Washed in the Blood of the Lamb
July 20th, 1969 @ 8:15 AM
2 Kings 5:1-14
WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB
Dr. W.A. Criswell
2 Kings 5:1-14
7-20-69 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Washed in the Blood of the Lamb. If I could choose the type of a message that I preach every time I stood up, it would be one like this. It has in it everything that I like in a sermon. First, it is an exposition of a passage of Scripture. That is all the message is. Again, it is the very heart of the gospel. It is the gospel. That is the good news, the message this morning. And again, it is a very beautiful type presented here in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament. You have in it the sweep and the gamut of the whole message of God’s inspired Word.
Now an English professor said this is the finest short story in the English language. So if you would like to turn to it, I am just going to preach through it this morning. Turn to 2 Kings chapter 5, 2 Kings chapter 5. And the story goes like this:
Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of [Syria], was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper.
And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little girl, a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the little maid that is of the land of Israel.
And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray thee, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots, plural, the original word is chariots. He came with his whole retinue, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Then went he down, and – the Greek is he baptized himself—he dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
[2 Kings 5:1-14]
When I say the Greek of it, talking about the Septuagint, the Greek translation of that Old Testament story. Well, let’s start through it. Naaman; there’s no hero like a war hero. That isn’t true just here in Syria at this time; it’s true in all ages. If you spoke against Eisenhower, it was almost sacrilegious. All war heroes are like that: Washington, General Ulysses S. Grant, Wellington, Nelson, Napoleon, Caesar, Alexander, all of them. There’s no hero like a military hero, like a great general. Well, it was so with Naaman. With the king, with the people, he was the greatest man in Syria. He never lost a battle. Wherever he went, victory and conquest followed in his train.
But the Scriptures say he was a leper; now, that is not rude. The Scriptures take everything into consideration. It said he was honorable, he was mighty, he was a man of valor, and the people loved him [2 Kings 5:1]. But the Scriptures are also honest. He was an honorable man, right, but he was an honorable leper. He was wealthy man; he was a wealthy leper. He was a socially acceptable man; he was a social leper. He was a valorous man; he was a valorous leper. The Scriptures are very honest with us, and it’s honest here. A wonderful man, a mighty man, a conquering man, a valorous man, but he was a conquering, valorous, honorable leper.
Now the next verse is a tremendous contrast. We are presented with a little girl, a little maid, so little, so insignificant you don’t even know her name, just a little girl. Well, the Scriptures say we’re not to despise the day of small things [Zechariah 4:10]. Out of a little acorn a great oak will grow. From a little event the great—from a little incident a great event will come to pass and sometimes tremendous doors swing upon small hinges. So this whole story revolves around a seemingly incidental thing, a remark made by this little girl [2 Kings 5:3].
Now the little girl was a captive, a slave that a band of Syrians had captured in an inroad, a foray, an excursion into some outskirt of Israel [2 Kings 5:2]. Now I could just imagine that little child, a little girl captured by a band of brigands, of bandits, and can you imagine the horror, the terror, ah! the agony of soul that must have seized that little child when those big, heavy-handed, rude men caught her, seized her, captured her, and took her back to wherever they lived, unknown to her, as a slave. What would await her? Oh, I could just live through that experience with that child, the terror of it!
Yet you look at that little girl. First of all, she was so nice. She was so fine a child that when the brigands came back to Damascus she was chosen to be in the household of the greatest man in the nation, and to wait upon the first lady of the generalship. Look again, at the courage of that little thing. She perked up, and she sought to make the best of her situation, to bring sunshine and happiness into the home where she worked as a slave. Look at her again. Though she was a slave, and though she was a captive, she wished health, and healing, and prosperity to those who had so violated her home and her life [2 Kings 5:3].
All right, look at this child again. Though far away from home, she remembered God, the Lord Jehovah. And second, though far away home and a slave in a heathen land, she knew the prophet of God, the pastor down there in Samaria. And third, she believed in the ableness of God and God’s prophet to heal and to save, and she spoke it openly, devotedly [2 Kings 5:3]. She reflects the glorious Christian home in which she lived. Ah, if her father and mother could have known about that child in that heathen land, how proud they would have been of her! Brought up in that sweet Christian home, a home that worshipped Jehovah God, and the little girl wrenched and forced away from her first humble home, yet lived in its atmosphere though in a foreign and a strange land.
