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The Defective General (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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July 4, 2023 6:00 am

The Defective General (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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July 4, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Leprosy is, in scripture, a type of sin. We are all spiritual lepers.

There's a song on Terry Clark, I am that leper. Leviticus 14, 7, he shall sprinkle it seven times, this is with the blood, on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean. Peter, talking about those Christians that were struggling, says they forgot that they were cleansed from their old sins.

2 Peter 1, verse 9, and of course, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher, Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel, Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of 2 Kings.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Book of 2 Kings, Chapter 5, as he begins his message, The Defective General. 2 Kings, Chapter 5, The Defective General.

Naaman, that's who we are considering. Let's get right to it because there's a lot of stuff here. Incidentally, his greatest defect was not his leprosy, it was his religion. And I think that is an excellent, or maybe an excellent starting point in witnessing to lost souls who are sick or struggling.

Your biggest problem is not your circumstance, your plight, it's that you don't have the right God. That's Naaman's story and that's why these stories are here, one of the reasons. Verse 1, Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master because by him Yahweh had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. Sometimes I do some push-ups before I come out and if I do them too close to the time I come up, I'm a little out of breath.

Okay, I mean when you get up to about 80, push-ups, not age, when you get up to that number you're probably lying that you got up to that number. Anyway, apparently he commanded all of Syria's army, that's how it reads to us, commander of the army, that means he's very high up, says that he is great and honorable. His superior, the king, also thought this of him. He stands in contrast to the Israelite warrior, Joab. Joab was a great man also, he was not honorable, nor was he good and that's why he wasn't honorable. There should be some reason for greatness not just because we appoint this description to ourselves, otherwise the earth would be overspread with illegitimate reputations, a bunch of folks saying how great they are when they're not. How many despicable judges are there that are referred to as honorable when they are dishonorable?

Not all judges, I don't mean to say that at all, but too many of them. It says here in verse one, because by him Yahweh had given victory to Syria. Yahweh's sovereignty, of course, is beyond global, it's into the spiritual realm, but unbelievers are also indebted to God for whatever successes they may enjoy, whatever achievements they gain, they still owe it to God. It's so simple for God to keep them from succeeding, all he has to do is pinch the airline and that's that. This is the story of Nebuchadnezzar. He was told not to take pride anymore and go around talking, this is the great Babylon that I built. He was warned, next time you do that, not going to be a happy thing for you and that's exactly what happened in that very moment. We know this and the world is not.

We're supposed to turn this light on in the dark for them given the chance. Even though he was unaware, even disdainful of Yahweh, Yahweh was responsible for his achievements. That's what it tells us. Satan was responsible for his leprosy. That is proper perspective, but I have learned that it's not enough to have proper perspective, because when you're getting hurt and slammed, when things are going foul, you want relief, you want God to do something, you want the miracles of the Bible to happen to you, and they don't, not always. Then we default to faith and by that, Satan is soundly defeated. There's no antidote that he has against a child of God that is committed to God. That's why faith is such a big deal with God. Without faith, it is impossible to please him, we're told.

I have to remind myself of that and any of the little things set me off sometimes. He says here in verse 1, he was also a mighty man of valor, a leper, a leper still. All these victories, all these God-given victories, victories over the people of God, they were supposed to be, but they really weren't, not the ones he was conquering, most of them, some of them were. Some of the people that he took hostage were godly people because of the ungodly people.

They had to suffer. The Hebrew word for leper covers a variety of serious infections that show up on the skin, sores, even fungi. So it may not be the exact leprosy that we know today or even in the days of Christ. It doesn't matter so much because the dread of whatever it was on him, he wanted off. And he was willing to travel a hundred miles and take a lot of gold and silver and garments and a caravan and get the king's blessings just to be rid of whatever type of leprosy he had. Apparently, from verse 11, it was a certain area of his body and not his entire body.

