God has not left Christians to such a fate of being faithless and fearful. He has given us the gift of faith. He has shown us His mighty works over thousands of years. He has promised us that even if the worst comes upon us, He will still be with us.
Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, “Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.” And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.”
II Kings 5:6-7 NKJV
In 1939, Poland found itself in a terrible position. Hitler wanted to invade and add its territory to the Third Reich. The only thing stopping Hitler was the rest of the world watching for provocative acts of war. To fix that problem, Hitler determined to make it look like his invasion of Poland was self-defense. He had German soldiers dress in Polish uniforms and German prisoners and enemies of the state dress in German uniforms. He then put them at the border and had the “Polish” soldiers attack the “Germans.” With this done, Hitler claimed invasion of Poland was self-defense, and Poland was quickly overrun and World War II officially started.
King Jehoram (II Kings 1:17) of Israel assumed such a ruse was in the mind of King Ben-Hadad when he received the letter requiring him to heal Naaman of an incurable disease. Jehoram interpreted the letter as a pretense for further raids and likely invasion by Syria, against which Jehoram had little or no chance of defending with his small army. So in response he tore his clothes and showed the terrible letter to his counselors.
It is likely that the letter had the secondary intention of exactly what Jehoram feared. Ben-Hadad was constantly warring with Israel and if Israel did not cure Naaman, Ben-Hadad could gain further public support for his war if such a ‘peaceful’ request went unfulfilled.
While we might think there was a lot to be afraid of in this letter, neither Jehoram nor Israel with him should have feared, for there was a prophet of God in Israel through whom the Lord had done many wonderful works. Jehoram was not ignorant of these but was rather a living witness. In fact, on two prior occasions (See I Kings 20 and Devotional 27 and 28) Ben-Hadad’s overwhelming armies had been defeated by very few soldiers of Israel. Jehoram was in the wilderness of Edom when God miraculously provided water and overthrew the army of Moab (II Kings 3). Jehoram was almost certainly with his father Ahab on the top of Mt. Carmel when God sent fire down from Heaven so all Israel would know that the Lord, He is God (I Kings 18:38-39). But Jehoram did evil in the sight of the Lord and did not believe, trust, or hope in the Lord who had worked so wonderfully in his lifetime. So Jehoram was very frightened by this letter and tore his clothes.
When the storms of life beat against you, do they prevail, leading you to fear? When the storm on the sea beat against the boats, Jesus asked His disciples, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith” (Mark 4:40)? With that question, Jesus was making at least two points: 1) Those who hope in the Lord have faith in Him through all circumstances of life and therefore should not be afraid though the earth may be moved; and 2) Those who do not trust in the Lord are always afraid of life’s trials because they are faithless and have no strength outside of themselves.
God has not left Christians to such a fate of being faithless and fearful. He has given us the gift of faith. He has shown us His mighty works over thousands of years. He has promised us that even if the worst comes upon us, He will still be with us. Jehoram had many things to fear because he had no faith in the Lord. The world today has the same fear because it has no faith. Let us set our hope, our trust, our faith upon the Lord who has done wonderful works and take confidence in Him in the hour our enemies seem to be prevailing over us. “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
Ben Stahl is an elder at Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga. This article is used with permission.