Seven Ducks In A Muddy Pond

II Kings 5:1-14

When I was a young teenage Christian, I wanted to hear everything and learn everything
I could from God's Word.
One night I attended a revival meeting in a neighboring church, and before we were dismissed
the evangelist announced that on the next night he would preach the sermon,
"Seven Ducks in a Muddy Pond."
I thought all the next day what that sermon would be, and I wanted to be sure to hear that message.
That message was the message of our Scripture passage in 2 Kings 5.

Our Scripture passage took place in ancient Israel when God's prophet was Elisha.
This was sometime around 600 B.C.
In those days the Promised Land was divided into two kingdoms.
Israel was in the north and Judah was in the south.
It was a time of political and moral decline and the people of God were oppressed by their enemies,
and particularly by Syria.
Joram was king in Israel at this time.
He was the son of the wicked King, Ahab.
And then, there was Elisha who had succeeded Elijah as God's prophet.

This took place in Damascus, the capitol of the nation of Syria.
And this is a special day!
The streets were filled with people to watch the parade.
The city of Damascus was decorated with flowers and flags everywhere.
Vendors were selling their produce and products.
The victorious Syrian Army was marching down the cobbled streets of Damascus.
There were chariots and archers and infantrymen and cavalry.
It was very impressive!

The soldiers were carrying their shields, their swords and their spears.
The horses were beautiful with their tails and their manes braided with colorful ribbons.
The army carried it's booty from its victories.
They are displaying many chests that were filled with gold and jewels.

And, as they passed the king's booth, every soldier saluted.
Now, at the head of this impressive column of military might, on a beautiful white stallion was
the general who had once again led his army to victory.
His name is Naaman.

Naaman was general of the armies of the King of Syria.
He was also a close friend with the nation's ruler, King Benhadad.
Naaman was a very popular man.
Every one liked him!
On his chest were all the medals he had won on the field of battle.
He was known as a man of great courage.

Picture him as he rides on a beautiful white steed in his general's uniform.
Across his chest and draped over his arms, is a brightly colored sash.
That sash was carefully wrapped around one of his arms and one of his hands.
He is trying to hide his arm and his hand.

Naaman was hiding something.
He was hiding a very gruesome fact.
The scripture says Naaman was a great and mighty man, but he was a leper!

He was afflicted by the most feared disease of the ancient world.
Because of this terrible disease, Naaman's whole career would mean nothing.
His fame and all his exploits wouldn't matter any more because of this horrible disease of leprosy.

We need to understand Naaman's predicament.
He had leprosy.
Leprosy was a devastating disease
It begins with a tiny insignificant blemish and continues until it consumes the whole body, and it ends
in a slow, horrible death.
The fingers and toes and ears and nose rot and fall off, and the face becomes enlarged.
It was a horrible way to die.
It destroys the nerves that cause healthy people to feel pain.
The destruction of body tissue comes when wounds are not treated because the person feels no pain.
So, the extremities become infected and rot and fall off.

In Naaman's day to get leprosy was a death sentence..
So, we can imagine how Naaman must have felt.
Getting cured of his leprosy was the most important and urgent matter on his mind.
That was more important than all of his achievements.

In the face of this horrible death all of his achievements seemed worthless..
Death was certain.
Every leper died.
There was absolutely no hope.
When death draws near, all that they have and all that they have achieved mean nothing.
Naaman was a great man, but he was a leper, and because of that his life is in jeopardy.

In verse 2 we take a look at Naaman's house.
On a previous military conquest, the Syrians had captured a Hebrew girl, and she was given
to Naaman's wife as a household servant.
This young girl and Mrs. Naaman had grown close.

Naaman wife was very worried about Naaman's leprosy.
Mrs. Naaman said: "My husband is a good man.
He has received many honors and the king also is concerned for him.
We have everything in life that we could ever want, but as the tears begin to flow
down her face, but he is a leper.
I would give anything if something could be done because life doesn't mean anything
to us anymore
."

