The Healing of Naaman (continued)
His Resources at the Lord's Disposal (continued)
At this point we are brought to another consideration. There was this proffered gift, but it was refused by Elisha simply because a peril was recognized. Elisha had had no difficulty in accepting material kindness at the hands of the Shunammite, but he absolutely refused to accept anything at the hands of Naaman. These two people stood in altogether different positions spiritually. The peril which Elisha clearly discerned in this particular direction was lest Naaman should go away feeling that, after all, he had some hand in this matter, and that he had paid for it. The Lord never wants any gifts, any resources placed at His disposal which carry with them the slightest suggestion that they are acts of patronage. He leaves no room for any reactions of the flesh, of nature, the gratifying of anything in that realm. So Elisha, recognizing that there might creep in, even at this point, some little bit of that natural life which loves to have satisfaction in itself because of what it does, closed the door to that, and refused to admit any possibility of it. He sent Naaman away with the blessing, but with no personal gratification.
At that point the tragedy of Gehazi went after him, made up a long story as from Elisha, his master, asked for the gift, and got it. We do not know what mischief that may have done with Naaman, but we do know that it brought Gehazi under a terrible judgment; "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto they seed for ever."
What is the explanation of this? The Lord Jesus Himself seems to give us an insight into it in the Gospel by Luke, chapter 4:27-29:
"And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. And they were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things; And they rose up, and cast him forth out of the city ..."
Gehazi had been in close touch with Elisha, had seen his works and head his words, and all that Elisha represented was available to Gehazi; but Gehazi, with all his knowledge of it and association with it, remained upon a merely official ground, and never came on to a vital ground. Now we can see what the Lord is saying to the Jews. Without saying so in as many words, He has transferred the situation of Gehazi to the Jews of His own day: "You have heard: you have been in close association with the vessel of Life: you have seen the works: you know all about it from the standpoint of close proximity to it, but you remain merely upon official ground as ostensibly representing God, and have never come through on to living ground. Your judgment is leprosy, death!" That is what happened to Israel.
Gehazi stood on official ground. You see him acting in an official way when the Shunammite's son died, and she laid him on the bed of Elisha, and went to seek him. The prophet said to Gehazi, "... take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way ... and lay my staff upon the face of the child." And we can see Gehazi taking the staff in his very official, pompous way, and going as the representative of the great prophet and putting the staff on the lad expecting to see some result, but nothing happened. Perhaps he tried moving the staff this way and that, to try to get some sort of response. But death never yields to what is merely official, death only yields to life. When the one who is in person the embodiment of life triumphant over death stretches himself upon that body, then death is swallowed up in life; but nothing official can do that.
The Jewish leaders were utterly impotent, although they were supposed to be the representatives of God. They were in close association with the life, yet they were dead. And because they did not come through to the position represented by Christ, but were self-seeking, like Gehazi (and their very self-seeking made them prejudiced) they came under judgment and perished. Their generations have been under that judgment ever since, and are there today. Leprosy and death clings to them for the age.
(continued with # 36)