Friday, November 29, 2013

28 Stories - Study 12: The Prophet

Fundamental: The Gift of Prophecy

Bible Story   
Amazingly, Naaman listened to the advice of his little servant girl and acted on it. He decided not only to visit Israel’s prophet, but also to do it through the proper channels. His actions show he believed his slave girl’s God was worth the risk.
First, Naaman went to his king. He took a great risk in revealing his leprosy to anyone, much less the leader of the land. In all previous cases, those who had leprosy were banished to live in caves. If they came into the presence of healthy people they were required to shout “Unclean! Unclean!” Naaman came silently into the king’s presence and told his monarch of the ailment that was eating his flesh.
He quickly followed this revelation with the seemingly impossible promise made to him by his servant girl of a miracle cure from the prophet in Israel. The king, relieved that the banishment of his right-hand-man could wait until another day, jumped at the opportunity for some foreign diplomacy. He wrote a letter to the king of Israel, had servants load wagons full of treasure in payment for the healing, and sent Naaman with well wishes.
One can imagine the emotional turmoil Naaman’s wife suffered while her husband confessed his ailment to the king. Would her sweet Naaman be banished to the caves like every other leper? Her joy upon seeing him ride into the yard with an entourage in tow—treasure and a military escort—would have been beyond words. Naaman was alive and would be heading to Israel to see the prophet.
Naaman had achieved a lot already. He had humbled himself before his wife—revealing his leprosy to her. He had acted upon the advice of a child—a girl, an Israelite slave—as low as one could be in their society. And he had bared his soul to his king, risking death. All of this was but a training ground for the humility of heart that would be demanded on the road ahead.
As Naaman and his military parade rushed through the outer towns of Israel, mothers hurried their little ones indoors. Men hid in the shadows of thatched roofs and watched the shimmering chariots, bedecked soldiers and a fluttering white flag held high by the lead horseman. The Armenians made a bee-line for Israel’s capital. Surely the Israelite people wondered, What is the meaning of this most unusual, broad daylight display? What kind of trick is this?
Arriving at the lodging place of the king of Israel, Naaman’s men were met by the royal guard. They waved the truce flag high and presented the letter from the king of Aram. It was addressed to the king of Israel and was hastily delivered.
When God’s king opened the letter, it read, “With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy.”  Israel’s king tore his clothes—an unthinkable act for God’s leader—and declared, “This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can give life and take it away? I can see that he’s just trying to pick a fight with me.”
Not for a second did Israel’s king consider this an opportunity to represent his God and demonstrate His power. The king, in his moment of distress could only see this letter as a fight waiting to happen—clearly the king of Aram was taunting him.
Luckily, someone in the royal court heard the content of the letter and ran to prophet Elisha’s house to tell the prophet all that was happening in the King’s palace.
A messenger showed up with a message for the king from Elisha—the prophet of Israel’s God. The servant given the task of reading the message to the king must have trembled as he read it aloud. It was a rebuke from the prophet, followed by a solution: “Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel.”
Elisha saw the situation for what it was—an opportunity to represent the Almighty God to an honest man seeking healing. The king rejoiced, consoling himself that any revenge from Aram would now be directed at Elisha rather than himself.
But, in the end, it was respect rather than revenge that was directed toward God’s prophet. Respect from leaders in both countries. For there was, indeed, a true prophet in Israel.

My Reflection
Naaman and the king of Aram were trying to do things in the order they thought was right—honour the king before the prophet. Was this the right way to go about getting what they wanted? Why or why not?

When Elisha hears about the problem in the palace, he has a solution. Have you ever known that you could help someone and yet you are not asked to help? How does it make you feel?

How are we sometimes like the king of Israel in the way we deal with the problems in our lives?

My Story
How would you have felt if you were the king of Israel and you received the letter from the king of Aram?

What about when the letter from Elisha came? How would you feel then?

Just like the king of Israel, We have a letter from God written by not just one, but many prophets and people of God. When you read it, what impact does it have on your plans and purposes?

My Assurance
Prophecy has been one of God’s ways of communicating with His people since sin first entered the world. How do these verses encourage you? What promises do they make?

Joel 2:28 ~ I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.

Hebrews 1:1-3 ~ Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

My Commitment
God’s people are not all given the gift of Prophecy, but they are all expected to have a healthy respect for prophets and their message. What do these verses show us from prophecy and about prophecy?

Revelation 12:17 ~ And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.

Revelation 19:10 ~ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.

1 Corinthians 13:2 ~ If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.

My Outlook
One of the things that prophecy makes clear to us is that God has a plan which He is following. How do these verses help you understand God’s plan and how prophecy is involved in that plan?

Joel 2:29 ~ In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

2 Peter 1:19-21 ~ You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

Revelation 22:7 ~ Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.

My Response
The following statement is the 18th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Gift of Prophecy
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen. G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.


Bible Story
The Biblical story of Naaman can be found in 2 Kings 5.

Further Reading
Acts 2:14-21

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