I tell you, these children surely do reflect the kind of a home in which they are brought up. They really do. If you want to know how a father or mother is, just look at that child. If you want to know what goes on in that home, just look at that youngster. And if you want to know what they’re saying in that house, just listen to what that youngster is a-saying. And it will sometimes be amazing, I tell you.
A little boy out of the country went outside and saw the preacher drive up, and he had two beautiful horses in the days, you know, with a fringe on top. Two beautiful horses drive up, and when the preacher got out, why, he had come to eat dinner with the family, and the little boy went up to the preacher and said, “Do you own both of those horses?”
And the preacher said, “Why, yes.”
And the little boy said, “Well, that’s strange. I heard my daddy say that a one-horse preacher was coming to eat dinner with us today.” And when they sat down to eat dinner, to the amazement of the little girl, the preacher’s wife ate cake and all the rest. And the little girl said to the preacher’s wife, “Do you like that cake?”
“Why, yes,” said the preacher’s wife. “Yes.”
“Well, does it taste good to you?”
“Yes,” said the preacher’s wife. “Yes, it tastes good. Why?”
“Well,” she said, “I heard my mommy say that you didn’t have any taste.”
If you’ve got any children, you live through that kind of an experience. They reflect exactly what you say: this girl would have been a glorious preacher. She said her word directly and plainly and with great conviction. Well, the king of Syria—that’s Jehoram—when he heard that there was healing for his great general in Samaria; he naturally thought it was the king. The Magi thought that, the wise men from the East. They came and said, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” [Matthew 2:2]. And they naturally went to the king’s palace [Matthew 2:3]. Isn’t that where you would expect the answer? Well, the king of Syria, Jehoram, did that same thing. He sent to the king himself and said, “With this letter I am sending you my great general, that he might be healed of his leprosy” [2 Kings 5:6].
Now there’s some things that money, and kingdoms, and kings, and counselors, and parliaments, and legislators, and congresses cannot do. And that’s one of them. That’s one of them. Now, when the king of Israel heard that, he made a mistake on two parts. First, he thought it was a declaration of war and there was a mistake in judgment about Syria, that the king had just chosen this man as an instrument of a quarrel against him [2 Kings 5:7]. You know, appearances sometimes deceive us, and many times we misjudge the motives that lie back of what people do. The king of Syria had no intent to make war, and his only purpose was out of love and sympathy for his great general.
So the counselors said to the king, “It isn’t you they seek. They’re looking for Elisha, an answer from God.” So they told Elisha about it, and Elisha sent word to the king and said, “Why have you rent your clothes? Let him come unto me” [2 Kings 5:8]. And so they sent Naaman, the great general, to Elisha. Now when the general came before Elisha, he came with all of that retinue. He had chariots, horses, servants, gold, silver, raiment. He was a leper, but he was a glorious leper, no ordinary one! And he came and stood there before the house of Elisha, and Elisha did not even condescend to come out to see him. He just said to him, “Now you go down there to the Jordan, and wash seven times, and you will be clean” [2 Kings 5:9-10].
Now there was no discourtesy in that. First, Naaman came from a land that was pagan, heathen. And religion to them was a matter of histrionics, incantations, and exorcisms, all of that stuff that goes on by heathen worshippers—their loud gesticulations, and their many, many words of voodoo and magic and all of the other things that go with any kind of a heathen worship. That’s the kind of a religion, and the kind of a god, and the kind of a temple, and the kind of a prophet that he was accustomed to. So he expected that same thing. He expected hearing every incantation by which he was going to be healed.
All right, another thing: Naaman was accustomed to the sycophantic fawning upon him. He was the great hero, and when that didn’t happen—that’s one reason I know he was that way—when that didn’t happen, he was enraged! For he was a great man; great in his own estimation, too. And then, what an insult to be told to go down to the waters of the Jordan! [2 Kings 5:10]. Why, what was dramatic about that? What was unusual about that? Just to bathe in a muddy river. There was no river any muddier than the Jordan because of its swift descent. The thing hit him at an angle of incidence that just infuriated him. And he spoke it out. “And Naaman was wroth and said, Behold, I thought …” [2 Kings 5:11].
