Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:1-3)
Why Preach In A Sinful World?
During the days of the divided kingdom of Israel, every king, without exception of the northern tribes, was wicked. Among the vilest of kings was Ahab, the son of Omri. The Holy Spirit declared that Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him. He incited the wrath of God by taking as wife Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. After the twenty-two-year reign of Ahab, his son Ahaziah inherits the throne and follows in the evil path of his parents. Ahaziah did evil in the sight of the Lord serving Baal and worshipping him, and provoking God to anger.
Two years after becoming king, Ahaziah falls through the latticework of an upper room at his palace in Samaria and is seriously injured. He sends messengers to the temple of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask whether he would recover. The Lord sends Elijah to tell Ahaziah he would die from his injuries. At his death, his brother Jehoram, son of Ahab and Jezebel, takes over the reign of the northern kingdom. Jehoram would be the last of the dynasty of Omri, ruling only twelve years.
For nearly one hundred years, the evil kings filled the land with wickedness from Baal worship, sacrificing children as burnt offerings, sexual immorality, murder, deceit, three kings assassinated, one king committing suicide, and Ahab killed in battle. Life in Israel is a cesspool of sin and incredible evil. There is nothing that can redeem Israel from the fate that is set before her. God sends men like Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea to warn the people and to preach the message of repentance, but it falls on deaf ears. The people refuse to repent, and the nation plunges further into wickedness. In 722 B.C., the Assyrian army destroys Samaria, and the ten tribes are never heard from again.
Why would God send prophets to preach in a place like Israel? The world of the northern tribes was completely given over to do evil. Immorality was common, corruption was expected, and the political leaders were decadent despots seeking pleasure and power with no knowledge of God in the land. In this dark, dark world of sin shone a small light of God’s grace in the heart of a young maiden who believed in the impossible. During a raid from the commander of the Syrian army, a young girl from the land of Israel was taken captive. This unnamed maiden lived in the dark world of the northern tribes of Israel who never had a righteous king. Her parents raised her in the sinful world of Ahab and his sons.
When the maiden was taken captive, she became a servant of the wife of Naaman, a great and honorable man in the eyes of the king of Syria and a mighty man of valor. But Naaman was a leper. One day, the young maiden spoke to her mistress and told her if her master would seek the help of the prophet in Samaria, he could be healed of his leprosy. Where did the young girl find this kind of faith in a dark world of sin? Leprosy was not something anyone could be cured from, yet this maiden believed in the power of God to do the impossible. Jesus would speak of this young lady many centuries later when He said, “Many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.” Naaman was healed because a family living in the putridity of wickedness kept the light of truth and righteousness alive in their home and changed the course of divine history spoken about thousands of years later.
The world can be a dark place. Sin abounds in greater frequency, and the dark forces of Satan continue to overshadow a land that once had a sense of moral rightness and truth. Homosexuality is common, adultery and fornication are expected, political leaders lie, cheat, deceive, and corrupt the system, and the world seems to be spinning in a whirlpool of immorality and sin. What God needs are families – parents teaching their children – to be lights of truth, righteousness, holiness, and godliness. The northern ten tribes of Israel were destroyed, but righteous men, women, and children held to the gospel of truth in the one true God. Like the church at Sardis, there will always be the few who walk in white. When the world turns dark, that is the time for the lights of God’s people to shine brighter. Who knows? Maybe someone with leprosy (sin) may find the cleansing power of the spiritual Jordan and be cleansed of their leprosy (sin). Why preach in a sinful world? There are souls that need the saving message of God.