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January 21, 2020 12:00 am
The human heart corrects barriers to the truth of the gospel and Stephen Devi describes one of those barriers. This the problem with the gospel. Beloved, as you share with those around you. The problem with the gospel is not that it's too hard.
The problem is it's too humiliating me. I got a Neil I got abdicate the front of my life. I can just believe anything you want to believe. I can't believe any other curing me there's no other name.
There's no other way. There is no other truth or lie. The answer is yes, your own sake, that tendency goes back to the very beginning of mankind. Organist see an Old Testament illustration of that today there were hundreds if not thousands of lepers living during the days recorded in second Kings.
They sought all kinds of cures but only one leper was healed.
Why did Naaman find the deliverance he needed when others did not find out in this compelling lesson this is wisdom for the heart and today Stephen Devi has a lesson for you called. You can't buy your stay with us as we get started gospel is troubling to so many people because it demands they abdicate the throne and legal, as it were, at the feet of Christ. But the truth remains spiritual humility always precedes spiritual healing of the truth of that is dramatically played out in the life of a forgotten man from the Old Testament. He was at the top of the ladder successful impressive wealthy powerful he was the man who could do just about anything, but Neil humility would not be in his vocabulary and it will almost cost him his future. He's briefly mentioned, there are only 14 verses that revealed a little bit of his biography.
I invite your attention the second Kings in chapter 5 second Kings chapter 5 in the book of second Kings and chapter 5 were about to meet a very proud man who had everything going for them except one very obvious problem with verse one.
Now Naaman Capt. of the Army of the King of around Syria was a great man with his master. That is, before his cane and highly respected because by him. The Lord had given victory to Iran. The man was also given. The man was also a valiant warrior analysis put.
Therefore, moment if we did. Here's what we know about Naaman. The Hebrew text informs us that he was actually the leader of the Army you need to think in terms of the title supreme commander to he was think of him as a is a five star general when he walked into a room everybody stood other Hebrew words or terms here informed us that Naaman was a great man. That means he was a man of high social standing is influenced by the way is reached to the king. The Bible tells us that he was highly respected, you could translate that literally one who was lifted up, face he had a lifted up face. We use the same kind of expression in the negative. When we refer to somebody losing face. They lose credibility. He had it all give the highest respect we can imagine the notice is also called here a valiant warrior, to whom the Lord had given victory. I won't take this side of the tractor for the sake of time, but it's interesting to discover if you want to write text into your margin right first Kings 22 because in that text were were told that Naaman was the commanding officer of the Army that defeated King Ahab, the husband of Jezebel. You may remember that very wicked couple who ruled the northern tribes of Israel after it split off from the southern tribes of Judah. As far as we can tell, it didn't seem that any of the northern kings ever followed after the Lord and Ahab was probably the most vile of all of the Lord prophesied his death when he goes into battle with Syria and Syria defeats Israel and Ahab is killed to go back to that study discover that Ahab decides to camouflage himself disguises himself.
The prophecies against him. So he says well I will only let the Army know who I am and dies himself.
The text tells us he is fatally hit by an arrow shot randomly into the Israelite army by some anonymous Syrian soldier interesting to Josephus, the first century Jewish historian records in his antiquities that that nameless archer was Naaman.
Now we don't know for sure told but it does let us know that it is an urban legend. It does reveal that Naaman was indeed a living legend within his pagan Syrian Empire. So if you put a hearing right there in verse one after all these titles, Naaman would have been at the top of the heat. He's in control of this world is prestigious Hon. wealthy effect, you could translate the term valiant for wealthy. One author wrote it this way. Naaman was in command of everything. But one thing he could not command his health because there's not a. There is there verse one ends with, but he was a leper was a leper.
Just the sound of that changes everything we've read about him so far because none of it mattered anymore. There are numerous kinds of leprosy. If you want to do the research were not given the specifics of his it could be like Hansen's disease. Kenneth Brand spent his lifetime battling among his patients in India leprosy.
We tend to think of people missing fingers and feet.
It's actually a disease that numbs the pain sells the system of pain in the body it loses the warning system so that the warning of pain. Those with leprosy, don't think, to blink their eyes so they eventually lose their eyesight can Brentwood talk about patients of his would reach directly into a fire to retrieve a potato they drop Doris stick and and go untreated. They they never felt any pain so the sores on her hand would fester and eventually bring gangrene an amputation. Let me tell you how desperate this is. It's not going to be long before Naaman can't grip his sword isn't going to be long before he can squeeze the sides of his stallion with his legs. He won't feel them. You will be able to leave the chart you will be able to frankly will be able to walk.
He is no longer going to be sought out all his metals will seem like trinket that the text implies that Naaman has only recently contracted this disease so starting now, and over time he is going to become an outcast is going to be a tragic story on everybody's lips. There isn't a person and Syria. When these him now.
Of all the titles of all the awards that people will just sort of cast their eyes down word and say whisper to their companions. There goes Naaman the leper Dr. Brennan wrote leprosy is death by degrees, bodily injury, physical scarring, ignorance, abuse, a thousand different disorders. All because the ability to sense pain no longer exists.
