[SW327] 5/19/2018 message notes by
Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018
Wash and Be Pure
Text: 2Kings 5:1-19
Naaman and I have a lot in common. Wash and be pure? What a foolish instruction! But we would say to you that this instruction is from the Lord, and if you follow it, you will see that He will do it!
Naaman was highly respected among the Arameans, who were sometimes friends and sometimes foes of Israel. He held a high position, as captain of the army. He was a great man, in his master’s eyes. He also was a valiant warrior. By Naaman, the Lord had given Aram victory in battles. [NOTE: The Lord gave Israel’s enemies victory, to discipline His people and turn them back to Him.]
I had a great career, was highly respected, valiantly upheld my leaders. I won many victories for them.
But Naaman had a deadly form of leprosy. I say, “deadly” because of the response of the king of Israel in Verse 7. And I had an incurable disease, MS, which would lead to my death, most likely from aspiration pneumonia, which happens when food and drink go into your lungs instead of your belly, because you can no longer swallow properly.
But let’s continue with Naaman’s experience. Some bands of Arameans raided Israel, captured a young Israeli girl, and made her a servant of Naaman’s wife. Seeing Naaman’s leprosy, she said to Naaman’s wife, I wish he was with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of (take away, remove) his leprosy. As I have said, Naaman’s leprosy was deadly.
Naaman’s wife told him, and he told the king of Aram what the Israeli girl had said. So the king sent him to Israel, with a letter to the king of Israel — Ahab’s son, Jehoram (2Kings 3:1) — asking for the king of Israel to cure Naaman of his leprosy. But Jehoram rebelled against the Lord and worshiped other gods. The Lord will not use such ones!
Naaman took with him a large contingent of men on horses and in chariots, amid much pomp. He also took a small fortune with him, as a tribute to King Jehoram, and to pay to be cured of his leprosy. He was desperate for a cure.
In today’s currency, Naaman’s gift would be $12.5 million in silver, $386,000 in gold, and ten changes of clothes, of unknown value. Again, Naaman’s desperation is in view, because his leprosy was going to kill him!
But when Naaman presented King Jehoram with the letter, the king tore his clothes as a sign of mourning, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? He is seeking a quarrel against me!
Elisha was the prophet in Samaria referred to by the young Israeli girl. He heard that the king tore his clothes. And he rebuked the king, saying, Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet (one who hears from, speaks for, and is used by God) in Israel!
King Jehoram then sent Naaman to Elisha. He wanted to avoid war with Aram.
Naaman came to Elisha’s house with great pomp, accompanied by his vast array of men on horses and chariots. He stood at Elisha’s door, waiting for him to come out. But Elisha did not come out! Instead, Elisha sent out his servant with a message.
And what was the message? Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean (pure).
What? He needed to be healed of this deadly form of leprosy. What was this about being purified? What a foolish instruction!
Well, the message from the pulpit was this — I have had a vision, and in it, Sue, you are healed! What a foolish vision! Healing is not for today!
Now I must tell you that my response was not anger. All the fight was gone. My situation was hopeless. There was nothing more that my neurologist could do. So I did not rage. After my pastor spoke, I thought, “Could it be?”
Naaman, though, was furious (filled with wrath) and went away. He sputtered —
— Elisha should have come out to see me, and should have stood and called on the name of the Lord his God, and he should have waved his hand over the place and cured me!
— I am an important man! Elisha, you should have done as I expected you to do!
— What’s more, you want me to dip seven times? Why seven? And where? In the muddy Jordan? Why not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus? They are better than all the waters of Israel! I want to wash in them, and be purified — not in this muddy river.
So he turned and went away in a rage (a fury, great anger). He almost missed it.
But his servants spoke to him, saying, My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? It was a rhetorical question. Of course Naaman would have done it.
They asked Naaman, How much more, then, should you do what Elisha instructed you to do? If he says, Wash and be pure, then why not do it?
So Naaman set aside what he thought he knew. I did, too. I read the Word of God, and saw that Jesus still heals. I humbly accepted my pastor’s teaching.
Naaman set aside what he thought he knew, and went down to the Jordan and dipped seven times, according to the word of the man of God. And his flesh was restored like the flesh of a child — unblemished — and he was purified.
