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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Gehazi's Greed Exposed and Judged
Text:2 Kings 5:15-27 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Justice
 
Preached:03/19/2017
Added:2017-03-28
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


 

 

Gehazi’s Greed Exposed and Judged”
2 Kings 5:15-27
 
In the first part of this chapter we read about the cleansing from leprosy that God graciously granted to Naaman. If we had a greater comprehension of the agony of a leper we would understand even more clearly how grateful Naaman was for his cleansing. He rejoiced in the cleansing, which is an Old Testament foreshadow of our cleansing from sin through faith in One far greater than Elisha. And it is because of that profound gratitude that Naaman had, having been cleansed in the Jordan River, that he hurried back to Elisha exclaiming, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant."
 
But Elisha answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing." And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
 
Elisha needed all the basic provisions you and I need. He needed his daily bread, a place to sleep, a place to contemplate the word of the Lord and to spend time in study and prayer. He needed a place to teach, as we have seen his faithfulness in teaching the company of prophets.
 
And we have also seen that when he left his employment on the family farm, he sacrificed a plentiful life for one that often involved scarcity and even famine. Furthermore, we read how thankful he was when a Shunammite woman and her husband made a small room for him on the roof of their house to give him a place to stay during his travels throughout Israel.
 
Having these financial needs, and knowing that Naaman was an extremely wealthy man, and now a believer in God through faith in the eternal Messiah yet to be born in human flesh, we might not be too surprised if Elisha had said, Well, thank you Naaman. The company of prophets do need daily provision, along with myself. And now that you are cleansed from leprosy and a believer in Almighty God you should know the principle of the tithe. Please do give a tenth of all that you have for service in the kingdom of the God who cleansed you.”
 
But Elisha refused any gift; he refused any type of payment. By doing so he taught an important truth to a new believer who in the past had undoubtedly based his hope, and his pleasures, on material wealth. And knowing that, Elisha wanted to make it clear that cleansing – salvation – cannot be bought.
 
If Elisha had accepted payment from Naaman it may have also given Naaman the idea that he had a part in the cleansing. Elisha wanted to impress on Naaman that cleansing is the free gift of God, given by his grace, and that it is a gift so great, so enormous, that no one could ever purchase it, not even with all the money in the world.
 
You may remember the account in Acts 8 of Simon the Sorcerer. He had practiced magic in  Samaria, making a lot of money from the people who were impressed with his magical skills. But when the apostles came to Samaria and began healing the sick, and doing mighty miracles, Simon realized that their spiritual gifts far surpassed his magical tricks. So he approached Peter and said, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
 
But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”
 
Simon the Sorcerer is hardly the only one who thought that they could buy the gift of God with money. There are many today who are willing to give substantial amounts of money to the church, believing that through their giving, God will receive them as payment for their generosity.
 
But salvation cannot be bought. Elisha realized that was an important truth for Naaman to know. He was a new believer, and a Gentile who would be returning to Damascus where there were no other believers to build him up in the faith; it was crucial for him to realize that God’s gift of cleansing – not just from leprosy, but from the sin which it represents  – is a free gift that cannot be bought.
 
But Elisa’s servant, Gehazi, saw that as a great mistake. In verse 19 and 20 we read: But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
 
The Root of All Kinds of Evil
 
As we see Gehazi running after Naaman, to get something from him, we are reminded that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. It is not money that is the root of all kinds of evil. 1 Timothy 6:10 is often misquoted as people say that money is the root of all kinds of evil. But money itself is necessary. As we have seen, Elisha certainly had need of money, just as you and I do. Money pays the mortgage or the rent, buys the daily bread, and pays the other expenses that are an inevitable part of life.
 
Because of that, money is a blessing from the Lord. But like every blessing from God, the evil one, and those who are evil, pervert the blessings from God. Love becomes lust. Daily bread becomes a yearning for a gluttonous feast. And money, a great blessing when used properly, becomes a terrible taskmaster that never gives peace to those who are enslaved by their love for money.
 
He who loves money, Ecclesiastes 5:10 points out, will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. And that is where we find Gehazi, unsatisfied with what he had because of his love for money. He was certainly provided for. Elisha knew that his servant had material needs. And just as Elijah had provided for Elisha in years past, so too now, we can be sure that Elisha provided for his servant Gehazi.
 
But whatever provision Gehazi received, it wasn’t enough in his eyes. He had covetous eyes, and having seen the amount of gold and silver, along with those 10 exquisite suits that Naaman had, Gehazi’s covetous mind went into action.
 
