He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.
Thus reads the bio of Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria (2Ki. 5:1). A great man yet a grieved man. Had all the fame he could want yet went home each night cursed by his flesh.
As a Syrian, he was a long-standing enemy of the people of God and hence an enemy of God Himself. Being a Gentile he had no claim on the promises and covenants of God, thus no reason to expect any blessing of God. And being a leper, in his flesh he was helpless and hopeless to change his diseased condition.
But in God’s grace, this man of war was converted to a man of worship. Known for his fighting, he would become known for millennia to follow for his faith.
This mighty warrior believing the testimony of a little girl that there was a prophet who could heal him. Though at first balking at the thought of humbling himself by getting down off his chariot and washing in a river, eventually curbing his pride and submitting to the word of God by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan.
. . . and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
(2Kings 5:14b ESV)
But not only was his flesh restored, his blind eyes were made to see, his deaf ears able to hear, and his sin-hardened heart of stone started beating, seeking after the living God.
Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel;
(2Kings 5:15a ESV)
And so, while he was still weak in the flesh, provision was made for his healing (Rom. 5:6). While still an enemy, he was reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10). Though a stranger to the promises and covenants, by grace he had been brought near, and that by faith (Eph. 2:11-13).
And though new to the ways of promise and faith, though still informed primarily by the world he had grown up in, he knew that this newly found revelation demanded some sort of lasting response.
Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the LORD.”
(2Kings 5:17 ESV)
Two mule loads of earth. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.
Wanting some holy ground that he might wholly commit to the God who had made him whole. Not knowing much of the ways of God, but intuitively sensing that his new found faith should manifest itself in lifelong fidelity. That if there really is no other God, then the one true God was worthy to receive total allegiance. That a Savior deserved a sacrifice as an act of worship. And that, though he needed to head back into the world, as much as Naaman was able, he would not be defiled or distracted by the world–but would have a place and space to offer to God that which was due His name.
Two mule loads of earth, that’s all he asked.
How much more have we been given that we might remain faithful?
Not just two loads of dirt to make for ourselves some earthen altar upon which to continually offer peace offerings (Ex. 20:24), but given access into the holy of holies through the once for all sacrifice of the Lamb of God. More than some physical ground to stand upon, given the inspired word of God as a firm foundation for sustaining our faith. Beyond some simple sod for under our feet, the Spirit of God taking up residence within us, working in us a work beyond our comprehension, transforming and conforming us into the likeness of His Son.
What’s more, provision made that we might not go back into the world alone. But adopted as God’s children, brought into His family, given a community equipped to protect, and to build up its members until we reach the fullness of faith.
All that we might continue to know there is no God in all the earth but our God. That we might be faithful to Him who is faithful. And worship only the One worthy of worship.
By His grace. For His glory.