The solution to the cure of the deadly case of leprosy started with the counsel of a young girl and ended in an unimpressive bath in the Jordan Waters. God’s answer is always the simple solution but the one and only solution rejected by modern man. Biblical truth, whether uttered from the lips of a child or an aged sage, is truth nonetheless.