God's Mirror: Chapter 14

2 Kings 5:5‑14  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 5
2 Kings 5:5-145And 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. 6And 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. 7And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. 8And 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. 9So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. 10And 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. 11But 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. 12Are 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. 13And 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? 14Then 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. (2 Kings 5:5‑14)
No one has ever seen his own face, yet everyone knows his own photograph. How can that be? Because, though he has not seen his own face, he has seen the reflection of that face in the mirror.
And, just so, while none of us have seen our own hearts, yet we may get to know our inner selves in the very same way, namely, by looking in the spiritual mirror — the Word of God, the most truthful of all mirrors. Let us hold up before us that spiritual mirror and let us look for our own reflection. Let us pray earnestly that God the Holy Spirit will show us what we are. If we look carefully, and in the spirit of prayer, we cannot fail to recognize ourselves.
We find ourselves, as we take up our story, in the capital city of Israel, Samaria. There is the high hill with the town built on its slopes. There is the broad wall around it and inside are the houses of white brick with rafters of sycamore and the grand stone mansions of the nobles with their roofs of cedar. Towering above all the rest is the splendid palace of King Jehoram.
A feeling of excitement fills the air. Crowds are collected in the streets and on the housetops; the tradesmen leave their shops to see what is going on. Everyone has heard that a party of foreigners has ridden in by the northern gate of the city. It is a very distinguished party — a splendid chariot followed by a troop of soldiers and servants. Followed by many eyes, the strange company passes through the street and makes for the magnificent palace of King Jehoram.
After a little time the report goes through the town that they are Syrians. This news is by no means cheering, for the Syrians, as everyone knows, are their worst enemies. And further inquiry alarms still more the citizens of Samaria. They are told that King Jehoram received a letter, read it and then tore his clothes, which was the greatest sign of sorrow and trouble, and gave his opinion that the letter meant war.
Who has brought the letter? Naaman, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian army. The letter from the king of Syria to Jehoram, king of Israel, ran as follows:
“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.”
The king of Israel takes this view of the letter: This king of Syria wants to fight. This request is only an excuse. He asks me to do what is impossible, and he knows it. No one can cure a leper. Now I and my nation will be forced, against our will, into another war.
A messenger arrives at the palace gate. It is Gehazi, the servant of Elisha. He brings a message from his master. He bids him send the great Syrian to him.
“Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
The king most thankfully takes advantage of this opportunity of getting rid of the haughty Syrian warrior. Now, to his great relief, the procession moves away and goes towards the humble dwelling of the prophet.
So Naaman comes with his horses and with his chariots and stands at the door of the house of Elisha. No doubt he expects the prophet to come and respectfully greet him, for he is a great man. Perhaps he will offer up some long prayers, wave his hands over him and work a miraculous cure. Then Naaman will pay him well for his work. His servants will unload the mules with their load of gold and silver and garments. The prophet will be well paid and Naaman will be honored for his generosity.
And what happened? No prophet appeared. Naaman did not even see this man of whom he had heard so much. He only saw the prophet’s servant, who told him that his master had sent a message, bidding him drive to the Jordan River and dip seven times in its waters, promising that, if he did so, his leprosy would leave him.
The great and mighty Naaman condescends to come to the door of the humble Elisha, the poor prophet, and, instead of being invited in, the prophet just sends the message: “Go and wash in Jordan seven times.”
And what good can washing do him? No amount of water can remove disease, and, above all, such a terrible disease as leprosy. Wash where? In the Jordan River? That miserable little river which he had passed on his way to Samaria. It was just a muddy, insignificant stream, not to be even compared with the two clear rivers of Damascus, the beautiful Abana and Pharpar.
Yet he is bidden to dip seven times in the muddy waters of the Jordan. Surely the prophet is only mocking and insulting him. So in a great rage he throws himself back in his chariot and bids his servant drive on.
Did not Naaman want to be healed? Of course he did. He wanted it so much that he had brought thousands of dollars in gold, silver and clothes to pay for a cure. But take off his splendid robes to wade into that muddy water and then to put himself seven times under it? He feels it is quite beneath his dignity to think of such a thing. He imagines that the prophet must be trying to make a laughing-stock of him to the people of Israel.
So Naaman’s horses’ heads are turned homeward. But in order to reach Damascus, the Jordan must again be forded, and, as they draw near the despised river, Naaman’s servants venture to speak. They strive to persuade him to do what the prophet said. There could surely be no harm in making the attempt. To their great joy their master yields to their persuasions.
He obeys the prophet’s instructions. He enters the river. He dips once, twice. Seven times he goes under. Now he comes up for the seventh time. Has anything changed? Or is he still covered with his spots and sores?
Look, see how altered he is! He enters the water a poor leper, covered with a horrible disease, sickening and loathsome to look upon. He stands before his servants a new man, without a particle of disease, with flesh firmer and fairer than their own, for his flesh came again like the flesh of a little child.
Yes, Naaman obeys. He washes in the Jordan, and he is cleansed.
