Sat, Jul 11, 1998

Maranatha Ministries 1998 - The Foolishness of the Cross?: II Kings 5:1-15

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

MARANATHA MINISTRIES 1998

THE FOOLISHNESS OF THE CROSS?

II KINGS 5:1-15

JULY 11, 1998

We are living in a world that is infatuated with learning. As we move into the computer age we have the ability to view and try to assimilate more and more information. Now as we process that information, how do we know what is right and what is wrong?

For most people they tend to trust information that fits into their own preconceived ideas. If it doesn't fit into what they believe, they see it as foolish and toss it aside. The problem with that kind of thinking is that our preconceived ideas are not always right.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. When the lunar module landed on the surface of the moon it had these big pods in which to land upon. The reason for these pods was simple, since the earth and moon are billions of years old, and since there is no atmosphere on the moon, there must be many feet of this cosmic dust. Thus, to prevent the lunar module from sinking into that dust, they placed these giant pods upon it. Now to give you an idea of what they were thinking, if the moon was 4.5 to 5 billion years old, conservative estimates predicted 54 feet of dust on the moon.

That was a preconceived idea, it was based upon the assumption that the moon, like the earth, is billions of years old. What did they find when they finally landed on the moon? You can look at the film footage yourself, they only found an eighth of an inch to three inches of dust! That would make the moon, and thus the earth, less than 8,000 years old!

The reason I have brought this idea of pre-conceived ideas up, is that it relates to our story found in II Kings chapter 5. It is a story of Naaman, who was a great warrior, captain of the army for the king of Syria, and a man who was unsaved.

Naaman had a big problem, he had an incurable disease, from a human perspective, called leprosy. A bacteria causes leprosy, which causes deformities of the hands and feet and the nerve endings no longer respond to heat, injury, or pain, which causes further problems. It usually works form the extremities toward the body, till the person is finally consumed by it.

On one of his raids into Israel, a Jewish girl was taken captive and now she was a slave ministering to Naaman's wife. You have to love the heart of this young Jewish girl. Instead of being angry and bitter about the situation she was in, she tells Naaman's wife "...'If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.'" II Kings 5:3.

They didn't have telephones in those days or e-mail, but I bet Naaman's wife got that news to her husband faster than a speeding bullet. As soon as Naaman hears the news, he high tails it to his king, Ben-Hadad II, who was ruler over Syria.

Now the king of Syria must have loved Naaman a great deal because he sends a letter to the king of Israel, plus a good sum of money and clothing so that this friend, the commander of his army may be healed from this deadly disease. This letter was sent on ahead of Naaman to let the king know why Naaman was coming. The letter said the following: "...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." II Kings 5:6.

The king of Israel was not pleased with this letter to say the least. Not only were lepers to be isolated from their society, but the king of Israel recognized that this was an incurable disease. Thus, in his mind he begins to rationalize that the king of Syria is really looking for a fight. The king of Israel, after reading this letter said "...'Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?...'" II Kings 5:7.

Elisha, a prophet of God hears all the turmoil that is going on and basically tells the king to "CHILL OUT!" He tells the king to send Naaman to him when he gets into town, and that is exactly what was done.

As Naaman arrived at Elisha's place, his servant comes to the door and tells Naaman "...'Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.'" II Kings 5:10. Now Naaman was not a happy man because of what had just transpired. Listen to what took place beginning in verse 11 of II Kings chapter 5. We read "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." II Kings 5:11-12.

Not only did Naaman have an incurable disease, but he also had a pride problem. Naaman, a man who was use to being honored with pomp and circumstance, is not greeted by Elisha, but by Elisha's servant. Not only that, but now he was told by this servant to go and wash in the dirty, muddy, Jordan River. In fact, he's thinking that he would be better off bathing in the clear, refreshing waters in Damascus that flowed from the snow covered mountains of Abana or Mount Hermon. You see, he had a pre-conceived idea on how this healing was going to take place, and since it didn't fit, he left, still being a leper.

Now the servant that traveled with Naaman was very wise and told him basically, "If Eilsha told you to go out and slay a dragon, and then you would be healed, you would have done that great thing. But now that you are told to do something that seems foolish, your pride is insulted, and you don't want to do it!"

