2 Kings 5-7…The long arm of the Lord.
The nation of Aram (“Syria” in some translations) lay to the northeast of the land of Israel. Throughout the eighth and ninth centuries B.C. Israel and Aram were in a constant state of tension. Military clashes occurred frequently, interspersed with occasional periods of peace. Israel would have kept a close eye on the Aramean armies, for they were perennial rivals.
Understanding the international politics of the day makes today’s reading all the more startling. This healing of Naaman the Aramean was an extension of God’s grace not just to a foreigner, but to the very enemy of God’s people Israel! And from this text we learn important lessons about God’s ways. First, we see that He is the God of the whole world. Our text shows us that it was God who supervised the military victories of the Arameans, orchestrated the arrival of a nameless Israelite girl into the home of the foreigner Naaman, and then extended His grace and healing powers to one outside His people. As Psalm 24:1 proclaims: “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it.”
We also see that God’s ways can affect great change. Naaman expected a lot more attention and fanfare in his healing experience. Instead, he was asked to take a bath in the Jordan. Naaman eventually obeyed, but notice the transformation in his attitude. His initial reaction to Elisha’s command was anger and pride. Thanks to the wisdom of some servants, Naaman shifted to an attitude of obedience. Finally, he softened to a humble confession that “there is no God in all the world except in Israel,” and then made the promise to worship God alone for the remainder of his days. God’s unexpected ways have the power to humble our pride, elicit true confessions of faith, and prompt us to appropriate worship.
Notice, finally, the warning at the end. Countering the message that God’s grace was truly free, Gehazi’s greed and lying undermined that message by asking Naaman for payment. In the end, there was a switch: while Naaman was healed through faith, Gehazi became leprous.