FROM PAGAN TO RELIGIOUS LEPROSY

 

“Then he (Elisha) said to him, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.” And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow” (2Kg 5:26, 27)

 

In the Book of 2 Kings, Chapter 5 we find the well-known story of Naaman, the Syrian commander. He was a famous man; a great general in the Assyrian army.  Assyria was the archenemy of Israel. We are told that Jehovah gave Naaman victory in war for He wanted the humble His people. The general kidnapped a Jewish girl who became a house slave to his wife. Life could not have been better for Naaman. But we are told: ‘he was a leper’. With all his successes, social status and wealth, he was dying.

 

Leprosy in the Bible is described as a hated, infectious and unclean disease. It starts with a little lesion on the skin. Then it spreads and covers the whole body. It is not just the lesion that kills the person. The sickness destroys the nerves and the man loses the capacity to feel pain or pressure.

Spiritually speaking, leprosy wounds the conscience and the believer loses the capacity to feel guilty in the presence of sin. He loses the desire to repent of sin. Compromise becomes easier as time goes by.

In Naaman, this sickness describes the spiritual condition of a sinful unbeliever. We are not surprised that the enemy of the Jews is sick with an incurable disease. The surprise comes when the same leprosy is given to a believer in God, in the case of Gehazi.

The lesson here is that just like in the natural, with infectious diseases, transference of spirits is possible. Leprosy begets leprosy and the church or the pastor cannot protect the backslider. If there is un-confessed sin in the heart of the believer that creates a foot -hold for the devil and the way is open for evil spirits to attack. It is more common during prayers of deliverance. This is a fearful thought…

It is only in Christ that we are free. He that has faith in Christ, pagan or religious, and goes to Him for forgiveness of sins and cleanings, that one is saved.

 

The slave girl informs Naaman that there is a prophet in Samaria who can heal him of leprosy. Having no other option, without medical treatment for his sickness, he decides to follow the advice. He loads his horses with gifts, money, expensive clothes and with a great entourage he goes to meet the King of Israel. His Master gave him a letter of recommendation. The King of Israel gets angry at the Assyrian king for asking that he should provide his commander with a miracle. Then Elisha sends a message to call Naaman to his house and to see that ‘there is a prophet in Israel’.

O, I like the confidence of Elisha. May I do the same! May I take advantage of any situation that glorifies God! For when kings and kingdoms pass away…there is always hope in the name of Jesus!

 

Naaman arrives at the door of Elisha’s house. He stands there expecting some level of religious protocol, some hospitality from the prophet. He is used to go to the magicians and servants of the Assyrian god, Rimmon. His priests always provided him with charms and lengthy prayers of success. So, he expected something similar from Elisha. But the prophet does not even come outside. He sends a messenger to him at the door, with a simple command: ‘Dip yourself seven times in the River Jordan and you shall be clean!’ Naaman’s anger flares up. For the sake of his healing, he has humbled himself all this way, but the pride, hidden in his heart for too long exploded, ready to kill. He leaves angry, humiliated and defeated. Along the way, his servants counsel him to humble himself just once more. Grudgingly, he obeys the prophet’s command. He dips in the River Jordan seven times and comes out healed!

Immediately there is a change in his attitude and body language. Faith and miracles are ‘foreign currency’ used in heaven and on earth. No one can dispute that!

He comes back to Elisha and gratefully acknowledges that there is ‘no other God than Jehovah’. He pledges that from now on, he will only worship the God of Israel. He promises that even when he goes back home and he will be forced to attend idolatrous feasts; his heart will silently worship only Jehovah. He offers Elisha money and gifts. Surprisingly, Elisha refuses his offering. Soon, Naaman goes home rejoicing and praising God.

Then something strange happens… Elisha’s servant Gehazi decides to follow the general and ask for the gifts refused by his master. He lies that Elisha sent him. Grateful that the prophet has changed his mind, Naaman gives to him more than he expected. He comes back and hides the gifts in the prophet’s house. That is when Elisha confronts his servant about his lies, deceptions and greed. Then he pronounces a curse on him: Naaman’s leprosy shall cling on Gehazi and his descendants forever. This was the end of Gehazi ministry under Elisha. His greed destroyed his life and his destiny.

 

What are the lessons?

The first thing we learn is that nobody can deceive God. Sooner or later, sin is always punished by God. Jesus said that ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’ (1Tim 6:10). Greed is a disgraceful sin, more so when is manifested in God’s house. It is said that the way a man behaves with money tells volumes about his character. Greed destroys faith in Christ and the only platform to stand before God, ‘for without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Heb 11:6). God watches the way we handle money. He knows the people who tithe, who continually and sacrificially offer from their substance. God knows who is a giver and who is a thief in His house. He knows the wise and faithful servant who builds His house. He also knows the religious hypocrite who is reckless and foolish enough to destroy it.

Greed is connected with rebellion which is like witchcraft (1Sam 15:23). Gehazi supposed to study the words and the actions of his master. If Elisha refused the gifts, that should be enough sign to him to do the same. But the rebellion and the secret covetousness he nursed for many years manifested one day and destroyed him.

Balaam was ready to curse the people of God for the promise of reward. His greed killed him at last. The wicked king offered Daniel gold and promotion, if he can just interpret the warning on the wall. Daniel refused the offer and interpreted the writing ‘free of charge’. Even the Pharisees refused to take back the money from Judas, calling it ‘blood money’.

 

 

These are some questions: Do you experience joy when you give God something? Are you afraid you will end up poor if you work for God? Do you trust your human boss more than Jesus to reward you for your labor and sacrifice? Do you think that without stealing and cheating in business you can never be a rich man? Do you think that your pastor is a fool when he ignores money scattered on the floor? Can you control the muscle of your hands and not grab money each time you see them? Are all your dreams of success in life always connected with a lot of cash? Have you ever imagined a peaceful and successful life without having money? Do you show favoritism? Do you discriminate the poor people in your church? Do you ‘evangelize and pray’ for the rich ones more than the others?

 

Please pray for deliverance from the sin of greed! Trust that God will supply all your needs with riches free from sorrow and regret. You do not need to make others poor so that you accumulate wealth. God’s blessings are not recycled and are not borrowed. They are freely given from above, as a sign of His goodness and provision. Your blessings are independent on the blessings of others.

 

The center of this story is River Jordan. The destiny moment is the seventh dip and the healing that followed. Jordan stands for Christ. For an unbeliever, faith in Christ looks like foolishness. Their idolatry is so much more sophisticated. The natural man will never believe that salvation, healing and prosperity are hidden in ‘the muddy waters’ of the Bible. Only faith in God, in His word and in His prophets can open the gate to the supernatural acts of grace money cannot buy.

 

If you are in need for God’s touch, pray like this: “Lord Jesus, reveal to me where You are. My heart deceives me and the men betray me. The doctors have killed any hope I had in the past. The bank has taken all my money. I lost all things for Your sake…I need You! I need Your healing, Your blessings, Your prosperity. Direct my steps and my vision towards Your throne of mercy and grace. I vow to give You alone all the glory for the change in my heart and in my circumstances!

In Jesus name I pray,

Amen!”

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