Then the servant girl from Israel says, "Mrs. Naaman, back home we worship Jehovah,
the true God.
And I wish that my master, Naaman could go there.
There is a prophet in Samaria named Elisha.
He can heal him of his leprosy!
The God I worship has that kind of power
."

So, Naaman's wife tells her husband what her maid had said about the prophet..
Naaman is willing to try anything -- even the help of a Hebrew prophet..

So, Naaman went to his king, and told him what the girl from Israel had said.
"Oh yes, you should go," the king of Aram replied.
"I will send a letter to the king of Israel."

So Naaman left for the journey.
He took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing.
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
."

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!"

When Elisha 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
."

So Naaman leaves to find the house of Elisha, following the directions given to him by King Joram.
As Naaman neared the house of Elisha he might have thought that Elisha
Elisha didn't live in the best part of town.
He probably thought that Elisha was not very important.
Finally they arrive in front of Elisha's humble home.

Naaman is seated astride his white stallion and with his nose held high in the air.
He tells his servants to knock on the door and tell this Elisha that he was there.
Tell him that, "Naaman, General of the Armies of Syria is here, and I am here to be healed!"

So, Elisha's servant takes Naaman's message inside to Elisha.
Naaman waits for this prophet of the God of Israel to come running out, bowing and groveling
to greet him and invite him in, and pay him the proper respect due to a man of his stature.

But that didn't happen.
Instead, the servant returns with another message:
"General Naaman, Sir, Elisha said for me to tell you to go wash seven times
in the Jordan river and you will be made whole."


The instructions from Elisha to Naaman were plain, simple, very direct, and there was no way
to misunderstand them.
The message was, "Go, dip yourself (or duck yourself) seven times in the Jordan river
on your way home and you will be healed."



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.
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 went away in a rage.
Verse 11 records that he responded with anger!
His ears could scarcely believe what he had just heard.
I can imagine he was thinking, "Where is this prophet?
He did not even come out to meet me!

He sent some lowly servant to tell me to dip seven times in the muddy Jordan?
So in great rage, Naaman mounted his horse and was probably thinking,
'Wait until Benhadad hears about this!
He will avenge this insult
! "

Naaman's pride was hurt.
He couldn't believe that Elisha would have treated him with such indifference.
He thought "I am a great man. I shouldn't be treated that way."

Naaman wanted to be treated as a great man.
But Elisha treated him as though he was
nobody.
Naaman was also angry with the cure itself.

Verse 12 infers that he thought, "The Jordan?
That bug-infested, muddy, slow-moving river?
It just runs from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.
It is slow, and filthy.
Why did he not at least send me to Syria, we have beautiful clear mountain streams such as
the Abana and the Pharpar.
If it is dipping in the water that cures me, why didn't he send me there
?"
Naaman was mad because he thought he had a better way to be cured than the cure
that God gave through Elisha.

I read about Dr. Leo Winters.
Dr. Leo Winters, who was a highly-acclaimed Chicago surgeon, was awakened late one night
by the ringing of his telephone.
A young boy had been tragically mangled in a late-night accident.

And the wounds were such that Dr. Winters' was the only doctor in the city or maybe even
the whole region who was had the skill to save the boy.
The quickest route to the hospital happened to be through a rough area of the city.
But because time such a critical factor, the doctor thought it was worth the risk to take
the shortest route.

He almost made it through the neighborhood, but while he was waiting at a stop light,
his door was jerked open by a man in a grey hat and a dirty flannel shirt.
"I've got to have your car!" the man screamed, pulling him out of his car.

Dr. Winters tried to explain the seriousness of the situation, but the man was not listening.
He took off in Dr. Winters' car.
The doctor wandered about for over 45 minutes before finding a phone.
When he finally got a taxi, and made it to the hospital, over an hour had passed.

