Having looked at the missional call/creation, role and shape of God’s people we turned this week to mission in the Prophets (that is, the former prophets of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, and the latter prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so on).
We focused on Isaiah as a case study of the ways in which the nations function in the prophets. But today I want to concentrate on our exploration of the historical books. Although these books are mostly about the failure of God’s people to live up to their missional calling as set out in the Torah, there are still signs of hope. A few times, for example, we read about a Gentile embracing the covenant life before God (like Rahab in Josh. 2, or Ruth). For me the most exciting and poignant account is that of the healing and conversion of Naaman.
I’d like to write further about the story in 2 Kings 5:1-19a as it has immense missional significance. For now, though, I’ll say this: the anonymous slave girl in Naaman’s household is one of the great missionaries of the Old Testament. As we discussed her circumstances and her role in the story we were both inspired and humbled. Here was a young girl who had been captured by a foreign army, stolen from here land, and put to work as a servant in an alien household. Yet, despite all this, she remained faithful and showed extraordinary compassion to her suffering master.
Here we have a faithful believer in hard circumstances remaining faithful and being a blessing to the nations. We took some time to pray for those in similar situations to this unnamed girl, that God would give them the courage, protection and faith to persevere. And we prayed that he would use them in similarly extraordinary ways. Perhaps you could take a moment to pray these things too?
If you want to read more about the missional implications of the Naaman story have a look at chapter 3 of Walter Kaiser’s Mission in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000). By his own admission Kaiser gained many insights from a 1997 article by Walter Maier, which is available in its entirety online: The Healing of Naaman in Missiological Perspective