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BIG LITTLE PEOPLE - MRS. NAAMAN'S SERVANT GIRL, WITH A BIG MESSAGE
Dear Christian friends,
Have you ever thought much about heaven? What will be the first thing you would like to do? I have pictured it like this for myself: First I just want to get down on my knees and thank the good Lord for choosing me to know his grace and revealing to me the Savior who got me there. Next, I would like to see my Mom and Dad. It has been a lot of years. Then my two brothers. My grandparents, one whom I never knew. Judy’s Mom and Dad. I never got to know her Mom. She died when Judy was in high school. We have two children who were miscarried. Both Ben and Courtney were supposed to be twins. Can you imagine identical twins with each of them? My dad was a very gregarious man. It would be so great if he said to me, “Hey, I want you to meet my good friend Abraham and Paul and David.” I can see my dad doing that. Let your mind wander. There are all kinds of things I would like to do.
Imagine what it will be like to meet all the people of the Bible like David and Paul and Moses. But then there are Bible people whose names we do not recognize. The young lady that we are going to talk about today fits that category. We don’t know her name. We will just call her “Mrs. Naaman’s Servant Girl Who Shared a Big Message.”
Naaman was a crackerjack general in the army of the King of Aram. He was the General Eisenhower or a General Patton or Schwartzkopf. He was exceptional on the battlefield. While he avoided the spears and arrows of the enemy, he didn’t avoid the effects of what happens in the sinful world in which we live. He contracted leprosy, the scourge of Bible times. This was a disease that caused the flesh to rot. People lost their fingers and toes. They died of infection. It is very rare these days. Drugs have been able to erase it for the most part. But then, in a matter of time General Naaman could only look forward to a military funeral.
The country of Aram was just north of the border with Israel. There were constant border wars between Aram and Israel. That’s why a nameless Jewish girl ended up in the house of General Naaman. She was captured and then served as Mrs. Naaman servant girl. While nameless that Jewish servant girl was kind and compassionate. She knew the LORD.
The humble, meek servant girl had the answer to her master’s problem. “She said to her mistress, ‘“If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’” The servant girl knew the LORD and his prophet, Elisha. Maybe the servant girl had observed the LORD cure someone through Elisha. Maybe she had a friend or a relative that was cured. Somehow she knew the Lord’s prophet Elisha had done something like this. She told Mrs. Naaman. Mrs. Naaman told Mr. Naaman. Mr. Naaman told the king of Aram. The king wrote a letter to Joram the King of Israel to see if he could get in touch with Elisha. See how far and fast the message of the servant girl spread.
As a pastor I have gotten to see the domino effect that occurs when someone starts the spread the seed of God’s message. In my ministry I officiated at the wedding of a young man who was a member to a woman who was not. She was not going to church anywhere. She went through my God 101. She told Grandma and Grandpa. They went through God 101. Grandma and Grandpa encouraged their daughter was the mother of that granddaughter. The same granddaughter encouraged her sister. She came with her husband. The husband encouraged his parents who encouraged another child and her husband. Eventually another grandfather also went through and completed God 101 and all became members. Since then there are children of the original couple plus other relatives. More than any other way, the church grows by someone spreading the word to families and friends, just like Mrs. Naaman’s servant girl did. Have you?
In the case of General Naaman and the Missus and the web of people that were exposed to the word through the servant girl, we don’t know how many became believers. Think about this, however. In the end, when they all met the Lord in judgment (and they all did), not one of them could make the excuse, “How was I to supposed to know you, LORD?”
What a huge impact the simple invitation of the servant girl made! Go back to the first century. We meet two men. One is the Roman Emperor, Nero, who was ruler even though also a bona fide madman. The other is the apostle Paul. Nero, by virtue of his office, was probably the most recognized name in the world. The other man, the apostle Paul, in his own words said about himself, “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God… I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” His calling in life was not to rule the world, but to be a spokesman for him who did, more than that, saved the world. He said his calling was to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Here we are twenty centuries later. Nowadays we call our sons Paul, and we call our dogs Nero. Because Paul went from person to person, from house to house, from street to street, from city to city, from continent to continent, there are millions upon millions upon millions enjoying the pleasures of serving the LORD face to face in Paradise. Nero? He is one dark blot on the pages of history.
