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April 23 Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 5-7
“Behold, now I know!”
2 Kings 5:15
After reading the wonders of God’s goodness, grace, and power displayed in these three chapters by the Spirit of God, if we are taught of God and experience the things these wonders are intended of God to teach, we will confess with Naaman, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.”
We all enter into this world with the leprosy of sin. We were, as David confessed, conceived in sin, shaped in iniquity, and brought forth in transgression. Are you sensible of this fact? Do you know it? Do you believe it? Then fly now to the Prophet of God who is God the sinners’ Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him. Never did a leper come to him for healing who was not healed! Never did a sinner come to him for grace who did not obtain grace!
Blessed Son of God, I come to you this day, with all the leprosy of my heart and nature. Never was there a soul so leprous as mine! If you will, you can make me clean. O God of all grace, stretch forth the hand of your omnipotent mercy, pronounce the word of your saving power, and I shall be made whole!
Healed by you, as Naaman was, this sinner is fully convinced that there is no God in all the earth, no other name under heaven given among men, whereby sinners must be saved! How sweet it is to know that we are washed, that we are sanctified, that we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God! Let us live this day, and each day of our remaining appointed days, as a people redeemed by blood, bought with the price of Christ’s own life, and saved by his omnipotent mercy, as a people who belong to God.
Swimming Axe Head
In the sixth chapter of 2nd Kings we see God’s prophet causing a lost axe head to swim that it might be recovered; but if that is all we see, we have read the passage with not profit to our souls. Spirit of God, give us eyes of faith with which to see our dear Savior and the wonders of redemption, grace, and salvation in him in every portion of your holy Word.
Why did Elisha cut down a tree and cast it into the water to recover the axe head? He did so because the only way God can save guilty sinners is by the sin-atoning death of his darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the sinners Substitute. Like the axe head, we were lost. The place where the axe head was lost was the Jordan River, which is ever held before us in Holy Scripture as a symbol of death. As the axe head was lost in death, we were dead in trespasses and in sin. As Elisha cut down the tree and cast it into the water to recover the axe head, we preach Christ crucified to poor, needy sinners; we cast into this river of death called “humanity” the cross of Christ. And by the blessing of God’s Spirit upon the gospel, as that axe head was made to swim, dead sinners are raised from death to life by the gospel (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23-25). The iron did not “float” on the water. A dead corpse can float. The Book of God says, “and the iron did swim.” That which was dead was raised to life!
Then, we read in verse 7, “Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.” The prophet’s reaching out his hand and taking it did not make the axe head swim. It was swimming already. Life was there. Yet, he was commanded to reach out his hand and take it to himself. So, too, our faith in Christ does not give us life before God. Life is given by the command of God. Yet, we are commanded of God to take hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19); and the sinner born of God does just that. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we take hold on eternal life, we take the life God has given us in Christ.
Four Leprous Men
I cannot conclude my thoughts on these three chapters from the Book of God without reminding myself and you who read these pages of those four leprous men (chapter 7) who found life in the most unexpected of places. What a famine there is in the City of Mansoul by reason of sin, a famine not of bread and of water, but of all spiritual comfort, ease, and satisfaction, of life, and peace, and rest! In the unexpected, surprising deliverance of these four men we have a beautiful picture of Christ and his great salvation. The believing soul, like these leprous men going from one tent to another, finds in the unceasing experience of God’s great salvation such multiplied discoveries of the Savior’s love that it is hard to grasp the fact that all this salvation, all this mercy, all this grace, all this fulness of Christ made over to our souls is real. Again and again our hearts cry out with overflowing gratitude and joy, — “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!”