I wrote a while back a post about Jesus’ “Secret Disciples.” These men met with Jesus at night, in the dark, out of fear of discovery. Somehow, Jesus was just fine with this level of commitment. Perhaps it was because He knew where they would end up eventually. Perhaps it is because His grace is beyond understanding.
I just came upon another passage that blows my mind in this same vein. You may remember the song, “Old Naaman went dow-ow-own, to the river to dip…”
Naaman, captain of the army of Aram, had leprosy and heard he could be healed in Israel. Long story short, Elisha doesn’t even meet with him, instead telling his servant to tell Naaman to go dip in the Jordan river 7 times. Naaman, grudgingly, does so and is healed. He returns to Elisha and tries to pay him, but Elisha repeatedly refuses to accept payment:
“Naaman said, “If not, please let your servant at least be given two mules’ load of earth; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering nor will he sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD. “In this matter may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this matter.” He said to him, “Go in peace.” So he departed from him some distance.” 2 Kings 5:17-19
What just happened here?! Naaman acknowledges Yahweh as the one true God. He asks to bring soil back with him so he can build an altar to Yahweh. And then, he asks for forgiveness in advance when he bows to the pagan deity, Rimmon, with his master, the king. Elisha tells him to go in peace.
I have to say, I tore into the Hebrew to find the missing nugget that explains all of this-I couldn’t find it. After all, isn’t the God of the Old Testament the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, those devout men who refused to bow to their king’s deity?
Isn’t the God of the Old Testament, by in large, a God of judgement?
Once again, I am struck by the grace of God, and once again, I cannot make sense of it. Praise God for that!