We'll get to that when we get to verse 11. Again, not lessening the dread. In fact, it may have been worsening. It may have hurt. It may have itched. It may have done both. Well, whatever it was, he wanted to be rid of it. Imagine him saying, why am I so successful as the commander of the army, in favor with the king, no need, physical need of anything or material need of anything. And yet, my body is cursed.

I've got this leprosy. It marred everything for him. He is a likable man. And the characters that we meet, until we get to Gehazi where he stumbles, they're all likable. Well, there's one or two.

We'll point them out. Verse two, an Assyrians had gone out on raids and had brought back a captive young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman's wife. Well, his wife was always late, so she's always waiting on her.

Of course, no, she's a maidservant. These raids were unlawful and hostile border crossings from Syria into the promised land for loot and for slaves. Well, enslaving people. They weren't slaves when they arrived.

They were slaves when they took them out. The sole cause of these raids was idolatry in the life of those who were called to a high standard of believing God. Leviticus 26, and it's all over the Old Testament, we know this, but it is helpful to have it repeated from time to time. I will set my face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you.

And of course, that reaches all the way, you know, even into the days of the Romans. But it was present here that God was using the Syrians to punish the Jewish people, and the Syrian General Naaman was his instrument. This young, this maidservant, this damsel, separated from her homeland, likely separated from her family, from the place of worship, which would have been Judah, ways away, but she's in the land where certainly no emblem of Yahweh is there. The one that has taken her captive, at least owns her, is the one that's going to receive profound grace.

In verse 3 we read, Then she said to her mistress, If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria, for he would heal him of his leprosy. She is a teen victim of corrupt leadership. Her country has let her down, and the invading armies have come in.

Foreigners, idolatrous foreigners, have taken her away. Yet, this lass is still sensitive to Naaman's plight. She's sympathetic and she wants to help. She wants him clean. She's comfortable enough to share her thoughts.

This is telling us a lot about this household. If Yahweh is God of Israel, then why has he allowed me to be enslaved and put in the house of a Syrian General? She could have said that. She could have been bitter against God.

There's no evidence of that whatsoever. In fact, she's still talking or exalting God and his prophets. She's not lost her faith.

She's saying, look, because I'm a hostage, she's not articulating it this way, but what is happening here? This is a defiant faith. Whatever has happened to me does not take away from who my God is and who his prophets are. So in the face of discouraging circumstances and a stolen life, she leaves a testimony for all of us. I don't want to say for the teens especially, it's for all of us. It's for people of faith, regardless of what age you are. I would expect her to be bitter, but ministry is everywhere. Bitterness is everywhere too.

It's just, which one are you going to pick up off the ground? She is a lily among thorns. You know the Song of Solomon the Beloved says about the Shulamite? She's like a lily among thorns. Compared to everyone else around her, they're thorns and she's the lily. She's the bloom, the flower. She is one of the seven thousand. I have seven thousand that have not bowed the knee to me, to bow, that is. I love that about this story. When Jesus said, you have, unless you hate your mother, father, sister, going on down the line, he was saying, drawing a contrast, your love is to be so powerful for God that by comparison the others are thorns.

It is not, of course, an encouragement to hate anyone. She had again to suffer because of apostates and yet still she blooms, unmindful that her faith is defiant against loss. She seems to have had a good life in this home where she is a servant.

There's mutual care in spite of being a captive. She is comfortable sharing her thoughts, as I mentioned. She shows compassion for Naaman instead of bitterness.

I hope he drops dead. I mean, that would have been bitterness. And she's not ignored. She's heated, as a matter of fact. Naaman's wife listens to her. What does that tell us about her personality, her character?

Naaman would have died a leper without her. She's a big part of the story. And then she goes off the pages in the scripture, but not in reality.

Once you learn the lesson about her, you've got it. Now, Elijah the prophet, he was a legend, just like Elijah was. She had sense enough to recall Yahweh's prophet, unlike Ahaziah the king who fell through the lattice and went and sent to the god of Ekron, to which Elijah was sent to call him out.

