We are going to start a new series titled divine healing. It is the healing of our bodies that comes from God. Many people have confusing questions regarding the will of God in the matter of healing. So we are going to deal with various aspects of this subject in a detailed manner.
THE REALITY OF ILLNESSES
Even though technology has advanced, we are still living in a world where sicknesses and illnesses are growing in leaps and bounds. If you have any doubt, just look around at the number of hospitals sprouting up every day! The medicines that were used to arrest infections and illnesses excellently only just a few years ago don’t work anymore. Viruses and bacteria have become immune to the medicines. Deadly diseases like cancer are flourishing across all levels of society.
Illnesses not only cause physical suffering but also emotional and financial losses. It affects our ability to work, earn income and afford medical care. Statistics say that the GDP of India is reduced by 6% due to preventable illnesses! That doesn’t even include the unpreventable illnesses.
The point of this whole thing is that due to all of the above reasons we are unable to fulfill God’s purposes for us. We are often stopped from reaching our potential because of weaknesses and ailments in our bodies.
DOES THE BIBLE HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT?
Today, we are going to start studying about what God says about this issue.
The Bible is very clear and specific about healing. We cannot ignore it or make light of it. We need to be humble enough to learn anew about what God’s Word says regarding our healing. In fact, it is just not about learning a few pieces of information, but it is so that we might live well and healthy.
THE BEGINNING AND THE END
Let us go all the way back to the beginning. Genesis 1 talks about the Creation. The Bible says that in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, light and day, plants, animals and birds, Sun, Moon and stars and finally, He created man. After each day of creation, God would admire His handwork and declare it to be good. Genesis 1:31 says, ‘And God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good’.
Nowhere in this account do we see God creating sickness. That is because sickness was a bad thing and not created by our good Lord.
Now that we have looked at the beginning, let us also consider the end. Is there sickness in the new heavens and the earth? Isaiah 33:24 says, ‘No inhabitant will say – I am sick, people who dwell there will be forgiven their inequity’. God is talking about the people who will live in Zion or the New Jerusalem or the New Earth. Again in Revelations 21:4, we read that, ‘he will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more. There shall be no mourning, nor crying, no pain anymore. For the former things have passed away’. Here the Bible talks about a time when there will be no more sickness or pain. People will be well and healthy.
However, some people these days talk about sickness as a good thing, as if God purposely strikes us with it. Well, God does not give us illnesses. His Word reveals the intent of His heart. Neither did He create it nor does He sustain it. In fact, the new heaven and earth reflects that God wants to completely wipe every sickness away and fill us with happiness and joy.
WHERE DID SICKNESS COME FROM?
Genesis 3:1 says, ‘Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the beast of the field that God had made’. The devil entered the Garden of Eden through the serpent. By the end of the chapter, we see pain entering the world. Genesis 3:16 says, ‘to the woman he said-I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing. In pain you shall bring forth children’. Therefore we can clearly see that sickness and pain came into the world not from God, but from Satan.
We see Jesus teaching the same thing in Luke 13. Jesus had gone to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and he saw a woman with a disabling spirit. For over 18 years, this poor woman had a bent back. Jesus could not stand her suffering, so he reached out and healed her. People all around were amazed and glorified God. But the synagogue ruler was very unhappy. He told the people that if they wanted healing they should come on the other days of the week and not on the Sabbath. So Jesus chastised him in verses 15-16 saying, ‘you hypocrites, if you had a donkey wouldn’t you untie the donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for 18 years be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day’. From Jesus response we can make out one fact – sickness and weakness came from Satan.
Further, in Acts 10:38, Peter who was Jesus’ constant companion during His earthly ministry remarked about Jesus saying, ‘how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him’. Peter says that Jesus did good things while on earth and that included healing all who were oppressed by the devil. The devil’s oppression is not only limited to possessing people with demonic spirits but also causing normal people be fall ill and become sick.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH IT?
The most unfortunate thing about it is that people have now become so complacent about it and sometimes even don’t seem to mind the devil causing them to be sick. For e.g- we all know that people with diabetes must be careful about their sugar intake. But some people don’t seem to care about it. They will eat food with sugar without any control and sometimes won’t even bother to take their medicines!
It is important for us to realize that sickness is not a random thing, it is the work of the devil and we need to fight it. If we knew that a robber was going to break into our house, wouldn’t we be alert and fight him off? Similarly, we need to resist the devil and hate him and his ploys. That might mean making changes in lifestyle and attitudes. We need to do whatever it takes to stand firm against the devil.
Besides resisting and hating the devil, the Bible also teaches us another thing when it comes to standing against the devil.
‘Jesus rebuked him saying – be silent and come out of him’.
‘he stood over her and rebuked the evil’
Look at the way Jesus deals with these two unwell people. Both the incidences occur one after another. He first heals a demon-possessed man and then visits Peter’s home and heals his sick mother-in-law. The Bible says that Jesus rebuked the devil in both the cases.
The word ‘rebuke’ is not just an ‘admonishment’ or a ‘command’. It is a strong and harsh term. Now we can understand why He would rebuke the demon in the possessed man. But note that Jesus addresses the simple fever that had afflicted Peter’s mother-in-law in the same manner.
