“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, God 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. 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…” 2 Kings 5:9-14
On February 13, 2018, ten climbers were stranded and one lost his life on Mt. Hood in Portland, Oregon after warmer weather caused the snow on the crag of the mountain called, “Hogsback” to melt and refreeze causing it to become unstable. That, combined with blizzard-like conditions placed the climbers in peril as they attempted to descend the mountain. One climber lost his footing, and fell more than 700 feet down the mountain. He was lifted off the cliff-side by a rescue helicopter to a nearby hospital, but medical intervention was unable to save his life.
What compels a man to attack such a dangerous challenge, defying the obvious difficulties of mountain-climbing in the winter? I’ve known a few climbers who have conquered Mt. Hood, but they did it under the blessing of the summer sun, in a favorable time. What calls out to a man from the precipice of inconvenience and risk when a ‘better’ opportunity will come in time?
Naaman was a leper. Notice we say, he WAS a leper. The doom of his diagnosis can cripple a man’s resolve, or it can give it wings. Naaman’s fate moved a natural man to seek the Supernatural. It is only after you learn, “The wages of sin is death” that you begin to trust: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” As incredible as the healing is, what is as impressive to me is the faith of this captain that there could be healing by consigning his care to the God of Elisha, an Israelite, and no friend to the Syrian. Faith will motivate an ordinary man to attempt the extraordinary. “But they that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
Second to the motivation behind such an exploit I find modeled in Captain Naaman, is the ambition he possessed. He was noticeably disappointed in the humble procedures prescribed for his healing, because he was willing to do WHATEVER it took to please God and earn His healing touch.
We see character in the man that, seeing his disease and impending destruction (sin and hell) will seek redemption at all cost to himself. How easily is this man directed to the matchless, meritless grace of God! “The redemption of his soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever!” “What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and yet lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.”
Many are never awakened to this kind of action, because they are not aware of their condemnation, or else they know, and do not CARE.
Naaman was not like the many. He was a man of extreme, immediate, decisive action. He would have done whatever Elisha asked of him. He was willing to do ‘a great thing.’ Captain Naaman was an honourable man- WORTHY by man’s standards if any man ever was of this mercy. But God is no respecter of persons.
In Great Britain, emphasis is placed upon royalty and title. Lady This, Lord That, dukes and duchesses, princes and princesses, attendants, escorts, and hierarchy exist there in pomp and circumstance upon men and women of no consequence. Speaking as an American, I pass the Baron Bannside (for instance) on a sidewalk and I mistake him for a commoner. I do not detect an aura of royalty, or an air of class in a passing acquaintance- no, unless there is some herald introducing his highness, I bestow no other honor upon him than the courtesy I would grant any other stranger.
Something about God’s character toward human titles strikes me as very American. Horace Greely, founder and editor of the New York Tribune (later purchased by The New York Times), once toured Europe during the World’s Fair of 1851. It was said of him, “Since (Benjamin) Franklin’s day, no American had appeared in Europe whose ‘style’ had in it so little of the European as his, nor one who so well and so consistently represented some of the best sides of the American character. He proved to be one of the Americans who can calmly contemplate a duke, and value him neither the less nor the more on account of his dukeship.“
Contrariwise, it remains so with our Lord Jesus Christ, that, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” Really, we encounter His Grace every day, with our head, as Naaman’s, held high to receive the attention we think we are worthy of receiving, with our self-imposed, self-earned, empty titles of ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’, when we should be bent low as the King of Kings crosses our way.
The ‘great thing’ a sinner wants to attempt in his pride will leave him proud and unclean still. No ‘stars and bars’ enter Heaven, just sinners saved by grace. The Lord doesn’t expect any greater thing from him than the humbling of his pride to admit his condition, and submit to God’s conditions.
I believe many enlisted military men and women can be won to Jesus Christ if they have learned the military resolve shown by Naaman the Syrian. If only they can be directed to the God that heals the soul. God bless the motivation, the ambition, and the submission of Captain Naaman!