Posted by: arieliondotcom | May 17, 2013

Little Things Mean Alot (2 Kings 5)

Little Things Mean A lot
(2 Kings 5)
It all starts with a little girl.

Naaman is a mighty warrior. And in the eyes of a king, there is no one as valuable (except perhaps a wife who gives him sons) as a mighty warrior. So with every victory the mighty Naaman wins for the King of Syria, the more valuable he is in the king’s eyes and the more he is rewarded with wealth and respect. Naaman is a mighty man, but he has leprosy, the most dreaded of all diseases. All it takes is one little spot of leprosy, and you are considered the walking dead. And because of such a spot, all Naaman’s power and all Naaman’s wealth and prestige are worthless now.

On one of his raids into Israel on behalf of the King of Syria, Naaman captures a little Israeli girl and gives her to his wife as a slave to be her maid. This little, nameless Jewish girl sees all of the false prophets of Syria praying to all of their idols for the healing of her master. And small and young as she was, she knows that it is useless. She has the faith in her heart that only the true GOD of her people, the GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, can heal her master. Forgetting all bitterness at being a slave, she tells her mistress, “For all of their praying, I wish they would ask the prayers of the Elisha, Prophet of Israel! Then my master would be healed!” The wife tells her husband Naaman and Naaman, desperate to be healed, tells his master, the King of Syria.

The king, not wanting to lose such a valiant warrior to leprosy, writes a letter to the King of Israel. He assumes that any prophet with such power is easily at hand of the King of Israel as he had all of his prophets for his idols close at hand. He sends Naaman with great riches and gifts to pay for the healing.

The Syrian king thinks he’s only asking a little favor. What he doesn’t realize is that the kings of Israel are no less idolatrous than he is.

So when the King of Israel gets a surprise visit from a leprous warrior with a letter from another king, asking for the impossible, the King of Israel panics. He assumes the King of Syria is trying to pick a fight. He screams and tears his robes in mourning and terror. He thinks he will be attacked and killed because of this trick request. The simple fact that even a child knows does not cross his mind: he has the means to heal by the power of GOD through the prophet Elishah.

Elisha, the great Prophet of Israel, hears about the King of Israel’s panic and sends him a message: “What are you panicking and tearing your robes about? Send him to me and I’ll show him the power GOD gives to His prophets of His people, Israel!” So the King of Israel is only too happy to send Naaman to Elisha and be rid of him.

Naaman arrives at Elisha’s door with all of his pomp and grandeur of the King of Syria’s mightiest chariots, with a staff of soldiers riding with him, and wagon loads of gold and clothes as gifts. But Elisha won’t even come out to see him! Instead, Elisha’s assistant, Gehazi, relays a message from Elisha “Go dip yourself in the Jordan river seven times and you’ll be healed!” That’s it. Seven little dips. Not even a good Baptist dunking, just dips. A little thing to ask.

Naaman is outraged! Here he has put aside his pride to come to a people he conquered, to some backwoods water hole, to ask for help from some foreign prophet of an unknown god, and he says to go dip your toes and you’ll be healed?! He wanted the whole TV evangelist special! Where are the spotlights? The shouting in unknown languages? The waving of hands? That’s what he was expecting. A man of his stature should have spectacle and a spectacular healing! Literally! And if he was to “dip” himself in water, it would be in the mighty rivers of Syria, not in some foreign mud pit of a river!

But calmer heads prevailed. The “little people” in his entourage calmed him down. “Sir, if the prophet had asked you to do some exhausting thing, you’d have done it gladly. Why not just do the little thing as quickly as you would do the great?” So Naaman gives in, dips himself in the Jordan river seven times as told…and is healed! His skin becomes as fresh as his soul at the realization that the GOD of Israel is the True GOD.

Healed, Naaman returns to Elisha to thank him and give him the riches he has brought from Syria, but no matter how much he tries to force Elisha to take them, Elisha refuses. But Elisha does grant Naaman’s request to take enough soil with him from Israel to form an altar of it in Syria where he would worship the GOD of Israel rather than the idols of that country. And while it’s on his mind he asks in advance for forgiveness. His master, the King of Syria, leans on Naaman’s arm when the king worships the idol Rimmon. Naaman asks forgiveness for the appearance that it is he who is bowing to the idol when he is only trying to keep his master from falling, which would mean Naaman’s death. Elisha tells him to go in peace, and he takes the dirt to worship on and leaves.

However, after Naaman leaves, Gehazi, the assistant to Elisha, runs after him to claim some treasure for himself. We remember in previous chapters that Elisha had sent Gehazi ahead with Elisha’s walking stick in order to raise a dead boy to life while Elisha was on the way. But it didn’t work. Perhaps we’re seeing the reason why here. Gehazi had a spot of evil in his heart. A small spot, perhaps, but big enough to keep GOD from using him for a miracle. And now that spot is growing into greed. Gehazi thinks it’s just a little thing. He won’t ask for all of the treasure, just a little gold and a few changes of clothing. Just a little. And Naaman has no problem giving it to him. In fact, he forces him to take twice as much gold as he asked for and sends servants to carry it back to Elisha’s house with Gehazi. But Gehazi realizes he has done wrong. He takes the clothes and gold from them and sends them away as he sneaks into the house and hides the gold and clothing. (We should remember here an incident that happened in the time of Moses. When the people of Israel had been forbidden from taking the spoil of enemies they’d conquered one of them took some and died for it.)

Think of how sin stops our thinking. Wouldn’t Elisha notice new clothes on Gehazi? Where would Gehazi spend the gold without Elisha knowing? And who could think to hide anything from a prophet of GOD?

Sure enough, Elisha asks Gehazi where he went and the dark spot in Gehazi’s heart grows still further from greed to lies. Think how heartbroken Elisha must have been after having such a close relationship with Elijah while serving Elijah as Gehazi served him now, only to be betrayed. Elisha’s response to Gehazi’s lie is very revealing. He says that he saw Gehazi clearly, though so far away, with his prophetic vision, as Naaman turned from his chariot to see what Gehazi wanted. It was a little moment in time, a moment when everything could have changed and Gehazi could have changed his mind and run home. A time when he could have confessed what he had done to Elisha instead of deciding to go ahead and seek payment for what GOD had done. What’s more, Elisha refers to Gehazi being paid much more than what he was actually given. Why? Because that’s what was growing in Gehazi’s heart. Now that he had this, he was imagining all of the riches…slaves and land…that he could somehow get in the same way. Now the sin had grown into lust for more and more, and along with the lust, unrealistic ambitions.

Elisha is no longer the comforting figure he once was but the Prophet of GOD calling down the judgment of GOD for Gehazi’s attempt to take credit for the work of GOD. The leprosy that Naaman had was now on Gehazi. No longer just a spot, but a covering of decayed flesh that made him a pariah, the walking dead, a zombie of white.

What little thing are we harboring in our heart? What little power are we keeping from growing to good? We have the ability to share a word, a testimony, of the power of GOD. We each have the power to give in to the dark spot in our soul or to shine a spot of light, no matter how small, into the life of another person. That little light that you let shine, as the children’s song says, can be the spot that shines on a seed. And that seed can grow to a tree. And that tree can grow to the glory of GOD to give greater testimony to the work of JESUS in the world than we ever imagined, with seeds to grow in the future light.
Or we can allow a dark spot of sin to fester in our souls and grow to blind our souls.
Little things mean a lot. Which will we heed?
Naaman did the little thing that led to great healing and the greatest gift of all, a relationship with the LORD GOD we have come to know in Jesus Christ.
And it all started with a little girl.

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