How far do you want to go with God and His Word? If I walked up to an airline ticket counter, I could say to the clerk behind the counter, “Please give me a ticket.” But the first thing the clerk would want to know is, “Where do you want to go?” “Well, anywhere.” Then the clerk might say, “How much money do you want to spend?” And so the conversation would continue until he could establish how far I wanted to go. God has planned an effective and effervescent life for all who fully believe His Word. All He wants to know from you is, “How far do you want to go?” The choice is yours and yours alone.
Three records from the Word concerning lepers will challenge us as we consider the question. Two are from the Old Testament and the third is from the Gospels. These are “written for our learning” and there are truths within the context of these records that God wants us to understand.
The first record is found in II Kings. “And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver” (II Kings 6:24,25). The two items mentioned for sale are not what they appear to be in our English translation. In Eastern lands “dove’s dung” is the name for a vegetable in the pea family, and an “ass’s head” is the head of a wild cabbage.
“And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?” (II Kings 7:3). As lepers, they were not allowed in the city; they had to stay outside the gate. They had nothing to eat, just as the king had nothing to eat: everybody was on the same level. The lepers said one to another, “Why sit we here until we die?” How far do we want to go? What is the good of just sitting here? Why do we want to stay just where we are? Can we break free of the bondage of the status quo, and think logically for once in our lives?
Remember the man sitting by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-16)? He was sick; he looked sick; he was part of a very negative crowd. Jesus said to him, “Wilt thou be made whole [sound]?” Have you ever thought about that question? The man was sick, yet Jesus said “Do you want to be made well?” It was a necessary question, however. A lot of people like being sick, and most people don’t want to change. That is why Jesus said, “Are you really in earnest about getting well?” (Amplified Bible). How far do you want to go? Do you want to just sit here and enjoy the sympathy?
The four lepers decided to do something about their situation and they reasoned: “If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come. and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians [the enemy]: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die” (II Kings 7:4). That is good thinking. They would have died anyway if they stayed where they were. They would have died if they went into the city, because there was no food there. So why not step out; get out on the end of a limb – that’s where the fruit is. Even if someone attempts to chop the limb off behind us, let us get out there and get that fruit. We need believers today with that same challenge, that same boldness to operate everything God has available for them. God wants you to enjoy life in every way possible. But do you want to, or are you satisfied with your old, miserable, negative situation?
“And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there” (II Kings 7:5). They started out. Do you know how they did it? They took one step at a time, that’s all. And when they got to the camp, “there was no man there.” So often we think up a whole host of horrible things that could happen if we took a step in a certain direction. I imagine they were thinking somewhat fearfully, but when they got to the camp, every fear proved groundless.
Taking that first step seems to be hard for a lot of believers. A great preacher once said, “A lot of people are sitting on the premises, when they ought to be standing on the promises.” Remember, it’s your responsibility to make the first move. Once you understand this, then it is really up to you how far you want to go. God has made a provision for everything you need. Now He is waiting for you to take that first step. Until you take it, you will just sit and be ineffective. But the moment you, by an act of your will, decide to believe what the Word says and you step out on that basis, there will be a miracle.
There is a formula that applies to the operation of the power of God: S + N = M. When the “Super” and the “natural” get together, there is a “miracle”. God has already blessed us with all spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). God has already paid the price; He cannot do any more. The next move is up to you. In a multitude of miracles recorded in the Word, it is clearly stated that man made the first move; then God energised man’s act, and a miracle was performed. All miracles involve a divine-human reciprocity, a beautiful yet amazing co-operation between the Father and a believer. How far do you want to go? It’s your move !
A record about another leper, found in II Kings 5, will challenge us also. “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” (II Kings 5:1). Naaman was in the top echelon; he was captain of the host, commander-in-chief. He was an honourable man, well respected throughout the nation. He was also a mighty man in valour. He did not sit in his office in the Pentagon and tell others how to fight the war; he was out on the front line himself. He was a great man, and we shouldn’t minimise his greatness.
