Gehazi

Gehazi, Elisha’s Servant Who Got Greedy (2 Kings 5:15-27)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 20, 2019

We are going to talk about Gehazi in a minute. I encourage you to turn to 2 Kings 5:15.

 Chuck Swindoll writes: 

Ministry serves others; greed serves self. Ministry calls a woman or a man to set aside selfish gain in order to assist another. Greed is an excessive or reprehensible desire to acquire something for the benefit of self. A minister must live by the highest ethical standard, especially in regard to wealth and material possessions. A greedy person will sacrifice his or her ethical standard when it blocks the path to an object of desire. Whereas ministry uses things to serve people, greed uses people to obtain things.

Greed is never acceptable. Some work hard to rationalize it, sanctify it, even attempt to build a theology around it. Still, greed is a deadly enemy of genuine service to others.[1]

I recently read the following:

Zogby recently conducted a large benchmark poll in which respondents identified “greed/materialism” as the number one “most urgent problem in American culture.” “Poverty/economic justice” finished in second place. In a 2014 Vanity Fair poll, 78 percent of Americans disagreed with the famous Gordon Gekko quote “Greed is good.” Only 19 percent agreed. A recent poll of Economist readers asked “What is the deadliest sin?” and, greed ranked number one.

But, surprisingly, although everyone thinks greed is a terrible problem, most people don’t think they are greedy. When the BBC conducted a poll on the seven deadly sins (anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride and sloth), greed was last on the list in answer to two questions: Which sin have you ever committed? and Which sin have you committed in the past month? Plenty of Brits copped to being lazy, proud, envious and angry. But greedy? Seventh out of seven, last on the list. Tim Keller, argues “even though it is clear that the world is filled with greed and materialism, almost no one thinks it is true of them … Greed hides itself from the victim.”[2]

Today, we look at Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. We began this section last week. Last week we saw Naaman healed and now we will see Naaman want to pay Elisha. Elisha refuses the pay, but his servant schemes to get the money.

My theme is:

Gehazi, Elisha’s Servant Who Got Greedy

My application: Greed leads to a multitude of sins.

Let’s read 2 Kings 5:15-27:

 When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, “Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; so please take a present from your servant now.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will take nothing.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. 17 Naaman said, “If not, please let your servant at least be given two mules’ load of earth; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering nor will he sacrifice to other gods, but to the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.” So he departed from him some distance.

20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, thought, “Behold, my master has spared this Naaman the Aramean, by not receiving from his hands what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.” 21 So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw one running after him, he came down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” 22 He said, “All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Behold, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes.’” 23 Naaman said, “Be pleased to take two talents.” And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags with two changes of clothes and gave them to two of his servants; and they carried them before him. 24 When he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and deposited them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.25 But he went in and stood before his master. And Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.”

26 Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you, when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothes and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?27 Therefore, the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

  1. First, we see Naaman’s offer (verses 15-19).
    1. This is picking up after the healing of Naaman.
    2. Verse 15, says, “when he returned to the man of God.” This is about Naaman returning to Elisha. Elisha is called a “man of God.” That is a wonderful title to be called.
    3. Naaman is a military commander in Aram/Syria.
    4. He is grateful to be healed.
    5. Naaman has now dipped 7 times in the Jordan River and now he returns to Elisha.
    6. Notice that he comes to Elisha with his entourage, it says “with all his company.” Naaman is a high ranking official and so he comes with a large group.
      1. Have you ever seen a show in which a person travels with an entourage? I am an expert because I have watched Madam Secretary and Blue Bloods. In both shows the main character travels with a motor cade.
      2. Naaman has a large group with him.
    7. Notice, Naaman gives a lot of credit to the Lord.
    8. He essentially says the only God is the Lord in Israel.
    9. This is a major profession of faith. Ever since Gen. 12:1-3 the Lord was wanting to bless others through Israel. One source shares: Sadly, Naaman’s confession of faith condemns most Israelites of that era, since they have rejected the one true God and embraced gods that cannot heal. Jesus makes this point while rebuking the people of Nazareth in Luke 4:23–30.[3]
    10. The Moody Bible Commentary: Realizing that he had been healed, Naaman returned to the man of God, along with his entourage, and made a surprising confession. What was even more impressive was his change of attitude toward Elijah. He stated, Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel (v. 15). The story of Naaman illustrates God’s faithfulness to Gentiles. Anyone who turns to the God of Israel, even in the period of the OT, would find grace, forgiveness, and a relationship with Him. Even citizens of Israel did not have the same conviction.[4]
    11. He now offers Elisha a gift.
      1. He probably comes from a background in which you pay profits for their work.
      2. He for sure believes people should be paid for what they do.
    12. In verse 16, Elisha claims the Lord with what he says. “As the Lord lives…” We serve a living God. Elisha stands before the Lord, the Lord is his witness. Elisha is saying this is the Lord’s will. Elisha refused to take anything. Naaman urged him, but he still would not take anything.
      1. This is very honorable of Elisha.
      2. I am sure he could have used the money for something, but he refused.
  • I must ask, can I have that kind of integrity?
  1. Elisha was recognizing that he did not do anything, the Lord did the miracle. Therefore, he could not take the money.

