The Syrian Leper

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 6
What do we see in Naaman? A man with all sorts of earthly good; captain of the hosts of the king of Syria-a great man with his master-honorable, too, because that by him the Lord had given victory and deliverance to Syria.
Was not his cup full? Had not he all that heart could wish? Was he not satisfied with all this profusion of earthly good? No, "he was a leper." There was that in his lot which spoiled all the rest. He had this, and that, and the other, but—ah! there was a "but" at the end of all, and such an one as to hinder him from enjoying anything he did possess. "But he was a leper."
What a poor, unsatisfactory portion is this world, where those "ifs" and "buts" have the power of spoiling all. So it must be where sin is, where the curse rests. The very ground is cursed for man's sin; and how can happiness be expected from anything which appertains to a creation lying under the curse. Naaman had almost everything to minister to his enjoyment, "but he was a leper."
There is deeper instruction for us here, however, than this. Leprosy, in scripture, is typical of sin. It is not only that the fruit of sin, some mishap or calamity, prevents your happiness; there is sin itself. Man is a sinner. And observe, it was not that Naaman had a spot here and a spot there; a boil in one part and a scab on another. He was a leper; that was his condition. The disease was inherent in his system, in his constitution. The physicians could not cure him; there was no human remedy for his disease. And such is our condition spiritually before God. Sin is not like a boil or a wound which may cause a little derangement for the time and then pass away. It is inherent in our nature, and cleaves to and infects and defiles our whole being. We are sinners by nature. Adam, when he had fallen, begat a son in his own likeness, and he again in his, and so it has continued to the present time. We are all by nature children of wrath.
What was the effect of leprosy? In Israel, where God dwelt, and where His presence in holy government constituted the basis of the whole social structure, leprosy (type of sin) excluded the person defiled by it from all the ordinances of the sanctuary, and from all fellowship with God's people. To come in contact with a leper was to be defiled. In consequence, the leper was excluded from among the habitations of his brethren. If it was in the wilderness, he was put outside the camp-if in the land, he was put outside the city; and so completely was all communication with him forbidden, that if any one chanced to approach, he had to proclaim his own shame and warn the other, by crying "Unclean, Unclean." And everything he touched, even to the garments he wore, the seat he sat upon, and the vessel he drank out of, was unclean. What a picture of man's condition as a sinner! Whatever the sinner may think of himself, he is in God's sight a loathsome mass of corruption, utterly unfit for His presence or for any place among His people. Would that we saw ourselves as God sees us! Then surely we should welcome the tidings of deliverance by His grace.