Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Note: This is the 1st of a three part article about the surprising ease one finds in having a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you’d like to view the second part (about prayer) Click Here. For the third part (about the strength and wisdom of God) Click Here
Although Elijah is considered the greatest prophet in Israel (I suppose until John the Baptist showed up), there’s actually not that much ink spent on him in the Bible. Even most of the so-called “minor prophets” get more time spent on them than he does. However, Elijah’s successor Elisha gets quite a bit written about him and what kind of things he did. While reading about Elisha, the Holy Spirit taught me about how our relationship with Christ works, and it’s a lesson we’d all do well to keep in mind. There are many people in the Bible who end up being precursors to Christ through their varied life events. In a way, through their stories they end up representing part of our walk with Christ; almost as though the Lord was giving his people previews here and there through history. Elisha is one of these pre-Jesus Christ like figures. And, oddly enough, if you’ve read my last article, then you’d know that just like Jesus, Elisha can also fill the role of God in his stories. Today though we’re looking at the life of Elisha and finding out that carrying on a relation with Christ is surprisingly easy- easier than you may think.
Naaman wasn’t a Christian, heck, he wasn’t even a Jew. Who was Naaman? The Bible records,
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy (2 Kings 5:1).
As the commander of the army of Aram, Naaman wasn’t even a friend of Israel. However, he had a problem; slowly he was withering away due to leprosy. In his desperation, Naaman reached out to anyone he could, even the king of Israel for help (I mean, they had a responsive God, right?). However, the king of Israel couldn’t help him; in fact, the whole incident almost started a war. The Bible notes,
As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” (2 Kings 5:7).
Elisha, though, heard of Naaman’s need and was quick to respond. We read,
When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:8).
Although there was nothing that the leadership of Israel could do for Naaman, the Lord saw that he desperately wanted healing and was seeking help from God (though going about it in the wrong way). Therefore, God had Elisha step up and summon Naaman in order to heal him. Obviously, Naaman was delighted to visit the prophet and receive his health back. Our story continues,
So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed” (2 Kings 5:9-10).
Just that easily Naaman was given his cure, all he’d have to do is wash in the Jordan River and he’d be cleansed. But he didn’t. Scripture records,
But Naaman was angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the lord his god, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage (2 Kings 5:11-12).
Didn’t that stupid old prophet know who Naaman was? He was the commander of Aram’s army! Go and wash in some muddy old river? Are you kidding me? The prophet didn’t even come out, but just had some aide deliver the message- what kind of church is this? Ah, but the Lord was using this occasion to teach Naaman (and us) a very important lesson. We read,
Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy (2 Kings 5:13-14).
I’ve heard quite a bit of borderline slanderous talk about how Protestants conduct the work of salvation. “Oh, you just pray a prayer and then, poof! Everything is all better, even if you’re an awful person.” Well…yeah, actually. And, not only that, but after praying said prayer, 9 out of 10 (I can’t back these number up at all) don’t feel any different. Are you kidding me? What kind of church are we running here? A lot of people get tripped up on this sort of thing. They find themselves with a need in their life for more and a God-sized hole that seemingly nobody can fill. In their desperation, people run off to different religions and expect things to magically get better. That’s when the Lord calls them to the church- which also cannot make them whole. However, the Word of God tells us that salvation is actually very easy- almost too easy. According to the Bible,
…That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).
That’s it. I could try to make extra rules or some sort of big show of one’s salvation, but it’d be going against what the Word of God says. Simply put, if you believe in Jesus and proclaim his as Lord over your life then you’re saved. Done. No magic, no show, no difficult rules. You’d be surprised how upsetting people find this doctrine. However, it’s what the Bible says and I’m just some dude on the internet so who am I to argue? Just come to Christ and he’ll make you clean, done.
It’s in his simplicity that the Lord works best. You see, although at first hesitant to follow the path to being clean given to him by Elisha, the simplicity and straightforwardness of the Lord’s power had a powerful effect on him. Not only was Naaman’s skin cleansed, but so was his heart. The conclusion to our story reads as follows,
Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.”
The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
“If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord” (2 Kings 5:15-17).
Naaman was a changed man inside and out; for he had been purified by the Lord. This is why, although you may feel no change when you pray the prayer or however you accept Jesus into your life, Paul is able to write boldly in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Will you understand this change fully? Maybe not. However, salvation really is that easy. Just believe in Jesus and the power of his death and resurrection, and through that proclaim Christ as Savior and Lord and you will be saved, you will be forgiven, and you will be made clean. What an amazing, and yet simple gift from our Lord!
As noted above, parts two and three can be viewed by clicking on the following links: Yes, it’s that Easy Part 2: Prayer and Yes, it’s that Easy Part 3: The Strength and Wisdom of God