And you’ll never see a man of the world but that has his own ideas how he ought to be saved. You’ll never hear one. You just talk to anyone. Take a specimen anywhere—down in that bank building, or over in that office building, nail him on the street—buttonhole him anywhere and he’ll give you his idea of how he thinks he’s going to be saved. He’s got his preconceived notions, and Naaman was like that. He had it exactly in his mind how he was going to be saved. One of the things that he had in his head was that he was going to be saved, he was going to be healed by his own abilities, and providences, and his own gifts, and his own abilities. He came with ten talents of silver. That talent is all that a man can carry. So he came with all the silver that ten men could carry. And he had with him six thousand pieces of gold [2 Kings 5:5]. You add that up in modern money, and you get into hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was all prepared to see that thing through himself.
Now that’s the story of mankind; it’s our story today. We more and more and more read God out of this universe, and we more and more and more read God out of our lives. And we more and more and more openly declare that the problems of mankind, man himself can solve. The philosophers say that, the professors teach that, and every age has been in that direction. We go through the age of the Renaissance, and then we go through the age of scholasticism. We go through the age of science, and we’ve come to this present age of tremendous technology. And more and more we are persuaded that we have the instruments of our salvation in our own hands. And any man who knows God and reads this Book knows how feeble and futile are those persuasions of the human race.
I rejoice in the technological achievement of the scientists of America that today will have a man on the moon. But I also point out that when that man is on the moon, the man is still just the same as he was down here in this earth. And if today he were walking on Mars, or some other day he entered another constellation, the man is still just the same. There is something that has seized us and that holds us. Whatever our technological achievements, or whatever cultural advances, we are all lepers. We may be scientific lepers. We may be cultural lepers. We may be wealthy lepers. We may be American lepers, but we are all lepers, and our healing is not in our power! Science can’t heal leprosy of the heart, and of the soul, and of the life.
And Naaman was a leper two ways. He was a leper in his flesh, and he was a leper in his soul. He was proud and lifted up, and vain. He was a sinner man, just like we’re all sinners in our ways and in our times and in our lives. “Naaman was wroth and said, Behold, I thought.” Now how I know he was that way? “I thought he would surely come out to me” [2 Kings 5:11]. That’s a big me there. You see all of us love things that minister to us, and if he was going to be saved, he wanted it to be done in a way when he was even a greater hero than he was as a general. He wanted to be a hero in his healing! He wanted [it] to center around him.
And I’m not blasphemous when I tell you that one of the tremendous weaknesses of a marvelous experience that a man will tell about his conversion, or his call to the ministry, or something like that is, almost always, he’s the hero. He’s the center of his story. Ah, Lord, whatever takes our mind off of Jesus and the grace and love and mercy of the Lord, whatever takes our minds off of Jesus, and whatever places us there in the center of the stage is not right, nor does it minister to strength and power in God. It’s a weakness. It’s a weakness in any preacher. It’s a weakness in any deacon. It’s a weakness in any teacher. It’s a weakness in any church member. Whatever puts us at the center, whether in the story of our conversion, or our commitment to Christ, or our work for Jesus, whatever it is, it’s a weakness
And Naaman was that. He wanted to be healed, that’s right, but he wanted to be the hero of that healing. And he wanted all of the histrionics, and all of the dramatics to center around him. “Behold, he would surely come out to me, and he will stand and call on the name of his Lord, his God, and he will strike his hand over the leper, and there I stand strike his hand on me. I will be healed” [2 Kings 5:11]. Ah, a wonderful thing, a wonderful thing. Have you seen Abana and Pharpar, those rivers of Damascus? They are as clear as crystal. They are mountain streams coming out of the Lebanese mountains. And they’re beautiful streams, and the Jordan River is muddy like you could almost plow it, the descent is so rapid.
And when he looked, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” [2 Kings 5:12]. That’s right! But doctor, the Book says, “Salvation is of the Jews” [John 4:22]. Isn’t that right? That’s what the Book says. Not of the Syrians, not of the Americans, not of the Chinese, “salvation is of the Jews.”
“It’s in the waters of Israel you’re to be healed. Go down there. Go down there. Go down there.” Well, let’s thank God. When Naaman was driving his chariots back home, and I can see that whole retinue behind him raising the dust. Oh, it was a cloud! Just in a fury, just in a rage, he was insulted! His pride was hurt! And you don’t hurt a man anywhere in your life that touches him like when you hurt his pride, his self-esteem. He was that way.
