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Unlikely Encounters—
As we head into summer we wanted to do something a bit different.
We wanted to touch on weird stories that are in the Bible.
So we took a survey from all of us and out of that survey we had more than enough passages to take us into September.
If you have ever read through the entire Bible you will have encountered passages that make you titlt your head and wonder why it is there at all.
What do you do when a prophet tells you to take a bath?
What do you say to a fig tree with no figs?
What happens when some young people mock a bald guy?
What is a Nephilim?
Is the witch of Endor a Star Wars character?
These are some of the things we’ll be looking at in the coming weeks.
Today we are looking at a story that is full of unlikely encounters.
Ever had an unlikely encounter?
Holiday to the Island: Headless Seal
We’ve all had unexpected encounters.
We’ve all been in situations where things did not go as planned.
In ancient Israel things did not always go as planned.
At that time the nation was known as the people of the one true God.
That was their national identity and they were proud of it and expected to be blessed because of it.
When the nation was newly formed this is the commitment they made with God.
In the story we are looking at today the nation of Israel had remembered that they were a treasure but had forgotten the commitment they made to be the treasure.
They had lost their identity because of their desire to be like the nations around them, rather than be distinct in the nations around them.
When we look at the ancient nation of Israel we see a tragic history.
As a unite people they only had three kings reign over them.
Then the kingdom was split in two with Israel in the North and Judah in the South.
Israel in the North never again had a king who followed God.
Judah had a mix of good kings and bad kings.
When the books of 1 and 2 Kings were written both groups were removed from the the land God had promised them and they were in exile.
These books were written has an historical account of the Kings and how the people of God had found themselves in exile.
Something they never dreamed would happen to them.
It was unexpected.
And they wondered where God was.
We share that story sometimes don’t we?
We forget that as followers of Jesus, we are God’s representatives on the earth, we are his children.
We are God’s people.
When we forget that and all that comes with it we find ourselves in unexpected situations and wonder where God is.
Especially if we don’t mature in our faith as individuals and a church.
In there is an unexpected story of a man named Naaman.
It is unexpected because Naaman was a Syrian army general who had accomplished a lot for his King, especially against Israel.
But he had a problem.
What is so strange about this story?
It is a record of a non-Jew a pagan, a heathen, encountering the one true God and choosing to follow him faithfully.
In my limited reading of other religions, I have not encountered stories of the enemy encountering God and becoming a faithful follower that puts the chosen ones to shame.
But the Bible does.
It’s almost like the author is saying, look, this guy from an enemy country encounters our God and does things right, is more faithful than those of us in exile.
Lets read about it in .
And explore how these unexpected encounters speak to us today.
Unexpected Encounter #1
Naaman and the Jewish slave girl
You have this amazing guy Naaman.
An Aramean, or in the Greek language a Syrian as the people of Aram came to be called.
This wasn’t a major world power like Babylon or Assyria.
These were more like a unified group of states who engaged in raiding surrounding people in order to gain wealth.
In charge of this groups army is Naaman.
His King thinks he is awesome, and the people consider him to be one of the top individuals of their people.
He was a hero.
Just one problem Leprosy.
Leprosy was one of the worst diseases of that day.
Today it is called Hansen’s disease and impacts around 12 people per year in Canada.
But with a six month to two year treatment it is cured.
In Naaman’s time there was no treatment and it could cause deformities, skin damage, nerve damage, organ damage, and left people as outcasts in their family and culture.
People assumed it was very transmittable and stayed away from folks with the disease.
So with all of his success he was an outcast an untouchable.
In an unlikely encounter a little girl who was ripped from her country and placed into slavery shows a depth of compassion to a man who she could view as her enemy.
Why would she be willing to share this hope with someone who changed her life forever.
She is an Israelite, he is an Aramean; she is a “little maiden” (naʿărâ qětannâ), he a “great man” (ʾîš gādôl); she is a captive servant, he a commander; he has fame in the king’s estimation, … she has none, for she simply “waited upon” … Naaman’s wife (cf.
Deut 1:38; 1 Sam 19:7).46
She sees someone who is suffering and has compassion on him.
She sees the ravages of a disease that makes someone a pariah and grieves for him.
She wants him healed and in her concern for him shares a possible path.
She points a lost man toward God.
Am I willing to show that same level of compassion to the people in my life?
Especially those who are my enemies?
We need people in our lives like this little girl.
Someone who has courage to speak up and who love us enough to look past our position or influence, who can speak to the core of who we are and walk with us toward God.
We need people who will speak the truth in love to us.
And we need to be those people to others.
Am I willing to point people to God.
Even if they are my enemy?
Honestly there are people, that on this side of eternity I do not want to share heaven with them.
On that side of eternity I am excited to see how God will
How many times had Naaman prayed to his god in the Temple of Rimmon.
How many times did he try to do great things in an attempt to earn healing.
How much money did he throw away on religious cures.
Instead he hears from a little girl and is asked to trust.
What other hope does he have?
He is at the end of his rope, the disease would just progress.
Not wanting to cause a diplomatic problem with Israel Naaman approaches his king.
2 Kings 5:4-
The king is favorable towards Naaman and gives him permission to go.
So like any person seeking the favor of the gods, Naaman loads up with silver gold and clothes to offer as payment for healing.
2 Kings 5:7-
Unlikely Encounter #2
Naaman and the King of Israel
What is unexpected?
The King’s of Israel, together with the priests where called on to lead the people in following God.
Instead o inviting Naaman in and remembering all that God had done for Israel, the king panics and assumes this is just a set-up to invade his kingdom.
In the book of Kings the last recorded interaction between Israel and Aram was the death of King Ahab of Israel.
The current king of Israel King Joran, does not want a repeat of that event.
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