I know some of you think that the God of the Old Testament is vengeful and overall a big meany, but the God we see in the New Testament is one of love and forgiveness. In a brief phrase– totally wrong! Look in your concordance to see how many times the word ‘love’ appears in both Testaments of your Bible. And you will see, as I did, that ‘love’ can be found in more verses of the Old than the New. Bottom line, the same God, the One and Only, can be found equally loving and forgiving and compassionate and totally just all through the Bible! Here in 2 Kings 5 is a good example of the God of mercy and understanding in the Old Testament. Have you read it yet? I’ll pause while you catch up! Naaman, the high mucky-muck commander of the military forces of Aram, a country northeast of Israel in what would be Syria today, has contracted leprosy and through the witness of his Israelite slave-girl comes to Elishah to have him pray for his healing. The Aramites rarely got along with the Israelites. Rarely and hardly ever. Strange for the Middle East, people not getting along! They worshiped Baal, a false god of the entire region, but here under the name of Rimmon. Naaman comes for healing and Elisha prays for him as he’s dipped 7 times into the River Jordan–and he’s healed! Whereupon Naaman says, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.’ (verse 15). He becomes a believer in Yahweh God, the One and Only True God. Now I’m looking at verses 17-19, and it hit me between the eyeballs. God is so sensitive to me and to us! So caring and concerned about what bothers us. Do you see what I see? Naaman has come to accept the true God of Israel (and the whole world, may I add), to commit to Him alone; yet, he faces a huge problem, a dilemma that he just can’t shake as much as he tries. As the commander of the King’s armed forces, he escorts the King into the temple of Baal as the King leans on Naaman’s arm, bowing in reverence and respect and worship of Baal. He’s caught between faithfulness and fidelity to Yahweh alone, and respecting and obeying the wishes of his King as he has for a long time. What to do? A real bind. So, he tells the prophet Elisha all that’s on his heart. The twists and turns, and asks him to speak to the Lord asking for forgiveness. He means no disrespect, no lack of commitment to his God, no double-dealing in his spiritual life. None whatsoever. And the Lord knows Naaman’s heart. He trusts his humility and honesty–as the Lord will with each of us. When we’re caught in all kinds of binds, all kinds of places we don’t want to be, nevertheless, here we are. Do you know what I mean? Have you been there? Are you there now? Pour out your heart to the Lord, to Jesus our Savior, to the One true God of the Old and the New. Pour yourself out and you’ll find, as Naaman did, peace coming your way. What does Elisha say to Naaman? ‘Go in peace'(verse 19). Peace, Shalom…Such mercy and forgiveness and understanding and sensitivity of our Lord. I love this chapter. I love the God of the Bible. I love Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior…for He loves you and me with all the sensitivity and caring in this world and out of it as well! Isn’t that good news?

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