Tiny Sins, Huge Results
(2 Kings 5, 2 Samuel 6)
Introduction: How important is that little sin that you harbor? Does God sweat the details? Does He care about small matters? Can we even trust ourselves to be honest about "small sins." Let's dive into our lesson about "tiny sins, huge results" and find out!
- A few weeks ago (Lesson 7 - Children Showcased)we studied the story of the young girl and the healing of Naaman. We ended our story at the point that Naaman was healed and he returned to Elisha to thank him and praise Elisha' God.
- The story continues, so let's read 2 Kings 5:15-16. Why didn't Elisha accept any gifts from Naaman? 2 Kings 5:5 reveals that Naaman had taken ten talents of silver (750 pounds), 6,000 shekels of gold (150 pounds) and ten sets of clothing as payment to anyone who healed him. (Elisha was not the one who healed Naaman. For him to have accepted the reward for God's work would have made it appear that he was responsible for the healing. It also would have seemed that God's miracles were for sale.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:17-19. Naaman says if you won't take this money, then give me dirt! Why does Naaman want dirt? Here is another angle for those of you still dreaming about all that gold - Wouldn't Elisha have been helping Naaman to take a little of that (obviously heavy) gold off his hands so that Naaman could haul back more dirt? It would be the least Elisha could do to lighten Naaman's load! (Apparently Naaman wanted to be able to make an altar of earth to God. (See Exodus 20:24 which refers to an alter of earth.))
- Why would Naaman need "Elisha soil" to build his altar? (This shows he (like all of us) needed to grow in his understanding of the true God. He attached some holiness to the ground at Elisha's place. The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament says that Naaman was still possessed of the polytheistic superstition that no god could be properly worshiped except on his own land.)
- Look again at verse 18. Was Naaman asking for advance forgiveness for a "small sin?"
- Can we get advance "dispensation" for sins we intend to commit?
- If so, where do we go for that?
- Can we, like Naaman, go to another man? Was Elisha in a position to forgive sins?
- Look at verse 19 again, did Elisha give Naaman a "pass" on this sin?
- What do you think is going on here? (Since our lesson is about "small sins" we will pick up this discussion later.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:20-22. Why does Gehazi say he needs to get something from Naaman? (Naaman is the commander of the Army that has been attacking Israel. So Gehazi says that Elisha has been "too easy on Namaan, this Aramean.")
- Why do you think Gehazi thinks Elisha punish Naaman? (Gehazi's logic represents a matter of national honor and "just deserts" for a foreign invader, right?)
- Do you think Gehazi seriously believed this? (Our hearts are so evil that we lie to ourselves about the reason for our sins. Gehazi took the greed of his heart and painted it with patriotism. Notice that he also took an oath to his patriot fervor?)
- Namaan must have been a good judge of character. Since Elisha had just (v.16) sworn an oath to the true God that he would not take anything, why did he give something to Gehazi? (Gehazi, once again, covered his true motive by saying this was for some young prophets. So he lied to himself and he lied himself and he lied to Naaman.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:23-24. Naaman has no doubts about Gehazi's story. Or, at least if he does, he is so grateful he does not care. He sends two of his servants to carry the stuff for Gehazi. Why did Gehazi take over the carrying duties when he "came to the hill?" (This was part of the deceit. He could not let Elisha see that he had this stuff.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:25-27. How many of you parents have asked your children what they were doing and they responded, "Nothing." Ever heard that before when your children are disobeying you? Bet you didn't know they were quoting Scripture!
- What does Elisha mean when he says, "was not my spirit with you?" (He knew what Gehazi had done. Apparently the Holy Spirit revealed it to him.)
- What do olive groves, flocks and servants have to do with Gehazi's sin? Didn't he take clothes and silver? (He took 150 pounds of silver. If you know the price of an ounce of silver today, you know the value of this gift. Gehazi was dreaming about what all that silver would buy him: groves, flocks and servants!
- What is the penalty for Gehazi's sin? (Leprosy forever!)
- Our lesson is entitled, "Tiny Sins, Huge Results." Would you agree this is a huge result?
- What about it being a "tiny sin?" Do you agree this is a tiny sin?
- Was anyone hurt by this sin?
- How about Elisha, was he hurt? (He wasn't getting the money anyway.)
