The Living Word study for July 3, 2022 — The Holy Spirit brings restoration of God’s order
2 Kings 5:1-14 —Elisha’s testing word leads to Naaman’s healing
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 — Jesus appoints 72 to go out to restore others
Galatians 6:1-6, 7-16 — Life in the Spirit means restoring others gently
• See also this week’s linked article How The Holy Spirit Restores God’s Order
1 I will exalt You, Lord, for You lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to You for help, and You healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; You spared me from going down to the pit.
4-5 Sing the praises of the Lord, you His faithful people; praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
6-7 When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when You favoured me, You made my royal mountain stand firm; but when You hid Your face, I was dismayed.
8-9 To You, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it proclaim Your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.”
11-12 You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing Your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise You forever.
2 Kings 5:1-14 — Elisha’s testing word leads to Naaman’s healing
The pathway to God’s blessing begins with our humble submission to Him
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
“Naaman… of Aram” — a distinguished Syrian military commander of one of Israel’s greatest enemies, who has a disfiguring skin disease.
2-3 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
“Bands of raiders” — an insightful Israelite girl had been taken as a slave in one of the frequent border skirmishes.
“The prophet” — Elisha travelled around (from a base in Samaria) and the Israelite girl knew his reputation as a nabi, or prophet.
4-6 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the King of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the King of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the King of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
“Letter to the King of Israel” — the king assumes the prophet will be part of the royal court.
“Taking with him” — an extravagant gift.
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
“Why… send someone to me” — the unspiritual King Jehoram doesn’t consider Elisha but thinks he is being set up for failure, and another major battle.
8-9 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
“Go, wash yourself seven times” — Naaman had come with a royal despatch and large gift, and was received by a messenger. This was a test to see if he would ‘trust and obey’.
11-12 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
“Wash… and be cleansed” — rivers in Damascus fed by Mount Hermon were clear-flowing, the Jordan was muddy. But the real issue, and his rage, was about submitting to the God of Israel.
13-14 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
“Seven times as the man of God has told him” — the number of completeness. A proud man turns to humility and puts his trust in God. Blessing followed.
• For further study, read Joshua 3:1-4:24.
SUMMARY Naaman is a successful general of the army of Aram, a longstanding enemy of Israel. He needed healing which only God could bring. A captured Israelite maid servant to Naaman’s wife knew Elisha’s reputation as a man of God and suggested the officer should seek his help.
APPLICATION His lesson is our lesson – humility and submission to God is the path for His order to come into our lives. When Naaman carried out the simple instructions he had been given, he was restored.
QUESTION God blessed this pagan man who sought His help — what does that tell us about the scope of God’s mission — and ours?
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 — Jesus appoints 72 to go out to restore others
They were instructed to pray for additional workers for mission in Judea
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where He was about to go.
“Seventy-two others” — unique to Luke, this account of 72 “other” disciples sent out recalls the 72 known nations of Genesis 10 (in the Greek translation); also Moses’ 70 elders plus ‘outsiders’ Eldad and Medad, Numbers 11:24-26, a reminder that the Good News is for ‘outsiders’.
2-4 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
“The harvest… the workers” — there is an urgency and call for extra workers like any ripe harvest.
“Do not take” — Jesus is telling them to be vulnerable and reliant on God, and to avoid the customary lengthygreetings en route.
5-7 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
“First say…” — if the household receives their blessing, that is a channel for God’s gifts. They are not imparted by ritual words without relationship.
“Someone who promotes peace” — lit. ‘son of peace’ and essential to the Good News being received. Religious coercion has no place in the kingdom of God.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.
“Eat what is offered” — e.g. by Gentiles; they were not to be sidetracked by religious purity laws.
9 “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
“Heal the sick and tell them” — Jesus’ message of the kingdom comes in signs and words.
“The kingdom of God” — not political or geographical but God’s order ‘ruling’ in the hearts and lives of Jesus’ followers.
10-11 “But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’
The kingdom… has come near” — an offer and also a warning: knowingly refusing the gift of God’s love and grace has consequences.
16 “Whoever listens to you listens to Me; whoever rejects you rejects Me; but whoever rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
“Whoever rejects you” — Jesus (sent by God) commissioned these disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God; rejecting their message was rejecting God Himself.
17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.”
18-20 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
“Authority to trample” — Jesus had given authority, i.e. the right to exercise power, over evil, expressed figuratively as snakes and scorpions. But this does not define them; their identity is in their heavenly destiny.
SUMMARY Jesus is aware that there are many people in Judea ready to respond to the Good News of the kingdom. So He sends out 72, with similar instructions to the 12 sent out around Galilee: to be bringers of the peace of God’s kingdom order, including healing the sick.
APPLICATION Jesus gives the 72 spiritual authority which is the right to exercise His power. Although the people who will welcome them may not be Jews, the message of peace with God in His grace and through Jesus, is for everyone. If we are disciples of Jesus, we can confer His peace and His blessing where we are received in His name.
QUESTION Should we seek to go in pairs to visit and tell people about Jesus and His kingdom? How do we know who will welcome us?
Galatians 6:1-6 — Life in the Spirit means restoring others gently
Burdens are meant to be shared, but each one is responsible for their own walk
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
“You who live by the Spirit” — pneumatikoi, “you who are spiritual” (ESV), simply those with more experience of walking with the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 2:15, 3:1, 14:37 and evidencing Gal. 5:22-23.
2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.
“Carry each other’s burdens” — like Jesus, who carried mankind’s sins Himself as well as the curse of the law, Gal. 1:4, 3:13, also Romans 15:1-13.
“The law of Christ” — essentially the “new commandment” to “love your neighbour as yourself”, Gal. 5:14.
3-5 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.
“Deceive themselves” — literally ‘hoodwinks’. Pride and self-deception is a common spiritual limitation.
“Carry their own load” — phortion, cargo, capacity. This is the call, the sphere of ministry, different for every believer and so not for comparison. Contrasted with barē, the too-heavy burden of v.2 that needs to be shared.
6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
“Share all good things” — hints at financial as well as general support.
For further study, see 1 Cor. 9:11,14; 1 Tim. 5:17.
SUMMARY In this example, believers are exhorted to be careful about their own spiritual walk, but also to be ready to share the burden of those who have found themselves in difficulties or just carrying too much.
APPLICATION Pride and self-deception feed off each other and are a common way that we are hoodwinked and lose sight of the good path. That’s when trustworthy and non-judgmental friends are needed to help us get back on track with the Lord.
QUESTION Worship services may not help us to “carry one another’s burdens“. What does?
PRAYER Lord, You want us to show the world around us Your life in us.
You want us to be examples of how the life of the Spirit empowers us to live by love, not self.
Help us to live full of You and bring Your transforming presence to church, community and beyond.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.