Brad Espin 8 April 2016                           HEAR AND OBEY                                             [1]

                                      2 Kings 5:1-19

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honourable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valour, but a leper.

And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.

And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.Then the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel. So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 

Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy. And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.

So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes that he sent to the king, saying, Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel. Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean. But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, Indeed, I said to myself, He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy. Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’? So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the manof God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.

But he said, As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing. And he urged him to take it, but he refused.

So Naaman said, then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the Lord.  Yet in this thing may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon - when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord please pardon your servant in this thing. Then he said to him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a short distance.

 

1.  WHAT IS OBEDIENCE

 

Obedience is behaviour that's respectful and mindful of rules and laws and it implies compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority.

People demonstrate obedience when they follow the law, and children show obedience when they obey their parents and teachers…obedience is being respectful to authority and laws.

The word obey” in the Old Testament means to hear and it implies hearing God's Word and then acting in accordance to it.

In the New Testament several words describe obedience - to hear or to listen in a state of submission. (Roman occupation)

Obey means to trust and therefore a person's obedient response to God's Word is a response of trust or faith.

To hear God's Word is to obey and trust God's Word

Disobedience is a failure to hear and to respond to God's Word

Exodus 19:5 Now therefore if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine

Jeremiah 7:23But this is what I commanded them saying:Obey My voice and I will be your God and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you that it may be well with you.

Understand that there is truth to why it does not go well with many people and here I am referring to Christians to those whoproclaim to know God and His Son Jesus Christ and have made a commitment to serving God.

Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

This applies to all spheres and levels of authority in society…National, Provincial and local government…marriage, family, church and market place.

When we refuse to obey in any area of these God given and God ordained levels of authority it cannot go well with us because God is not a man that He should tell a lie.

2.  RESPONDING ACTION

Exodus 24:7 Then Moses took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient

Shema (shmah) - means “hear or listen” – Hear and Obey        

Hebrew culture stresses physical action – doing or responding 

   through an action

Greek and Western culture stresses mental activity – 

   contemplating or thinking

The word Shemadescribes hearing and also its effect that our hearing has which implies - taking heed, being obedient, doing what is asked….just do it

If you had to ask the question "Were you listening?" by implication you or suggesting that something should have been done- an action should have followed what was asked.

Whenever the word "obey" is used in the Bible, it is translated from the word "shema", which also means the “pledge of allegiance” and is observed by Jews every morning and evening.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear (Shema), O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. "

Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 

Therefore when you obey the Lord you will love Him with all His Words / Commands that is stored up in your heart - relationship

Jewish people said this to remind themselves of their commitment to love God, to dedicate themselves to following God and doing His will.

Jews children are taught the Shema as soon as they learn to talk as it is central for a Jewish person of his or her commitment to the Lord. 

Shema - take heed, listen and obey and Jesus when speaking to those who were willing to listen stressed the importance of obedience.

Matthew 10:27 Whatever I tell you in the dark speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.

Matthew 11:15 Jesus warned: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear

Jesus is calling us to put his words into action, not just listen - but to be doers of the word, and not hearers only.

James 1:22 But be doers of the Word not hearers only, deceiving yourself.

           

3.  FAITH IN GOD

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

Our response to God’s Word is based on our ability and willingness to accept God’s Word as truth and to trust His Word not the word of another.

Reading God’s Word in itself does not bring spiritual growth and

produce spiritual faith, although through the reading and hearing of God’s Word it may inspire us to do things but spiritual faith is a result of hearing and applying the Word of God daily to our lives in obedience which produces spiritual growth / faith.

Abraham’s act of obedience demonstrated his complete act of surrender to God's will and doing what God told him to do.

Genesis 12:1-4 Abraham obeyed God when God told him to leave his country and family behind to leave for another country.

Genesis 22:1-19Abraham obeyed God's command by taking Isaac his beloved son to offer as a sacrifice.

It is the responsive action arising from our love for God and the unwavering faith in God and His Word which causes one to live in obedience towards God. 

A life of obedience to God is made known through the fruit of faith which is evident in our work or actions.

James 2:26 For as the bodywithout the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.

When we obey God there are actions or works arising from faith that accompany it.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Romans 1:5 Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

4.  HEART OF MAN

Irrespective of who you are, what you have and what you have achieved, God demands that we would obey Him…there is neither exception nor any negotiation.

The results of obedience brought more than physical healing it produced a change of heart for Naaman.

Although daily many hear the Word of God this has not changed their faith but resulted in different responses.