But she doesn't do this. She calls for the god Yahweh of the Jews. And so she says, for he would heal him of his leprosy. What right does she have to commit the prophet to healing this unbelieving general who is launching raids into God's territory?

No faith. It's just this innocent faith that she has. There is no direct scriptural statement that says leprosy symbolizes sin. However, you read Leviticus 13 and the parallels become inescapable. That leprosy in scripture is a type of sin. Then you get to the 14th chapter and there's the cleansing of the leper. I did not say the healing because mostly the dominant phrase for restoring someone who has leprosy is cleansing. Healing is sometimes referred to also because it is a healing still. But listen to the language from Leviticus 13.

If it is deeper than the skin, it is leprosy. That is Leviticus 13 verse 3. If it spreads, well sin does that, verse 7 of Leviticus 13. It defiles. It isolates.

It is fit only for the fire. And then you get to chapter 14. And no less than 11 times it is referred to as leprosy that is cleansed. So yes, leprosy is, in scripture, a type of sin. We are all spiritual lepers.

There's a song on Terry Clark, I am that leper. Leviticus 14, 7, he shall sprinkle it seven times, this is with the blood, on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean. Peter, talking about those Christians that were struggling, says they forgot that they were cleansed from their old sins. Second Peter 1 verse 9.

And of course the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins. Verse 4, and Naaman went in and told his master, saying, Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel. Well he's in a desperate state, but here is the, you know, the little comment of this damsel, you know, too bad he's not in Israel because the prophet, he could take care of this stuff, and he's now in front of the king, and he's telling him, he's desperate for this cure. Verse 5, Then the king of Syria said, Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel. So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand talents of gold, and ten changes of clothing.

I won't make any jokes about that. But here's further testimony that he meant business by taking this abundance with him. I like Jesus, of course, he brings this up in the New Testament, the only time he mentions Elisha. Elisha is mentioned quite a few times. Elisha is only mentioned here, and many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.

Very to the point. Of course, now, they're bringing these, this gold and these goods because they think that these powers are for sale, that you buy them. Naaman and the king wrongly assume that the prophet would do whatever the king commanded him to do, and that's why they're sending the letter to the king. They're making a mess out of everything, of course, supposing that the prophet and the king would be expecting some sort of payment. That was the story of Balaam, was it not? Balak the king hired him to come curse these Israelites.

He couldn't do it. Well, he did give them information on how to bring them down, and it was almost successful. So the king, the ones, Naaman, they associate miracles with ritual and incantation as opposed to being subject to God. In other words, they don't expect the prophet to be obedient and moral, they just expect him to accept the money because he's got connections in the spiritual realm. But with the, of course, and that's the story when Gehazi comes into the picture, is that Elijah is not like that. He's subject to God. He's not greedy.

He's not out for gain. He wants to do the will of God. The shaman and the false prophets, they were not expected to be moral. They were just expected to be effective.

They could be as vile as they wanted to be, and no one would call any attention to them. Ritual with many even to this day is more important than righteousness. Just get me fixed, that's all. Verse 6, then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy. Not much of an introduction. A poorly written letter from what we have, the details omitted, the facts are skewed. The letter reads as though the king was to heal Naaman, and that's that. Unsaved people can complicate Christian ministry. Well, Christians can complicate Christian ministry, so why would we expect when unbelievers are a part of the process that it's going to come out well?

So when Paul says, But, but, but the natural man, he makes that distinction, does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, nor can he know they're spiritually discerned. I was watching an episode of Dragnet, and in this episode, someone stole from the nativity set in the Catholic Church the statue of what's supposed to be the baby Jesus. And the priest, in talking to the police, said this, and I'm quoting, the statue is the only Jesus they know.

