Pastor Ron E. Thompson: Seven Ducks in the Muddy River

Pastor Ron E. Thompson

I purposely gave this article a catchy title so that readers would grasp the simplicity of the truth I want to share with you. Most educated people believe that there are no simple answers to the complex issues of crime, war, poverty, and civil rights that politicians, sociologists, scientists, and religious leaders must grapple with in these difficult times. I believe we can find a correct and sometimes a simple answer to most of the needs of humankind in the II Kings 5:1-14 Bible story of Naaman. He was a brave, patriotic, and a devoted captain of the Syrian army. However, Naaman had one blemish – he was a leper.

1. His Miserable Malady. The Bible never glosses over the weaknesses of characters in a story. Naaman had a disease called leprosy. But leprosy then and now are different conditions. Leprosy then applied to skin blemishes and eruptions that rendered one ritually unclean and, consequently, resulted in social stigma and exclusion. Leprosy today applies to Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy, a disfiguring and disabling bacterial disease. Naaman lived in Israel, therefore he would live his life in isolation there. He would be required to cry, “unclean” when approaching people, and always wearing a protective mask. Some victims even lost an arm or leg from leprosy. Eventually the leper would die.

2. His Major Mistakes. A nameless Israelite slave girl lived in Naaman’s home. She knew about the prophet Elisha and believed God could heal her Master. She spoke to her mistress and word eventually reached the King of Syria. He in turn wrote the King of Israel who sent Naaman on his way, along with silver, gold, and fine linen. So Naaman’s first blunder was that he went to the wrong source for his healing. He went to the king instead of the prophet. People today make the same sort of mistake when they go to the things of the world instead of the Savior. People who have a kind of leprosy of the soul often turn to psychologists, astrology, drugs, and false religions for a cure. God has something to say about humanity’s downward fall in Romans 1:25 TLV: “They traded the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” Only the intervention by Elisha could save the situation (II Kings 5:8). But when Naaman arrived at the home of Elijah, the prophet would not come out and meet him, but instead, sent someone else. This offended Naaman, but when he heard what the remedy was for his leprosy, he was even more insulted. He thought Elisha would stroll out like a magician with a magic wand, and with great pomp cure him. Washing in the muddy Jordan River seemed too simple. For some in this broken world, it seems more convenient to just get baptized and identify oneself with a church rather than to pray and invite Jesus into one’s heart. For others, it would be easier to earn or work for salvation rather than accept God’s free gift of grace through Jesus Christ. This is the fatal mistake nonbelievers often make today.

3. His Marvelous Miracle. There was nothing in the unclean Jordan river that could heal Naaman. This was just part of the instruction that God gave through Elisha. It was the same when Christ healed people by anointing their blind eyes with clay and spittle. It was the power of God and not the magic of the Jordan that healed Naaman. His servants convinced him that if the prophet had given him some difficult assignment, he would
gladly have done it – anything to be cleansed of leprosy! How much more he should be willing to do some simple thing. II Kings 5:14 describes the miracle of cleansing in which Naaman’s skin became as a little child when immersed seven times in the Jordan River. It was an immediate and complete remedy which confirms the fact that salvation is not some gradual turning over of a new leaf in life, but a miraculous transformation
wrought by the power of God. Naaman’s gratitude is seen in II Kings 5:15 where he gives God the glory and credit for his healing.

Beloved, God has given us a simple invitation to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. “No one else can save us. Indeed, we can be saved only by the power of the one named Jesus and not by any other person” (Acts 4:12 GW). A dear pastor friend of mine often used to quote this phrase in his sermons: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” That is the secret. The real hero in this entire miracle of cleansing was not the
King of Syria, nor the Prophet Elisha. It can be traced back to that little Jewish slave girl who could not preach a sermon, but used what she had: her tongue, her lips, her voice, her testimony, to point someone to God. We can and ought to be a link in the chain of someone’s conversion. Are we willing to tell it like it is to others who need to know the old, old, story?

Pastor Ron E Thompson

Ron E. Thompson is a retired pastor/evangelist having had a ministry spanning over sixty years. He served as pastor of churches in Indiana, Virginia, Arizona, and South Carolina. As Director of Brethren Evangelistic Ministries, he held numerous evangelistic and revival crusades in twenty-two states. He led a team that conducted evangelism seminars throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. Ron is author of two books: Hurricane Evangelism and Sermons in Song. He is also a musician, having studied piano under noted composer-conductor, Hubert Tillery. Music has served him well as an avocation in his life and ministry. He currently is a pianist at the Fountain of Life Bible Church in Johnson City, TN. Ron received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bridgewater College and his Master of Divinity degree from Grace Theological Seminary. He did graduate studies at Wheaton College and the Billy Graham School of Evangelism. He attended the North American Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in1994. Ron’s home is in Limestone, Tennessee. He is the father of two daughters: Evangeline Hales, a musician at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA and violinist with the Lynchburg Symphony; Dr. Melody Archer, Retired Administrator and Principal of Tri-Cities Christian Schools, Blountville, TN.

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