Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, "My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?"2 Kings 5:13(NASB)
We read that Jews require a sign and there are four significant times in Israel's history when an abundance of signs and wonders were given. They occurred during the times of 1) Moses and Joshua 2) Elijah and Elisha 3) Jesus and His apostles and 4) the future time of Jacob's Trouble.
It was during the ministry of Elisha, that we read of the miraculous cleansing of Naaman the leper. Jesus Himself referred to this man, who was a commander in the Syrian army, when He was met with hostile unbelief in His hometown of Nazareth: "There were many lepers in Israel, in the time of Elisha the prophet," the Lord Jesus reminded the unbelieving Jews, "and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."
This heart-warming story is told of a mighty general in the great Syrian army who was a leper. He demonstrated faith in God - a faith which was sadly lacking in the Lord's hometown of Nazareth. One little servant-girl in Naaman's employment was a captive, Jewish maid. Despite her enforced slavery, she trusted the God of Israel and suggested to her mistress, "if only my master would go to the prophet in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease."
Carrying a letter from the Syrian emperor to the king of Israel requesting healing, Naaman set out on his critical journey. Israel's ungodly king was distressed to receive this unreasonable request from the great Syrian ruler, but Elisha heard about Naaman's need and sent a message to Naaman, by his servant, telling the Syrian leper to "go and wash in Jordan seven times," and his flesh would be restored.
Naaman's first reaction was anger at such a lowly task. He objected to washing in the dirty waters of the Jordan because the rivers in Syria were far superior! He was also annoyed that Elisha had not bothered to greet him personally, but simply sent his man-servant with a curt message!
Pride as well as leprosy was the great general's underlying problem. His servants pointed out that if he had been told to perform some challenging task, he would have done so readily! They came to him and said, "My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?"
"Wash, and be clean," was the simple task that Naaman was given: "Wash, and be clean," is the call to all prideful sinners who are stained by sin. "Wash, and be clean."
Not only did Naaman swallow his pride, but humbled himself under the mighty hand of God and obeyed the Word of the Lord, spoken by His prophet - Elisha. And so we read that Naaman "went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God... and his skin was restored and became like the skin of a young man, and he was cleansed."
So much of this beautiful story reminds us of the rottenness of sin, our need to be cleansed and restored, and our inability to help ourselves. Naaman finally admitted his need of God's provision. He had to humble himself before the Lord, obey the Word of the Lord, and admit his own inadequacy and inability to cleanse himself, despite his great wealth, position, power, and prestige.
But how often is this scenario repeated in this day and age, when sin-sick sinners hear the simple truth of the gospel but are too proud to humble themselves before the mighty hand of God - and cry out to Him for forgiveness and cleansing?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many lessons I can learn from the beautiful story of Naaman the leper and the gentle little maid who offered wise advice. Help me to recognise my own inadequacy, my poverty, my pride, and my inability to save myself. Thank You for the simple gospel message, where we can be washed by the blood of the Lamb and cleansed of all our sin, through faith in Him. Help me to humble myself before Your mighty hand, like this great Syrian general who responded to the Word of the Lord, obeyed His voice and was made whole. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.