Family of Prophets: Obedience

Family of Prophets: Obedience

Last week, we began a new message series entitled, “Family of Prophets.”  We’re rediscovering our identity as a church family this year and this group of individuals are an awesome example to learn from.   Family is a group of people who genuinely love, trust, care for, and look out for each other.

We’re continuing this morning looking at a time in the lives of this family where they learned the life lesson that mankind has struggled to learn from our very beginning.

Follow God and His ways to live an abundantly blessed life.

Go our own way and live an abundantly difficult life.

Moses spoke before the entire nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 30 and set this life lesson before his family.  He reminded us that what God asks is not too difficult for us nor is to too difficult to understand.  Obey God out of love for Him and you live and increase and be blessed.  Turn your heart away from God and it will lead to your destruction.

Life and death, blessing and curses are ours for the choosing.  Why not choose life?  Moses said that those who love God and obey Him choose life and that even their children will be blessed and hear the voice of God.

Now, let’s read together through the chapter of:

2 Kings 5

1 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.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Well, we don’t always necessarily know the answer to this question.  However, over and over again in the Bible, we see that God is able to do the miraculous to transform bad things into amazing things!

In John 9, we encounter a man blind from birth.  When Jesus was questioned about whether it was his parents sin or his that caused his blindness, Jesus said neither.  He simply said that he was born blind so that the work of God could be displayed through him.  Jesus then healed the man of his blindness.

When bad things happen to you for no apparent reason nor from any fault of your own, trust and believe that God has permitted this bad thing to happen so that God might display the miraculous through your life, too.  Let’s continue on to see if this is what happens for Naaman.

2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.

Have you ever noticed that bad things rarely seem to happen singularly?  Usually bad things seem to happen all at once.  The power blinks through the night, so your alarm doesn’t go off in the morning.  On your way already late, you get stopped for construction.  After finally getting through that, you get a flat tire.  It just seems like the world is against you!

If we could just see from God’s perspective, we might see the reality that our series of unfortunate events are a blessing in disguise.  This poor young girl being taken away as a slave could either be viewed as the worst thing to happen in her life or it could be viewed as God’s divine plan to use her to work a miracle. 

Perspective is everything and we would be wise to maintain a perspective of trust and faith, especially when things get tough.  God is up to something and He’s always up to something good!

3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver (750 lbs.), six thousand shekels of gold (150 lbs.) and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman was carrying both his problems and his blessing together with him.  In life, when impossibilities come our way, will we choose to focus on the problem or the blessing?  Often, our greatest opportunities for encounters with God are wrapped in heartbreaking and impossible circumstances.  Will we sulk in our misery or hope for our miracle?  How would the king of Israel respond to this opportunity?

7 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!”

The king of Israel chose to respond like most of us unfortunately do.  He saw through worldly eyes that the situation is impossible.  He saw only himself and his limitations and forgot about God and how all things are possible through Him.  Beyond that, his perception was that people were against him, in particular, the King of Aram.  We know that this is far from the reality of the situation! 

Let’s not choose to respond like this king!  Let’s choose to respond like a member of this family of prophets!

8 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.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 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.”

Easy enough, right?  All that Naaman had to do was take a bath seven times in the Jordan river and his healing would be released.  That’s awesome news, right?  Naaman should be overfilled with joy and anticipation that it is finally time for his healing.  He should leave on his chariot as fast as he can for that river, right?

11 But Naaman went away 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. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

How often do we respond to God as Naaman just did?  How often are we disappointed in God because He doesn’t do things the way that we want Him to?  We get embittered and angry because we don’t agree with God.  We think our ways are better than God’s.  We just want someone to take all of our suffering away and we don’t want to do something that seems frivolous to us or to take responsibility for it.

13 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’!”

God has set us in a family of believers because sometimes we need one another.  We need encouraged to lay down our own selves and to follow the will and purposes of God for our lives.   God chooses to speak to us often through others.  In this case, one of Naaman’s own servants was the voice of God and the voice of reason to him.  Thankfully, this servant was bold enough to do so!

14 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.

