World Leprosy Day!

2 Kings 5:1-15, “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.  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.’  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.’  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!’  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.  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.’  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.  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.  Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

Key Facts from the World Health Organization:

  • Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a slow multiplying bacillus,Mycobacterium leprae.
  • M. leprae multiplies slowly and the incubation period of the disease is about 5 years. Symptoms can take as long as 20 years to appear.
  • The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, and also the eyes.
  • Leprosy is curable with multidrug therapy (MDT).
  • Although not highly infectious, leprosy is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases.
  • Untreated, leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes.
  • Official figures from 138 countries from 6 WHO regions show the global registered prevalence of leprosy to be at 176,176 cases at the end of 2015. During the same year, 211,973 new cases were reported.

Leprosy in the Bible was prevalent.  In the story of Naaman, he contracted leprosy and was considered unclean.  His family could not touch him.  He was in extreme pain.  He was also given a solution to his removal of leprosy.  He went to Elisha, the prophet of God, and Elisha told Naaman what he needed to do.  He was to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times.

Seven is synonymous with God.  It is God’s number (7 days of the week, God rested on the 7th day, etc)  Seven shows up in the Bible very often.  So when Elisha told Naaman to wash in the Jordan 7 times, this was a sign from God.  This was to show the power of God.  The Jordan River was also not the cleanest of rivers.  There were far more rivers that would have been better to bathe in than the Jordan.  And yet, God chose the dirty Jordan River to cleanse Naaman.  Naaman resisted but ended up washing in the Jordan seven times.  He was cured of his leprosy.

Naaman learned that day that the gods that he was serving couldn’t have cured him.  Only God could cure him.  He learned that God was truly all-powerful.  He learned that God was the God of the Earth.

So on this day of awareness of leprosy, keep in mind that there is a cure out there.  There are drugs that can cure this horrible disease.  There is also a cure for the most horrible disease: sin.  Jesus lived and then died on the cross to cure us.  Accept the cure today.  He is waiting.

If you want to help end leprosy, here is a link to the American Leprosy Missions page to donate.

https://support.leprosy.org/site/Donation2?2740.donation=form1&df_id=2740&s_src=I161WLDGG&s_subsrc=13GGRANT&campaignid=172545309&adgroupid=25586663109&creative=93589348149&keyword=world%20leprosy%20day&gclid=CI7pq7GQ5tECFVGewAodcWABIA

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.  Thank You for the American Leprosy Missions organization that is trying to end leprosy.  Please continue to bless this organization and also to help spread Your Word around the world to those in need.  You are such a wonderful, loving God.  You deserve all our love.  The story of Naaman is a blessing to those who read it and realize that You alone are the creator of Heaven and Earth.  You hold the world in Your hands.  Care for us and never leave us.

In Your name we pray,

Amen

 

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