I like how Swindoll writes about this: The wise prophet dismissed him in peace, trusting that this was merely the beginning of the general’s long journey to becoming a devout, mature worshiper of the one true God.

When someone becomes a brand-new believer, the next few days are crucial. The information he or she receives during that brief period may either confirm grace or steal it. “OK, you have received the free gift of salvation in Christ and your place in heaven is secure. Now you must be baptized. Now you must start tithing. Now you must clean up your life. Now you must give up cigarettes, and alcohol, and your foul language, and . . . Now you must . . . now you must . . . now you must . . .” The poor, new Christian is left to wonder, “But you said I was free! What happened?”

When Naaman found he had been cleansed, he wanted to give the prophet a gift—not a bribe, like before, but a gift of thanksgiving. Observe Elisha’s noble and unselfish reaction:

But [Elisha] said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will take nothing.” And [Naaman] urged him to take it, but he refused. 2 Kings 5:16[5]

 What Elisha refused was no small sum. We don’t trade in talents and shekels, so let me convert the gift into today’s currency. Naaman offered this humble servant of God 750 pounds of silver and 150 pounds of gold. That comes to roughly $1.1 million dollars. (The clothes were by no means cheap, but they were probably included as a gesture of friendship with the original payback.)

Imagine the ministry potential of a sum like that in the hands of an honest prophet of God. And, let’s face it, if you were the one living on a prophet’s salary, that would be enough money to make your eyes tear up. You’d be fixed for life. So why did Elisha refuse the gifts? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but we can put enough clues together from the story to conclude that it was to reinforce the lesson that Naaman had learned. The Lord cannot be charmed. His salvation is freely given by grace, through faith. Taking Naaman’s money would compromise that message.[6]

