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November 2011

This Earthen Vessel

There is a story in 2 Kings where a man named Naaman, a commander in the army of Aram, has leprosy and goes to Israel to be healed. He eventually ends up visiting the prophet Elisha who sends him word, through a servant, to wash himself seven times in Jordan and he would be healed. Eventually he did this and was healed. After being healed he told Elisha "I now know there is no God in all the world except in Israel."

God already had his hand on Naaman prior to this healing. This story starts out with this:

2 Kings 5:1
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

So we have a man who is not of the nation of Israel but who has the hand of the Lord on him and who has been victorious in battle because of the God of Israel.

After the healing, before returning to Aram, Naaman does something interesting.

2 Kings 5:15-18
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

 16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

 17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD. 18 But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this.”

Even though Naaman had God's hand on him in Aram he took earth from Israel back with him to make his burnt offerings and sacrifices on. My point here, within the context of what Naaman did, is this. My body is an earthen vessel and this earthen vessel is not American soil. It is not Canadian soil, or Mexican soil, or French soil, or Russian soil, etc. In my life I seek first the Kingdom of God and make my offerings and sacrifices on that earth, looking for a country and a city whose building and maker is God. I am in this world but I am not of this world.

As I have said in previous posts, this doesn't mean I can't vote or be a part of the community where I live. It doesn't mean I can't be in the military. If I were to travel around the world there would be no question that I am from America. But the earthen vessel I am in is not my own. It belongs to Jesus. I belong to Jesus. And when I worship him and make offerings and sacrifices I do it from his earth, not from any earth of this world.

Each of us, as Christians, should have in our lives the presence of another country. That presence is expressed in the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. That presence is expressed in our love for each other. That presence is expressed in how we minister Jesus to people who need redemption. We are the "diplomatic mission" from a kingdom that is not of this world. Or, as I said earlier, this earthen vessel is not American soil. It is Kingdom soil. I belong to Jesus.