"What Part Are You Playing?"
Date: 24 April, 2016
Text: II Kings 5:1-15a
Title: What Part Are You Playing?
Playing in the Merchant of Venice - Wore makeup, wig and tights. Dr. Bob Sr and his son, Stephen were in the play. Dr. Bob III played the part of the Merchant of Venice. Everyone who was in the play had a part to play in the story.
Sometimes when you watch a play,
· you can see a bit of yourself. Good plays teach good morals.
· The greatest authors in their day were ones who could tell a story which dealt with a current event in a satirical way.
· They couldn't outright go against the monarchy but they could cleverly say things which would work the same thing with a face of innocence.
Certainly, when it comes to the Bible, the Spirit of God WHO IS THE AUTHOR records things for a Biblical lesson. These aren't recorded to challenge us intellectually. They are recorded to challenge us spiritually.
These stories are not parables - fictional earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. They are real stories with amazing depth of heavenly meaning.
The passover - clearly speaks of the blood of the Lamb of God being our atonement.
The ark - clearly pictures the ONE WAY of salvation from the wrath of God. etc.
The sacrifice of Isaac - clearly pictures God the father sacrificing His Son, Jesus.
So, in every story of the Word of God - we will see truth that hits us where we live. We may see a bit of ourselves in the story. If it was a play, we could ask ourselves, "What part am I playing? Am I like anyone in this story?"
Let me invite us to do that this morning as we look at the story of the healing of Naaman. What would the Spirit of God want you to see about yourself in these real characters of this story? Is there someone who is like you in this story?
II Kings 5:1-15a.
I. Naaman, A man who could not heal himself despite his greatness.
1 ¶ Now Naaman,
exp. He was a very great man.
A. He was powerful.
captain of the host of the king of Syria,
exp. He was the head of the army of Syria. He was the Commander-in-chief.
ill. In the USA - the president is the commander in chief over the armies. In Britain - the position rests with the monarch - in our case - Queen Elizabeth.
exp. Naaman had a position of great power. Although the king was above him, no one had more military authority than Naaman.
B. He was respected.
was a great man with his master,
exp. No one had more honor in the eyes of the king of Syria. Naaman was the greatest man in his kingdom. He was his right hand man.
C. He was honorable.
and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria:
exp. When the military parade passed through the streets of Syria - no one received louder praise than the captain of the armies of Syria - Naaman.
ill. Like the woman who praised David - 1Sa 18:7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
exp. How Haman was praised by the Syrian people!
D. He was courageous.
he was also a mighty man in valour,
note: The praise, honor and power - WERE EARNED. HE DESERVED IT. HE DIDN'T COME BY IT EASILY. HE HAD FOUGHT VALIENTLY TO GET TO THIS POSITION OF POWER.
app. The Holy Spirit is helping us to see that this man WAS A GREAT MAN. The problem with what he had achieved, is that he would be a very proud man. But, God gave him something to humble him.
E. But, he still had a problem.
but he was a leper.
note: Matthew Henry's Commentary "Naaman was as great as the world could make him, and yet (as Bishop Hall expresses it) the basest slave in Syria would not change skins with him."
app. Can you relate to Naaman this morning?
· Do you feel like you have achieved great things with your life?
· Do others praise you because of what you have earned?
· Are you a proud person because you feel like you have achieved these things of yourself?
· Are you aware that you have a disease that you can't do anything about?
question: You may not realize this - but leprosy in the Bible was a picture of sin.
· It was incureable.
· It was incredibly communicable.
· It seperated you from those you loved.
app. God has no difficulty humbling us this morning. He humbles us with our sinful condition. God is perfectly holy and we have a sin problem.
Isa 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
transition: Let us move from Naaman now to his wife's servant girl.
II. A little maid, who didn't excuse herself from witnessing.
exp. If anyone could have made excuse for not speaking about her God, it was this young lady.
A. She was a prisoner of war.
2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid;
exp. This was a young little girl who was taken from her family, home and people by the people who no doubt slaughtered many of her nation.
app. She had lost her liberty, but she had lost her love.
B. She was put into servitude.
and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
exp. Not only was she a prisoner. She was a slave. She may have been a rich little girl with servants in Israel. But, now she was put into the most menial of positions with no will of her own.
app. She lost her rights, but not her love.
C. She showed the love of God in her heart for her captors.
3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
exp. What a picture of the love of God -
· she could have rejoiced that Naaman had leprosy and thought him worthy of the judgment of God against him.
· Even though she had suffered, she didn't want him to suffer.
· She made a statement of faith in the power of her God to restore a leper.
app. Can you relate to the little Syrian girl? Even when others treat you unkindly do you maintain your love for them and desire them to escape God's judgment?
Matthew 5: 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
note: Her words weren't uttered in secret. There is now an unamed person in our story. Just an insignificant messenger....
III. One, who grabbed onto a glimmer of hope.
4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
exp. God had this little maids testimony to go to the heart of one who overheard and this great story is the result of his action of - putting faith in a simple promise of God.
ill. George Mueller's verse that changed his life according to his biography.
Ps 81:10 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
exp. George Mueller's biography is a result of a man who just grabbed onto the promise of God by faith.
app. Are you like "this one" who heard a promise of God and believed it? What promise of God have you claimed this week?
IV. A worldly king, who cared about his servants.
5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
exp. The love of this worldly king for his servants ought to challenge our love as believers.
· He spares no expense to himself.
· He puts his name to an unusual venture.
