God's Word is simple; but it is very powerful. God says what He means and He means what He says. Believing is simply a matter of finding out what God's Word is and then acting upon it. We try to make believing difficult and many times add religious acts and formulas to the simplicity of acting upon the information God supplies. The record of Naaman's healing in God's Word is a great example of what it takes to believe God.
2 Kings 5:1
Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
Naaman was a very great man from a nation of people who did not believe in or follow the one true God. Naaman was captain of the army of Syria and he was a great fighter: "A mighty man of valour." But Naaman had a serious need. Naaman had leprosy. Leprosy is a terrible illness in which parts of the body rot. It is very contagious and was without a cure.
2 Kings 5:2-4
And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
The first thing you must do to believe God is to know that He exists and that what you need is available from Him. You need a believer to speak God's Word! This believer maid from Israel made known to the wife of Naaman that God did exist and that a man of God who spoke God's Word was in Samaria. If Naaman were with the prophet in Samaria he could receive information from God and get healed of his leprosy.
2 Kings 5:5-6
And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
Naaman went to his boss, the king of Syria, and asked permission to seek out this man of God in Samaria. The king of Syria, not understanding the spiritual side of this matter (but understanding politics) sent Naaman to the King of Israel with a letter demanding that the King (who must be more powerful and able than a simple prophet in his kingdom) heal Naaman of his leprosy.
2 Kings 5:7
And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
The king of Israel "rent his clothes." This is a Bible lands and times custom in which a mantle (which was a strip of cloth used as a symbol of authority) was torn to show great anger or distress. The king of Israel was very upset by the letter sent from the king of Syria. He also did not understand the spiritual aspect of what was happening in this situation. Naaman had come in sincerity looking for information from God regarding his physical need. The king of Israel saw only politics. He knew he did not have the ability to heal. This must be a set up. "The king of Syria is just looking for a reason to start a war!" It was not even in the thinking of this king of God's people that this might be someone with a legitimate need seeking a knowledge of God.
2 Kings 5:8
And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had 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.
God knew that this was not politics. God knew that Naaman was honestly seeking healing from Him. God told Elisha about the situation and he acted immediately on that knowledge. Elisha provides a great example of how to believe. He trusted God completely and looked for God's solution. He spoke for God with confidence that what God said God meant. This is the primary characteristic of a prophet of God. A prophet boldly speaks God's Word for God. Elisha quickly calmed the fears of the king of Israel and at the same time encouraged the believing of Naaman by letting them both know that the solution to this situation was available from God and that He does reveal His Word to men.
2 Kings 5:9
So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
Standing at the door of the house of a prophet was a sign of respect. Naaman was a great captain of a great army; a powerful man who needed not bow to any. Yet he showed respect for the prophet and stood at the door.
2 Kings 5:10
And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
After you know that God exists and what is available from God, the next thing you must know is what does God say you need to do to receive. You need knowledge from God. You need information. Elisha provided, without hesitation or frills, that which God wanted Naaman to do to receive his healing. This is the simplicity of believing. God gives you the information and you trust it and act. God is not religious. He is not interested in show. He wants us to simply do that which He says.
2 Kings 5:11-12
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 the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
Are not Abana and Pharpar, 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.
A simple answer was not what Naaman expected. He assumed there would be some ceremony or religious mumbo jumbo. I thought the man would come out and wave his hand up and down and say "Oooooh God . . .Please heal this man." The guy didn't even come out and see me! And then to tell me to wash in that dirty Jordan river . . . I'm leaving. This is how many people respond to the simplicity of believing God. If there is not a lot of religious ceremony it can't be from God. I'm not going to do it. And if you do not act upon the Word of God you do not receive from God. Believing is simple. You have information. You trust it. You act. If you have information and it does not meet your expectations you may not have confidence in it and you may reject it. We must learn to trust God and walk upon the simple pure Word that He provides.
2 Kings 5:13
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?
Luckily for Naaman he had with him some level-headed men. Many times we need the encouragement of others in our walk with God. We need to help each other believe by encouraging one another to walk on the simplicity of the Word and not get caught up in religious ritual. Why is it that we are ready to perform some difficult religious act but unwilling to simply accept God's Word? I don't know. Naaman questioned the Word of God, but Naaman came through and believed. We may not always believe immediately (as we should) but if we stop and think about what it is we have to do and we carry out God's Word we will absolutely receive the results promised by God.
2 Kings 5:14
Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in 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.
