Last week, we began studying about divine healing. We learned that God never intended for sickness to exist. It came into being because of man’s sin. However God in His infinite mercy blessed us with healing through redemption.
So as a believer we have the right to receive healing. We saw this coming true in the lives of the Israelites when they were delivered from Egypt. Not one among them stumbled! It was a shadow of our rescue from the dominion of sin and Satan.
Today let us learn couple of other aspects of healing from the lives of the Israelites in their journey from Egypt.
SPIRITUAL HIGHS AND LOWS
Soon after they left Egypt, the Pharaoh and his army pursued them. God split the Red Sea into two and made the Israelites walk across to the other shore. But the Pharaoh and his army drowned in the water. The Israelites were amazed at this great miracle. They sang songs and began praising God. They were on a spiritual high.
Soon after that, Exodus 15:22 says, ‘Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water’. Now it might be possible to live without food for a couple of days but it’s very hard to survive without water. Tired and thirsty, the Israelites continued their journey until they came across a place called Marah which had a stream of water. Excitedly, they ran to drink the water. But to their shock, the water was bitter. At this point, they spat out the water and grumbled to Moses.
Now the water was bitter, but more importantly there must have been something wrong with the water that made it bitter. This is because when we are really thirsty and have gone without water for many days then we wouldn’t really care much about the taste. We just want that precious liquid to wet our dry throats. But here it mattered that it was bitter not just because of the taste, but because something was wrong with it – it was probably poisonous and therefore, they could not drink it.
So they grumbled to Moses, he cried out to the Lord. Notice the difference. Grumbling shows unbelief, but crying out to God shows hope and faith in the Lord.
God then showed Moses a log or a tree. Moses threw it into the water and the water became sweet. When God does something, He makes it sweet! He touches our bitter circumstances and heals them. No matter how difficult and impossible they are, God can heal our situations.
This incident does not only teach us about our changed circumstances but also about healing. Exodus 15:25 says that the Lord made them a statute and a rule.
A statute and a rule generally are meant to teach and to test us.
Now, let’s look at what the purposes of a test are. One purpose is to see whether we have learned our lesson properly. The other purpose is to ensure that we learn again if we haven’t really understood it. So God gave the Israelites a water test.
Now he had given them another water lesson at the Red Sea. He demonstrated to them His magnitude and awesomeness by splitting the sea into two. He showed that He was greater than even the great forces of nature!
After having learned this lesson the Israelites should have recognized that God is bigger than any water problems. If He could split the ocean waters into two, then He surely could give them drinking water. But they failed the test, miserably.
So God uses this opportunity to teach them another lesson. This was about healing of their bodies.
THE LESSON ON HEALING
Now we may think that the best way to teach about healing is to heal people. But the problem is that at this point there weren’t any sick Israelites. The Bible says that when they left Egypt they were all well.
So even though they weren’t sick, God decided to teach them about healing through this incident of turning the bitter water sweet. He wanted them to know that He would heal them as and when they required it in the future.
The Israelites represent us, the Church of God. God is telling us that after we come out of the dominion of sin and Satan, God can bless us with good health.
So God says that like He healed the water, He can heal our bodies. In Exodus 15:26, He says, ‘If you diligently listen to the voice of God and do what is right. Then I will not put diseases, I will be your healer. Give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes’. God promises them that if they listened and obeyed to Him then He would heal them.
OBEDIENCE AND HEALING
Interestingly, this connection between obedience and healing is recorded in other places too. Exodus 23:25 says, ‘You shall serve the Lord your God and he will bless your bread and water and take your sickness away from you’. Here we see the condition between blessing our food and healing of our diseases if we serve the Lord. Serving implies obeying everything that we are told to do. Again Deuteronomy 7:15 says, ‘And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you’.
We can’t live disobedient and rebellious lives and yet insist on being healed. That’s why Jesus always forgave the sins of the sick people that came to Him before healing them. God forgives the sinner, gives Him a clean record and then heals Him.