  1. In verses 17-18, Naaman is sharing how he will carry dirt back and make a sacrifice to the Lord. Naaman recognized they will only offer to the Lord. In Ex. 20:24 God instructed them about making alters of dirt.
  2. One other source shares: It is very evident from Naaman’s explanation, “for thy servant,” etc., that he wanted to take a load of earth with him out of the land of Israel, that he might be able to offer sacrifice upon it to the God of Israel, because he was still a slave to the polytheistic superstition, that no god could be worshipped in a proper and acceptable manner except in his own land, or upon an altar built of the earth of his own land. And because Naaman’s knowledge of God was still adulterated with superstition, he was not yet prepared to make an unreserved confession before men of his faith in Jehovah as the only true God, but hoped that Jehovah would forgive him if he still continued to join outwardly in the worship of idols, so far as his official duty required.[7]
  3. Basically, he wants to take dirt back to build an alter.
  4. Verse 19 shows that Elisha sends him away in peace.
  5. Elisha does not approve or disapprove of this.
  6. It also shares that he has gone some distance before the next event.
  1. Now, we see Gehazi’s lust and lies (verses 20-24).
    1. In verse 20 the narrative switched to Gehazi. This is different because he has not had the spotlight until now.
    2. Gehazi is modified by “the servant of Elisha,” and “the man of God.” This is showing who he is and who he is connected with.
    3. This verse clues us into Gehazi’s thinking. He thought or “said to himself.”
      1. This sermon could focus on controlling our thinking.
      2. Thinking can be dangerous. Col. 3:1-2 tells us what to think on. Phil. 4:8 also talks about our thinking. 2 Cor. 10:5 tells us to take every thought into captivity.
  • We must focus on positive and good thoughts.
  1. We can gossip in our head and that is not good.
  2. Sin begins in our mind.
  3. We start thinking: “I deserve better.” We start think “I deserve a nice car like that” and then we lust.
  • Or, we start thinking, “I work hard, this pornography helps me relax.” Then sin begins.
  • Or, maybe it is different, we are meditating on a person of the opposite sex. We think, “well they dress that way, that is their choice. If she is going to dress that way, I will look.” We may think, “I am a man, God gave me these desires.”
  1. Or, we think, “it is only a white lie…” Sin begins this way. We must make our thoughts bounce. Change the channel in your head. Sometimes we must change the channel a few times.
  2. Screen your thinking with the Word of God.
  1. Gehazi is justifying his greed. He says, Elisha (his master) spared Naaman by not taking what he brought. Now, Gehazi is going to catch up and take it. Notice also how Gehazi says, “as the Lord lives…” this means he is including the Lord in this greed and deceit. This is an example of taking the Lord’s Name in vain (Ex. 20:7). He is even basically saying that this is the Lord’s will.
  2. In verse 21we see that Gehazi catches up to him by running. He is running a marathon or something to catch up.
  3. In verse 22 we see Gehazi talk with Naaman. Now, there is a total lie.
    1. There is an application and that is that greed gets us into lies.
    2. Lies then build up.
  4. He says this is from his master, Elisha.
  5. 2 young men of the sons of the prophets have arrived.
  6. They came from Ephraim.
  7. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes.
  8. In verse 23 we see that Naaman gives him what he asks but he doubles the amount of silver.
  9. IVP BBC OT: Considering what Naaman had been prepared to offer, Gehazi’s request is extremely modest, yet it is still a considerable sum. A talent of silver is three hundred years of wages (for someone making thirty to thirty-five thousand a year, that would be like getting about ten million dollars), and Naaman doubles it. Gehazi is trying to set himself up for life.[8]
  10. Two of his servants went along with him.
  11. In verse 24 they come to his house and the servants leave.
  • Lastly, we see Gehazi’s lie and consequence (verses 25-27).
    1. So, now, in verse 25 Elisha is present.
    2. I don’t know if they live together or not, but Elisha is back in the narrative. Elisha asks where he has been. Gehazi lies again, saying that he did not go anywhere.
    3. In verse 26, we see Elisha respond. Elisha essentially says that he was present spiritually when he went there.
    4. Elisha says that now is not the time to receive money and clothes and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants.
    5. IVP BBC OT: Elisha’s reference to olive groves, vineyards, livestock and servants all reflects what Gehazi could purchase for himself with the money. His newfound wealth would have bought him a life of luxury and leisure. Thus Gehazi was reducing the high prophetic calling to a mercenary vocation that exploited divine power for personal gain.[9]
      1. An application here is Numbers 32:23: be sure your sin will find you out.
      2. We think our sin is hidden but it is not.
  • The Lord sees everything!
  1. It does not say that he receives olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen, but maybe he did. Or, maybe Elisha is exaggerating.
  2. In verse 27 we see the consequence. Now, Gehazi receives the leprosy. It also says that his descendants will also receive leprosy– forever.
  3. Swindoll shares: Apparently Gehazi repented, though he was never cleansed of the consequence, his leprosy. According to Hebrew law, he was able to continue serving as Elisha’s assistant because his skin had turned completely white (Leviticus 13:12–13). Later, he would stand before King Jehoram as the servant of Elisha. He had been restored to ministry, but his white, flaking skin would forever remind him of three mental images: the face of the Syrian, whose faith he compromised; the disappointed look of his master, whom he had undermined; and the awful day when he gave in to greed.[10]

In this account we see many of the Ten Commandments violated. We see taking the Lord’s name in vain, we see lies and we see others. Watch this:

Ignitermedia video:

The Ten Commandments

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

[1] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[2] Adapted from Ted Scofield, “Everybody Else’s Problem, Pt. 2,” Mockingbird blog (7-28-15)

[3] Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 273.

