A Great Man
There are many notable men in the Scriptures - men who have great attributes and who have done great things. We’ll talk about one of those men today. Who was he?
He was the leader of the entire army of a mighty nation. To be the leader of an army requires many exceptional attributes. This man had them.
In addition to being a leader of men in battle, he was a man of great personal courage. It is one thing to lead from a protected position, but it is another thing to risk one’s own life while leading others.
He had the respect and love of the king of his nation. Not only was he a great military leader, but he also had the respect and love of the civil authority.
He was honorable and God used this man to bring victory to a great nation. Truly, this was a very great man.
Would it surprise you to learn that the man of whom I speak was an unbeliever? A pagan who lived in an idolatrous land? A man to whom the things of God were strange?
“Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.”
II Kings 5:1
This verse also informs us of something else about Naaman - he was a leper.
In the Bible, leprosy typically symbolizes sin. Leprosy (also called Hansen’s disease) is curable, can be difficult to detect in its early stages, reduces the body’s sensitivity to stimulus, progresses slowly, and can lead to major physical deterioration and even death. The same can be said of sin. Sin is curable (by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ), may not be obvious to the sinner or to those around him, leads to insensitivity to the things of God, can progress gradually, can cause major damage, and (if not cured by God) will lead to eternal death.
There are people in our society today who are very much like Naaman. Perhaps you know some of them. Perhaps you are one of them. In the eyes of the world they really are great people in many ways but they are also sinners in need of a Saviour. Often, these people think pretty highly of themselves. Sometimes they recognize that they have sin but they often resist God’s remedy. Let’s see how Naaman approached the man of God (Elisha) and how God’s man responded:
“So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.”
II Kings 5:9-10
Naaman came with his power, honor, and greatness but Elisha didn’t even afford him the courtesy of coming out to meet him! How dare he treat such a great man in such a manner! On top of that, the way that Naaman was told that he could be cured didn’t meet his expectations at all. Surely a great cure for a great man would not be so unceremonious, undistinguished, and simple.
“But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”
II Kings 5:9-10
Sometimes God uses those of us who are not “great” to steer those who are “great” toward the simple way of salvation:
“And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
II Kings 5:9-10
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”