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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Seventy-Ninth (Applicability)

This week we're taking a look at applicability. There's a lot of different views out there as to what in scripture is applicable to whom. To me, it seems like some try to argue their way out of things written in the Word, stating that this verse or that verse is only applicable to these certain people, or only to the people Jesus was talking to face to face right at that moment. In some cases, they use it as an excuse to avoid the hard things that are expected of us by God.

To give an example of what I'm talking about, some read John 14:15-21 and say the words Jesus spoke were only applicable to the disciples He was talking to at the time. This way, when He says to keep His commandments they can claim we don't have to because Jesus was only talking to the disciples. Based on this logic, you have to ask yourself, then what in scripture is applicable to us?

When you read anything in the Word, there's always a certain context and a certain group of people or individuals that are involved. Obviously this is the case, otherwise there wouldn't be a record of a loving, living God so we can read and know He is real and He cares about us. Additionally, the fact that the Word is written that way gives us the opportunity to verify it's truth. We can look through historical texts and records and see that the people and events recorded in scripture were real and they actually happened.

If you read scripture and you take the stance that the things written in it are only applicable to the people involved, you effectively force the Bible into the domain of a strictly historical document which means nothing in this day and age. Furthermore, you end up coming to the conclusion that living in sin is perfectly fine and there are no repercussions. You would read John 14:2-3 and say that house with many mansions Jesus talks about only has a place for Peter. I mean, He was directly answering Peter when he asked why he couldn't follow Jesus.

But is that what Jesus intended? I think not. Let's take a look back at an example that might show us Jesus intended us to take what's written in scripture and apply it to our lives rather than leave it as some story from the past that has no bearing on our lives today. There was a military leader of Syria named Naaman who had leprosy (2 Kings 5:1). Upon capturing a maid out of Israel, Naaman had her serve as a mistress for his wife (2 Kings 5:2).

This maid knew of a prophet in Samaria and recommended Naaman ask for healing of leprosy from him (2 Kings 5:3). Willing to try anything, Naaman sent many gifts and a letter asking for this prophet to heal him, but the king of Israel thought Naaman was trying to create a fight between them (2 Kings 5:6-7). Elisha, the prophet, ended up convincing the king to let Naaman visit him, and told Naaman he had to wash in the river Jordan seven times and he would be healed (2 Kings 5:10). Only, this wasn't what Naaman was expecting in terms of what the prophet would do or how he would do it.

Elisha didn't even talk to this high and mighty military leader face to face. He sent a messenger to talk to Naaman. And then he tells Naaman to wash in a river in Israel?! Well, long story long, Naaman's servants convinced him to wash in the river and he was healed (2 Kings 5:14). But, the key we're looking for is what happened after this.

Amazed, Naaman went back to Elisha and praised the God of Israel as the one and only God (2 Kings 5:15). After trying to give a gift, and being denied, he proceeded to ask for an accommodation for when he has to go into a false god's temple with his master when his master does his worship (2 Kings 5:18). You see, Naaman realized that Yehovah was the one true God when, by a simple washing in a river, he was healed. In fact, he even went so far as to know that because of this truth, he should have no other gods before Yehovah.

Now, don't get me wrong, I doubt Naaman knew of the first of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:3). But, something inside him knew that was the thought process he was supposed to have, and when you think about it, isn't that just what the ten commandments are? They are the thought processes that we are supposed to have, but because of sin and human nature people lost that way and needed the words of God to remind them of what His expectations are.

So when you think about it, Naaman, despite the fact that the first commandment was spoken by God to the Israelites, innately knew that commandment was applicable to him as well. This is a perfect example of how we should look for the applicability of scripture to our lives, not find reasons that what's written doesn't apply to us.

Before I go on, you know I love sidebars! Did you catch all the connections to Jesus in this story of Naaman? 1) Naaman bathed in the river Jordan (2 Kings 5:14), and Jesus was baptized in that same river (Mark 1:9). 2) Naaman went to Elisha, who was in Samaria (2 Kings 5:3) and Jesus first revealed Himself, outside of His disciples, to a woman from Samaria (John 4:7,25-26). 3) Naaman received healing from leprosy (2 Kings 5:14) and Jesus healed many, including those with leprosy (Mark 1:40-42). Isn't that amazing! Seems like He wanted us to really learn something from Naaman!

So to close out, Naaman knew that despite him not being of Israel, his knowledge of the truth that Yehovah was the only true God required him to worship God and only God, and even just being in the worship of a false god required the forgiveness of Yehovah. He didn't say, I know God is the one true God, but since I'm not an Israelite I can keep doing whatever I want and the fact that I acknowledge Him as the only true God is sufficient to allow me to do whatever I want regardless of His expectations for me!

You know, a lot of teachings on Naaman focus on the faith aspect of doing what God says to do. While that's a good lesson to learn, I think what's often overlooked is the aspect of Naaman understanding that it's knowing God is the only God that puts us in the position of His commandments being applicable to us, not the time in which we live or the blood line that we were born into. We should all take a lesson from Naaman not only in faith, but also in applicability!

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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