Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 October 28, 2012

A Most Unlikely Evangelist

Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1–14 (The Living Bible)
1 The king of Syria had high admiration for Naaman, the commander-in-chief of his army, for he had led his troops to many glorious victories. So he was a great hero, but he was a leper.
2 Bands of Syrians had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a little girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid.
3 One day the little girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy!”  Elisha is this unknown prophet.
4 Naaman told the king what the little girl had said. 
5 “Go and visit the prophet,” the king told him. “I will send a letter of introduction for you to carry to the king of Israel.” So Naaman started out, taking gifts of $20,000 in silver, $60,000 in gold, and ten suits of clothing.
6 The letter to the king of Israel said: “The man bringing this letter is my servant Naaman; I want you to heal him of his leprosy.”
7 When the king of Israel read it, he tore his clothes and said, “This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can kill and give life? He is only trying to get an excuse to invade us again.” 

I want to stop here to give you some additional explanation.
The nation of Syria was located northeast of Palestine.
Through much of their history, they were a threat to Israel.
When Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, heard that there was a possible cure for Naaman in Samaria, he showed how he valued this captain by his promptness in sending him to Samaria and by the size of the gift for his healing.
Naaman and his letter arrived at the king’s court, but the king of Israel was horrified to think that Ben-hadad would so subtly ask him to heal a leper.
He thought Ben-hadad was attempting to instigate a war.
Now, let’s pick up our text at verse 8.

8 But when Elisha the prophet heard about the king of Israel’s plight, he sent this message to him: “Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet of God here in Israel.”
9 So Naaman arrived with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s home.
10 Elisha sent a messenger out to tell him to go and wash in the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed of every trace of his leprosy!
11 But Naaman was angry and stalked away. “Look,” he said, “I thought at least he would come out and talk to me! I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call upon the name of the Lord his God and heal me!
12 Aren’t the Abana River and Pharpar River of Damascus better than all the rivers of Israel put together? If it’s rivers I need, I’ll wash at home and get rid of my leprosy.” So he went away in a rage.
13 But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply to go and wash and be cured!”
14 So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the prophet had told him to. And his flesh became as healthy as a little child’s, and he was healed!

Introduction:

If I were to ask you, “What kind of Christian does God use?”—I believe that it’s possible that every one here would have a different answer.
We tend to believe that God only uses the “perfect person,” but we have discovered a wonderful truth in the Bible; God uses little people in big ways.
Now within this passage we have A Strange Mystery

There are 5 main characters mentioned in this passage:
 First; Ben-Hadad, the King of Syria
 Second; The King of Israel—we don’t know who he was.
 Third; Naaman was the commander-in-chief of Ben-Hadad’s army. He was a great hero to his people, but unfortunately, he was a leper.
 Forth; A little girl who was captured in Israel and given to Naaman’s wife as a maid.
 Fifth; Elisha the prophet