It has been pointed out the tenth commandment, commanding us not to covet, is often broken before any others. And as Gehazi coveted Naaman’s treasures we see how his covetous love for money, like all sin, caused a “chain reaction”. His coveting led to a lie. And perhaps you noticed it was quite an elaborate lie. In verse 22 he said to Naaman, “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’ ”
 
To come up with a story which most likely had no basis in fact, and to tell it so convincingly, leads us to believe that Gehazi had lied many times before. Often when we hear of someone who professes to be a Christian, who is caught in a heinous public sin, we express great surprise and shock. But with further reflection we realize that whatever heinous public sin was committed and discovered, had undoubtedly been going on for some time in secret.
 
As one commentator notes: “Gehazi’s ... hypocrisy speak(s) to considerable practice in the art of deceit. Such ready audacity, so great perfection in the arts of lying and concealment, are not attained at the first attempt. No man becomes a rogue quite suddenly. Elisha was probably no more deceived in the character of Gehazi than Jesus was in the character of Judas, who was secretly ‘a thief,’ and ‘had the bag, and bare what was put therein.’” (J. Orr)
 
As we see that one sin leads to another, we see that one lie, always begets another lie. After lying to Naaman, and receiving the goods, we hear Gehazi lie to Elisha. In verse 25 Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”
 
Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.
 
And as we hear Elisha’s response, we also see where the sin of coveting, deeply rooted in the heart and mind of Gehazi, was focused. It was focused on fancy clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, menservants and maidservants. That is what Elisha’s response is getting at when Elisha said to him in verse 25, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves?”
 
There is no such thing as committing one sin. One sin always leads to another. And perhaps you noticed, Gehazi took the Lord’s name in vain when he decided to go after what his heart coveted so fervently. He said, in verse 20, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” His act of bringing the Lord into the sin is reminiscent of Jacob’s infamous act of deceit, who when questioned by his father, Isaac, as to how he had gotten the game so quickly said, “The Lord your God gave me success.” (Genesis 27:20)
 
Uncovered Before God’s Sight
 
Not only do we see, in this tragic account, that one sin always leads to another, but we also see that there is no way to hide from the Lord. In verse 24 we read how when Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left. The hill was in a strategic spot. Undoubtedly Gehazi had taken note of how the hill blocked the view that Elisha would have of him, should Elisha be looking his way as he returned from getting the goods from Naaman.
 
In case you wonder why he had two servants with him carrying the silver is that one talent of silver was about seventy five pounds. And Naaman had shown extreme generosity, in giving Gehazi double what he had asked for. In verse 22 he had asked for a talent of silver – he had figured that seventy five pounds of silver would be a pretty nice haul. But Naaman had shown his generosity and had given him two talents of silver – one hundred fifty pounds.
 
But as he had these two servants carrying the one hundred fifty pounds of silver, along with the two exquisite suits, he knew that he had to stash them away before he came to the crest of the hill. He had it all figured out in his mind and heart. He had quite likely taken note of the hill as he pursued Naaman. Now he had cleverly used the hill to block the view of Elisha. He could stash the silver and the suits away undetected. And then what better way to look nonchalant, as though he had done nothing wrong, then to saunter into Elisha’s presence just as though he was at his service like any other day?
 
But God had revealed to Elisha the sins that Gehazi had committed with great cunning and deceit, for Hebrews 4:13 declares, Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
 
Can you imagine, how his heart must have sunk, as Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves?”
 
Gehazi was finding out the truth of what would be written later in Ecclesiastes 12:14: For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
 
Gehazi was finding out the truth of what would be written later, in Colossians 3:25: For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
 
He was finding out the truth that the Holy Spirit would inspire the Apostle Paul to write in Romans 2:16, concerning the Day of Judgment, on that Day ... God (will) judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. That final Day of Judgment is indeed coming. And when it comes you can be sure that God’s judgment will be just, just as it always has been.
 
God’s Just Judgment
 
Gehazi wanted what Naaman had. It is ironic that he had said to himself in verse 20, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” He got exactly what Naaman had. He got some silver and some nice clothes, but he also received Naaman’s leprosy, and it was leprosy that would affect his children and grandchildren for generations to come. Elisha pronounced this judgment on Gehazi: “Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and your descendants forever.”
 