Naaman then humbled himself and "...he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." II Kings 5:14. The response of Naaman as he came before Elisha with his skin like that of a new born baby's, and he said, "Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel." He was saved!

Leprosy in the Bible is a type of sin. Think about it. It slowly destroys our life, making us more and more insensitive to the evil we are doing, and from a human perspective, it is incurable. Paul said in Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." You see, no one can escape that fact, we are all sinners separated from God.

Now I do understand that some are better than others, but the problem remains, you are not perfect. Paul said in Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Let me give you this example to help drive home this point. There are three people standing on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and all three are going to jump or attempt to jump to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, with its smallest point being about 4 miles apart, this is the area they will jump across.

The first guy goes and jumps, he is in shape like I am, and he goes out about 10 feet, and crashes 1 mile down to the ground below. He didn't make it. The next guy is in pretty good shape and he takes a run and jumps, making it some 2 miles out there, but he too comes crashing to the ground. The last guy is an Olympic champion, he is in great shape, and he runs and jumps and makes it almost 4 miles to the other side, only 6 inches short. What is the end result of all three of these men? They all crashed and burned, it didn't matter how close they got, they were not perfect.

You see, that is what God is telling us. It doesn't matter how good you are or think you are. Unless you are without sin, you won't get into heaven, that is you won't get into heaven without Christ in your life. As Paul said in Colossians 1:28, "Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."

How many people today reject the work of Christ, what He did at Calvary, because it just seems foolish to them, it does not fit into their preconceived ideas? They can't understand how or why God became man, hung on a tree for our sins, that is just plain ridiculous to them. And because of their unbelief, they miss the miracle of the new birth, being born into the family of God because it is just plain foolishness to them, it goes against their pride. That was the trouble Naaman had till he humbled himself, and he was healed.

There is an interesting story in the book of Numbers that points to Christ and His work on Calvary. God just gave Israel victory over the Canaanites and now, because life was hard during their wilderness wanderings, they began to murmur and complain, they doubted God's ability to sustain them and provide for them even though they have seen the mighty hand of God deliver them from a variety of deadly situations.

Because of their rebellion God brought poisonous snakes into the camp, and many were bit by these snakes and died. The people, recognizing their sin, come to Moses to intercede for them before God. And the Lord said to Moses "...'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.'" Numbers 21:8.

Sounds simple enough. If you get bit by a snake, you are to look up at this pole and this bronze snake on this pole and you would be healed. Now some just believed by faith and the result of their actions was they survived these snake bites. But, I'm sure there were those that thought this is the most foolish thing I have ever heard. What good is that going to do, I need medical attention, therapy, and-so-on. Those that felt this way, died when they were bit by these snakes.

Now what in the world does that have to do with Jesus? Very simply, in John chapter 3, Jesus comments on this event from the book of Numbers and speaks of it as being a type of the finished work He was to do. He said "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:14-15.

Sin will eat away at your life just as leprosy does. You will become more and more insensitive to its destructive ways. And before long it will consume you and kill you. It is as deadly as those snakes were to the children of Israel. And Jesus is saying that when sin has taken a bite in our lives, its poison is flowing through our system, that if we look to Him who hung on a cross and died for our sins, we will live. If we refuse, thinking it is just plain foolishness, we will die in our sins.

Let me show you what the Scriptures have to say regarding our condition. In Job 9:2 and 15:14-16 we read "Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God?...What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous? If God puts no trust in His saints, And the heavens are not pure in His sight, How much less man, who is abominable and filthy, Who drinks iniquity like water!" You see, compared to a holy and righteous God, we are unclean, all our righteousness is like filthy rags.

Now the problem of being in that condition is found in Isaiah 59:1-2. We read "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear." Our sins have separated us from God. Because of that, man, since he sinned in the Garden of Eden, has been trying to restore that fellowship, work his way back into it by sewing fig leafs to cover their nakedness, or whatever the work effort is that people are doing today.