And now, as you read the story, have you looked in the mirror? If you have done so, you will have seen one of four images of your heart reflected back at you. In which of the four have you recognized your own reflection?
One image is the image of the leper — a person with the incurable disease still upon him. Is that you? Can that be you? Have you a disease, the incurable disease called sin eating away the very life of your soul? Oh, how like leprosy is that disease!
We look at our little infants, so pure and innocent they seem, but they inherit the disease of sin. In a very short time, the naughty tempers and acts of rebellion prove only too clearly that they are sinners, even as their parents were before them.
Sin, like leprosy, is loathsome and horrible in its effects on the one who suffers from it. No one wants to gaze at a leper, so revolting and painful is the sight. And God feels just the same as He looks upon the sinner. The sight is just as horrible to His holy eyes. The man covered with sin is to Him a painful object, a sight which He cannot bear to behold.
Sin, like leprosy, is utterly incurable except by God; only divine power can restore him to health. And it is God, and God alone, who can heal the disease of sin. Man can do nothing in the matter; it is utterly and entirely beyond his power. If that disease is ever to be cured, it must be by the hand of God.
That disease is yours; it is mine. We inherit our sinful nature from our parents. There never was a time when we were free from it. We may try to cover it up by religious observances or by acts of charity just as Naaman covered his spots with his splendid armor and his magnificent robes. But still, under all this and clearly seen by the eye of God, there is the plague of sin.
Who can deny that this is true? Then, if you have never been cured, if the spots remain upon you, when God calls you suddenly and unexpectedly out of this world, you would have to cry, in spite of all your moral behavior or religious profession, “Unclean, unclean.” There would be no heaven for you, for those inside its gates are without spot before the throne of God. The holy God cannot look on sin, and one single spot of the disease of sin is quite sufficient to keep any man out of heaven.
Is that your picture in the mirror — the picture of a leper unwashed, uncleansed, covered with the loathsome disease of sin?
See, another face appears in the mirror. It is the face of the one who wants to be cleansed. It is Naaman, with just one desire, one yearning in his heart, and that is to lose his leprosy. Oh, whose face is here? Would to God it might be the face of one who is reading this book! Is this your cry, “My sin, my sin, what shall I do with my sin? Oh, that I knew it was forgiven, and oh, that I could get rid of it. If I could only be certain that I was cleansed”? Thank God, if that face is yours, for to feel sin and your need of Him is the very first step towards obtaining the Great Physician’s help. It is all the fitness He requires. He has waited for you many a day, He is waiting for you still, and He waits that He may be gracious.
A third face is appearing in the mirror; look at it! It is the man who wants to be cleansed, but who goes about it in the wrong way. It is the man who comes in the wrong spirit to the Great Healer. It is Naaman, willing to pay thousands of dollars for his cure, but unwilling to follow the prophet’s instructions to simply wash and be clean. Is that your picture? You want to be forgiven, you hope to be forgiven, but you are going to get it done in your own way. You will do something to deserve God’s favor and to make Him forgive you. You will pray, read your Bible, attend services, do good works, and then, having done what you consider your part, expect God to heal you.
Will your plan work? No, it will be a dead failure. If Naaman had left all his money on Elisha’s doorstep, it would not have healed a single spot. And if you are ever to be saved, you must be saved in God’s own way, and that is just what you are unwilling to do.
Suppose an angel appeared to you and told you that if only you were willing to give $50 to some charity, you should go to heaven, you would do it immediately. Or, if he told you to attend every service and every prayer meeting for a year or two and then you could be sure of heaven, I feel sure that nothing would keep you away.
Yes, you want to be cleansed, you long earnestly for it, but you are not willing to take the simple remedy of the Great Physician. If He had bidden you do some great thing, undoubtedly you would have done it, but because the way is easy and the cure is without money and without price, you turn your back on it.
But, thank God, a fourth and last picture appears on the mirror, the picture of the cleansed leper. Is that your likeness? Can you say, Once I was full of sin, covered with leprosy, but now I am washed — made clean — by God’s own remedy for sin?
Does any anxious soul say, “Oh, I want that to be my picture! Tell me, how did you obtain that soul cleansing? Tell me very simply and very clearly, that I may obtain it too.”
Is that the cry of your heart? Then listen. We who have been made clean paid nothing for our cleansing. We did nothing to earn it. We simply followed Naaman’s example. The man of God told Naaman, “Go and wash in Jordan ... and thou shalt be clean.” Naaman took the man of God at his word, and the result was he was made clean.
And that is all we did. There was the word of the man of God: “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” We took that word, we trusted it and we acted upon it. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was our Jordan. His atoning blood was the cleansing flood to our souls, and we were cleansed from all sin. Do you long to be saved from sin? Go and do likewise. Let that little prayer be the cry of your heart: “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”!
Will He hear your prayer? Will He answer it? I know He will. Only go to Him today, and even today He will cleanse you. Do you say, like Naaman, “It is too simple; it is not the way I would have chosen”? Never mind that. It is His way, and it is the only way. Take it, try it, and never rest until you can say, “The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son has cleansed me from all sin.”