At the Home of an Enemy for a Divine Purpose – is an interesting story about a little girl from Israel, a child of the LORD Almighty, who ended up in the enemy territory, at the home of an enemy for a divine purpose.
You might have heard a lot of sermons about Joseph, one of the sons of Jacob who was taken to Egypt, but none about this little girl. It’s really an interesting story and worth discussing. Because, we, as believers, have a lot to learn from this little girl’s story. Though, this is a bit lengthy, I am sure, if you continue till the end, you will be blessed.
1 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. 2 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. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. (2 kings 5, 1-5)
Let us once again look at the specific verse that talks about this little girl.
2 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. (2 Kings 5, 2)
Verse 2 tells us that, the Syrians during one of their raids have carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she is now in Naaman’s house. We do not have much information about her family, tribe or clan. But, one thing is sure – she belonged to an Israeli family. I guess, she might have been living a happy life like any other kids of her age. But suddenly, misfortune strikes her and she’s being carried away to a strange land by the enemies of her country, these raiders might have even destroyed her whole family- we don’t know.
Anyway, just imagine the state of mind of this little girl; she was forcefully taken away from her family and people, and now, she is in a strange land among some strange people who are her enemies.
In these circumstances if it’s you and I – we would be really bitter, angry and frustrated. We would curse the people who separated us from our family and relatives. We will hold vengeance and grudge against them. We would live with a bad attitude towards everybody around us. We may even lose all our passion for God and His word. We might never stop asking ourselves; why this happened to me? We might even wonder why a loving God let these things happen in my life”
But, this little girl was quite different, she was not like contemporary Christians, she talks and behaves like Joseph, not like us.
As we know very well, Joseph also went through a similar situation but it never changed his attitude towards the LORD ALMIGHTY and the people around him. Even in very hostile circumstances he maintained a good attitude. He did not allow the circumstances to snuff out the faith and hope planted in his mind by the word of God.
This little girl too had the same attitude as Joseph in Egypt. She did not have any bitterness towards the people around her. She lived in Naaman’s house with a pleasant attitude. She wished good for the people around her. She loved her enemies and wanted to see them doing well. That’s why, when Naaman was troubled by the disease, she tells him to go and see prophet Elisha. If we were in this situation, we may not even pass this information to Naaman. Let us look at the verses below:
3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” ( 2Kings 5, 3)
See, how she uses her words; she talks in a very caring manner and is eager to let her master know that he will definitely be healed; if he visits the Prophet in Samaria. She doesn’t have even a pinch of hesitation to let her master know about the prophet. From her words one more thing is clear:
“she is sure about the possible outcome – i.e. She is certain that Naaman will be cured of his leprosy.
Saints, those days leprosy was an incurable disease; people were totally isolated from the society because of it. Normally no one would associate with someone who has this disease. Naaman was deeply worried about his condition and he was desperately looking for a cure. Hence, he could not ignore the words of his little maid. He immediately talks to the Syrian king and get permission to visit the prophet. The king too was very happy to send Naaman to the prophet; he even sent a letter requesting the king of Israel to provide whatever assistance Naaman would need during his stay in Israel.
Well, let us find out what happens next:
So, Naaman prepared everything required for his stay and reached Israel. The picture we get here is; a gentile, an Idol worshiper, is coming to the king of Israel hoping that he will be healed by the God of Israel, in other words, he is very optimistic about the healing that he will receive through the man of God in Israel.
However, the king of Israel, who worships the true God, who has seen and heard all the miracles that the LORD ALMIGHTY did among the Israelites, is not very optimistic about the success of Naaman’s visit. Therefore, he responds in a very helpless, hopeless manner, as if there was no God in Israel.
7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.” (2kings, 5, 7)
I am not at all surprised about the hopeless response of Joram king of Israel, we, believers too might respond in a similar manner. Whenever we face situations that are difficult or near-impossible to deal with, we run out of faith and collapse, we will be quick to make conclusions that are totally against what we have seen, heard or experienced in our Christian walk. Instead of speaking words of faith, we might speak words of hopelessness and unbelief. Many times, we are exactly like the Israeli King mentioned above.
Although, king Joram, an Israelite who knew very well about the God of Israel and HIS miraculous hands, was still living in complete distrust of the God Almighty. So, he could not utter anything good, instead, he felt troubled by the letter Naaman brought.
The same thing happened in the case of King Saul too. When Goliath challenged Saul’s army, he didn’t have the hope and courage to face this giant. At the end, David, a little shepherd boy comes forward to face Goliath. When we examine the confrontation between David and Goliath, we all know very well that, it would be impossible for a boy to kill a giant with a sling and a few small stones. But David, instead of looking at the power of his slings, looked at the power of his GOD whom he worshiped. And David knew; the victory would be his, because, GOD ALMIGHTY was on his side. So, he went forward to attack the giant and the result; we all know!
