A Girl, A Pagan, and a Prophet

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. [Matthew 5:4 ESV]

Not every God a appointed authority seeks God. In this world most seek their own end. This does not mean they are not appointed by God to fill the position which He has determined. He places them where He wills and He removes them at His will. God also appoints men who represent Him before the people, who follow Him with their whole heart, and speak for Him. We may not see the difference between the two yet know one wants the acclaim of the world and the other serves God. For the former, the desire is for everything the world has to offer and nothing of God. For the latter, the desire is for all God gives, and nothing the world has to offer. Mostly.

In Israel during the time of the kings there lived a man named Elisha, the prophet or Seer of God. He had been the servant of Elijah who was taken into heaven without dying. Elisha also had a servant named Gehazi. As servants of their master, Elisha spoke for God and Gehazi spoke for Elisha.

Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was in constant conflict with the surrounding nations. Syria, to the East, raided Israel over and over. The commanders of the Syrian army, Naaman, battle hardened and brilliant, had an Israeli servant girl, captured and carried off during a raid when she was young. Naaman was a leper, having a skin disease, possibly a white spot, which brought him shame and made him unclean. Remember, leprosy was considered by the Hebrews punishment for some sin. In the minds of the Israeli people Naaman’s leprosy was judgment from God. He raided Israel and stole their children. Yet, here is a remarkable statement from a stolen child.

Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ”Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israe.”  [2 Kings 5:2-4 ESV]

She, a child of God, wanted to help her master. Had not God made Naaman her master, her authority. She mourned for the sin of her master and sought his best interests in telling him how he could be healed. These are the characteristics of a true servant.

Naaman went to Elisha, with elaborate payment to buy his freedom from leprosy. Elisha accepted none of his offerings, told him what to do to be healed and sent him on his way. Grudgingly, Naaman followed the prophet’s instructions and was healed. With his healing of the body came a healing of the soul and spirit.

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mules’ load of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.”He said to him, “Go in peace.”  [2 Kings 5:15-19 ESV]

We cannot sell God’s grace. Nor can we buy it. It is free to His children, His friends and His enemies. Some of these enemies turn away from the world and turn toward Him. Elisha would take nothing from Israel’s enemy but gave freely, healing and dirt. Naaman also had a God appointed authority but would never again worship the false, deceptive illusion his authority worshipped. Never again. Naaman mourned over sin and remained a servant.

Now we come to Gehazi, the servant of Elisha. Did he not know his master, or the Master of his master. Had he not learned anything. He knew how to think but his thinking was wrong, as deceptive as the false image worshipped by the Syrian king.  In the thinking of his heart he decided he and Israel was owed something by this guilty pagan. “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him”  [2 Kings 5:20 ESV]. He justified his sin using his own moral standard, not that of God. He turned Elisha’s words upside down and rebelled against the wishes of his master and his master’s Master. He coveted and excused his covetousness, even using God as a justification. If Elisha would not benefit then he, himself, would.

He felt entitled and then he lied.

“All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two festal garments.’” And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two festal garments, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.  [2 Kings 5:22-24 ESV]

He lied when he requested the items. He lied when he brought them back, hiding them. Have you every hid something you knew you were not supposed to have? And when Elisha confronted him he lied again. Was there so little understanding of truth, of himself and the God of Israel that he could lie so blatantly without acknowledging he lied? Then to have the audacity to go and serve his master as if nothing were wrong? Gehazi’s heart was hard and he could not see the sin he had so blithely committed.

Elisha saw the sin, revealed to him by God, and he mourned. “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you?”  [2 Kings 5:26]  Elisha knew with his whole person the sin his servant committed . He grieved and mourned knowing the dire consequences of such obvious rebellion. It was a rebellion which brought remorse but not repentance. Remorse is grief because one has been caught, found out. Had he not been caught he never would have repented. Having been caught he was closer to repentance. There is nothing in Scripture which suggests Gehazi ever repented.

Three things happened next. Gehazi carried Naaman’s leprosy for the rest of his life. Where he had not been a leper now he was “like snow.”  [2 Kings 5:27 ES]  Gehazi’s descendants carried Naaman’s leprosy until he had no more descendents.  His sin was carried by his family, just as Adam’s in is carried by all. Jesus, the head of the Body of Christ, gives us His righteousness. I cannot buy His righteousness, or sell it, or earn it, or every be divested of it. I am identified with Him just as Man is identified with Adam and Gehazi’s descendants are identified with their father.

Finally, Gehazi “went out from his presence”  [2 Kings 5:27 ESV]. He was no longer a servant of Elisha. He would no longer speak for Elisha, although he would try. He continued to refer to himself as the servant of the man of God. He continued to extol the great things done by Elisha. He would continue to lift himself up, live according to his own moral code, seek the attention of those in the world. When he left Elisha’s presence, it was permanent. See 2 Kings 8:1-6. Scripture does not lie. Those revealed in God’s Word, being human, do lie.

Mourning over the consequences of sin is a gift, a grace of God, of grief and of repentance.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s