This week's Bible lesson, Everlasting Punishment, is all about redeeming, who is redeemed and how that happens. There are several examples given and today I am working with the story of Naaman. It is found in II Kings 5. He is described as a mighty man of valour, great courage. He is high favor with his master, an honorable man. His prowess as a military man are without question. He was instrumental in conquering Israel for the King of Syria. But he does have one enemy he has been unable to conquer, he is a leper.
There is much to admire about Naaman. He is much beloved by his King, his wife, and his troops. On one of the raids they took away a little Hebrew girl. She was given to Naaman's wife as a servant. This little maid tells her mistress that there is a prophet in Israel who could cure Naaman of leprosy. That is quite a claim, as no one else has done that. Someone overhears this conversation as brings the information to his master. It says something about Naaman that he believes this and acts upon it, heeding the word of a servant.
He goes to Elisha's house, arriving in great state in a chariot pulled by horses and accompanied by his servants. The conqueror shows up and expects to be treated with respect. Elisha doesn't even come out of the house, he sends his servant with a message. This is not what Naaman, a man of action and showy victories was expecting. This is an adversary he has not been able to overcome, so whoever can beat it must do it in a big way. The message is to go to the nearby Jordan river and dip himself in it seven times. Not very dignified. Naaman is outraged and in a fit of temper turns aside to sulk. But he didn't leave. Maybe he was plotting how he might force Elisha to bring about this healing the way Naaman wanted it to happen in front of everyone. He has conquered this land and surely the rivers in his own country must be more powerful, if that was all that was needed. But it wasn't. It was going to take a change of thought.
At this point, his servants approach and try to reason with him. They refer to him as Father, certainly a loving view of this complex man. They care deeply about him. They say that if the Prophet had asked him to do some great thing, it would have done that without question. How little a thing to follow instructions and get his healing. That should be worth any price. He listens and then does what Elisha had directed. The result is that his flesh is restored, but more importantly, his soul is redeemed. He has been washed clean.
Sometimes the answer to our problems is a simple matter of prayer and trust. We would like a much flashier solution, something to amaze our family or friends. Maybe our pride is in the way of the healing. Maybe we feel it is our responsibility to overcome this error and we are not willing to trust God. Maybe we are not willing to listen to someone's suggestions. Maybe even those angel messages that are coming to us.
Redemption is all about a change of thought. It is receptivity to good. It is a purification of mind and body. I look forward to the other stories in this week's lesson