[4] The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 20861-20865). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[5] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[6] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[7] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 226.

[8] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:23.

[9] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:26.

[10]

Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on October 13, 2019

Robert Chesebrough believed in his product. He’s the fellow who invented Vaseline, a petroleum jelly refined from rod wax, the ooze that forms on shafts of oil rigs. He so believed in the healing properties of his product that he became his own guinea pig. He burned himself with acid and flame; he cut and scratched himself so often and so deeply that he bore the scars of his tests the rest of his life. But he proved his product worked. People had only to look at his wounds, now healed, to see the value of his work–and the extent of his belief.[1]

We are going to look at a passage dealing with faith. We are going to look at a man who had to trust that he could be healed by a prophet of God.

My theme: Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Let’s read 2 Kings 5:1-14:

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes.

He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.”

It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”11 But Naaman was furious 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 wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

  1. In verse 1: Naaman’s disease
    1. Naaman is introduced in this first verse. He is captain of the army of the king of Aram. He is a very high court official as we will see in a little bit.
    2. About Aram I read: The land of Aram, north of the land of Israel, was known by the Greeks as Syria. Current evidence suggests that the Arameans inhabited the upper Euphrates throughout the second millennium, first as villagers and pastoralists, then as a political, national coalition. During this period they are alternately allies and the most troublesome foes of Israel.[2]
    3. He is a great man, meaning highly respected.
    4. Interesting it says that “by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.” One source shares: The author states that the Lord gave Naaman his victories. At first this claim may seem startling because Naaman is not an Israelite. However, 1, 2 Kings emphasize repeatedly God’s sovereignty over all nations and all people. The Lord has already laid claim to ownership of Syria’s political future (1 Kgs 19:15). Surely he can work on behalf of a Syrian, if only to discipline Israel for idolatry (cf. 2 Kgs 13:3). The Lord also has sent the prophets earlier to non-Israelites (1 Kgs 17:7–24), so it is not surprising for him to deal with Naaman here.[3]
    5. He is a valiant warrior, but he is a leper.
    6. That is a major statement in that day and age.
    7. Leper just means a skin disease that can take various forms. I read: There is an allusion here to the difference between the Syrians and the Israelites in their views of leprosy. Whereas in Israel lepers were excluded from human society (see at Lev. 13 and 14), in Syria a man afflicted with leprosy could hold a very high state-office in the closest association with the king.[4]
    8. In Luke 4:27 Jesus referenced this account: And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, yet none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.[5]
  2. In verses 2-5: Naaman’s determination
    1. Verse 2 is sad to me. There is a little girl who was taken captive during a raid. This is very sad. This was an Aramean raid on probably Israel. My heart breaks when I read this. I think of my daughters being taken captive because of some war. Then, at a young age they are forced to be slaves. Unfortunately, this still happens. This happens even in the U.S. with sex trafficking.
    2. This little girls is a servant of Naaman.
    3. In verse 3 she talks to her mistress, this seems to be a wife of Naaman or one of his wives or a woman who leads the servants. This little girl wants Naaman to get help from a prophet in Samaria. Samaria was the capitol of the northern kingdom of Israel. Elisha was a prophet in the northern kingdom. She says that this prophet could cure him.
    4. Interesting that apparently she cares. Even though she is a prisoner of war, she cares. This could be Stockholm syndrome: this means that a captive starts to identify with his or her captors. Or, maybe she thought she would get better treatment if she helps him. Or, maybe they were just really nice to her. I hope the latter. It seems that she may be like Daniel, Mordecai, Ezra, Nehemiah and others who would be exiled but good servants to their pagan country.
    5. In verse 4 Naaman goes in to tell his master what the girl said. Who was his master? It seems by context, looking at the next verse that his master was the local king.
    6. In verse 5 we see that this does get back to the king of Aram and the king of Aram sends a letter to the king of Israel. They were going to pay the king of Israel for this:
      1. Ten talents of silver,
      2. Six thousand shekels of gold,
  • Ten changes of clothes.
  1. About this gift I read: The gift accompanying Naaman is exorbitant—a king’s ransom. Ten talents equals thirty thousand shekels, about seven hundred fifty pounds of silver. The six thousand shekels of gold equals about one hundred fifty pounds (one gold shekel equaled fifteen silver shekels). Converted to today’s buying power, it would be in the vicinity of three-quarters of a billion dollars. One can get an idea of the proportions by understanding that a typical wage would have been ten silver shekels per year, and one gold shekel would purchase one ton of grain.[6]