Again, Job rightly recognized the problem when he said in Job 9:32-33 regarding God, "For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both." It is impossible to reach God by our own human efforts. In fact, Jesus, in speaking of the religious leaders who were looked upon as holy, if they didn't make it into heaven, no one would. He said "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20. Then what can we do? How can we restore that fellowship? How can our righteousness exceed that of these religious giants?

What Job could not see, we can clearly see for we are told in I Timothy 2:5-6 "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all..." What a joy, Christ is that bridge builder to restore that fellowship that was broken. It is not through my efforts, but through His finished work on Calvary that has brought God and man back together again. Peter makes that point very clearly when he says in I Peter 3:18, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit."

And you see, it is not our righteousness that gets us into heaven, it is the righteousness of God that has been imputed to us through Jesus Christ. Paul said in II Corinthians 5:21 and Philippians 3:9 "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him...and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith."

Now if you think that man is basically good, listen to the findings of the Minnesota Crime commission on the essence of human nature found in children. And understand that this is not the findings of some church group or religious organization. And you will see that what they have found is hard to swallow, we are all born sinners! The report says:

"Every baby starts life as a little savage. He is completely selfish and self-centered. He wants what he wants when he wants it - his bottle, his mother's attention, his playmate's toy, his uncle's watch. Deny him these once, and he seethes with rage and aggressiveness, which would be murderous were he not so helpless. He is, in fact dirty. He has no morals, no knowledge, no skills. This means that all children- not just certain children -are born delinquent. If permitted to continue in the self-centered world of his infancy, given free reign to his impulsive actions to satisfy his wants, every child would grow up a criminal - a thief, a killer, or a rapist."

I told you, not easy words to swallow. That is why we are to train our children, teach them right from wrong. But as you can see, even that won't make them perfect before a holy and righteous God.

Francis Schaeffer observed, "Man is lost because he is separated from God, his true reference point, by true moral guilt. But he will never be nothing. Therein lies the horror of his lostness. For man to be lost, in all his uniqueness and wonder, is tragic."

Let me leave you this evening with these thoughts to ponder. It is an account of an unusual trial that took place in Australia.

"Two close friends graduated from college in Australia. One became a judge and the other a banker. One day the banker was arrested for embezzlement of one million dollars. He was to be tried before his friend. There was great speculation in the press. Would the judge throw the book at his buddy, proving what a just judge he was? Or would he let his friend off free? The courtroom was packed. The jury deliberated. They delivered the verdict - guilty. The judge gave the sentence. He leveled the harshest fine possible against his friend. The crowd gasped in amazement. But then everyone watched in wonder as the judge stood, took off his robe, walked around the bar and extended his hand to his friend. He said, 'I have sold my house, taken all my savings out of my account. I have paid the fine I just leveled against you.' The judge was just and the judge was loving. Justice was honored. But the friendship was honored too. And all in the one act of paying the fine. That is how it works with Christ's death on the cross. In one act both justice and love are found."

"God has found a way to give us right standing before Him; a way completely independent of our I'll-do-better-next-time attempts to live up to the Ten Commandments or even the dictates of our own consciences." As one commentator observed:

"It is this sacrifice of Jesus that makes Christianity such a different religion. Other religions list lots of acts or states of mind that have to be achieved before God will accept a person. But this message from God says: 'Yes, you are guilty. You have failed, sinned, ruined the perfect world. You can't be good enough. But I love you. I love you so much my own son came to your planet and shared your sorrows. He took your punishment.'"

If you are here this evening and Jesus is not your Savior, you need to understand that He loves you so much that He died for you so you may live. All you need to do is come before Him and ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to be Lord in your life. It is a free gift, not based on how good we are but how Great He is! Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

If the Holy Spirit is knocking on the door of your heart this evening, open your heart up to Him, allow Jesus to come inside you and cleanse you of your sin. There is no greater joy than being a child of God and we then have that assurance of our eternal destination. John said "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." I John 5:13. Don't leave here tonight without counting the cost and making a decision based on the truth that God has given us in His Word. Jesus said "...'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" There is no other way except through Him. Don't be lead down the road that leads to death, but the one that leads to life through Jesus Christ!

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