Well, let’s examine further and see what happens next with Naaman.
And it was so, when Elisha the man of God 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. (2Kings 5, 8)
Here, verse 8 depicts a completely different picture; exactly opposite to what we just read about the King of Israel.
The man of God – Prophet Elisha, hears about the predicament of king Jehoram and decides to deal with the situation. He is confident and courageous. Though he is just a one-man army, he knew what his God could do for him to deal with this difficult situation. He just asks king Jehoram to send Naaman to him. He doesn’t have any doubt or uncertainty about the outcome. He is bold and optimistic; his words are full of power and hope.
9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. 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 Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper. 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the 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. (2Kings, 5, 9-12)
Yes, next part of the story seems a bit tense. Naaman reaches the house of Prophet Elisha. Here, we see The Supreme Commander of the Syrian Army sent by the King of Israel is standing at the door of the man of God. But Prophet Elisha doesn’t go and meet him personally or talk to him. He just sent his messenger to convey the message.
If we were in Elisha’s place, we would run out and give him a warm welcome. That’s how today’s Christians, including me, behave. If someone is rich or has high status or position in the society; we will give him more attention and respect than an ordinary believer. But for the prophet, only His GOD is great and no one else.
Anyway, back to to Naaman: it seems like things are moving in a different direction from what he had anticipated. Hence, he is angry and walks away. Of course, Naaman is an unbeliever, we don’t need to be surprised if he behaves in this manner.
Unfortunately, sometimes, Christians too behave like Naaman in a similar situation, We often expect the LORD to deal with a crisis-situation in our life in a certain way, but suddenly things take an unexpected turn and we end up feeling completely frustrated, angry and disappointed. But, please remember, these negative emotions won’t help us in any way, instead they might even become a hindrance to receiving the blessings that are already on the way.
In the spiritual realm, the prophet already saw a “completely healed Naaman”. However, Naaman’s arrogance blinded him from seeing that reality and he almost lost his blessing.
Fortunately, things didn’t work that way as the LORD didn’t plan it that way. The LORD Almighty had sent that little Israeli girl to Naaman’s house for HIS glory. So, the story should come to its logical end, as planned by The LORD Almighty. Now let us see what happens next.
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? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? 14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in the 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, 13-14)
It seems like Naaman’s servants were a bit wiser than him or I think the LORD made them wise for that particular moment. They advised him to do as the Prophet had commanded him. Soon, Naaman changes his mind and decides to go down and dip himself in the Jordan as the Prophet instructed. And when he finished seven times, his skin was completely clean and looked like a young child’s skin.
What a great miracle! Can you imagine the joy that Naaman had at that moment? Something that he never expected, has come true. Of course, when Naaman set out for Israel he had the hope of being healed. But when the prophet gave a very simple solution, that hope in Naaman vanished. Because he believed; to get a healing for an incurable disease like leprosy, something more complex should be done; but, things happened completely contrary to what he had been expecting.
Beloved, in our lives too, sometimes things can happen in a similar manner. But we should be spiritually wise enough to see the LORD’s hand in every simple step.
Saints, we always need to keep one thing in mind: The GOD whom we worship is a GOD who created this whole universe out of nothing. So, he doesn’t need to rely on complex methods to solve our simple problems. HIS Eternal WORD that sustains everything in this universe is powerful enough to deal with every impossibility we encounter. What we need is just “The Trust” in HIS power. The same trust that prophet Elisha had, the same simple undoubting trust that Naaman’s little maid had.
Sometimes I feel, many of us, believers, have little understanding of the GOD we worship. Most of the times, we see GOD just like we see our fellow human beings. Our spiritual eyes are not opened enough to comprehend his Power and Glory. If we go through His WORD diligently, we will know Him better. Today’s Christians are taught only a little about Jesus’ Deity and Glory, we are almost ignorant about the fact that: HE is the one who created everything seen and unseen. He’s the one who holds this universe together. See what Paul writes about Him:
15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1, 15-17)
Let’s continue with Naaman; well, now we are going to look at a different Naaman, a man totally changed both inwardly and outwardly. A man who literally experienced the power of the God of Israel in his life.
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: now therefore, I pray thee, take a present of thy servant. 16 But he said, As Jehovah liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. 17 And Naaman said, If not, yet, I pray thee, let there be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth; for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto Jehovah. 18 In this thing Jehovah pardon thy servant: when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, Jehovah pardon thy servant in this thing. 19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way. (2 Kings, 5, 15-19).