Naaman - Commander of  army - Great and honourable - Mighty man of valour - But a leper and therefore everything about him counted for nothing because here was a man with a revolting disease which terrified humanity since ancient times and was reported as early as 600 BC in India, China and Egypt.

Leprosy is mentioned 68 times in the bible (55 OT, 13 NT) and was known to be a skin disease that spread all over the body causing rotting of the flesh, disfigurement of the skin and bones  with the consequence of lepers living as outcasts in society were never allowed to come within 6 feet of another human or 150 feet when the wind was blowing.

Leviticus 13:45-46 Torn clothes - cover his moustache and cry unclean, unclean – dwell outside the camp.

Naaman believed in the word of his servant girl and responded by going to someone of higher authority his master.

Desperate for a miracle he was willing to pay - ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and he took ten changes of clothing (time of travel and smell on his clothes – disease)

Young servant girl - A true Israelite, covenant child captured but served her mistress and master willingly from a loving, humble and respectful heart desiring that her master to be healed. Respectful and concerned She had faith in God’s prophet.

King of Syria - Laban, sister Rebekah and daughter Rachel were Syrians or Arameans from Aram the descendant of Shem and grandson of Nahor the brother of Abraham (Syrians are related to the Jewish people) This king of Syria worshipper of foreign gods valued the life of his commander and believed the word of Naaman and sent him with a letter to the king of Israel.

King of Israel - God helped Jehoram during his 12 year reign and even though he did not worship Baal as his parents Ahab and Jezebel did he sinned against God by worshipping the golden calf that king Jeroboam erected. He panicked after reading the letter because of his lack of faith in God and tore his clothes because he was not able to heal or give life and he questioned the sincerity of the letter.

Elisha - Elisha had received the double portion and represented God and never doubted his calling and purpose and what God could do and responded when he heard how the king of Israel

he responded by sending for Naaman to come to him and confessing that there was a prophet in Israel someone who acted on God’s behalf.

Gehazi - Opportunist and greedy servant who sought financial gain but because of his deceitful actions received as a reward the leprosy of Naaman

5.  CHANGE OF HEART

Tear one’s clothes
The tearing of one’s clothes was associated with mourning, grief, and loss and as a sign of humility
When we truly love God and are repentant for not obeying we do not tear our clothes but from our hearts we show that we are truly sorry and cry out for forgiveness.

Joel 2:13 Rend your heart and not your garments

We show our love to God when we draw near in humility and show our obedience to Him by doing what He desires…not my  will but Your will Lord.

Pride must go:  It is not who we are or what we think we have to offer neither what we have obtained or accomplished

(Importance and stature - horses and chariot)

Often our expectations and assumptions results in anger, pain and conflict experienced in our lives and the lives of others because we are disobedient in not doing what God requires.

(Stood waiting at door of Elisha’s house) – told to go wash.

(Go and wash in the Jordan seven times – Restored and cleaned)

Pride prevents obedient responses often only when someone else tells us to do it that we respond instead of hearing from God and responding in obedience.

(Naaman left in anger because he expected Elisha not messenger to come out to him - stand and call on the name of the Lord - wave his hand over the place - heal the leprosy

We always question everything with the understanding that we know better of what to do, where to go and when to do it?

(Abanah and Pharpar the rivers of Damascus)

The obedient response to the word was simple - wash in the Jordan and be clean but it required the persuasive word of a humble servant to convince him.

(If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it’)

Obedience was rewarded:Obedience requires a change of heart and doing what God calls us to do like Naaman who went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan as he had been instructed resulting in his flesh being restored like the flesh of a little child.

Change of heart:  And he was clean – physical and spiritual healing (Not just the flesh but the heart made clean) causing him

to return and acknowledge the God of Israel and out of this changed heart reward Elisha for his healing but Elisha refused the gift.

The heart has been changed because there is a reverse in roles as he no longer sees himself as this great commander standing at the door of Elisha the servant of God but sees himself as the servant towards Elisha the man of God.

Elisha refused the gift because by doing so he acknowledged that he was not responsible for the healing but God was.

(Abraham / Melchizedek) Obedience - acknowledge Jesus

Hebrews 7:7 the lesser is blessed by the better

Naaman obedience leads to a change of alliance and pledge of allegiance toward God whom he honours by refusing to offer burnt offerings to other gods but only to the LORD (Master – Adonai) and this change of heart is a repentant heart seeking forgiveness each time he had to bow down in the temple of Rimmon on behalf of his master the king of Syria.