While this servant girl and people like Paul shared the Gospel, we have it. Now it is our turn to pass it on one person at a time. That’s how God’s church grows with Holy Spirit working through what we say.
Let’s look at how some of the people reacted to the message. Let’s look at the King of Aram, Naaman’s king. “Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” Mrs. Naaman told her husband what her servant said. Mrs. Naaman told her husband. General Naaman told his king. His king wrote to the king of Israel, Joram. The letter was supposed to grease the skids so Elisha, God’s prophet would answer favorably. The King of Aram loaded up all kinds of good things as a bribe. It certainly showed how little he knew about the Lord of grace and unconditional love.
Let’s stop here for a moment. God promises a lot of things in the Bible. Some promises are scary. He promises to reject those who reject him. On the other hand, when it comes to blessing his people (and he does promise that many times in the Word), he never puts a price tag on those blessings. There is no greater insult to God when people think he can be bought. Who can pay for anything the Lord gives when he is God Almighty, the “Maker of heaven and earth.” That kind of thinking, thinking that God’s blessings can be bought, was what led to the Reformation.
How did Joram react? The king of Israel, you need to remember bowed down to worship a calf, an idol. It was more fun and less restrictive. The LORD had those Ten Commandments. They were no fun. When Joram received the letter from King of Aram asking him about the man who could cure his ace general of leprosy, Joram was scared to death. “As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” Joram understood the king’s letter as an ultimatum. Find someone who can cure Naaman’s leprosy or plan your own funeral. The calf he worshipped was no wonder calf.
If Joram would have only remembered the unrevised history of his own country! If he had only studied the Scriptures which had long since been set aside. His nation was there because the LORD, whom he despised, parted the waters, at the beginning of that 40 year journey and at the end. If he only knew the history about the manna that sustained. If he had only remembered the leadership of Moses and Joshua under the LORD. If only he had remembered how the LORD was the real refuge and strength. If only…
Pity the people who find themselves in a bind and think the way out is their own conniving and manipulation. But the people I am referring to are not those over there or over there but here. We think solutions to come from our own heads and hands rather than finding them on our knees or in the book, the Good Book.
Let’s turn from Joram and the king of Aram and turn to Naaman. He didn’t start out too well either, did he? “So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.” Naaman was told to wash in the waters of the Jordan River and he would find healing. At first, Naaman’s pride kept him from that healing as God promised through Elisha. Maybe the rivers of Aram were more convenient; maybe they were cleaner. The real problem that was keeping him from healing was his own pride. Naaman wanted healing his way rather than the Lord’s way.
That is a huge problem with mankind. I want it my way, not thy way. There are a lot of things that human reason has problems with when it comes to the LORD.
Questions are raised about a man 2000 year ago who claimed to forgive all the sins of all people of all time dying on the cross. Questions are raised when he makes the claim we can be assured they are forgiven because he was raised from the dead.
Questions are raised about a little water administered in the name of the Triune God promising forgiveness and life and a connection with that man that claims to be the Savior of all. There are questions about a little bread and wine acting as a vessel that carries the body and blood of that man who claims to be the Savior of all people and how that personalized body and blood imparts forgiveness of sins and life and salvation.
There are questions about that man who says he died and rose again and is coming back a second time to judge on the basis of the existence of faith in him, and declaring some to go to heaven because they have faith and some to go to hell because they don’t. There are a ton of other promises made. But those promises are sure. They are made by the Living God!
Let’s be like the servant girl and follow her advice. Seek the Lord as he advised Naaman. Believe the Lord as she advised Naaman. You won’t be sorry.