With the help and encouragement of others, Naaman carried out God's Word. He believed and he received. To receive you must act on the whole Word of God. If Naaman would have washed six times he would have seen no results. The results come with doing exactly what God says to do. He dipped seven times and he was healed of the leprosy.
2 Kings 5:15
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 blessing of thy servant.
An attitude of gratitude is the right response to receiving from God. Naaman did not "take his healing and go home." He returned to the man of God to say thank you. He received from God and knew now from experience that there is only one true God. He was so blessed by receiving that he wanted to give back to God by blessing the man of God. This is an appropriate response to God's blessings. However, God's Word in this particular situation was for the man of God to refuse to take anything from Naaman. Once again, the Word of God must be adhered to if we are to believe God. We may think that we should do according to custom, tradition, or our own thinking but in order to believe we must become God centered and do what He says to do.
2 Kings 5:16
But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
Elisha told Naaman that he would not take anything from him. Naaman urged him to change his mind but Elisha stood fast upon God's revealed Word and refused. Sometimes it is harder to believe God in this kind of a situation than it was for Naaman to believe to get healed. Elisha had to refuse a blessing if he was going to believe God. Once Naaman saw that Elisha had said what he meant and meant what he said he accepted the Word also and did not give Elisha a gift.
2 Kings 5:17
And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, 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 the LORD.
"Two mules' burden of earth" is like saying "two truckloads of dirt." Naaman was not asking to take mules from Elisha. He wanted to carry back to Syria dirt from the place where he was healed. Sometimes this dirt was spread on the ground under a prayer mat or placed in a temple to remind the believer of the time and place that God responded to his believing action. Naaman was acknowledging that the God of Israel was the only true God and promising that he would worship only Him. He wanted a physical reminder of the true God to focus his mind on in a land that worshiped other gods.
2 Kings 5:18
In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that 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 down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.
This request seems almost insulting after God healed Naaman. But once again Naaman's thoughts are on how he is going to be true to the God who healed him while carrying out his duties as captain of the Syrian army and right hand man of the unbelieving king of Syria. Perhaps he was thinking that he might spread some of the earth gathered from Samaria on the floor of the "house of Rimmon" so that as he bowed down with the king of Syria he could keep his thoughts on the true God. In any case, he asked to be pardoned in this act and God understood his heart.
2 Kings 5:19
And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
God's response as delivered by Elisha was "Go in peace!" What a loving God we have.
2 Kings 5:20
But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
Gehazi, the right hand man of Elisha, had seen the Word of God in action many times at the feet of Elisha. He should have recognized that Elisha was speaking and acting according to that which God had revealed to him. But Gehazi looked at the gifts brought by Naaman rather than the Word of God. As I said before, believing God in this situation is sometimes more difficult than believing God's Word when in desperate need. Gehazi chose to act contrary to God's Word. He demonstrated unbelief by his action. Believing God means acting on God's Word. Unbelief can be inaction, but it can also be acting in opposition to that which has been revealed by God. Your actions demonstrate who and what it is that you believe.
2 Kings 5:21-22
So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?
And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
Not only did Gehazi believe contrary to God's Word, he lied and claimed that the man of God had sent him. Now he has placed himself in direct opposition to the Word of God. Just as there are blessings in abundance from believing God, there are consequences for acting contrary to the revealed Word of God. The consequences are compounded as Gehazi attributes his actions to carrying out God's Will when he knew full well that he was acting in direct opposition to that which Elisha had revealed.
2 Kings 5:23-24
And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.
And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.
Gehazi not only took what he had determined to take, he took twice as much. Naaman was blessed to be able to give. Gehazi then hid that which he had taken in the house. This is also typical of a decision to do contrary to the Word of God. The error was compounded as he attempted to deceive the man of God.
2 Kings 5:25
But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
man of God gives him an opportunity to turn from his deliberate act of
unbelief and Gehazi lies to Elisha. This is how it goes. Gehazi
could have changed his mind and walked God's way at any time, but instead
he went the other direction.
2 Kings 5:26-27
And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.
You may fool yourself into thinking that you are doing right when you act contrary to God's Word. You may even fool others as Gehazi fooled Naaman. But you cannot fool God. Gehazi received the consequences of his choices. He chose to walk contrary to God and His Word and he became a leper himself. There is a Bible lands understanding that dates back to this record that says: "a person who receives gifts from a leper will become a leper." The truth is that a person who believes God will receive the blessings of God. The person who believes contrary to God will receive the consequences of his actions. I'd rather accept the simplicity and power of God's Word. How about you?