He burst through the doors and into the nurses station but the nurse on duty only shook her head.
It was too late.
The little boy had passed away 30 minutes earlier.
But she said: "His dad got here before he died."
The nurse told him. "Please go, and see him in the chapel.
He is awfully confused.
He could not understand why you never came
."

Without explaining Dr. Winters walked hurriedly down the hall and quietly entered the chapel.
At the front knelt the huddled form of a weeping father,
He was dressed in a grey hat and a dirty flannel shirt.
This was the same man who had stolen the doctor's car.

And, in so doing, he had tragically hindered the only one who could possibly save
his son's life.

Naaman almost made the same mistake when he rode off in a rage.
He was about to ride away in anger and ignore Elisha's instructions which would cure him
of his leprosy.

It was possible that Elisha treated Naaman as he did so that Naaman would learn about the power
of the true and only God.
He wanted Naaman to learn that the cure was not in anything that Elisha could do.
The cure came from the true and living God with whom nothing was impossible.

Elisha knew Naaman would expect his cured would be something similar to the Syrian magicians.
They would have used a lot of mumbo jumbo to cure his leprosy.
So, Elisha wanted to Naaman to learn that God's cure is not a result of man's achievements.
Elisha wanted Naaman to have a personal experience of faith in God.

Well, Naaman would have died of leprosy if it were not for some loving servants
who cared enough, and had the courage to standup to their master and question his actions.
Verse 13 says that his servants stopped Naaman 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'!"

They were saying something like:
"Wait a minute, General Naaman.
Stop and think about this.
If this prophet, Elisha, had asked you to do a difficult thing, you would have done it.
If he had asked you to crawl on your knees 150 miles back to Damascus in penance,
you would have done it.
If the prophet had asked you to hide in a cave on Mt. Hermon for three years eating nothing
but grasshoppers and wild honey and pray eight hours a day you would have done that.

But instead of asking you to do something difficult, he has said for you to do
a very a simple thing.
He said for you to go dip seven times in the Jordan River.
It's even on your way home!
Don't you think it is reasonable to at least give it a try”.

Naaman thought it over, and cooled off and said, "Yes, You are right!"
So, he rode his horse to the bank of the Jordan River.
He looked down at the slow-moving muddy water and shook his head, probably thinking,
"I can't understand it, but this prophet of God said to do it, and I will do it."

Naaman got off his horse.
And he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times,
just as Elisha had told him to do, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that
of a young boy.

Leprosy was a living death for Naaman.
We all face a sentence of death.
Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death."
Because we have sinned, we have earned death.
Hebrews 9:27: " It is appointed unto man once to die."

I don't think that I have to convince anyone that everyone of us will die!
We were born, and on that very day, we started to die.
People are dying around us everyday, and one day death will come to each one of us.

Everyone is afflicted by the leprosy of sin.
We are all infected with a "sin disease."
We are all sinners.
There is nothing we can do to save ourselves.
Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast
."

God's Word is so plain.
Jesus said in John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through
Me."

Acts 4:12 is also clear and to the point:
"Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven
given to men where by we can be saved
."
Only in Christ can we be saved from our leprosy of sin.

We become Christians by doing exactly what Romans 10:9 says:
"If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your hearts that God raised Him
from the dead, you shall be saved
."

Elisha found a cure for his leprosy by following God's simple instructions.
Go, dip seven times in the Jordan, and be cured.
And being saved from our sins and given a new life in Christ is also so clear and simple
-- we must confess -- believe -- and receive salvation.

We need the miracle of the new birth.

It Took a Miracle
        
"My Father is omnipotent,
And that you can't deny;
A God of might and miracles --
'Tis written in the sky.

It took a miracle to put the stars in place,
It took a miracle to hang the world in space;
But when He saved my soul,
Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace
!"
-- Lyrics and Composer is John W. Peterson

Sermon adapted by Dr. Harold L. White