In 2 Kings 5:1-19, we learn of a man named Naaman, who was a warrior in the Syrian army. The text describes Naaman as great, honorable and a mighty man of valor. Yet even though he was described in this way, he was a man who lived with a terrible disease called leprosy. Leprosy was a skin disease that could stay for many years causing the skin tissue to degenerate and disfigure the body.
The King of Syria
In the account in chapter 5, we learn of a young girl who was brought back captive by the Syrian army who told Naaman’s wife that she knew how Naaman could be healed. The girl said that if Naaman were to go see the prophet in Samaria he would be healed. After Naaman informed the King of Syria of the message given by the girl, the King gave Naaman leave and told him to go and seek out treatment, immediately.
When Naaman went to see Elisha the prophet, Elisha sent a message to him that he should wash in the Jordan river seven times that his flesh may be restored. It was these instructions that became a sticking point for Naaman. He thought that the prophet should come out and do something spectacular instead of having him wash himself in a dirty river.
In 2 Kings 5:11,” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, indeed, I said to myself, 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 heal the leprosy.”
It was his servants who told him to do as Elisha had told him. When he did, he was cleansed and his skin was restored, “like the flesh of a little child.”
Obedience to God
This account of Naaman teaches us about obedience and specifically obedience as it relates to baptism. Naaman was given instructions which would cleanse him of his leprosy. What we see is a little pride coming out and it is pride that can keep us from obedience.
We note that in the Septuagint, the word used for dipped is “ebapisato” which is translated “immersed.” So Naaman was to be dipped or immersed in the waters. The idea of being immersed is a humbling experience. The need to humble oneself in baptism is what keeps many people from being obedient to this.
For each sinner must be baptized to be added to the body or the church of our Christ.
Baptism Essential for Salvation
In Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”, and 1 Peter 3:21, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Unfortunately, for many, much like Naaman who don’t see the correlation between being immersed in baptism and eternal salvation. What is forgotten, again much like Naaman, is that there is no power in the water to save, but rather it is in the act of obedience to the commands of God that will save one.
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