· All he cared about was the life of the captain of his army.
app. How do you compare with this worldly king? Do you know sadly that unbelievers often have greater evident love than believers?
ill. Charles Frederick Peace (14 May 1832 – 25 February 1879) was an English burglar and murderer, who embarked on a life of crime after being maimed in an industrial accident when a boy. On the morning of his execution, Peace ate a hearty breakfast of bacon, and calmly awaited the coming of the public executioner, William Marwood, inventor of the "long drop". He was escorted on the death-walk by the prison chaplain, who was reading aloud from The Consolations of Religion about the fires of hell. Peace burst out "Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!"
app. How often the world rightly stands in judgment on the church! We don't have the love like this king or think as passionately as this prisoner. God help us to benefit from being rebuked by the world!
now - We turn to the other king in our story....
V. A "godly" king, who put himself in the place of God because of His unbelief.
7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said,
exp. Tearing your clothes was a sign of anquish and sorrow of heart. It was visible mourning! Why is the King of Israel going into a fit? He has not the faith of the little maid who's testimony has put a man on his way to God.
A. Why did he look to Himself?
Am I God, to kill and to make alive,
exp. Obviously not! What a foolish question to contemplate. Although he asks a valid question - it is because he is assuming that he has the responsability of healing the leper!
B. Did the king of Syria send to the King of Israel to recover Naaman?
that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy?
exp. Oh, how the unbelieving heart mistakes the truth. This man had been sent to be healed by God - not by the king. He was only coming to the king to go to the man of God.
C. Who does the king care about - God's Glory - or His own?
wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
exp. This had nothing to do with the king and EVERYTHING TO DO WITH GOD'S GLORY!
app. What are you more concerned about in a trial of your faith -
HOW YOU WILL LOOK AND HOW YOU WILL SUCCEED?
Are you asking YOURSELF how you are expected to do this act of faith?
Do you feel like you have to step into God's place and get it done?
Or are you burdened about the glory of God being seen? The king never believed that God could do this great work.
now - praise the Lord, we don't have to long look at the unbelieving king who only cared about his glory and security. Now we have....
VI. A man of God, who was not ashamed to believe God for a miracle.
8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
exp. The man of God rightly rebukes the unbelieving king and confidently expresses that GOD WILL DO THIS GREAT MIRACLE AND BRING GLORY TO HIMSELF.
Genesis 3: 5 ¶ And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
exp. The dream was true and God would show it. Joseph didn't keep his dream to himself in unbelief. He stepped out by faith and acknowledged what God was doing.
note: If you don't believe he should have said anything - consider this - the dream would be fulfilled by those who sought to stop it by selling Joseph into slavery.
app. Do you find anything of the man of God in you this morning. Are you willing to step out by faith to trust God to do the impossible?
now - we return to the leper - who because of his power, honor, etc, is full of pride.
VII. A leper, who refused to humble himself to be healed.
A. He is met by a messenger instead of the master.
9 ¶ So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying,
exp. How God loves to humble those who come to him. Naaman expected to meet the prophet himself probably inside his home. Instead he is met at the door by a servant of Elisha's.
B. He is given simple instructions with the promise of healing.
Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
exp. Look at this simple promise. Go 7 times under the water of the Jordan and you will be healed.
here are some likewise simple promises from God's Word.
Ac 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Ro 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
app. Proud people will struggle to obey simple commands.
C. His expectations were not met and it angered him.
11 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.
exp. Here he was - the captain of the armies of syria - who was given a simple task that any child could do.
note: Have you ever noticed how easy it is for children to get saved and how long it takes for proud adults to humble themselves to do the same simple task?
D. He focused on the act of obedience instead of the promise.
12 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.
exp. "Doing that does not heal you - but when you humble your heart and DO THAT GOD HEALS YOU."
app. Are you like Naaman this morning, refusing to do the simple act because you are focused on the act - instead of the promise and power behind the act?
now - Praise God there are some humble servants who come into the picture at this crucial moment.
VI. Servants, who reasoned of the simplicity of the proposed cleansing.
A. If he had been given a great challenge he would have done it.
13 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?
exp. This man had fearlessly gone into battle and if salvation were to be found in taking the crown jewels of another nation - he would have done it.
app. If you could earn your salvation by a great act - would you do it - if it was traveling to Jerusalem or writing a book, or doing a great deed? Why then not just do the simple thing which God's Word commands.
B. Why would he not then just do the simple act of obedience.
how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
exp. So simple - BUT SO HUMBLING FOR THE CAPTAIN OF SYRIA TO PASS THROUGH THE WATERS.
app. God has his servants be baptized in their obedience to Jesus. Baptism does not save. But, you have to humbly accept Jesus before you can do this other humbling act of obedience.
C. Their love and voice of reason brough this great man to humble himself.
14 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.
exp. There is NO OTHER WAY OF HEALING OTHER THAN GOD'S WAY. If Naaman had disobeyed by doing the same things in the cleaner rivers - he would not have been healed. HE HAD TO DO IT GOD'S WAY.
app. So it is this morning - the only choice you get is to obey or disobey. And if you disobey - you miss the blessing of salvation and cleansing! You can be like Naaman today. Naaman didn't get to do this privately. He had to do this act of obedience to God in front of his servants. Don't think - well I will wait until I get home today. If you won't obey now, don't think you will when you are in private.
VII. A company, who returns to honor the God of all the earth.
15 ¶ 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:
Where are you in this story this morning?
Are you like the proud Naaman at the beginning - so full of yourself - but a leper?
Are you like that servant girl who loved her captors?
Are you picking up God's promises by faith like - the one who told the king?
Do you love like the King of Syria who spared no expense for his friend?
Are you in unbelief like the king of Israel who despaired with a challenge of faith?
Are you like the man of God who spoke up for God's glory and rebuked the unbelief?
Are you like the proud man who would not do the simple act?
Are you encouraging men to obey God like these servants?
Are you healed like Naaman who obeyed God?