Friday, August 10, 2007

Have You Ever Forgotten God? (Part 5)

You remember the story. It is found in 2 Kings 5.

It happened during a difficult time for the nation of Israel. They were at the mercy of the powerful Syrians. The nation had forgotten God, once again, and were experiencing the dire consequences of their faithlessness and rebellion.

The story centers around a man from Syria, Naaman, the commander of the army, and a man afflicted with leprosy. Through a servant girl, a household slave from Israel, Naaman is told that a man of God lived in Israel. The girl lamented, "If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy" (2 Kgs 5.3).

Naaman tells his king what his slave girl had said. The king replied, "Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel" (v. 5). So, Naaman went, taking the letter from his king, and came before the king of Israel. The king read the letter: "When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy" (v. 6).

Can you see the look of surprise and shock on the face of the king? "When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, 'Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me" (v. 7).

As the story continues, the prophet Elisha, the man of God known to Naaman's slave, sent word to the king and told him to send the Syrian commanded to his home. Elisha cured the man of his leprosy (you remember the details).

Why was the king surprised? Why was he distraught? Had he not forgotten about Elisha? Had he not forgotten God? A young slave girl in the service of an enemy remembered God and remembered his prophet, yet the king of Israel had not.

What would have happened has Elisha not intervened in sending word to the king? What would have happened had the king of Israel turned away Naaman, not knowing how to cure his leprosy . . . not remembering that the prophet of God could do this? How would the king of Syria have reacted to the king of Israel's forgetfulness and faithlessness? Probably not too kindly!