- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2000

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Jack Cain at Evangel Assembly in Camp Springs:

Our Scripture today [2 Kings:5] gives us a vivid picture of America, the church, religion and of God's mercy and judgment.

The characters begin with Na'aman, a great and honorable commander of Syria's army. But he had leprosy. He represents the unsaved and much of America today a nation of power, victory and valor, but with the leprosy of sin.

The general's servant girl, a slave taken in war, was concerned about this man. She gave a godly witness, saying, "If only my master knew the prophet in Israel, he would be cured."

Too often in Christian witness, we want to convince people that our beliefs are right. But they do not want to hear about religion. They want to meet our God. Look how this servant girl cared that the general was saved from leprosy.

Another character is the great prophet Eli'sha. He represents religion. He knew God personally and by that had God's anointing. Scripture says that Jesus was also anointed to heal the sick, free the captive slave, bind up the brokenhearted.

When Jesus left, he said, "Go and make disciples of all nations." We don't need more anointing than that. When Evangel members visit hospital patients to pray, they go with God's anointing, and you and they can make things happen… .

Eli'sha, we read, had a messenger, "one who is sent." He went to Na'aman and said, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored." Now, Na'aman was proud. He expected the prophet himself, not just a messenger, who told him to go to this small, muddy river. In our lives, how often have we refused to honor the messengers sent to us?

This story points us to what I call five "C's." First is the "compassion" the slave girl showed to her master. He had invaded her country, and she so easily could have resented him. Can you imagine what she fought inside? Yet she was concerned for his suffering. She wanted to heal him of his leprosy.

In our society, we should respect the good things that come from education, government, careers. But if you are dying, the only answer is in God. Somehow, we have to get this suffering and dying world to God… .

Like us, Na'aman was proud. He expected some great thing from the prophet, not this little river. We don't mind doing the great things, do we? But what about the little things we are asked to do for God? We all fight this pride. Na'aman had to get down from the chariot of pride. I have to tell you today, God hates pride… . Pride caused Lucifer's rebellion, and that has been passed down to us… .

This great general finally stepped down from his chariot and washed in that little Jordan. He "complied" with God's will, and as a result he was "cured." Na'aman went to Eli'sha so grateful and said, "I will never worship any God but the God of Israel."

He offered the prophet gifts, but Eli'sha refused, so the general took back to Syria earth on which he would worship Israel's God. Eli'sha said, "Go in peace."

Unfortunately, the prophet's servant, whose name was Geha'zi, ran after Na'aman and lied to him to get some of the gifts that Eli'sha had turned down. "By all means, give him two talents of silver," the general said to his men.

How many of you know when you do something wrong? So we see that wrong brings a "curse." Eli'sha said to his dishonest servant, "Na'aman's leprosy will cling to you and your descendants forever."

This is a story of compassion, of human desperation. If leprosy will kill the body, sin will kill the soul. In the Old Testament, God worked through his prophets, and now he works through every one of us… . His anointing is on us. You have the authority to face the devil, face suffering, and in the name of Jesus command it to bow.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Herschel Carlson at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church in Alexandria.

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