The above verses give us a clear picture about the change Naaman had after his miraculous encounter with the God of Israel. The first thing he did was to return to Elisha. This is really note-worthy, because, among contemporary Christians we seldom see this kind of behavior. We get blessings from God, but forgets Him as soon as we get them.
If we are grateful to God for what we have received from Him, then, we should move closer to him by obeying His commandments. If we are grateful to Him, we won’t do anything that displeases Him. Unfortunately, this is not what happens in many Christians’ lives. The more blessings they receive, the more they move away from Him.
Now, Naaman returns to Elisha with a grateful heart and asks him to accept some gifts from him. But, the prophet refuses, and I am not surprised about his response. Because, Elisha is a man of God and He dwells in Him each and every moment of his life. For him material things mean nothing. He is already experiencing the imperishable riches of God in his life. His purpose of life is to please God and do His will. He is more focused on cleansing people from their spiritual uncleanness than receiving material blessings.
But for me, the most surprising thing is: not offering gifts to Elisha, but, Naaman’s promise that – he would follow and worship only the God of Israel and he will not offer any sacrifices or burnt-offerings to any other gods. Here we see a fully convinced, committed and converted Naaman. See his words:
17 And Naaman said, If not, yet, I pray thee, let there be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth; for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto Jehovah. (2 Kings, 5, 17)
One more surprising thing Naaman did after accepting the God of Israel as his God was, asking the prophet to pray for him that the LORD forgives him whenever he accompanies the Syrian king to the Temple of Rimmon.
Here, Naaman realizes the difficult situation that he is in and asking the LORD to forgive him for this sin. Another point is – Naaman becomes aware of this sin after his leprosy was cured. Here, we see the LORD not only curing of his physical uncleanliness but also of his spiritual uncleanliness. So, he becomes whole not only physically but also spiritually.
We have some lessons to learn from this. We too were spiritually unclean at one time, but The LORD Almighty cleansed us through His Son’s precious blood that shed on the cross and brought us into His kingdom. So, we too should be grateful to the Almighty and give up all the unholy things that once dominated our lives.
Unfortunately, this complete transformation that Naaman had, happens only in a few people’s lives. Among contemporary born-again believers, only a few let themselves to be completely transformed by the power of the Almighty God. Many of them still love to follow their previous disobedient lifestyle. For these believers, their faith becomes a cover to continue in their old sinful lifestyle. There is no complete transformation and recreation of one’s self.
One of the reasons for this lack of complete transformation lies in the way we present the Good News about the Kingdom of Christ. We Teach them about Christ and Salvation but we seldom touch the topic of obedience to Christ’s commandments. Lack of obedience leads to lack of holiness. Most of the contemporary preachers, teachers and pastors are afraid to talk to new believers about the importance of obeying God’s commandments.
They think that, talking about God’s laws will chase people away from their churches. This is a very wrong conception. For God – obedience to His commandments are more important than going to church on Sunday and attending small group meetings.
We have to understand that: sin came into this world through disobedience of Adam and Eve. People always think only deeds like murder, adultery and stealing are serious sins; other things are OK. But in God’s eyes, every form of disobedience is a sin. No matter how simple they are in man’s eyes. Look at the verses below:
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (1 John 1, 6)
3 And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 1John 2, 3-4)
Well, let us go back to our topic, next, I am going to share with you the most important point: Now, Naaman who came to Israel with Leprosy is going back to Damascus as a completely new person, both physically and spiritually. And this whole change happened because of the information that Naaman’s Israeli maid had given him.
So, here, what we see is: a little child of God is being used by HIM to transform a gentile who is one of the prominent Leaders in Syria. This little girl, as I wrote in the beginning, was forcefully taken from her home. But finally, it resulted in the complete physical and spiritual transformation of the Supreme Commander of the Syrian Army who was an idol worshiper. He was transformed to the extent that; he accepted the God of Israel as his God. This little girl became an instrument of this miraculous transformation.
Beloved, I don’t know what situation you are in. You might be a child of God but you are in places, jobs and situations that you really don’t want to be in. And like a fish out of water you might be trying so hard to get out of this situation. But let me assure you – if you are a child of God, be strong, be at peace with yourself. You are being in the current situation not by accident, not by chance. LORD has a plan to transform someone else around you like He did for Naaman by using that little maid. Don’t be desperate to get out of your current situation, just surrender yourself to God’s will and you will see changes not only in your life but also in somebody else’s life.
I have experienced this in my own life. I was an unbeliever and came to know the True God and His Christ through one of my colleagues. In fact, this colleague was someone who really didn’t want to be in my office but for some reasons ended up in my company for a short period and the LORD used this person to lead me to the Living Water, our LORD and Saviour JESUS CHRIST. So, don’t lose heart. Pray that HIS WILL BE DONE IN YOUR LIFE.