The Popular Leper

Daily Reading: (2 Kings 5:1-3):

“Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “if only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman was leading the Syrian army and what is remarkable is what is said in the very next chapter: “now the king of Aram was warring against Israel” (2 Kings 6:8a). The last thing in the world you would expect is that God would heal the commander of the army who is against God’s own people. But here in 2 Kings 5 God is blessing a Gentile commander. “Through him the Lord had given victory to Aram” (2 Kings 5:1).

Naaman is an unique character. People that have leprosy are avoided and certainly are not popular. Lepers aren’t leaders of armies because they would be in contact with and could infect the might of an entire nation with their leprosy, but Naaman was. Lepers are outcasts of society. Because Naaman is commander of the army with leprosy, we know that Naaman must have contracted leprosy sometime during his command. The Syrian king and the people of Syria are willing to chance exposure to a contagious disease because of all of the success Naaman has brought. They don’t know that God is the one giving the victory.

Naaman means “pleasantness” which is the opposite of his appearance. His leprosy has caused unpleasantness in his life (2 Kings 5:1).All of his victories that he had taken part of were the result of the Lord working through Him. In this part in the story, he has come to a battle he cannot win on his own and he once again needs the Lord to give him the victory over the leprosy. The great thing about experiencing a battle too great for someone is it gives them an opportunity to experience the salvation of the Lord. You see the text says He was a valiant soldier, but even a valiant soldier is no match for and was losing the battle against leprosy.

“Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” God has used the dispersion of His people throughout history to bring knowledge of God to all people. This young Israelite woman whose forgiving actions in the beginning of the story results in the avalanche of events leading to national reconciliation by the end of the story. To love your enemies enough to want to bring healing to their lives, is incredible. This is the Spirit of Christ within us.

After visiting Elisha, Naaman was being asked to acknowledge that there was a possibility that Israel’s God could do something the Syrian god was unable to do (2 Kings 5:10). The action of dipping in the Jordan River seven times would indicate a betrayal of his faith in a pagan god. The reason is that the waters represented the channels of covenantal blessings between the people and their god. Dipping in the Jordan said, only the God of Israel can heal me.

Elisha couldn’t lay hands on Naaman or touch him in any way to cleanse him because a leper was unclean and would make the prophet unclean as well. Jesus doesn’t need a river to heal. By His Word and by His personal touch, the leper in Matthew 8:1–4 was healed. The story of Naaman teaches that how we receive healing and provision is by not trying to deserve it.

That’s how the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian got their miracles (Luke 4:24-27). They were Gentiles and they didn’t deserve it. It was purely by the grace, the goodness, and the kindness of God. The lepers of Israel overlooked the healing that could have been theirs through Elisha, so God healed a Syrian instead.

May this story of the popular leper who was blessed by God all along, who was given the victory over his battle with leprosy because He received the grace of God, bless you today. Naaman forsook the worship of his false gods and pagan idols and became an illustration that Jesus used that shows that healing, salvation, and provision are not given by merit but simply by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Receive your miracle today through the Word and the personal touch of Jesus Christ upon your life.

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