The key person in the passage may well be the “little maid.”
The days in which she lived were hard and cruel.
There was continual warfare between Ben-Hadad, King of Syria, and the King of Israel.
However, at that point in time, the army of Israel was dispersed through-out the region and no longer able to resist Syria.
The result was that marauding bands of Syrians continually invaded the borders of Israel and carried away whatever they wanted.
In our text, a little maid was kidnapped from her home and taken to Syria, where she was forced to work as a housekeeper.
What a strange mystery; why did God allow a kidnapping, when He is the One who guards Israel.
King David wrote this about the Lord watching over us—“He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For he is always watching, never sleeping” (Ps.121:4).
This is the guarantee of a Guardian who shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Alexander the Great told his soldiers, “I (stay) awake that you may sleep.”
Throughout the night, when we are no longer conscious of the world around us, there is One greater than Alexander who watches over us with constant, untiring care.
But bad things still happen.
In this case, the little maid’s Home Was Shattered (v.2).
Can you imagine the feelings of these parents who had their young daughter ruthlessly snatched from them?
How would you feel as a mother or father if your daughter was kidnapped?
Wouldn’t you be terribly hurt by this cruel twist of fate, and ask, “Why?”
You don’t need to answer, but are any of you distressed today about something tragic that just doesn’t make sense?
I have read that worldwide, an average of four hundred Christians is killed each day simply because of their faith in Christ.
That’s one murdered Christian every four minutes.
Thank God, our problems are not nearly as severe.
How do you handle problems?
If you are a person who runs from hard times, pay attention to the plight of Patricia Christy, a real person who lived in Florida.
After Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida in 1992, this South Florida resident was standing in line waiting for food.
She decided then and there, that she was going to run as far away from this problem as possible.
She boarded the first available flight and headed for a restful vacation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
She arrived just in time to experience Hurricane Iniki.
The point is; running from your problems usually just leads to more problems.
When you are distressed, bear in mind that God works through tragedy.
In an interview about his Parkinson’s disease, Billy Graham said, “I think God sent it to me at this age to show me I am totally dependent on him.”
Suffering is a feared intruder to us all, but it can bring the benefit of greater dependence on God.
It becomes apparent from the story of Naaman that a Hand Was Shaping the Circumstances
This event, which seemed to originate in the mind of man, was actually the start of a divine plan through which Naaman was physically and spiritually healed!
God had a purpose in the ordeal that we may find difficult to come to terms with.
We cannot always trace God’s heaven-sent dealings in our lives, but we can be sure that God will always work for our good.
One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28—“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
It may not always seem so!
Sometimes when we are suffering heartbreak, tragedy, disappointment, frustration, and bereavement, we wonder what good can come out of it.
But this verse gives the answer: whatever God permits to come into the lives of those who love Him is for a purpose; it is designed to conform us to the image of His Son.
When we see this, it takes the question mark out of our prayers.
Our lives are not controlled by impersonal forces such as chance, luck, or fate, but by our wonderful, personal Lord, who is “too loving to be unkind and too wise to get it wrong.”
Well, what good could there be in Naaman having leprosy, and a little maid being kidnapped and taken to a foreign land?
The answer is—through the healing of Naaman, the power and compassion of God will become known wherever this story is told, and this little girl had a part to play in the miracle—
 Through a Simple Testimony (v.3).
Verse 3 said, “One day the little girl said to her mistress, ‘I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy!’” 
Although this girl was small in stature, she was big in heart!
She could have easily harbored bitterness against her captor.
Instead, she directed Naaman toward God’s prophet.
Where did such faith come from?
No doubt, this child had often heard the story of God’s dealings with her ancestors.
She must have listened intently as they spoke of the prophet that was in Samaria.
Are YOU seeking to instill the truths of God’s Word into the minds and hearts of a family member or friend?
This captive maid, because she had been taught to trust and know God, was the means God used to bring salvation to the home of her captors, and of raising up a testimony for God, which rang through the whole land of Syria!
Note How Courageous She Was.
In the midst of this pagan nation, she pointed her master towards God’s representative, His prophet Elisha.
What about you?
Are you being tested financially?
Do you feel like your testing may be happening through a physical ailment?
Is it spiritual in nature?
Is someone pressuring you to do something you don’t want to do?
We’re either conformers to outside pressure or transformers controlled by the inward power of God.
All of us are one or the other.
Now see How Compassionate She Was.
This maid was an unwilling captive in Naaman’s household, yet she could not bear to see her master suffer.
She did not return a curse but a blessing to her captors!
