In 2Kings 5, we find the story of Naaman the leper. After Naaman is healed, Naaman determines to worship the Lord only, yet, notice what he asks for and what he wants to do with it:
2Kings 5:15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. 5:16 But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. 5:17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. 5:18 In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.
Naaman wants to take back two portions of dirt (“two mules’ burden”) from the land where JEHOVAH proved Himself strong by healing Naaman and he wants to put it in the house of RIMMON. Naaman, of a pagan background and influence, knows nothing of “this is how we do things.” Ever had someone, whether at church or in any setting in life, who is a believer demand that things be done a certain way or the Lord won’t be in it or bless it? Naaman doesn’t know any better here, but perhaps there is a lesson in this story that would suggest making the statement that “Naaman doesn’t know any better” actually shows that WE don’t know any better.
Let’s keep exploring this story–
Rimmon was a Syrian deity of weather (namely of rain and wind and storms). This Syrian deity could do nothing for Naaman but keep Naaman in the bondage of his leprosy, yet Naaman historically went to the house of Rimmon to worship Rimmon. Yet, when JEHOVAH heals Naaman, Naaman immediately recognizes the futility in being loyal to Rimmon. Naaman sees Jehovah as whom he needs to worship and makes these statements in verses 15 and 17 – “now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel” and “thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord.“
Naaman asks the prophet of Jehovah if it would be ok to take Jehovah’s dirt and put it in a PAGAN HOUSE OF WORSHIP and then Naaman would have “holy ground” within this PAGAN house to worship JEHOVAH. Naaman simply asks – would the Lord care if I took His dirt, put it under a pagan roof in order to worship the Lord? And, what does the prophet of God tell Naaman? Does he say, “No! You can’t do that—the house of Rimmon is pagan!” Does Naaman tell him, “That’s not how we do it”?
That’s not at all what he says. He says this,
2 Kings 5:19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
How often do we try to protect God under the banner of “that’s not how we do it”? Is God so small that He needs protection from human intervention? How effective are we at letting God use us when we isolate Him by our establishment of what is acceptable and what isn’t? I’m not suggesting at all that God’s throne is to be joined to the throne of iniquity (Psalm 94:20). Naaman wasn’t interested in taking the dirt of Jehovah (symbolic of the place where Jehovah demonstrated His power and healed Naaman) and putting it in the house of Rimmon in order to make a deity mashup. He wasn’t trying to create a ‘super god’ out of Rimmon and Jehovah. He simply took holy ground and effectually planted a flag for Jehovah in enemy ground. Christians today, especially those who see themselves as more “conservative”, have a hard time with this. We see our task as keeping God safe and keeping us safe. Therefore, we do not go to places we deemed to be of sin and we often keep our flags for Jehovah firmly planted only within the walls of a church building. However, the prophet of God told Naaman it was ok to take what was Jehovah’s and use it in a (essentially) a HOUSE OF SIN.
God is much bigger than you and I and I would suggest He needs no help from us determining what is acceptable. Perhaps if we let our guard down and allowed the Spirit to work in and through us, we might find ourselves in places we formerly convinced ourselves were “off limits”, yet, we might also see God doing some great things that we would otherwise not have seen by our protectionist policies.
Something to think about…