  • In verses 6-8: Naaman’s determination and the king of Aram to the king of Israel followed by Elisha’s response
    1. Now, the king of Israel is receiving this letter.
    2. I read: A number of examples exist of kings sending to other kings for help in the area of healing sickness. Babylonian exorcists were prized by the Hittites, and Egyptian doctors were famed for their healing skills, especially in their treatment of eye diseases.[7]
    3. The letter is coming but so is Naaman.
    4. Verse 7 shows that the king of Israel reacted in outrage; He tore his clothes. The tearing of robes, especially royal robes, was a sign of mourning. This would have signaled a national crisis or tragedy. We are never told which king of Israel this is, though much of Elisha’s interaction is with Jehoram.[8]
      1. He actually thinks that the king of Aram is seeking a quarrel. However, one source notes the Syrian king imagining, according to his heathen notions of priests and goëtes,[9]that Joram could do what he liked with his prophets and their miraculous powers. There was no ground, therefore, for the suspicion which Joram expressed.[10]
      2. I wonder if he thought it was a test. You cannot heal Naaman so we go to war.
    5. In verse 8, Elisha hears about this. Elisha pretty much acts like: why did you tear your clothes, why not send them to me? Elisha says, send them to me and let them know that there is a prophet in Israel.
    6. It seems as though Elisha is saying that they may not have prophets, but we do!
  1. In verses 9-13: Naaman and Elisha
    1. Now, Naaman comes to Elisha.
    2. Notice that Naaman comes with horses and chariots. He comes right to Elisha’s doorway.
    3. Elisha was ready. Elisha gives him a simple message.
    4. “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean.”
    5. In verse 11 Naaman is upset, he was not just upset, he was furious. He wanted something dramatic.
      1. Do I want instant gratification?
      2. It seems that Naaman wanted the McDonald’s way.
  • It seems likely that he is advanced in the military and he was used to having things his way. It does not work that way in God’s Kingdom. We pray and we wait and we seek the Lord.
  1. God has a plan.
  1. Naaman continues in verse 12. He is basically asking why the rivers of Damascus are not good enough. He thinks the rivers of Damascus are better. The waters in those rivers are beautiful and clear whereas the waters in the Jordan are muddy. Why the Jordan River?
  2. He goes away in a rage.
  3. Swindoll shares: Naaman was furious.” Of the six primary Hebrew words referring to anger, this is perhaps the strongest. It usually describes God’s righteous wrath toward sin. Naaman was angry because his encounter with God met with none of his personal expectations. (That still happens.)
  4. He expected to be taken seriously by the prophet. Naaman was a man who commanded armies. When he spoke, people jumped to action. His mere presence brought others to their knees. He was important and probably thought that the prophet ought to be impressed to think a man of his rank and authority would even show up at his obscure little village.[11]
    1. How do we react when things do not turn out our way?
    2. Do we go away in a rage?
  • Do we go away in tears?
  1. How do we handle disappointment?
  2. Pr 14:17 A person who has a quick temper does foolish things, and a person with crafty schemes is hated.
  3. Pr 16:32 Better to be slow to anger than to be a mighty warrior, and one who controls his temper is better than one who captures a city.
  • Pr 19:11 A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
  1. In verse 13 we see the servants speak to him. They speak respectably, addressing him as “my father…” basically, they say that this is so simple, why not try it. If the prophet asked something else would you have done it?
  2. The obvious answer is yes.
  3. The funny thing is that Naaman came close to not being healed because it was too simple. This happens today.
  4. The Gospel is simple. Our eternal life is free. My dad often tells me that I am in sales too, but what I sell is free. That is true, but I wonder if people would take the Gospel more seriously if it costs money.
  1. Verse 14: Naamon obeys Elisha and is healed.
    1. Naaman now obeys.
    2. He is restored, but not just a little bit, his flesh is now like the flesh of a child.
    3. He was clean, certain skin diseases make one unclean.
  2. Some applications (a few of these come from Swindoll’s Book, Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives)[12]
    1. Only when we acknowledge our own sin-sick state will we seek cleansing. We, as Christians must understand that we are sinners in need of a Savior and our spiritual healing is free.
    2. Our spiritual healing is simple too.
    3. Only when we hear the truth will we discover the path to cleansing. We need to hear the truth just like Naaman did. The truth is in the Gospel and in the Word of God.
    4. Only when we reach the end of our own way will we be ready to follow the Lord’s. Some of us need to reach the bottom before we realize we need God’s help. You have all most likely been there. Has there been a time when you kept trying to work something out on your own, but eventually you realized you needed help?
    5. Fourth, only when we do as God requires will we receive His cleansing.
    6. Are you being obedient to the Lord? Some of us may be wanting God’s help but still living in the flesh. Some of us want God’s favor but will not surrender to Him. Are you surrendered to the Lord? Are you seeking the Lord?
    7. I notice Naaman’s rage in verses 11-12, we must watch our anger and get rid of it. Instead of being angry seek the Lord, pray about things, get help, write in a journal, go for a walk.