This suggests to us that we need to have the perspective of Jesus when it comes to dealing with sickness. Instead of accommodating it in our lives, let us fight against it with the same hatred that Jesus had towards it.
DO WE HAVE A ROLE IN IT?
Now that we have established the devil’s role in our sickness, let us consider the other parties involved.
There’s a story of a little girl who got into a fight with her older sister. She was so mad at her sister that she slapped her and spat on her face. Their father pulled them apart, took the younger girl aside and asked her angrily – “did the devil make you do that?” The little girl said – “well, the devil made me slap her. But the spitting on the face was my idea”.
As funny as it sounds, it holds a lot of truth. Yes, the devil might be the instigator but we are also equally to blame. When we give into his tactics, we have only ourselves to blame. Genesis 3 shows the devil creeping in with his twisted idea. But Adam and Eve chose to believe it and sinned. Their act of eating the fruit was an act of rebellion and disobedience against God. It was this willful act of sin that caused God to punish them and thereby paving the way for sickness, pain and misery. So, essentially the devil and man’s sin are responsible for the suffering and illnesses in this world. God has nothing to do with it. Let’s stop blaming Him for our diseases.
HOW DOES GOD HELP?
But God being awesome and merciful does not leave us to our devices until the end. He provides a way for us to receive healing now. It is the plan of salvation or redemption. It is available to every believer. At salvation, God not only forgave our sins but also heals our diseases.
Let us look at one such incident that the Bible talks about.
Exodus 12 talks about the redemption of Israelites from years of slavery. Their deliverance from Egypt is a fore shadow of our deliverance from sin and Satan. This is the first place where the Bible talks about healing as part of redemption.
God gives the Israelites specific instructions about how to kill and eat the Passover lamb. He also instructs that they sprinkle their doorposts and lintels with blood. That blood was to protect them from the angel of death entering and killing their first-born. It was to be a fore shadow of the blood of Jesus that forgave us and purified us from our sins.
Further, Exodus 12:8 says, ‘they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted on the fire’. Then it says that the meat must be eaten with ‘unleavened bread and bitter herbs’. Also, it must not be eaten ‘raw or boiled but eat the whole thing roasted head, leg, inner parts, eat it completely don’t waste anything. If anything gets wasted in the morning burn it off’. Verse 11 goes on to describe the manner in which the meal had to be eaten. The people needed to be dressed and ready to travel.
The Bible says in verse 28, ‘Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did’. They followed the instructions closely and that night they were delivered. However, their cruel taskmasters, the Egyptians suffered terribly that night. All their first-born children died. This miracle caused the Egyptians to let go off the Israelites the very next day.
HEALING AND THE PASSOVER
Psalm 105 describes the Israelites deliverance from Egypt. Verse 36 and 27 says, ‘He struck down the firstborn in their land,
The first fruits of all their strength. Then He brought out Israel with silver and gold. There was none among his tribes who stumbled’. Another translation says that not one of them was weak. Think about it!
Imagine a crowd of people, or take, for example, a church. Usually we will find at least some people with some weaknesses or illnesses. Right? Well, here we are talking about a group of people that numbered around 600,000 men alone. If we added women and children to the lot, there would be at least around 8 lakhs people. And it was not even that these people had had a comfortable life till then. If anything, it was the epitome of absolute misery. They were enslaved and treated ruthlessly. They were beaten, whipped and made to work like crazy. In fact, in the days leading up to this point, the Bible says that Pharaoh was enraged that Moses wanted to take the people from Egypt, so he had made their already hard lives even harder. The leaders and the common people were all beaten and tortured, if they could not meet their supervisors’ expectations. In all likelihood, they were thrashed, bruised, sporting broken bones and suffering from heat stroke. It would be only natural to assume that there must have been a lot of maimed and sick people. But the Bible says that when they walked out of Egypt, there was not a single one among them who was unwell. How did that miracle happen?
The answer is in their Passover meal. When they obeyed God’s instruction about the Passover meal and ate it, God cured their bodies. It was also a demonstration of the Passover Lamb (Jesus Christ) that would be slain for mankind many centuries later. Jesus’ broken body and shed blood forgives us of our sins and provides healing for our bodies.
Now going back to the story of the Israelite’s. Exodus 12:11 says, ‘in this manner you shall eat it. With your belt fastened, sandals on your feet, take a staff in your hand and eat it in haste’. There is a sense of urgency in this verse. It gives no room for reclining at the table and eating. God was telling them that they needed to be ready to travel. There was no time to relax. It certainly must have been jolting news to most of them. For about 430 years, they hadn’t gone anywhere. Egypt was their only home! And now God was telling them to leave.
So they obeyed in faith. They believed that the impossible was going to happen, that they were going to be freed from the oppression of Egypt and that it would happen by the power of God. They also believed that the meat of the lamb would give them strength for the journey. The sick and weak also believed and ate the meal. As a result they were healed. They were able to leave the country without stumbling. They were even blessed with silver and gold when they left. In their redemption from Egypt, they had both health and wealth.
So, when we come back to the Cross and look at what Jesus has done for us, put our faith in that and meditate on it, God will bring about our healing and redemption.