Naaman the Leper
Jezebel was enraged when she heard Elijah had killed her prophets! She immediately sent him word that the same thing would happen to him--the next about that time he would be dead, too. Poor Elijah! Had he overcome hundreds of evil men, only men to be killed now by a single ruthless woman? Fleeing for his life, he escaped to the desert country of Judah. There, as he lay exhausted under a juniper tree, suddenly it was all too much. Wishing he were dead, he prayed, "Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers." However, God had not forgotten Elijah. He saw what the weary prophet was going through and sent an angel with food for the rest of his journey. And when he was stronger, Elijah traveled on to Mt. Horeb where God had given His law to Moses.
That night God's voice asked, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" The weary prophet re-plied he had done his best--yet everything looked hopeless The people had torn down the altars of the Lord and killed His prophets with a sword. "I alone am left; and they seek to take my life," Elijah said sadly. God understood. He said He was raising up a king named Jehu and a man named Elisha to finish Elijah's work. And, although he felt very much alone, there were still 7,000 people in Israel who had not bowed down to Baal. Later the Lord blessed his great prophet in a wonderful way. One day as he walked along with Elisha, a chariot of fire suddenly swooped down from heaven. As Elisha watched in amazement, his old friend and teacher was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind! What a glorious ending for the earth life of this faithful servant of God!
Now Elisha was prophet in Elijah's place. He had God's Spirit and worked many miracles, too. One of Elisha's most famous miracles was the healing of Naaman, a commander in the Syrian army. Naaman, was a great soldier--but he had leprosy, a terrible disease that destroys patches of skin. There was no known cure for this dreaded affliction. Imagine, then, the excitement when Naarnan's wife's little maid said a prophet in Israel could make her master well! The little girl was from Israel and was talking about Elisha. Naaman was filled with hope and rushed to tell the king of Syria. Happy to hear his commander might be well again, the king of Syria wrote the king of Israel, asking him to help Naaman. Then he sent Naaman with the letter to the King of Israel at once, with lavish gifts of gold, silver and beautiful clothes.
When the king of Israel got the letter, he tore his clothes in alarm. Why would the king of Syria think HE could cure leprosy? "Am I God, to kill and make alive?" he demanded, wondering if the king of Syria were using this for an excuse to start a war. Finaly Elisha heard about Naaman and sent the king word, "Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel."
So Naaman the famous warrior 'came down to Elisha's house in his flashing chariot. Elisha, however, was not impressed. Instead of eagerly running out to meet him, he sent his servant to tell Naaman, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean. "Naaman was furious at Elisha's words. He had thought Elisha would surely come out and wave his hand over his leprosy and he would be clean! But the Israelite prophet hadn't even shown his face. Besides, Naaman fumed, the rivers of his own country were cleaner than the muddy Jordan--why couldn't he wash in them? Instead of obeying Elisha, he went away in a rage. Naaman's servants tried to get him to calm down, pleading, "If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?" Finally, Naaman decided to follow Elisha's instructions. Surely enough, after he had washed seven times, his skin was fresh and pure again-just like a little child's. Then the mighty warrior of Syria praised the true God of Israel!
Talking it Over
1. Elijah felt depressed because he was tired, hungry and discouraged. How did God help him? Talk about how God spoke to him in I Kings 19: 11-14. Is it important to have something "big" happen to help? What are some things that can discourage you? What can help you to feel better?
2. How was the slave girl from Israel down in Syria like Joseph in Egypt? Talk about ways they can be examples for you.
3. Was there some special power in the water that made Naarman well? In the water when people are baptized? Read 1 Pet. 3:21.
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