The powerful, pleading words of a Scottish preacher provide a fitting conclusion: 

I advise you to get over your temper, and to try that very way that you have up till now been so hot and so loud against. It will humble you to do it, and you are not a humble man; but if you ever come back from Jordan with your flesh like the flesh of a little child, you’ll be the foremost to confess that you had almost been lost through your pride, and your prejudice, and your ill-nature. . . .

You all know, surely, what the true leprosy is. You all know what the leprosy of your own soul is. It is sin; yes, it is sin . . . it is yourself. . . . O leper! leper! go out with thy loathsome and deadly heart . . . Go wash in Jordan. Go in God’s name. Go in God’s strength. Go in God’s pity, and patience, and mercy. . . . Go this moment. 

Do you know Jesus?

Luke 9:23:

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

[1] Ralph Walker, Concord, North Carolina. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 1.

[2] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:1.

[3] Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 271.

[4] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 224.

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Lk 4:27.

[6] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:5.

[7] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:6.

[8] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:7.

[9] The term góētes (γόητες), RV “impostors,” AV “seducers,” is used of a class of magicians who uttered certain magical formulae in a deep, low voice (cf the vb. goáō[γοάω], which = “to sigh,” “to utter low moaning tones”). Herodotus (ii.33) says that there were persons of the kind in Egypt, and they are mentioned also by Euripides and Plato.[9]

[10] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 224.

[11] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[12] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

 

Jabez, the Unknown Who Became Well Known(1 Chronicles 4:9 and selected Scriptures)

Jabez, The Unknown Who Became Well Known(1 Chronicles 4:9 and selected Scriptures)[1]Dream Big!

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 6, 2019

A number of years ago it was a beautiful summer evening and I took Mercedes and Abigail through an old graveyard. The sun was setting, and I wanted to point out the old tombstones. I wanted to show the dates on them, you know the tombstones that were well over 100 years old. You know, at one time each of those names were important to someone. At least I would hope so. Think about it, every time you see names in a phone book each name means something to someone, actually a group of people. We gloss over a list of names, but each name represents people. Each name represents important people. Each name represents people created in the image of God. Think about that whenever you see a name.

Today, we come to a name in 1 Chronicles. This passage is listed within the genealogies of 1 Chronicles. Many people may skip over these genealogies, but remember that these represent people. Sometimes as we read through the genealogies we see extra detail about people and that is the case with Jabez.

My theme:

Jabez, the Unknown Who Became Well Known

Application:

Seek the Lord and Dream Big.

