Friday, August 22, 2014

An Unusual Strategy

Allow me to introduce you to the story of Naaman, found in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was the commander of the Syrian army. Israel's enemy. Naaman had a problem. A big problem, called leprosy. It made him unclean, but leprosy had no cure. It was a slow death, and those with leprosy were often exiled in order to try to contain the disease.

Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

You may know the rest of the story.Naaman was deeply offended at being told to go dip in the muddy Jordan River and had a fit of anger. Eventually though, his servants talked sense into him and he humbled himself to obedience. He received his miracle from God.

I have heard many people preach on the subject of Naaman and his pride. Perhaps you have, too. However, this particular article touches on a different aspect of God at work that I would like to bring out. It's about God using an unusual strategy to get to an enemy's heart.

One thing I find particular interesting in this story is the strategy that God uses to heal this man. Naaman was the commanding leader for the ENEMY army. Imagine how Elisha felt when Israel's enemy came looking for a healing. What audacity! What arrogance! And the opposing king as well, because he writes letters to theking of Israel on behalf of Naaman and asks him to heal him. The king of Israel is distraught. He is thinking, "Who am I that you think I can make this happen? Am I God??" When someone comes to you with an outrageous request, it can feel like that. You expect me to do...what?

Sometimes, God will bring someone to you with an audacious request. You might not want to help them, but keep in mind that God might just be setting the stage to penetrate the enemy's camp! That bold request that comes knocking on your door just might be God's unusual strategy in your life to unravel the enemy's defenses from inside his own camp. 

Put it in terms of what is going on in the Middle East today. It would be like a commander of the Hamas army going over into Israel asking Prime Minister Netanyahu to bring out their best prophet and work a miracle - just because they asked nicely. Yeah, we're out to destroy you, but oh by the way, my commander - the most vicious dog in our army - needs a healing. I'm sending him over to you so he can get healed. Hook him up with your prophet, ok? Hmmm. 

Not sure that one would fly. How do you think Israel would feel about that? Yet, God is so brilliant...He heals the Naaman in spite of his character spuite of what he does for a living... in spite of who he's connected with, and he gets safe passage back home. Naaman just experienced Israel's God at work, and no doubt he was very humbled at what he received. How do you think that affected him every time he had to then give his army a command to go to war and attack Israel? Do you think his loyalties were challenged? Perhaps he made a few 'mistakes' so that Israel and their God would not be offended? After all, do you think he would want to go and offend the God that just healed him? Do you think he would risk losing his healing? I don't think so. Now, the text doesn't tell us those details, but God didnt' include that story just for the part about the need to show humility in order to receive from Him. I think perhaps there is more to that story that might have occurred as a result of God demonstrating kindness to a man that didn't deserve it. And so He is with all of us. His kindness is what leads men to repentance.

There is a lot to consider in this story from a variety of angles. I love the message of humility, but I also love the fact that God's strategies are often quite unusual. He has a strategy for each one of our situations, we just need to ask for it. And, ask Him to send us those He wants us to pray for. think of all the situations that could be changed by God's strategies to invade the very place where the enemy plots death and destruction, and lays out his own blueprints to his plots and schemes. Pray for your family, your friends, your countrymen. Pray for those the enemy is using to inflict evil. None of us like hearing about some of the arrogant boasts from the enemy's mouth, yet, none of us know who God has His eye on to have an unexpected encounter with Him. An encounter that will humble them and change their heart. It might even be in the drug cartels or the terrorist camps. We just never know. Yet, knowing that God can choose anyone to do His will, even without their consent, is a thought that can give us all hope. Let your faith be encouraged today. God sees everything. He sits in the heavens and laughs at the foolishness of men's pride. God can put His foot down on any one of them in a moment if He chooses to! If God did it once, He can do it again, and He has, many times over. Something tells me, a turn-around is not too far away in the future. May the God of peace crush Satan under your feet shortly. Amen. It's already been done in the Spirit; believe it and call it in!

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