However, notice the next word in this verse: “but”. Someone will say, “Bill is just tremendous at playing the piano, but…” And what usually follows is something derogatory. Naaman was a great man, “but [and the “but” is really tragic] he was a leper”. Underneath the beautiful, resplendent uniform was a man with leprosy. He was a great man, he acted in a great way, but he knew he was a leper. Notice the contrast with verse 14, “..and he was clean”. The record starts out “but he was a leper”, and finishes with “and he was clean”. What caused the change?
“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 Namaan’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 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” (II Kings 5:2,3,5,6).
At this point the king of Israel became angry. He said, “Am I God?” He knew very well he couldn’t recover Naaman of his leprosy. He did not believe the Word of God. In fact, there were very few people in his kingdom who did believe the Word; one of them was the prophet in Samaria.
“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. 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” (II Kings 5:8-10).
Elisha sent a message out to Naaman; he didn’t even come to the door. Elisha just sat there and sent his messenger to tell Naaman to wash in the Jordan seven times, and his leprosy would be healed. This is what God had revealed to Elisha. When you know what is the will of God, then it is up to you whether you do it or not. Why didn’t Naaman want to do what the man of God told him? How badly did he want to get rid of his leprosy? God said the healing had to be accomplished this way, and He is the person of the first part. We are the person of the second part. God has made the conditions, we must agree to them. Today God has laid out His conditions in the Word. What must we do? We should adjust our thinking to what God has said.
In the church age today, God has declared that we should believe His Word. Some would rather dip seven times in a muddy river than believe. Some people want believing the size of a mountain before they will move a mustard seed. Yet Jesus said that if you have believing the size of a mustard seed you could move a mountain. It’s far more satisfying to your sense knowledge to feel you have to work for it. It would look far more “spiritual” to you if I taught that before you can get anything from God you must have an all-night prayer meeting. You would feel better about it, because you would have done something. But God, in His great wisdom and love for you and me, says “I have already blessed you.” And what is He waiting for us to do? Simply to believe the fact that we are blessed and that implies acting as blessed people. Isn’t that better? How far do you want to go? Do you want to believe or don’t you?
“And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing [build a church, or finance a hospital, or send a missionary to darkest Africa], wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (II Kings 5:13). Here again are servants; notice the similarity to verses 2 and 3. Isn’t it more logical to do what the man of God said? Naaman couldn’t cure himself, or he would not be there asking God to do it. He must have taken their advice, for verse 14 tells us: “then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God [the man of God was speaking forth the Word of God]: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
Isn’t that tremendous? Naaman had to adjust his thinking. This is our problem also. The greatest undeveloped territory in the world is in our minds. It’s up to us to adjust our thinking, and to declare “I am going to believe God’s Word fully, and manifest the greatness of what He has for me.” Your thinking is that which determines how far you go. I cannot believe for you; I can only believe for myself. Am I going to go all the way? Why sit we here till we die? Let’s believe the Word and act.
In Matthew chapter 8, verses 1-3, is the record of another leper: “When he [Jesus] was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” The leper was saying, “Jesus, I believe you have the ability to do it; but are you willing to do it for me?”
Jesus put forth his hand and touched him. Did He say “I’ll think about it. I’ll check the church manual and see if there is a ritual set down for this situation?” What did Jesus say? He was a man of authority; He knew who He was. What He said was the Word of God for the situation. He spoke just two words according to the Greek text; that was all that was necessary. He said, “I will; be thou clean.” No ifs, ands, buts, or maybes. His words declared that not only was God able, but He was also willing to do it for the leper.
“And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” This teaches us something tremendous: that God’s ability equals God’s willingness. What God is able to do for you, He is willing to do; but you are the one who determines how far you want to go. If you do not want to believe, God cannot do anything for you. He has set His principles in His Word, and He will energise your act of believing so that a miracle will take place in your life.
God’s challenge to us is to manifest fully everything He has made available. The Word declares His will; God is our supply for everything we need. Why sit we here until we die? How far do we want to go with the greatness of God’s Word?
Copyright © 1998 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/
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