Look with me at 1 Chronicles 4:9-10:

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying,

“Because I bore him with pain.” Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.[1]

  1. Jabez was a man of honor.
    1. First, let’s think of where we are in the Bible.
    2. The ESV Study Bible helps us out: The genealogies of 1–9 are intended to show the Chronicler’s own generation, now existing as the small province of Yehud (Judah) in the Persian Empire, that they are still God’s people Israel and retain their central place in God’s purposes for humanity.The identity and legitimacy of this people are traced in a line beginning with Adam (1:1) and extending through the tribes of Israel (chs. 2–8) down to the community of Judean exiles restored from captivity in Babylon (9:2–34). This community is depicted not as the sum total of the people but as the representative nucleus or focus to which “all Israel” may join in God’s work of restoration.[2]
    3. This says that Jabez was “more” honorable than his brothers. We really do not know anything else about his brothers, but Jabez was more honorable.
    4. Looking at the names around Jabez it seems that he lived during the time of Joshua. This would be around 1300-1400 BC.
    5. Swindoll helps us out with that word, “honorable.” “The Hebrew word for honorable literally means “heavy.” We use that same concept in English when we say, “This is a weighty matter.” When used of a person, it conveys the idea that he or she is impressive or noteworthy.[3]
    6. Another source adds: The reputation of an individual is of central importance in these usages. Thus the person of high social position and accompanying wealth was automatically an honored, or weighty, person in the society (Num 22:15, etc.). Such a position, its riches, and long life were commonly assumed to be the just rewards of a righteous life (I Chr 29:28, etc.). While one would be honored automatically if one attained this stature, it is also clear that one was expected to merit the honor and the glory.[4]
    7. Do we seek to be honorable?
    8. Do we care?
    9. Do we care about our reputation?
    10. Next it says that his mother names him Jabez because she gave birth to him with pain.
    11. Once again Swindoll helps us with this: The English rendering is Jabez, but the Hebrew is pronounced yah-betz (the second syllable sounds like the word baits.) His mother had the Hebrew word ah-tzav in mind when she chose her son’s name. The term ah-tzav refers to anguish, intense sorrow, or pain. To arrive at his name from the Hebrew word, you transpose two letters. So it’s a pun based on sound play. This would be like someone who hates cottage cheese, which is made from milk curd, saying, “I don’t prefer milk crud, thanks.” Somehow, his birth was associated with intense pain, though we have no idea how or what that pain might have been.[5]
    12. Swindoll goes on to make the case that it could likely be that the family was going through financial distress.
    13. We all know how much stress a family can go through with a new baby.
    14. Actually, the prayer that is in verse 10 is not the prayer a rich person may pray.
    15. Further, we don’t see his father mentioned. Maybe his father died in one of the wars under Joshua.
    16. Imagine being a single mother during that day and age.
  2. Jabez prayed.
    1. Jabez called. But who did Jabez call? Jabez called on the God of Israel.
    2. In a polytheist day and age, a day and age when people worshipped many gods, Jabez called on the One Lord and God.
    3. Remember the Ghostbusters movies that came out some thirty years ago? Remember the song? They said, “who ya gonna call…” If there’s somethin’ strange in the neighborhood
      Who ya gonna call (ghostbusters)
      There’s somethin’ weird and it don’t look good
      Who ya gonna call (ghostbusters)
      I ain’t afraid a no ghost
      I ain’t afraid a no ghost

      Who ya gonna call (ghostbusters)
      Who ya gonna call (ghostbusters)

      [6]

