And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.(, 2 Kings 5:15-19)
Naaman, the mighty conqueror, has been conquered by Jehovah. He has stepped down from his chariot, and the proud military man has unstrapped his armor, and stepped down barefoot into the Jordan river, to immerse himself.
After seven dips, He has emerged again, a new man, with a new lease on life. His skin was as soft and new as a baby’s and most importantly, He has a new heart. Now Naaman wants to worship and serve the God of Israel.
Before Elisha and all of those who accompanied Him, the newly cleansed and converted Naaman made a good confession of Faith, ‘Now I know, that there is no God in all of the earth, but in Israel”.
His first lesson in new life commenced. Naaman wanted to make his payment, only to be refused by Elisha. The deeper meaning? “We are saved by Grace and not by works, lest anyone should boast…”. No one can pay for God’s blessing of salvation, it is a free gift of Sovereign grace.
Next Naaman wanted to load for himself two mule loads of dirt to bring home with him. In his thinking, He has switched loyalty from the gods of Syria, unto the God of Israel, the LORD. Thus he would set up a little “Holy Land”, a sacred space in Syria, when He went back home, in order that He might worship the God of Israel, in Israel (in a sense). There would be no idols involved, just Holy Land, on which to worship the God of Israel.
One more question had to be cleared up, it involved his job, for which he would need a concession from the Prophet, and from the God of the Prophet, whom He now served.
Naaman had to accompany his King into the temple of the Syrian god, Rimmon, and hold his arm whilst the King bowed low before the idol. This would involve Naaman bowing low as well, but not out of reverence to Rimmon. Would God understand that in spite of this, Naaman was yet a loyal worshipper of Jahweh, from this day on? Could a concession be made in this case?
Elisha bid him to go home in peace.
This Naaman, a man who would never attend a temple service in Jerusalem, nor a Bible study, or synagogue service, has become an example of what God really requires, steadfast and loyal worship, based on gratitude for grace. He became a worshipper of the LORD, and the subject of one of Jesus’; sermons, in Luke 4.
But at the same time Naaman was making his complete reversal, going from being a Syrian, to an Israelite, (if not physically, then spiritually), the servant Gehazi would be reversing in the opposite direction, having been inwardly seduced by his own sinful lusts.
But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments. And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him. And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.( 2 Kings 5:20-24)
Gehazi was bothered that an uncircumcised Syrian, should be “spared” at least a fleecing of his wealth in view of the blessing he had come to receive in Israel. So he pursued the chariot, and took advantage of the good nature of the new convert, lying to him about Elisha needing a little bot of the vast wealth Naaman had intended to use, to pay for the service of healing.
Naaman was in such a benevolent mood, that he gladly doubled the request in Silver, gold and raiments asked for by Elisha’s servant. Gehazi then went and hid the Silver and gold and raiments, exactly as Achan had once done in the days of Joshua. But God saw it all.
But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.( 2 Kings 5:25-27)
The Prophet asked Gehazi a direct question, and received only a lie in return. HE (God) was giving Gehazi a chance to repent of his betrayal of the gospel, but Gehazi refused.
To Gehazi, all he saw in the recent incident, was a possible transaction between Naaman, and Elisha. Why shouldn’t Naaman give money for the blessing bestowed upon him in Israel’s territory? Why shouldn’t He and Elisha merchandise this power to enrich themselves at the expense of this Gentile?
Gehazi didn’t see in it the higher meaning of it all, that the glory of the God of Israel was in this, and that in love, mercy and free grace .God saves all who humble themselves and call upon him in truth.
Certainly Naaman the Syrian saw it, and became a believer, an Israelite in spirit and heart. But now Gehazi would take his place, for he had sold out his faith, and become a Syrian at heart, grasping, taking, reducing everything sacred to a mere transaction, and seeking what he could get out of the ‘deal’ with no regard for God’s glory.
Wow! I loved this and thank you for sharing your insights on this. It really opened up the depth of the Word. So many excellent points and analogies!