By the way, this becomes then a perfect illustration for sin in the Old Testament.
Sin is death by degrees, as sin develops in the conscience hardens.
There is an inability to sense any danger or any self-destruction that it brings. I mean tomorrow when you go into work you as an unbeliever in the cubicle next to you how his weekend went. You know, was nothing more than sin and debauchery and carousing and he's going to say it is great.
I can't wait till next weekend. He feels absolutely no pain from his and and and that brings me to at least say this much that throughout the Old Testament as you more than likely know if you're older and the faith, the judgment of God was often seen in sending leprosy to an unrepentant person as if to say, you don't think you're a sinner you don't feel the fact that you're sitting so I'm going to give you a physical picture of what it means to be unable to recognize the danger that you are in, which then means that it was effectively an act of the grace of God that God would give a clear outward physical reminder that warned them you need help. You need spiritual cleansing evidently not many Israelites during these days wanted to repent and ask for God's cleansing effect. Elisha the prophet he was ministering will seem a just a moment. During this period of time during the days of Naaman didn't have any conversion stories to tell of I say that because of an interesting connection than ever put together until studying this week over in the gospel by Luca, just mentioned this in chapter 4 Jesus is delivering his first sermon in that synagogue that I know you've studied as he launches his public ministry and in in that sermon he makes a comment to his audience about the days of Elisha and his comment creates such rage that they literally rush him and whisk him out of the synagogue and attempt to throw them off a cliff to kill him.
What was it that Jesus said just before they rushed him and carried him away, all quoted for you for the sake of time, Luke 427 Jesus ends his sermon by saying this, and there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the Elisha, the prophet, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian end of sermon. Let's kill him. Why Jesus is saying in other words, the only person to repent of his sin and to listen to the word of God was not a Jew, but a pagan Syrian idolaters, Jewish audiences infuriated. Don't tell us that were worse than that guy that were sinners tell us we need forgiveness like some Gentile leper exactly what Jesus was. So now we go back to the scene and we have the story of a Gentile leper who will discover that the grace and forgiveness of God cannot be bought.
The cure is free. Look at verse two. Now the Syrians are man's had gone out in bands in a taken captive. A little girl are taken captive, a little girl from the land of Israel and she waited on Naaman's wife and she said to her mistress. I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria that's Elisha.
Then he would cure him of his leprosy and Naaman went in and told his master that is the king saying thus and thus spoke the girl who was from the land of Israel knows how to climb back in as if we never seen this story before many of you have shows how desperate Naaman is to be cured. He heard from his wife's servant girl about an anonymous prophet who could cure leprosy.
Let's go. That's all he had and look at what is willing to do verse five the king of RAM, said go now and I will send a letter to the king of Israel, and he departed and took with him 10 talents of silver and 6000 shekels of gold and 10 changes of clothing and he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying it now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you that you may cure him of his leprosy and he came about when the king of Israel read the letter that he tore his clothes and said that my God to kill and to make alive in this manner sending word meaning caravan of his leprosy, but consider now and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me get this scene here's the commanding officer of Israel's enemy showing up there not friends there actually enemies, and now this five-star general rise in Israel's court.
No doubt, surrounded by his own gardener effectively guarding a pot of gold and the E reads for Ms. King to Israel's King says Karam, the king of Israel assumes this is a trick. This is a ploy by Naaman. This living legend start another war, by the way, the king never even thinks of Elisha doesn't even suggest the prophet of God, but notice what does happen.
Verse eight, and it happened with Elisha, the man of God heard that the king of Israel, a tortoise close that he sent word to the king, saying, why have you torn your clothes and others why do not thought of God and his Prophet. Now, let them come to me and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel and other was the word of God is alive and well.
By the way, send me now want to point out that is Naaman and his entourage get back on the horses and get back in their chariots and take off for Elisha's home doubt the suburbs that Naaman is under two misconceptions, one the first misconception is that healing is something you can buy for yourself. Notice verse nine.
So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elijah. Imagine cluttering his driveway there. They are all of them now. If you go back up to verse five, you know that he's standing there on the doorstep waiting for Elisha to come and he has with him.
Verse five tells us 10 changes of clothing to give the prophet. These are not ready-made suits. These are roles of cloth and enough for the making of 10 garments which would have been quite a wardrobe.
In this day and time were also told that he had 10 talents of silver talent is about 844 Troy ounces of silver so he has 8448 ounces of silver will do the math in just a minute were also told he's ready to hand over a chest of gold 6000 shekels of gold.
Archaeologists have helped us understand that's right around 2400 ounces of gold in today's economy. Naaman is standing on Elisha's doorstep ready to give him in exchange for his healing. $3.1 million, which is another way of saying Naaman is no doubt leveraged everything he has. He's probably borrowed from the king and friends.
They chip in were rooting for you. Naaman go get your curators.
