In A Sure Guide to Heaven, Joseph Alleine provides a powerful illustration of the parallel between Naaman’s cleansing from leprosy and God’s provision for our salvation. Just like Naaman, all religions want to do something significant to receive what we need – healing from our sin. Whether it’s walking on burning coals, fasting for long periods or repeating prayers daily, we want to earn our way to the reward we seek. God sees things differently. He knows we can’t do enough, so He did it for us. Here’s how Alleine describes it:
God has stooped as low to sinners as with honor He can. He will not be the author of sin, nor stain the glory of His holiness; and how could He come lower than He has, unless He should do this?
God does not impose anything unreasonable or impossible, as a condition of life, upon you. Two things were necessary to be done, according to the tenor of the first covenant. 1. That we should fully satisfy the demands of justice for past offenses. 2. That we should perform personally, perfectly, and perpetually, the whole law for the time to come. By our sins we render salvation through either of these ways impossible. But behold God’s gracious provision in both. He does not insist upon satisfaction: He is content to take of the Surety, and He of His own providing too, what He might have exacted from you. ‘All things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation: to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation’ (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). He declares Himself to have received a ransom, and that He expects nothing but that you should accept His Son, and He shall be righteousness and redemption to you. If you come in His Christ, and set your heart to please Him, making this your chief concern, He will graciously accept you.
O consider the condescension of your God! Let me say to you, as Naaman’s servant to him, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? How much rather when he said to you, Wash and be clean!’ If God demanded some terrible, some severe and rigorous thing of you, to escape eternal damnation, wouldn’t you have done it? Suppose it had been to spend all your days in sorrow in some howling wilderness, or pine with famine, would you not have thankfully accepted eternal redemption, though these had been the conditions? No, farther, if God had told you that you should burn in the fire for millions of ages, or be so long tormented in hell, would you not have accepted it? Alas, all these are not so much as one grain of sand in the glass of eternity. If your offended Creator should have held you but one year upon the rack, and then bid you come and forsake your sins, accept Christ, and serve him a few years in self-denial or lie in this case for ever and ever; do you think you should have hesitated at the offer, and disputed the terms, and have been unresolved whether to accept the proposal? O sinner, return and live; why should you die when life is to be had for the taking, when mercy entreats you to be saved? Could you say, ‘Lord, I knew You, that You were a hard man’, even then you would have no excuse; but when the God of Heaven has stooped so low, and condescended so far, if still you stand-off, who shall plead for you?