Elijah the prophet had many adventures and there are brilliant stories about him in the book of Kings in the Bible. You may remember that Elisha had been Elijah’s apprentice prophet and learnt how to be a prophet from him. When it was time for Elijah to go to be with God, the two prophets were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven! Wow! That’s quite a story isn’t it? So he didn’t die!?
Then Elisha picks up where Elijah left off and we then read of his adventures.
One of the stories about Elisha involves a commander of the army of Syria, called Naaman. He was a brave soldier and his master, the king of Syria thought very highly of him. But, he had leprosy.
It was a horrible skin condition where you were covered in sores.
Naaman’s wife had a servant girl captured from Israel who knew all about the prophet Elisha and she told her mistress about him, ‘If Naaman would go to see him back in my land, he would cure him of his leprosy.”
So Naaman, the Commander of the army that had fought against God’s people went to see God’s prophet Elisha. He went with his chariots, horses, servants and and lots of gifts to reward Elisha.
When Naaman arrived at where he lived, Elisha sent a messenger out to him who said, “Go! Wash yourself in the Jordan River seven times and your skin will be better.”
But Naaman was angry! He had arrived in great style and the prophet hadn’t even been out to greet him and then gave this ridiculous instruction!
One of his servants spoke to him and said, “If the prophet had asked you to do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? But this is a simple thing to wash in the Jordan River and you will be clean. It may even work.”
So Naaman went and washed in the river seven times and the Bible tells us the leprosy was gone and he was clean.
Full of joy he went back to Elisha’s house. This time he saw Elisha. “ Now I know there is no God in all the world except the God of Israel.Please accept these gifts.
Elisha replied, “ I serve the Lord God. I will not accept anything.” And despite Naaman’s pleading Elisha refused any of the treasure.
It’s a great story but I guess when I read the Bible today I want to know what I can learn from it. Naaman seems like a good man but he expected people to treat him according to his position in life. In the army he was high up and important. Interestingly, his wife listened to a servant girl from another country and culture and told her husband about it. He agreed to do what the servant girl suggested.
But then having travelled with chariots, horses, servants and many gifts he was angry because the prophet didn’t come out to meet him. His pride took a bashing. And as for washing in the River Jordan. It was filthy! He would more happily have washed in cleaner rivers in his own country. But actually it wasn’t that difficult a task was it? To cure him from a disease that would kill him horribly? Then, again ,he listened to his servant and did it. And was cured. And worshipped God. He is a bit of a puzzle…but then maybe we all are.
In God’s eyes we are all equally important, loved and held dear. You can’t win a place in God’s heart by status or wealth because you are already there! But obeying what God says really pleases him and honours God for who he is.