- How about Naaman, was he hurt? (Naaman was prepared to pay the money anyway - indeed, he wanted to pay.)
- Isn't this a so-called "victimless crime?"
- Did Elisha just hate to lose the help?
- Notice v.26. Elisha says, "is this the time?" Did Gehazi have bad timing? Is that what this is all about? (Yes, in an important way I think the timing magnifies the sin. Consider the sins of Gehazi in this story. He lies to everyone (including himself.) He is greedy. He "steals" goods to which he has no claim. I don't think any of these are "tiny sins." But the real problem is how Naaman perceives God. God's gifts are not for sale. We cannot begin to pay for his greatest gift, the gift of salvation. After Naaman learned the lesson about the nature of God's gifts, he could return a portion of his great wealth to promote God's work. But now was not the time.)
- Remember I told you we would get back to Naaman's sin of bowing down to a false God? How do you think Naaman's sin compares to Gehazi's sin?
- Don't they both involve greed? Naaman wants to keep his job and Gehazi wants some money?
- Don't they both involve lying? Gehazi lied to everyone and Naaman would be lying about his reverence for the god back home?
- Why does Naaman get a (v.19) "Go in peace" and Gehazi gets leprosy forever?(The Bible commentators are all over the place on this. Matthew Henry, in his commentary, goes nuts over the nature of Naaman's proposed sin. While he cannot second-guess Elisha, he warns us that we cannot expect any pass on this kind of sin! Other commentators fool around with the translation to obscure what is being said. On commentator suggests that Elisha's "go in peace" is not a response to Naaman's question! I think The Wycliff Bible commentary has it right: Naaman was not sinning. He knew who was the true God. He was not worshiping Rimmon. Sin is first and foremost a matter of attitude. See Matthew 15:19-20)
- Compare for me the heart attitude of Naaman and Gehazi?
- Read 2 Samuel 6:1-5. Was this an exciting time? Why? (This story goes back to 1 Samuel 4. The Israelites wrongly took the Ark of God out on the field of battle to give them a military advantage over the Philistines. Instead, the Ark fell into the hands of the Philistines |who, as a result of having it, suffered several serious plagues. (1 Samuel 5) The Philistines decided that it was time to give it back, so they put it on a new cart, added a chest of gold, and let calves take it back (only God was leading) to Israel! (1 Samuel 6) The Israelites, when they saw it come over the boarder, did not handle it properly and 70 men died. (1 Samuel 6). So, they decided to take it the house of Abinadab a Levite, for their safety and for safe-keeping. He son, Eleazar, was to guard the Ark. The Ark stayed at his house for 20 years (1 Samuel 7) until David decided to give it a home in Jerusalem.)
- Why did David put the Ark on a new cart? (This is what the Philistines did! The Philistines, however, had no idea how it should be handled. They were just guessing. David, if he had bothered to look (or had the priests look) would have seen that God had given specific instructions on how the Ark was to be moved. It was to be carried on poles by designated people and covered. Numbers 4:4-6,15; 1 Chronicles 15:2&15.)
- Read 2 Samuel 6:6-8. Who is Uzzah? (He is another son of Abinadab.)
- If you were God, would you have killed Uzzah?
- Do you agree that this was a "tiny sin, huge result?"
- Didn't we just agree that the problem with Gehazi was his attitude? What kind of attitude did Uzzah have?
- Does this story destroy the "attitude" theory?
- Whose fault is it that Uzzah died? (First, it was King David's fault. His failure to study the Scripture to see what God required is outrageous. The Philistines showed greater interest in properly handling the Ark. Second, Uzzah, as one of Abinadab's sons who grew up with the Ark, should have had enough interest in it to see what God required. God had said in Numbers 4:15 that the penalty for touching the Ark was death.)
- Have you ever seen a situation where a series of "simple sins" added up to terrible consequences? (That is the situation here. David and Uzzah ignored God's commands for moving the Ark (despite a terrible history of deaths connected with the misuse of the Ark). Then, Uzzah actually touched the Ark. I suspect many of our sin problems start out as a series of "small sins." This shows an attitude of carelessness and disrespect towards God.)
- Friend, God is not playing games with His people. The struggle against sin is a serious business. God takes it so seriously that He was willing to die for us. We need to take our obligations to Him just as seriously. Are you willing to begin being serious with our Lord?
- Next Week: The Lord Our Righteousness