No price too high. He has all he could somehow gather and it is a staggering amount, $3.1 million that you think Elisha is ready to rush the door to greet this living legend and receive a prophet's pension for life is God good or what the truth is, he doesn't even answer the door to verse 10. I love this Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, go and wash in the Jordan seven times in your flesh shall be restored to you and you shall be clean and oh by the way, thanks for coming. Are you kidding you can almost see Naaman's face turning purple. Verse 11 tells us he was furious.
Elisha knew that Naaman needed to be humbled before he could ever be healed and so does every unrepentant sinner in the world are they right, even those of us who know the Lord lose fellowship with the Lord.
Humility comes first, Naaman's reaction you discovered the second misconception and the entire world of unbelievers have the same about cleansing from God. First, they think that the cure can be bought earned I got a buffalo good works. I can give God that get me to pay them off or secondly they think that the cure is something they can create for themselves as if it's some kind of designer system.
Naaman is fuming. Look at verse 11.
The middle part look he's he's just blustering that his soldiers look. I thought he will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord is God and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper as I expected that my healing would be, you know, the prophet comes out. He prays a short prayer waves his hand in the air and cured. I can pay the bill and go home. By the way, with what's this about the Jordan River. Nobody wants to swim in their first 12 are not Obama and Tharp are the rivers of Damascus better than all the water of Israel, can I not wash in them and be clean.
I mean if you gonna make me take a dip or to or seven. Why can't I go home and plunge into the crystal clean waters that flowed down into Damascus from the snow-covered mountains mountain design it my way.
That way I can pay up. I can go home and I can sing the tune that the world loves most in fact it's recorded more than any other song in history.
I did it. What my way, my way. If I'm going to be saved. I'm going to do it my way. Let me create my own sure down now. Elisha knows that these misconceptions are eternally more significant than leprosy sees after more than just curing this malady you can buy forgiveness from God. You only get the cure for sin. If you follow the word of God rightly Naaman illustrates the heart of man the problem with the gospel. Beloved, as you share with those around you.
The problem with the gospel is not that it's too hard.
The problem is it's too humiliating and I gotta admit, I'm a sinner, don't you know who I am.
Me. I got a Neil I got abdicate the front of my life.
I can just believe anything you want to believe. I can't believe any other curing me there's no other name. There's no other way. There is no other truth or life. It's Christ alone does this mean that if I believe in Buddha that I'm to find out one day too late that I was wrong, perish the thought. You mean that one day I find out that I've been following that the Dalai Lama discovered too late that I was perish the thought wrong. The answer is yes. Does this mean that if I follow my own concoction of a religion that picks and chooses from this or that to fit me and make me comfortable in the process and where I can be in control of my own destiny. In my own future. You mean I could be wrong and lost forever. The answer is yes, that's the problem with the gospel. The problem with God's cure for terminal sin is not that it's too difficult. The problem is it's too dogmatic either believe in him or die a leper done a great Barnhouse the former pastor 10 Presbyterian Church of the faithful expositor. One said it this way everybody has the privilege of going to heaven, God's way or going to hell their own way. The cure for sin is not a multiple-choice question. The only antidote is the blood of Christ, for Naaman. This Old Testament illustration of pride in the cure from God's prophet requires the destruction of his two primary misconceptions, the cleansing can be bought or earned and it can be self made and now verse 12 tells us he's heading home, and he is in a range range now were not told how far down the driveway.
He gets, but some anonymous servants tug on his sleeve.
They probably risk their life. Verse 13 and they say this. I spoke to him and said my father had the prophet told you to do some great thing we do not have done it. In other words, this is really an issue of pride much more than when he says to you.
Wash and be clean and humble yourself Neil before the command of the word of God through the prophet somewhere in there, he decides he will travel some 20 miles.
Verse 14 tells us, and he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, by the way, where did Elisha get seven from.
According to the Old Testament pattern of cleansing prescribed by God, recorded in Leviticus chapter 14 for a leper to be Clinton's.
He was to be sprinkled by the blood of the sacrificed animal and he was to be bathed in water, including his clothing. Elijah is playing the part of the priest and God is allowing the waters of the Jordan play the role of the cleansing fountain ratified later.
Ultimately by the sacrifice of Christ, and so Naaman becomes a picture of a humble, repentant sinner cured by faith in the word of the prophet of God and then the work of God, free of charge makes me think of those wonderful lyrics. There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty standing and how much did it cost is free. The Bible records as his biography ends and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child was clean new by this cure. You can't design this cure, you simply plunge into it and receive the work of God on your Naaman becomes a lasting reminder of the truth that we are not saved by bringing gifts to God.
We are saved by receiving gifts from God like cleansing and forgiveness through the river of Christ in whom we are immersed forever. I'm glad you were able to be with us to a human wisdom for the heart are Bible teacher Stephen Devi is in the series called forgotten lives remembered truths. If you've been enjoying this series so far we've published it as a set of CDs that you can add to your resource library or share with a friend.
You'll find them in the resource section of our website wisdom online.org you can also give us a call today and we can help you over the phone number is 866482425. I'm Scott Wiley and on behalf of Steven and all of us here. I want to thank you for listening to join us tomorrow for more wisdom for the heart