Researchers have settled that pressing question we have all been asking: “How many licks does it take to get to the middle of a Tootsie Pop (or Tootsie Roll Pop)?” Doctoral students at NYU determined it takes about 2,500 licks, as revealed in an article in the Journal of Fluid Dynamics, “Shape dynamics and scaling laws for a body dissolving in fluid flow” (World, March 7, 2015, p. 23). I don’t know how they did their research, but it was probably more fun for the lickers than for the lick counters!

I suspect everyone was counting when Naaman went down into the Jordan. His story is found in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was a great man, captain of the host of the king of Syria, a mighty man of valor, “but he was a leper” (2 Kings 5:1). Learning that the prophet in Samaria could recover him of his leprosy, he got the king’s approval and took ten talents of silver and six thousand pieces of gold to buy his healing from the king of Israel. The king could do nothing, but Elisha had a simple, though seemingly ridiculous command: “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (10). 

 Seven is a number of perfection in scripture. Genesis tells us of a seven day creation. There are seven signs in the gospel of John, seven letters to churches in Revelation 2-3, seven trumpets, seven seals, seven beatitudes, etc. in Revelation. Israel marched around Jericho for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day. 

The issue for Naaman, though was not the number seven as such, but the necessity of doing exactly what he was told. Dipping seven times in the Abana or Pharpar of Damascus (12) would have better suited him, but it would not have been obedience to the command.

Naaman was angry at receiving such a ridiculous command, expecting Elisha to put on a big show of power, but his servants reasoned with him that he would have done some great thing if asked. “How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (13). Did it really make any difference how many times he washed in Jordan? Would it have been enough to wash five or six times? Of course not. “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (14). The Lord said,  “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). There is no other choice.

Peter commanded the multitude on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). How many were included in “every one of you”? We don’t know, but “they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). There must have been many who did not “gladly receive the word,” and did not obey. If Naaman had been there, he would have obeyed. How about you?