2 Kings 4-5
In today’s reading, we see a powerful illustration of God’s cleansing power.
Naaman, in his time, was a mighty man. He was so trusted by the Syrian king that Naaman was appointed commander of the king’s army. Life was going good for Naaman until he contracted the disease of leprosy. Now, in Naaman’s day, there was not anything that medicinal practitioners could do to cure leprosy. The leper would be left alone to die a slow and painful death as the disease withered away his body. This was Naaman’s situation — a helpless and hopeless one.
The only hope for Naaman was an act of God. In Naaman’s day, the power of God was miraculously worked through the life of Elisha. Among other things that he did, Elisha miraculously increased a woman’s oil supply (4:1-7), resurrected a child from the dead (4:8-37), purified a spoiled pot of stew (4:38-41), and fed one-hundred men (4:42-44). The king of Syria sent Naaman to the prophet of God in Samaria in hopes that his servant might be made clean again.
When Naaman came to Elisha, the man of God sent word to Naaman that he needed to dip seven times in the Jordan River. In doing such, it was promised that his flesh would be restored, and he would be made clean (2 Kgs. 5:10).
Naaman initially protested thinking that he might be made clean another way, and went away enraged by what he had heard. Then, Naaman’s servants became voices of reason and redirected Naaman by saying to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (5:13).
I mean, what better option would Naaman receive than this? This was the only hope that Naaman had! Why wouldn’t he humbly obey this instruction and expect that the power of God might be known in his life? Why would he not wash and be clean? The conclusion of the story is found in verse 14.
“So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
Isn’t this a powerful illustration of God’s cleansing power? Now, think about your own life. Do you understand that sin is a spiritual disease which makes the soul unclean (see Psa. 51:1-10)? Do you understand that sin has inflicted your very soul (Rom. 3:23)? Do you also understand that sin has left you helpless and hopeless (Eph. 2:1-5)? Yet, God has chosen to do something about your problem! His will is to make clean your soul (Isa. 1:18; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Through His sacrificial death on the cross, Christ has extended unto you the blessed possibility to be made clean (Mt. 26:28; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Jn. 2:1-2). If your soul is to be made clean, it will only be made clean through the blood of Jesus (see 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 13:12; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 Jn. 1:7-9; Rev. 1:5; 7:14; 22:14)?
In the Acts of the Apostles, Saul was just like you and me — in need of a spiritual cleansing, for his sin was great (Acts 8:1-3). Graciously, the Lord Jesus revealed himself to Saul and told him that he would receive instructions regarding what he needed to do (cf. Acts 9:5). The Lord sent a messenger to Saul who told him,
“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16 ESV).
Saul was promised a cleansing if he would be arise and be baptized. Why wouldn’t he humbly obey this instruction and expect that the power of God might be made known in his life? Why would he not wash and be clean?
What about you? Have you been washed clean by the blood of Jesus? Have you been baptized to wash away your sins? If not, why delay doing what you should?
To read more about what the New Testament has to say regarding the importance of baptism, you can read these verses: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:3-5; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21.