Ordinary People

 2 Kings 5:1-14

People often want to see extraordinary and supernatural signs and wonders, either because the extraordinary excites and entertains them, or because they have doubts about their faith and beliefs. In the formation of clouds they might see a face and call it a supernatural revelation. Others may see a face in a slice of toast and claim that it is the face of Jesus. Others will claim that, by reading palms or tea leaves or by channelling the dead, they can give extraordinary messages.

Even many Christians and other religious people, when they think of God, they think of extraordinary things and supernatural acts such as the parting of the Red Sea, the burning bush that didn’t burn up, someone walking on water or Jesus feeding thousands of people. Yes, these were amazing and extraordinary events; God is all powerful and amazing God and does amazing things. But the truth is that God uses ordinary thing to do extraordinary things.

In 1 Corinthians 1:27, we read: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” Jesus fed thousands, but He used the few fish and pieces of bread of an ordinary young boy to do it. From cover to cover in the Bible, we see God using ordinary people to do His work:

  • He chose a young shepherd boy named David to be the king of Israel (1 Samuel 16).
  • Gideon was a farmer but God chose him to deliver Israel.
  • Abraham, an ordinary man from the city of Ur, became the father of many nations.
  •  Amos was a herdsman and took care of sycamore-fig trees but he became a prophet.
  • Jesus chose Peter, John, Andrew and James, ordinary fishermen, to become His disciples. Christ used these men to build His church.

The story in 2 Kings 5:1-14 is another example of how God works in ordinary experiences of life. Naaman was a Syrian general, who was a great man, honoured and respected for his military successes. But there was one problem: He was a leper. He suffered from that terrible disease that made him a social outcast. People avoided him. His future was not hopeful. The disease would get worse and worse. It is at this point that we see God act in ordinary ways.

1. God Works Through Ordinary People (vss. 2-5)

A young slave girl enters the story. She had been captured in Israel and brought to Syria, where she served Naaman’s wife. She was a nobody in those times, a less-than-ordinary person in the minds of others. However, she had a word of hope: She knew about a prophet in Israel; if only Naaman could see him, he might be healed.

It was good that Naaman did not ignore or dismiss the advice of the slave girl and the servants. He listened and gave them the benefit of the doubt that might be God speaking.

2. God Works Through Ordinary Events (vss.13-14)

Naaman went to Elisha’s house with a great display of horses and chariots and gifts. Maybe he felt he could buy his healing. Elisha did not even come out to meet Naaman but sent his servant Gehazite to tell him what to do.

It was a simple task: Go take a bath seven times in the Jordan. Naaman got upset. He had expected some elaborate ritual and special religious task. He did not expect this. He would not do it, period. He left angry and sad.

Once again, his ordinary servants challenged him. They said: If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘wash and be cleansed’?” (verse 13)

So Naaman went down and dipped himself seven times. And his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy (verse 14). Washing seven times in the Jordan was not an extraordinary act, but God worked through this simple act.

Sometimes God is not in the earthquake or wind or thunder, but in a still, small voice. We expect God to act in extraordinary ways – a miraculous healing, the end of a war, etc. God does work in extraordinary ways and events, but He also works in not-so-spectacular ways. God may deal with us through ordinary events such as reading the Bible, prayer, worship or a conversation with friends.

Who gave this word of hope to Naaman? It was not a king, it was not a religious leader. It was an ordinary slave girl, and God worked through her.

Later, when Naaman became angry at the instruction to wash in the Jordan seven times, it was ordinary servants who went to him and persuaded him to try it. Not the military leaders. Not his trusted advisors. Not his family. No, it was his servants, the nobody people of his day. God used servants to speak to Naaman.

Sometimes, as we seek to know the will of God, we go to the great religious leaders to get answers. We listen to seminary professors and read famous religious writers. We expect God to work through great religious leaders. Yet God often works through ordinary people: mothers, fathers, children, friends, the mechanic at the garage or the sales clerk in the store.

God can and does work through anyone at anytime. Maybe God will choose to work through us, through you. Acts 4:13 says: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

3. God Works Through Ordinary Acts of Obedience (v.14)

Here is the heart of the matter: Would this rich, powerful, respected commander do what Elisha commanded him to do? Would he trust his words? To his credit, he humbled himself and went and washed in the Jordan. Through that ordinary act of obedience, he was healed.

Obedience is hard and we often rebel. But here is what can happen if we obey: In the simple acts of obedience, God can speak to us, renew us, change us, heal us. Will we have faith enough to trust Him?

Pastor Joseph Hovsepian