Although Israel dressed for the battle the Lord told them they would not have to fight and went out to the fields to see the Lord at work, not everyone was so faithful or obedient...or happy about it. To see a story of a guy a little bit more like so many of us, we need turn back only a few pages from 2 Chronicles to 2 Kings and find the story of a man named Naaman.
You may remember that we touched a little bit on Naaman's story a few weeks ago when we talked about Gehazi; Naaman was the man whom Gehazi chased down in order to take for himself some of the glory and spoils of the miracle of the Lord. But what was Naaman doing with Elisha in the first place?
Naaman had leprosy, and although he was a brilliant leader in his own community, his leprosy was still a burden upon him and one that he wished to heal. He had tried everything that was at his disposal to try, been to all of the doctors, consulted all of the experts, worshiped at all of the altars in his own land, but nothing was helping him to shake this skin condition that affected literally everything in his life.
And then someone told him about the man of God in Israel.
So Naaman comes to Elisha hoping for a miracle, and what he receives is, well, something somewhat less than he expected. After consulting the prophet, the two men talked about Naaman's condition and the prophet's word was that Naaman should go and wash himself in God's river. Only then would he be clean.
Naaman is essentially furious. This is not at all what he wanted. He already journeyed this far just to get to God, and now, this man of God wants him to journey further - and to Israel's dirty river, of all places! He's got plenty of rivers in the land that he came from. He even passed a number of rivers on his way to this place. And you know what? All of them were cleaner than the filthy, disgusting river that Israel claimed. If all it took was for him to wash in the river, well, he could have done that at home by himself.
He's incredibly disappointed. He expected more of this so-called "God" of Israel. He turns, hangs his head, and starts to go home, mumbling to himself all the way, cursing this God under his breath. He wanted healing, not orders. He thought this was the end of his journey, not the beginning of it. This was ludicrous! It was completely unacceptable! It was...stupid!
It's worth noting here that while the children of Israel dressed for battle and went out to the fields, Naaman, with whom so many of us identify so well, was no child of Israel at all. He was a Syrian. The truth about Naaman is that he didn't really want God's glory; he wanted only God's benefit. Sound familiar?
In that moment, his servant speaks. He says to the angry man something simple, yet profound: if this God of Israel had asked you to do something crazy, wild, extreme, unthinkable in order to cure your leprosy, wouldn't you have done it? Yet, He has asked you to do something plain and simple, and you are disappointed.
Then Naaman goes to Israel's river, washes himself, and is healed.
But this is the question, isn't it? This is the same question that we face when God tells us to dress for battle and to go to a field at which we will not have to fight. We scoff. We hang our heads. We turn away disappointed. We have to go somewhere? We have to do something? We wanted this God to just show Himself! We already came all this way; who is God to ask us to go further? This is ludicrous!
Ask yourself: if God had asked you to do something crazy, wild, extreme, unthinkable in order to see His glory, wouldn't you have done it? Yet, He has asked you to do something plain and simple, and you will not go.
That's not God's problem. It's ours.
If we won't go to the river, if we won't wash in the waters, if we won't dress for battle and go out to the fields to see what glorious thing God is doing, that's not a reflection on God; that's a reflection on us. And if we don't want God's glory after all and we only want His benefit, well, then that's on us, too. It says nothing at all about Him, except perhaps that He is the gracious God of an unfaithful people.