by Peter G. Feenstra
So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:14)
2 Kings 5:14-19a
Initially Naaman stubbornly refuses to submit to the word of the prophet and plans to return to Damascus. Yet before he gets back, his servants convince him that he has nothing to lose. Reluctantly he complies and he is cleansed! He is healed of his leprosy and his skin becomes like that of a newborn baby.
Naaman’s cleansing at the river Jordan is a baptism of repentance. It is symbolic of the total cleansing a sinner needs in order to come before a holy God. This is what the immersion in the waters of the Jordan teaches us. Naaman has leprosy on his body but before God he is totally unclean. He must humble himself before the God of Israel and go down into the water seven times—seven being the number of fullness.
At the river Jordan, Naaman receives a sign and seal of the sin-forgiving grace of God. By humbling himself before God he will receive more than salvation from a dreadful disease. He is promised eternal health and salvation. With great reluctance Naaman stepped into the waters of the Jordan. But it is the Lord who takes him by the hand and leads him to those waters. At the banks of the Jordan Naaman is cleansed of his leprosy, but more importantly his heart is cleansed. He is a changed man. He declares, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”
This event was recorded as a warning for God’s people. The Lord established a special bond with them, but they take it for granted. They are rebellious and refuse to listen to His servants. In contrast, one act of God is enough to bring a heathen general to his knees.
Years later, Christ refers to this event while preaching in Nazareth. He says, “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed, except Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27). Nothing had changed in the attitude of many of God’s people. Faith is lacking among the people of Nazareth, just as it was lacking among the people of Israel in the days of Elisha. Let this be a warning for us. The zeal and enthusiasm of those who come to know the Lord often puts us to shame. Let us repent of our sins and seek our cleansing outside of ourselves in the blood of Christ.For further information about this resource, click here.