He’s driving those horses furiously back home, a leper [2 Kings 5:12]. And while he was standing in his chariot holding those steeds, driving furiously home, a servant in the car with him put his hand on those fists doubled up holding those reigns, asked him a simple question, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great and mighty thing, if he had told you to go back to Syria, and instead of bringing a million dollars, bring ten million dollars with you, and you would be clean, wouldn’t you have done it? Wouldn’t you have gone back to Syria and tried to raise the other nine million dollars? Wouldn’t you? If he told you to conquer another kingdom, wouldn’t you try to do it? How much rather then, when he says, Wash, and be clean. Wash, and be clean” [2 Kings 5:13].
“Whoa! Whoa!” I can see that great mighty man pull those steeds up. I can see him turn them around. I can see him drive down to that low valley through which the Jordan flows. One time and two, five times and six, six times and seven eighths, but he was only a little wetter after six times and seven eighths. When he went down the seventh time and came up, he looked, “and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” [2 Kings 5:14]. He was clean.
Our greatest assignment is to do what God says, believe God’s Word, obey God’s commandment. Look and live [Numbers 21:8-9; John 3:14-15]. Wash and be clean [2 Kings 5:10; Revelation 7:14]. Believe, and be saved [Acts 16:31]. Oh, I know we have all kinds of notions and preconceived ideas, and it’s hard for us to humble ourselves to believe that just by trusting, and just by following, and just by obeying, that God could heal us. But when you, that’s what repentance is, when you bow, when you turn, when you humble yourself and you do what God says, look at that brazen serpent lifted up, and you will be healed [Numbers 21:9; John 3:14-15]. “Wash,” and that’s a type in that baptistery, “Wash and you’ll be clean.” Trust in your heart, and you’ll be saved. That’s how God cleanses us, saves us, washes us.
A man that I read about said in a dream he saw the saints going into glory. And he saw a company enter in, and he asked, “Who are they?”
And he was told, “These are the prophets of the Old Testament.”
“I can’t go in with them. I’m no prophet.”
Then he saw another band, “And who are they entering in?” “They are the apostles of the Lord.”
“I can’t go in with them.”
Then he saw a throng, “Who are they?”
“They’re the martyrs of the Christian faith. They laid down their lives for the Lord.”
“I can’t go in with them.”
Then he saw a band that no man could number, “Who are they?”
“These are they who washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14].
And the man said, “I can go in with them. I’m no prophet. I’m no apostle. I’m no martyr of the faith. I’m just another leper, a sinner, and if I enter in, I have to enter in like that. I must be washed in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 1:5, 7:14]
Ah, but that’s a religion of gore, that’s a religion of the shambles, that’s a religion of butcher shop. And modern Christianity has purged out of its hymn books those songs about the blood. It violates aesthetic sensitivities. No cultural ear should hear such bloody gospel messages. But when time comes to die, the speculations of men won’t do. Read me the old, old story. Turn to that blessed text about Jesus dying for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], and those who trust in Him can be saved [John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10]. Sing that old hymn again, that first stanza, “There is a fountain filled with blood.” That second stanza, “And the dying thief.” And then that other stanza,
E’er since, by faith, I saw the flood
thy flowing streams supply.
Redeeming grace has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.
[“There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood”; William Cowper, 1772]
Sing that for me, because that’s my hope and my faith. God bless me as humbly I come. Wash and be clean. We’re going to sing that song, “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” And while we sing it, you, somebody you, to give your heart to Jesus, to come into the fellowship of the church, a family, a couple, or just you, on the first note of the first stanza, come and stand by me. “Here I am, pastor, here I come.” Make the decision now. Do it now. And in a moment when we stand up to sing, you stand up coming. Angels will attend you in the way, while we stand and while we sing.
WASHED IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Kings 5
1. Great Syrian general, well respected
2. Naaman is also a leper
II. Slave child from Israel
1. Captured into slavery by a band of Syrian marauders
2. Slave girl of Naaman’s wife
3. She had a positive attitude
4. No ill will toward her captors
5. She remembered God
6. Told her masters about Elisha
III. King Jehoram of Israel
1. Should have known about Elisha, the prophet of God
2. Became fearful and angry when asked about Elisha
3. Elisha told Jehoram to send Naaman to him
1. Elisha unimpressed with Naaman’s status
2. Through his servant, Elishah gives a command to Naaman to wash seven times in the muddy Jordan River
V. Naaman’s response is anger and returns home full of arrogance
VI. His servant convinces to do what Elisha tells him
VII. Naaman obeys and is healed of leprosy
VIII. God’s way is the only way to be cleansed and healed