It was a just punishment. And that is true for all the judgments of God upon sin. God often uses the sin that people commit to come back against them as their own judgment. For example in Matthew 7:2 Jesus says, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
 
Or consider the words of Jesus to Peter, when he used his sword to sever the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus said, in Matthew 26:52, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
 
We see that people’s sin comes back upon themselves as judgment in some of the classic surprises of Scripture. Consider that Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had made for Mordecai. Or consider the lesser known, but equally equitable example, of Adoni-bezek, one of the Canaanite kings. Whenever he would capture another king he would cut off their thumbs and their big toes. By removing their big toes he hampered their mobility. And by severing their thumbs he made it virtually impossible for them to grip a sword in retaliation. It was also an act of great humiliation for the seventy kings Adoni-bezek had captured.
 
But then his day came; he was captured. You can guess, if you’re not familiar with the account in Judges Chapter 1, what happened to him. They cut off his big toes and his thumbs and he acknowledged the justice of the punishment. In Judges 1:7 we read: Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and their big toes cut off used to gather up scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.” So they brought him to Jerusalem and he died there.
 
Do not be deceived, Galatians 6:7 warns: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
 
God’s judgments are always just, but they are not always immediate the way Gehazi’s judgment was immediate. There will be many surprises on judgment day. There will be many, like Gehazi, who seem to be righteous, working faithfully in the kingdom of God, but only as a cover-up for their sin, whether it be sins of lust or greed or sloth, or any number of other sins. There are many who use the ministry as a cover-up for their sin.
 
Their judgment will be severe. The Lord gave this warning through Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 34:2: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?”
 
Jeremiah adds, in Jeremiah 23:1, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD.
 
Some receive that woe in this life, as Gehazi did, and others will receive that judgment on the last day. 1 Timothy 5:24 points out, The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.
 
Repentance and Faith
 
As we see Gehazi leaving Elisha’s presence, leprous, as white as snow, the question could be asked, “Did he ever repent?”  Every sin ever conceived in the heart, pondered in the mind, put into action by the will – every sin, even premeditated, willful sins can be forgiven by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
 
God’s judgment on his own Son was thoroughly just, even though he who had no sin was made sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21). It was just because He took upon Himself the curse that you and I deserve in order to pay the penalty for our sin. God laid our sins on Him so that He could be, in the words of Romans 3:26, both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
 
Whoever believes in Jesus Christ, with a saving faith, no matter what is in their past, becomes white as snow, not with leprosy, but with the purity of the imputed righteousness of Christ. Old Testament believers were saved by grace through faith in the coming Messiah, just as you and I are saved by grace through faith in the Messiah – the eternal Christ, who came in human flesh to save his people from their sins.
 
I ask the question whether Gehazi may have been saved, because we will read about him again in 2 Kings 8. We will find him speaking to the king of Israel about the great deeds that God had done through his servant Elisha.
 
Had Gehazi learned from God’s judgment upon him? Had his heart been cut to the core? Had he repented with the true godly sorrow? Had he put his faith in the Messiah yet to be revealed? We don’t know, and we don’t need to know. God knows and God will, on the last day pronounce the right verdict, not only for Gehazi, but for you and for me.
 
On that Day may it be said of you and me that, by God’s grace through saving faith, we truly repented of all our sins, the secret, hidden ones as well as those that are obvious to others around us. May your faith and mine be truly placed in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, this evening and always. Amen.
 
 
- bulletin outline -
 
 
After Naaman had traveled some distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean,
by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”  (2 Kings 5:19-20)
 
“Gehazi’s Greed Exposed and Judged”
2 Kings 5:15-27
 
I.  Elisha’s refusal of Naaman’s payment (16) teaches us that salvation cannot be bought (Acts 8:20); it is freely given and it is a blessing to freely give the gospel
    to others (Matthew 10:8)
 
 
 
 
   
II. Gehazi’s greed reminds us:
     1) The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10) and, like all sin, causes a “chain reaction” as one sin leads to another (20, 22, 25)
 
 
 
    
 
      2) There is no way to hide from the Lord (24, 26; Hebrews 4:13); unrepented sins will be revealed (Numbers 32:23), if not in this life, in the life to come
          (1 Timothy 5:24)
 
 
 
 
 
      3) God’s judgment is always just and those who use the ministry as a cover-up for sin will be judged severely (27, Jeremiah 23:1; Ezekiel 34:2)
 
 
 
 
 
III. Application: The question is asked whether Gehazi repented and was saved (cf. 2 Kings 8:4-5). Scripture doesn’t tell us, but it does reassure us that your
     sins and mine, no matter how terrible they are, can be repented of and forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ (Luke 7:36-50)

 

 

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 03/1, Rev. Ted Gray

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