It's horrific. That is, I mean the folks that wrote the script thought this was honorable. They thought that, oh, it's so touching. The only Jesus they know is this little statue. Well, that's not the Jesus of the Bible, it's a counterfeit. Defective views of God and his ways is a very serious thing, and that's why Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They shall be filled.

It doesn't say, and your life will be, you know, just wonderful after that. In fact, it may even have more attacks to it, because the evil is aggressive. We have to study, we have to pray, we have to try to just obey the Lord, exercise grace and love and truth. What does evil have to do? Just show up.

It doesn't even have to practice its moves. We're working all the time. Well, this is a defective life. We are, all of us are, we have this great defect of leprosy, of sin, and we are supposed to and expected to overcome, and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, not loving their lives to the death. Well, verse 7, and it happened when the king of Israel read the letter that he tore his clothes and said, Am I God to kill and to make alive that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore, please consider and see how he seeks a quarrel with me. Well, this is Jehoram, King Jehoram, one of the three stooges, and he's a pessimist. I mean, God has brought us out here.

Yahweh's brought us to the desert to die. Now, oh, this man wants to start a fight. He's just always the bleakest outlook he can find. So his first response is unbelief.

He's breaking down. But that's how clumsy the letter was. It does read as though he's expected to do it.

It's almost as though in Syria they didn't want to send the letter. Just write, just heal the guy and leave out the facts. We'll come back to some of the scribal banter in a little bit. Anyway, Am I God to kill and make alive? He asks the question. And in this question, he admits that deity is not a theory, that there is God and God is superior.

But of course, that's as far as it went in the right direction. Everything else about God with him went in the wrong direction, as is the case with so many. So the king, helpless, but the prophet was not, because the prophet is the chariot of Israel. He is the military force. And we're going to see a lot of this as we move through the chapters with Elisha.

He's just going to be cleaning house. I mean, he's just spiritually, he's just a dynamo not to take away from the other prophets. He's just that this was his ministry. Verse 8, and so it was when Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king saying, why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.

Now, of course, you want to just make all sorts of jokes like, why did you tear your clothes, you nitwit and stuff. But I'm not going to do that anymore than I just did. But anyway, the things have improved a bit between this prophet and this king because of that episode in the desert when they ran out of water.

But they're still not the best. Elisha still knows who he's dealing with. Elisha never leaves his house to deal with this situation. Here, he sends his servant, maybe Gehazi, maybe another.

The king did not send for the prophet. He doesn't even think God was in none of his thoughts, not to appeal to God. But when Elisha volunteers to take this on, he's happy to get rid of this hot potato. Aggressive ministry is never to exceed the direction of God and the resources given. You can be, let's just go into there and preach the gospel, let's do all this. Yeah, well, you better make sure that this is the Lord because many, it's so easy, it's such an amateur move to want to do something for God without God doing it.

And the next thing you know, you're in debt or you're disillusioned and you become an apostate even at the worst of it because you thought God forsook you when you never sought him. And the lesson from here is that Elisha is giving, he is informed of this. He is brought into this. Verse 9, and Naaman went with his horses and chariot and he stood at the door of Elijah's house. It's profound the way that reads, he stood at the door of Elijah's house.

And if it was just all happy after that, it would be make a nice clip on the refrigerator. But it's good that he's there, but it is not going to be an easy fit. Thanks for joining us for today's edition on Cross-Reference Radio. This is the Daily Radio Ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia.

We trust that what you've heard today in the Book of 2 Kings has been something to remember. If you'd like to listen to more teachings from this series, go to crossreferenceradio.com. Once more, that's crossreferenceradio.com. We encourage you to subscribe to our podcast too so you'll never miss another edition. Just go to your favorite podcast app to subscribe. Our time is about up, but we hope you'll tune in again next time as we continue on in the Book of 2 Kings. We look forward to that time with you, so make a note in your calendar to join Pastor Rick as he teaches from the Bible right here on Cross-Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-04 07:05:00 / 2023-07-04 07:14:25 / 9

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