    4. So, who do you call?
    5. Who do we go to when we need help?
    6. We have the awesome gift of prayer and most of us don’t care.
    7. Think about it, something is going on and we are unhappy about something, we don’t usually pray, we phone a friend. In calling a friend we often meditate on negative things and even gossip, but what we should do is pray.
    8. Do you know that you can gossip in your head. I think the problem with gossip is we are meditating on the negative rather than the positive. God calls us to think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise…(Phil. 4:8). But we think on the bad and I dare say that is a sin of omission. I challenge you and I challenge myself to pray. Every time you are going to think on the bad, pray. Call on the Name of the Lord with your thought life. He is the only One who can help.
  • Jabez made 4 requests.
    • Jabez made 4 requests: Divine Ennoblement, Divine expansion, Divine Empowerment and Divine Enablement
    • He asked for blessing, what some call, Divine Ennoblement.
    • About Divine Ennoblement, Chuck Swindoll writes: First, he asked for God to bless him . . . but this was no cliché, no ordinary request. The Hebrew reveals the deep emotion of his prayer with what scholars call a particle of wishing. This very rare expression combined with the intense form of the verb reveals a man desperately wanting something. As a result, the request “bless me” is doubly intensified so that it becomes “bless me with overwhelming blessing.”
    • He asked for what we might call divine ennoblement. The Hebrew blessing is no insignificant matter, as it is very closely connected with God’s covenant with Israel, which will become clearer in the next section. All Hebrew people desired this covenant blessing, but the request by Jabez was different. In effect, he petitioned the Lord with, “Bless me with uncommon blessing. Lord, break through the cloud that has covered my life, from the sorrow that surrounded my birth to the limitations that I have endured all these years. Make my future a contrast to my past. Give me a giant stake in Your covenant with my people.[7]
    • Next, Jabez asked for Divine Expansion. He asked that the Lord would expand his borders. Remember he may very well come from a family of poverty and pain and this prayer may show that. Here he is praying that the Lord would bless him by expanding his borders and that was a typical Hebrew prayer. Expanding his borders is helping the Hebrew people. Swindoll shares: Make no mistake, though, enlarged borders in the ancient world meant greater wealth, higher standing in the community, more power, and increased responsibility to the Lord and the community. Land was wealth . . . and much more. Jabez called out to the God of Israel to make him rich and powerful. This was an over-the-top prayer by a man with a genuinely sanctified ambition and great hope.[8]
    • Third, he asks for Divine Empowerment. He asks that the Lord’s hand be with him. The Lord’s hand was a symbol of power, strength and control.
    • Jabez was asking for the Lord to be with Him.
    • Jabez lasts request is similar to the third. Jabez asks that the Lord keeps him from harm and not cause pain. Interestingly, Jabez prays that he does not have pain as his name implies. Remember, his name means “pain.”
    • God answered his prayer.
  • Let’s Apply:
  1. Jabez was honorable, are we pursuing being honorable?
  2. It is important that we call upon the Lord for help as well.
  3. Success only comes from the Lord, we must remember that.
  4. It is okay and quite good to be successful in what the Lord calls us to.
  5. We must, we actually should, ask the Lord that we would be successful.

Now, I want to share some applications that Chuck Swindoll makes:

“First, a small, struggling start doesn’t necessitate a limited life.”

“Second, no measure of success is safe without God’s presence and power.”

“Third, when God prospers and blesses a life, no place for guilt remains.”[9]

The Challenge: Dream God-Sized Dreams

Let me make all of this personal. Could it be that your current vision, your present paradigm has been shaped by the restrictive demands and limitations of your original setting? Could it be that the influences that give your life order and comfort are the very things that hold you hostage, bound to a certain way of life or a certain way of thinking? Could it be that you have not broken free simply because the thought of breaking free hasn’t occurred to you? Have you asked the Lord to give you a vision far beyond your current borders? Why not?[10]

In his book Beyond Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson shares the story of an old African woman who demonstrated faith in God’s power to provide. Although she lived in a tiny mud hut, she had taken on the responsibility of caring for 56 orphans.

A small group of Wilkinson’s “Dream for Africa” volunteers had arrived in this grandmother’s native Swaziland to plant gardens. On the final day of their visit, they came upon her tiny home, surrounded by the many children in her care. A number of little gardens had been dug up all around the hut, but oddly, no plants were growing in any of them.

The volunteers learned that, earlier on the same day, the woman had told the children to dig lots of gardens. When the children asked her why—since they had neither seeds nor money—she responded, “Last night I asked God to send someone to plant gardens for us. We must be ready for them when they come.” 

Wilkinson’s volunteers had come with hundreds of ready-to-plant seedlings. God sent them to the very place where one of his servants had begged for his intervening hand. The faithful grandmother and her children were ready when the answer came.[11]

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

prayer

 

[1]New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update(La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Ch 4:9–10.

[2]https://www.esv.org/1+Chronicles+4/

[3]Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[4]John N. Oswalt, “943 כָבֵד,”ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament(Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 426–427.

[5]Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[6]source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/ghostbusterslyrics.html

[7]Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[8]Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[9]Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[10]

Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[11]https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2005/december/16259.html