God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July 3 - 2 Kings 5-8: God Heals Naaman

Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 5-8

The Message

English Standard Version

Today's reading focuses Elisha and the kingdom of Israel. The last section repeats Sunday's section on the kings of Judah. I will skip that part and refer you to the other post.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Naaman wanted to worship God but did not understand how. God allowed him to worship anyway.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Elisha healed Naaman, a general in Aram, of leprosy. Naaman promised to worship only God and Elisha allowed him to accompany his master to Rimmon's shrine.
The king of Aram wanted to capture Elisha. Elisha struck the army blind, led them into Samaria, fed them, and sent them home.
Later, Ben-Hadad laid siege on Israel. Many Israelites died of starvation. The king of Israel complained to Elisha. That night, God caused Ben-Hadad's armies to flee without their possessions. Israel was saved.
Ben-Hadad, through Hazael, asked Elisha if he would live. Elisha cried because he knew Hazael wanted to destroy Israel.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Naaman's story gives an example of conversion with legacy issues.

Naaman's story is difficult for the black-and-white, all-or-nothing view of God we often have. We love the story because Naaman humbles himself to do something he considers disgusting—dip in the Jordan. However, we like to cover up is his request to Elisha for God to overlook his worship of Rimmon. Why does God grant this request? God cares more for the heart of worship than the actual acts. Naaman's heart was with God. He specifically asked for these acts to be forgiven because he wanted to keep peace at home.
What does this mean for today? Not every person will worship God in the same way at the same time. Individuals and/or families may have legacy issues similar to Naaman. If they are not able to attend the weekly meeting(s) because of these issues, God will overlook it because their hearts are in the right place. However, God's leniency should not be seen as a license to "quit church." Naaman was open and honest about both his heart and why he needed God to overlook the worship of Rimmon. Before a person decides to stop attending weekly meetings they should first speak to and gain permission from the spiritual leaders of their group. Let's not pick and choose what we learn from Naaman.

God's People do not require payment for performing God's Work.

Elisha rejected all of Naaman's gifts. Gehazi, after tracking Naaman down and taking some of the gift, was struck with leprosy. Elisha understood that God's Work is a gift given to all for free. Everything given to God is volunteered by grateful hearts. There are no "transaction fees" related to offering God's services. All that is needed is a heart willing to submit to Him. This is what Gehazi missed and why he received Naaman's leprosy.

God takes care of his prisoners.

The story of the king of Aram trying to capture Elisha is funny. Elisha takes them into the lair of the king of Israel, feeds them, and then lets them go. The king of Israel is flummoxed. His enemies, right at his door, are given a feast. However, it works; Aram leaves Israel alone. This story reminds me of a legendary Abraham Lincoln quote, "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?" God's way of destroying His enemies is first to make them love and respect His Goodness.

Has God earned your love and respect?

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