I say, “Surprising salvation” because it reaches those whom we least expect to be saved. Naaman, the general of the Syrian army, is first on the list when by faith in the God of Israel and the word of His prophet he is saved of leprosy. Jesus notes the shock, even the offense of this healing / salvation when He preaches in the synagogue in Nazareth and says, “There were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27). The people of Jesus’ time were not willing to celebrate God’s salvation and healing of one of their enemies in preference to all of the leprous
Israelites. In reaction: “When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away” (Luke 4:28-30). This underlines the shocking salvation that we read about today.
Not only that, but at the same time, devastating judgment touches an Israelite, even the servant of Yahweh’s very own prophet. He dreams of enriching
himself through this shocking salvation even to the point of feigning an urgent
request from the prophet in order to carry away happily about 150 pounds of silver and two new changes of clothing to a secret hiding place. And he is punished when he and his descendants receive the leprosy that had clung to Naaman.
The salvation of the Syrian general does not mean that Yahweh has abandoned Israel, however. But it is interesting to notice in these chapters that the poorest and least influential Israelites are the ones who enjoy Yahweh’s salvation: a poor son of the prophets who drops a borrowed axe, lepers who first discover that the Syrians have abandoned their camp, and the Shunammite and her son who survive the seven-year famine by living outside Israel and who suddenly have their lands and lost income restored. Yahweh takes joy in demonstrating His salvation to the poorest and neediest among His people.
And His humble remnant will need His salvation and protection more than ever because even worse days are coming: “And Hazael said [to Elisha], ‘Why does my lord weep?’ He answered, ‘Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant
women.’” (2 Kings 8:12). Yahweh’s devastating judgment has only begun to manifest itself; all who would listen must run to find their refuge in Him.