Surely enough, when we walk in obedience to God, life and blessings are certain to follow!  God once again proves Himself faithful and true; His word never failing!

15 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. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

16 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.

On this occasion, it was not God’s will for this family of prophets to accept a gift from Naaman.  It had to be terribly difficult to turn away such abundance.  However, they knew that abundant blessings ultimately came from following God’s will and not their own desires.  In this case, the reward was to see Naaman healed and to see his life be on display for the nations to know who God truly is.  Naaman’s life was transformed!

17 “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. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”

19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.

Now this family of prophets were known by their passionate zeal for the presence of God.  They were known for being a group of people who walked with God and they represented Him.  They were God’s voice and hands and feet.  They were marked by miracles and known as God’s own.

However, people are still people.  This may have been a family of prophets who walked in the power of God’s signs, wonders, and miracles, but they were still living in this flesh of weakness.  This may have been a family of prophets who listened for the voice of God and hear His deep revelation, but they still had thoughts of temptation.

Gehazi, a member of this family, was a man of God, but still a man.  There were a few occasions where we learn about his struggles with his faith.  The Bible honestly records times when he eye-witnessed the power of God and times when he failed.  Here, we unfortunately learn of one of his greatest times of failure.

After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”

His greatest failure begins with thinking that his own ways were better than God’s.

21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.

22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’”

His greatest failure continues by supporting his own ways with a lie rather than with the truth of God.

His greatest failure continues by supporting his own ways accompanied by others who agreed with him.

23 “By all means, take two talents (150 lbs.),” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi.

His greatest failure continues by laying the weight of his guilt on those who agreed with him.

24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.

His greatest failure continues by stealing a blessing by works.  Wages are given as a reward for those who work for it, an inheritance is freely given just because of relationship.  We are children of God, not His hired hands who have to work for our inheritance.

One day, however, we will all stand before God and give an account for our works.  Our works will not earn or deny us a place in the eternal family and household of God.  Our place in Heaven is determined by our name being written in the Lamb’s book of life and that is written by our simple choice to put our faith in Jesus for our salvation. 

Our works will result not in our salvation, but they will result in a degree of reward.  Our choices always come with a consequence.  Bad choices obviously result in bad consequences of suffering and pain.  Good choices result in good consequences of reward and blessing.

God sets before us every single day choices.  The choice that we make results in life or death, blessing or curse.  This is true even though we have put our faith in Jesus for our salvation.  Even being saved, our choices still result in consequences.  We will still have to answer for our choices.

25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”

“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.

I believe that this is the worst part of Gehazi’s greatest failure.  I firmly believe that this was an opportunity for this man of God to confess his sins and to be forgiven for them.  I firmly believe that this was God’s way of bringing accountability into his life.  Elisha was representing God, speaking on His behalf and longing with His heart, as our leaders often do for us.

Gehazi was given yet another choice and he, unfortunately, made yet another bad one.

26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

How heartbreaking this encounter had to be for Elisha!  Gehazi had the opportunity over and over again to right his wrongs, to confess and be forgiven.  However, Gehazi stubbornly stuck to his own ways instead of God’s.  Gehazi chose over and over again death and curses instead of life and blessing.

Gehazi continued to be a member of this family of prophets.  He continued to seek after the Lord and to be used mightily by Him.  He continued to be a man of God.

How will you choose?

You are a child of God, a member of His family.  However, choices still come with consequences.  God still sets before us life and death, blessings and curses.  Choose life!  Every day in the big things and little things, choose life!

Obedience to God always leads to good things.  Obedience to God always leads to blessing and the abundance of life.  Sure, we may endure difficult seasons that seem like a series of unfortunate events.  However, if we walk in obedience to God, that season is sure to end well.

It is sure to end in deliverance and healing and restoration.  It is sure to end in a powerful encounter with the undeniable Presence of God.  It is sure to end with the goodness of God’s faithfulness made manifest in our lives.  It is sure to end with those around us clearly seeing the hand of God.  God has promised to bring beauty from ashes, life from death, and to work all things together for our good and His glory so long as we obediently follow Him from a heart of love for Him.