How do you react if your closest neighbor is a jerk or when your friend is the pushy type or when the nursing assistant says something that hurts your feelings or when family members do not visit you?
Our compassion when directed towards our “enemies” just may soften the hardest of hearts.
Now see How Confident She Was.
There’s not even a hint of doubt in her words!
Leprosy had no cure, yet she was confident in her God’s power!
Leprosy is practically unheard of today, at least in our part of the world.
But in Naaman’s day, it was all too common. 
It is an incurable skin disease that progresses slowly.
Old Testament Law was quite detailed in its instructions regarding the recognition and quarantine of leprous persons.
However, the Old Testament contains no references to treatment nor does it give the remedy.
When Israel’s king exclaimed, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?” the implication is that leprosy could be cured only by a miracle.
Leprosy is a terrible disease, described as a chronic, infectious disease characterized by sores, scabs, and white shining spots beneath the skin.
Modern medicine has all but eliminated the disease after learning the proper methods of treatment.
But in Naaman’s day, and even in Jesus’ day, if the symptoms of leprosy showed up in a person, he or she was taken to a priest.
The priest was to decide if this was leprosy or some other disease.
Because of the need to control the spread of a disease for which there was no cure, the law required that a leper be isolated from the rest of society.
They were required to wear mourning clothes, leave their hair in disorder and place a handkerchief over their upper lip and cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” so everyone could avoid them.
Any contact with lepers defiled the persons who touched them.
But sometimes leprosy victims were miraculously cured.
Moses, Miriam, his sister, and Naaman are prominent examples of such miracles.
King Uzziah was a leper from middle age until his death.
The leprosy inflicted upon him was due to his uncalled-for assumption of the priesthood; it began in his forehead.
In the New Testament, cleansing of lepers is mentioned as a specific portion of Jesus’ work of healing.
On one occasion, Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one returned to thank him.
The healing of Naaman was A Supernatural Recovery
Naaman was healed of leprosy and brought to know God.
It all began with a captive maid who motivated her mistress to take action; her mistress motivated a servant; the servant motivated the King of Syria; the King of Syria motivated the King of Israel; and the King of Israel motivated Elisha.
Before we finish, I want to give you some additional information about the prophet.
Elisha’s name means my God saves.
He was an early Hebrew prophet who came after the prophet Elijah when Elijah’s time on earth was finished.
Elisha ministered for about 50 years in the northern kingdom of Israel, serving God during the reigns of 4 kings—Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash.
The period of his ministry dates from about 850–800 B.C.
Elisha’s work consisted of presenting the Word of God through prophecy, advising kings, anointing kings, helping the needy, and performing several miracles.
The healing of Naaman was one of those miracles.
Talk about a most unlikely evangelist!
The little maid could also be called an unlikely evangelist, but she was the first link in the chain of events that eventually brought healing to Naaman and Naaman to the place of salvation.
This girl illustrates how a person of no importance in the eyes of the world, by being in a key place and showing loyalty to God, can influence the course of the history.
The maid boasted of God, that he would do for Naaman what he had not done for any in Israel; and God honored her faith.
D.L. Moody was the great 19th Century evangelist.
But in the beginning, they wrote off D .L. Moody as “a most unlikely evangelist,” but God did not.
By God’s grace, D .L .Moody was transformed into one of the most effective servants of God, a man whose impact is still with us.

Conclusion

Missionary Hudson Taylor, as he looked back over thirty years (During which he had seen 600 missionaries respond to his vision to reach China) said this: “God chose me because I was weak enough. God does not accomplish His great works by large committees. He trains someone to be quiet enough, and little enough, and then He uses him.”
The God who used this little maid can and will use you.
So step out in faith and trust God to use you!
You may ask, “What can I do?
You can do a lot; you can pray for others; you can tell others about Jesus and what He means to you; you can live a life that encourages and blesses others.
In the opinion of the world you may be a most unlikely evangelist, just like this little maid.
But God has given you a wonderful helper; the Holy Spirit was given to you when you were saved to help you to live the Christian life, and He will help you to witness and help others.
Let’s go out from here and serve God.
Thank you for listening to me.
May God bless and keep you until we meet again next Sunday.
Let’s end our service with a prayer.

 

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http://teachingsermonsfor pastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (Sermons and devotions)

http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (The life of Christ in chronological order)

http://periodofthejudges.yolasite.com (A Bible Study on the Book of Judges)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.com (A Bible Study on the Book of Romans)

http://newtestamentepistles.com (A Bible Study on Titus, Jude, and 1st Corinthians)

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