Seeking Personal Gain at the Expense of God’s Glory

This comes from 2 Kings 5.

It seems that the captain of the army of Aram (Aram was NOT Israel’s friend) had leprosy (I’m wondering if there is more than one type of leprosy, as there seems to be a kind where you can’t go in public as you are unclean, yet, here he is, captain of an army.) Naaman, the captain guy, heard from an Israeli servant girl that his army had captured about Elisha. He told the King of Aram this and he sent him, with many gifts, to the King of Israel. He also sent a letter. (I’m thinking that the two kingdoms were NOT at war at that particular moment as it would be very risky to send him there, without an army, otherwise, as they’d love nothing better than to get this guy’s head after he led them to victory against Israel in the past.)
The King of Israel, when he saw the letter, tore his clothes to show that he was upset (I’m wondering, if people did this to show that they were upset, if the occupation of tailor was a great way to earn a good living.) The King said that he was not God. He thought that it might be an attempt to scout them out or something to attack them.
Elisha heard about this and said to send him to him so that Naaman would know that there was a prophet in Israel. So, the king sent Naaman to Elisha’s house.
Elisha sent a messenger that told Naaman to wash in the Jordan River seven times in order to be healed. Naaman is quite ticked that Elisha wouldn’t even come himself. He wanted to know why he couldn’t have washed in the rivers in his own country to become clean. He was about to leave.

Fortunately, Naaman’s servants talked him into obeying Elisha. So Naaman went and washed in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman was healed.

Naaman came back, along with all of his men with him, and came to Elisha and said that he knew that there was no God in all of the earth like God. (So God got the glory for this.) He offered to give Elisha a gift. However, Elisha said that he served God (I think he was acknowledging that it was God, not him, that had done the work and that he really didn’t deserve the gift anyway) and that he would not take a gift from him. Naaman kept trying to offer it to him, but Elisha kept refusing. Naaman finally asked for enough dirt from Israel to fill the baskets on two of his mules. He said that he asked this because he would never offer any sacrifices or burnt offerings except to God (He was considering building an altar with the dirt. It is possible that Naaman thought that no god could be worshipped except on his own land.

Naaman says that at times though, that he would have to bow to a false god (presumably to please the King of Aram, who needed Naaman to take him to the temple. ). He asked Elisha for forgiveness (Elisha can’t forgive him, though he might not have known that.) Specifically, his master, presumably the king of Aram, would need him to hold for support, perhaps he was getting old, and he would end up having to bow when his master bowed to the idol Rimmon. Elisha tells him to go in peace. (It may seem that Elisha was condoning sin. However, maybe he was just saying that God forgave him anyway. It is good to know that God forgives us.)
However, Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, thinks that Naaman, who, after all, is from a nation that is an enemy of Israel, got off too easily from Elisha. He decides to go and get something from him for himself.

Gehazi went to Naaman and said that his master Elisha had sent him (a lie!). Gehzzi then said that two prophets came to him and needed some 75 pounds of silver each and two changes of clothes (another lie!) Naaman gave him the stuff and Gehazi went off, first having his servants carrying the stuff, but then he went and got it himself and hid it in his house (to try and hide what he did from Elisha).

Gehazi tried to profit from God’s glory. Well, Gehazi came back to Elisha. Elisha asked him where he had gone. Gehazi said that he hadn’t been anywhere (another lie!). Elisha said that he knew what had happened (the Holy Spirit must have told him.) He said that that was not the moment to try and get gifts. He mentions olives, grapes, sheep, cattle, and servants. (Gehazi didn’t take those directly from Naaman, but he may have been thinking of getting those things with his loot, and God revealed that to Elisha.) Elisha cursed Gehazi and his descendants with leprosy forever because of Gehazi’s sins. Gehazi got leprosy (and his descendants presumably did too. Why God saw fit to curse the descendants too, I am at a loss to say.) Gehazi tried to get gain at the expense of God’s glory and paid the price. May we take warning!


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