You can read the stories of Namaan (2 Kings 5) and Haman (Esther) if you need a refresher on the names. What is plain is this: they were both enemies to God’s people.
Namaan was the head of the armies of Aram. It’s safe to say that he lead troops who detroyed Hebrew towns and villages. They raided settlements, killing men and taking women and children as slaves. He even had a little Hebrew slave girl in his house.
Haman was the 2nd in command to Ahasuerus, King of Persia who is also known as Artaxerxes II. After Mordecai, a Hebrew and uncle of Queen Esther, refuses to show him the kind of respect that he feels like he deserves (bow down anytime I walk by!), Haman decides that every Hebrew in all the known world should die. A bit of an overreaction, right?!
So, both men are powerful and respected. Both are highly positioned in gov’ts hostile to God’s people. AND YET…and yet, one man (Namaan) ends up being healed by God and placing his faith in the God of the Hebrews, while the other (Haman) is caught in the act as a conniving, evil murderer and consequently is either hanged or impaled 50 feet off the ground. Just FYI, most scholars believe that hanging is the more accurate translation!
So, when we see men or women who seem to be attacking the people of God, attacking God Himself therefore, how do we know we’re dealing with a Namaan and not a Haman. I believe that the answer is, “We don’t!” It was by God’s grace that Namaan’s servant girl, a girl whose family was probably killed in a raid lead by Namaan, was willing to say to her new master, “Namaan, there is a man in Israel, a prophet named Elisha who can heal you.” It was God’s grace that healed him when he dipped his leprous body into the Jordan river. And it was, more than ever, grace that caused Namaan to give his allegiance to the God of Israel despite having to help the king of Aram bow down to the idol Rimmon. What did Namaan do in all this to merit favor? Nothing.
And so when we see someone like Christopher Hitchens or Dawkins or Ehrman attacking the Church, the scriptures, or God himself, how do we know if God might not be on the verge of reaching into their stone dead hearts and calling them to be His adopted son(s)? Perhaps this will begin through a healing. I just read that Hitchens is dealing with cancer and it would be right to pray for him, or perhaps a donkey will have to speak to one of them, or maybe Jesus will visit one of them as they travel to Damascus or Denver or Detroit to attack God’s people.
I wanted to say one more thing. As I was hanging some laundry out, I was thinking about my 2 kids and how much I love them. I began to wonder what kind of a father I would be without God’s work in my life. I began to be so thankful that God has poured out his love in my heart for my kids. That what patience I do have for their imperfections (and granted, I am not the most patient) is a gift from Him. Without Him, what kind of Father would I be. For that matter, what kind of husband, brother, son, friend, student, employee, human would I be. If the Lord had not dipped me into the cleansing river of Jesus’ blood, who would I be. The answer is simple and resounding. I am Haman. I have attacked the people of God, God Himself, His Word, His ways. I have plotted against the truth. I have persuaded other to sin. I am Haman. AND YET…and yet, God’s grace came and cleaned me, converted me. Not because of anything I had ever done. I am Haman, but by the grace of God, I am now Namaan. Just a recovering leper.