Wash and be pure! It isn’t only Naaman that thought that was absurd. I used to think that way. Many in the world today, and even in today’s church, would sputter and protest against such a foolish instruction. They protest against the Lord, just as Naaman protested against Elisha —
— That is nonsense! This disease is incurable and fatal!
— Purification is not for today.
— Purification is fiction. This event is a myth, a legend, a fable.
— To be purified of a disease by dipping seven times in muddy water is ridiculous! It is not logical, and science says it is impossible.
— Yes, I want to be healed of my fatal disease. But I don’t want to obey your instructions on how it is to be done. I do not believe in your God. So I want it done my way, not your way!
But if you follow the Lord’s instructions, it is very likely that you will do what Naaman did, after he was purified! Accompanied by all his men on horses and chariots, he returned to Elisha and stood before him, purified.
When the Lord heals you of your sin, it is quite likely that you will go back to Him and stand before Him, healed, and then fall down! I say, “quite likely,” because most do, but not everyone. Nine of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 did not return to praise Jesus Christ for healing them. Only one returned and fell at Jesus’ feet and worshiped Him, and he was not even a Jew. All were healed as they went, but that one was saved!
And what did Naaman say to Elisha, as he stood before him, purified? Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel. So please take a present from your servant now.
“Your servant!” He no longer raged against Elisha. He was humbled, and now he knew that there was no other God but one.
When the Lord heals you, it is quite likely that you will do the same. Once touched by Jesus, you will no longer rage against Him. Instead, you will humbly approach Him. And you will say there is no God but One, and that you have been healed by His Son!
After He has healed you, it is difficult to go away and continue in your sin and unbelief, but it is not impossible. Witness the man at the pool in John 5, who continued to sin after Jesus healed him. Jesus’ words are for those who continue to sin, after being touched by Him —
John 5:14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
Elisha refused Naaman’s gift, despite Naaman’s repeated offer. He said, As the Lord lives, before whom I stand . . .” That was Elisha’s position — my Lord is a living God, and I stand before Him, in His presence. And by the grace of God, I am likewise in that position now. It is a gift far greater than anything Naaman could offer!
Naaman then asked Elisha for a very unlikely gift — two mules’ load of earth. He said he would no longer offer burnt offerings and sacrifices to other gods, but to the Lord. Why did he ask for soil from Israel? When worshiping the Lord in Aram, he wanted to kneel on the soil of Israel.
He had become a believer! Now, he was REALLY purified — not just from a deadly disease, but from his idolatry!
When the Lord heals you, it is quite likely that you will want to offer yourself fully and entirely to Him, as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing. It is your spiritual act of worship (see Romans 12:1).
It is quite likely that you will ask your Father in heaven to fill you with His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). Then you will be purified through and through, for He will make your heart pure, and your sin nature will be crucified (Galatians 5:24)!
Naaman also asked Elisha for the Lord to forgive him when he, as his king’s servant, would have to enter the house of Rimmon, the god worshiped in Aram. And indeed, Elisha said, Go in peace. The Lord knew Naaman’s heart. He would bow only as an act of service to his master.
After you have been healed, it is essential that you interact with the world. But in order to be His witness, you must obey the Lord’s command to be filled with His Spirit ( (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8). Then, you will be in it, but not of it. You will no longer worship what it worships. But filled with His Spirit, you will have a purified heart and will be equipped to be His witness in the world!
It is possible that you may have to return to your job, in order to feed your family. But be sure to ask Him, before you return to it.
After I was healed and then filled with the Holy Spirit, I prayed and fasted, and asked the Lord if I should return to my career. He said no. Jeff and I trusted Him, and He has met— and exceeded — every need.
Because He has purified my heart, I am able to stand before Him and continually minister to Him and serve Him. Because I am filled with His Spirit, I am able to walk about, carrying within me the very presence of Jesus Christ and my Father in heaven!
It sounds foolish! Wash and be purified? But do what He says. If you obey His instructions, you will learn that He is real! He will heal you, and you will believe into Him and know there is no other God but One. Then, when you obey His command to be filled with His Spirit, He will purify your heart, and you will REALLY be pure, inside and out!
Amen, Lord Jesus. So be it!