God's Desire to Make All the Nations Clean
Thanksgiving is this week, and the one thing that we should be most thankful for this week is God’s mercy towards sinners, because without his mercy we would all be hopelessly and forever lost. Without His mercy, there would be no hope of salvation, because no one has the ability to save us but God alone. But thankfully, God does desire to make us clean and to spend eternity with us, and He always has. Let’s look at an example in 2 Kings together.
1 Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a man important to his master and highly regarded because through him, the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was a valiant warrior, but he had a skin disease. 2 Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.” 4 So Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said. 5 Therefore, the king of Aram said, “Go, and I will send a letter with you to the king of Israel.” So he went and took with him 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. 6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, and it read: When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease. 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, “Am I God, killing and giving life, that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Recognize that he is only picking a fight with me.” 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king: “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your skin will be restored and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and left in a rage. 13 But his servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he only tells you, ‘Wash and be clean’?” 14 So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored and became like the skin of a small boy, and he was clean. 15 Then Naaman and his whole company went back to the man of God, stood before him, and declared, “I know there’s no God in the whole world except in Israel. Therefore, please accept a gift from your servant.” 16 But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, in whose presence I stand, I will not accept it.” Naaman urged him to accept it, but he refused. 17 Naaman responded, “If not, please let your servant be given as much soil as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will no longer offer a burnt offering or a sacrifice to any other god but the Lord. 18 However, in a particular matter may the Lord pardon your servant: When my master, the king of Aram, goes into the temple of Rimmon to bow in worship while he is leaning on my arm, and I have to bow in the temple of Rimmon—when I bow in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 So he said to him, “Go in peace.” After Naaman had traveled a short distance from Elisha, 20 Gehazi, the attendant of Elisha the man of God, thought, “My master has let this Aramean Naaman off lightly by not accepting from him what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21 So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and asked, “Is everything all right?” 22 Gehazi said, “It’s all right. My master has sent me to say, ‘I have just now discovered that two young men from the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them seventy-five pounds of silver and two sets of clothing.’ ” 23 But Naaman insisted, “Please, accept one hundred fifty pounds.” He urged Gehazi and then packed one hundred fifty pounds of silver in two bags with two sets of clothing. Naaman gave them to two of his attendants who carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the gifts from them and deposited them in the house. Then he dismissed the men, and they left. 25 Gehazi came and stood by his master. “Where did you go, Gehazi?” Elisha asked him. He replied, “Your servant didn’t go anywhere.” 26 “And my heart didn’t go when the man got down from his chariot to meet you,” Elisha said. “Is this a time to accept silver and clothing, olive orchards and vineyards, flocks and herds, and male and female slaves? 27 Therefore, Naaman’s skin disease will cling to you and your descendants forever.” So Gehazi went out from his presence diseased, resembling snow.
Although Naaman was unclean on the outside, he was clean on the inside because God had gotten ahold of his heart. — Although Gehazi was clean on the outside, he was unclean on the inside because greed had gotten ahold of his heart. — God then made Naaman clean on the outside and Gehazi unclean on the outside to reflect their inside. — This is not a rule to explain who has skin diseases and who doesn’t based on their hearts!! This is only an example that God gave us in a specific circumstance to teach us an important lesson. — It is not a rule God gave us to evaluate people, it is a story God gave us to help us remember an important lesson. As big a deal as the outside condition is, it pales in comparison to the condition of the inside. The outside is temporal, the inside is eternal. AND God will bring death to those who do not worship Him with their hearts, including Israelites, but He will bring life to those who do worship Him with their hearts, even Israel’s enemies, Because God desires the whole world to be saved, not just Israel. Israel was always meant to be the light in the darkness. A nation that showed the rest of the nations how to be saved. God’s desire has always been to save the entire world, from the very beginning.
Notice how Elisha stayed out of the miracle so that he would not receive any credit for it.
9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your skin will be restored and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the skin disease.
Elisha didn’t even come to the door. Naaman imagined Elisha waving his hand over his skin and causing it to be healed because he had been told that ELISHA could heal him. But Elisha didn’t do anything so that he couldn’t be credited with the healing, this is also why he wouldn’t accept any payment for the healing, but Gehazi’s greed wouldn’t let God receive all the credit, Gehazi wasn’t content with God receiving all the glory and him not getting anything out of it. It probably made it easier for Gehazi to ask him for money and clothes because Naaman was Israel’s enemy. I’m sure Gehazi didn’t have any love in his heart for Naaman. Most people don’t have love in their hearts for their enemies, but the Holy Spirit does, and when He comes to live in you, He will create a love in you for your enemies that you can’t have otherwise.
But the story doesn’t end there. Almost immediately after this story we read another encounter between Elisha and the Aramean army. We do not know how much time has passed but this story follows almost immediately after the last and it is still in the time of Elisha so it can’t have been too much time.
8 When the king of Aram was waging war against Israel, he conferred with his servants, “My camp will be at such and such a place.” 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Be careful passing by this place, for the Arameans are going down there.” 10 Consequently, the king of Israel sent word to the place the man of God had told him about. The man of God repeatedly warned the king, so the king would be on his guard. 11 The king of Aram was enraged because of this matter, and he called his servants and demanded of them, “Tell me, which one of us is for the king of Israel?” 12 One of his servants said, “No one, my lord the king. Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in your bedroom.” 13 So the king said, “Go and see where he is, so I can send men to capture him.” When he was told, “Elisha is in Dothan,” 14 he sent horses, chariots, and a massive army there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up early and went out, he discovered an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?” 16 Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 When the Arameans came against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Please strike this nation with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, according to Elisha’s word. 19 Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will take you to the man you’re looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. 20 When they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “Lord, open these men’s eyes and let them see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were in the middle of Samaria. 21 When the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “Should I kill them, should I kill them, my father?” 22 Elisha replied, “Don’t kill them. Do you kill those you have captured with your sword or your bow? Set food and water in front of them so they can eat and drink and go to their master.” 23 So he prepared a big feast for them. When they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. The Aramean raiders did not come into Israel’s land again.
Again, this is not a rule for how God always treats Israel or Israel’s enemies, but it is a specific event in history that is meant to teach us that God not only desires to save His own people, but He desires to save and care for those outside of His family, even His enemies. And that’s exactly what He did for you and me, while we were still His enemies.
8 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Twice Elisha prayed to God to open their eyes and let them see, first talking about his servant’s eyes, and then talking about the Aramean’s eyes. And that is what we must pray for as well, that people’s eyes would be opened to see God clearly and what He has done for them so that they may repent and believe. Just as God blinded Paul and Paul had to have his eyes opened, He sent him out to open other’s eyes and commands us to do the same.
15 “I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Have your eyes been opened to the truth of God. Can you see clearly His love, and mercy for you? Have you seen his hands perform miracles in your life? Have you seen Him perform the greatest miracle of all? Of coming to live within you and turning your heart of stone into a heart of flesh? Of making you into a new creation? Have you turned from sin and placed your faith in Him?