Moving on, let us now look at another layer of understanding this incident from the perspective of healing.
CROSS AND HEALING
The Bible says that God showed Moses the tree. The Hebrew word for ‘showed’ implies two meanings – ‘directing’ and ‘instructing’.
In the midst of all the grumbling and commotion, God directed Moses’ attention to the tree. He also gave him some kind of knowledge about the tree. Many people have over the years opined and speculated that the tree must have had some natural sweetening properties. Many have even scouted the wilderness looking for such a tree in vain. The thing is that even if there was a tree then do you think just one branch of it would have been sufficient for 20 lakhs of people? Not really. That is because this was a supernatural miracle. This was God’s chosen tree for that particular time.
Speaking of trees, the Bible talks about some other significant trees that God chooses. One is the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. The other is the tree of the Cross. It was not a neat piece of wood like we see in paintings. It was a wooden Cross from where hung the Savior of the world.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 says, ‘I do not want you to be unaware brothers that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. And all ate the same spiritual food. And all drank the same spiritual drink for they drank from the spiritual rock’. The Red Sea refers to baptism, the manna is the spiritual food, water is the spiritual drink, the rock is Christ and the tree is the Cross.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CROSS
Let us see what the significance of the Cross is. Moses brought the tree which was a symbol or shadow of the Cross, and applied it to the bitter circumstance there which was bitter water. Similarly, we need to apply the Cross to our bitter circumstances like sickness and disease. That is the significance. It’s like how we need to treat some stains on our clothes with a special detergent instead of just a general wash in the washing machine. Sometimes, it might mean that we need to scrub the stain hard. Similarly, we must take the Cross and apply its work into the sickness of our body until we are healed completely. We are healed by Christ’s stripes. The Word coming out of our mouth that speaks about our faith in the Cross has that kind of power. Or in other words, the finished work of the Cross guarantees healing.
WHAT BRINGS US HEALING – OUR OBEDIENCE OR THE CROSS?
Now, does obedience bring healing or applying the finished work of the Cross bring us healing?
First of all, the Bible says that we must keep all the commandments and statutes of God. Besides Jesus, there is nobody who has ever been 100% obedient to God.
We can’t be a 99.5% perfect and expect God to accept it. No. God wants our 100% obedience. At the same time, we can’t think that we can live disobediently and get away because of the Cross.
No, there is a connection between obedience and healing. Generally, where there is more obedience we will see more healing. Now that doesn’t guarantee that obedience causes healing. Just because there is a correlation between two things does not mean one causes the other.
For example – A study said that in some of the cold countries, it was discovered that there was a correlation between ice cream sales and drowning deaths. Did the ice creams cause the deaths? Just because both were on the rise, we cannot say that one caused the other. Just because there was a correlation, we cannot assume causation. The only common factor between these two incidences – the sales of ice creams and swimming, was that they happened during the summer season. That is the way we are supposed to understand obedience and healing. Yes, there is a correlation between the two. When obedience increases, healing increases. And when obedience decreases, healing decreases as well. But that’s not because obedience causes healing. It’s because both these things are caused by a greater cause – the Cross.
If a person truly believes in the Cross, they cannot be disobedient. Because it will prompt within us a hatred for sin and cause us to live for God and obey God more. At the same time, the Cross heals us of our sicknesses. The Cross is the focal point.
Now, let’s look at a final aspect of healing.
DO WE A HAVE A MEAN GOD?
Exodus 15:26 says, ‘I will put on you none of the diseases that I put on the Egyptians’. This verse may confuse us into thinking that God caused the Egyptians to fall sick. But we need to understand it in terms of the big picture. There was no sickness at Creation and there will be no sickness in the end. That means sickness is not a work of God. But when God pronounces judgement and as a holy and righteous judge, His wrath is poured out. That’s what happened to the Egyptians. Because of their cruel and idolatrous ways and hard hearts, God executed judgement on them. When God pronounces judgment, we usually see that sickness is a part of it. But that does not mean that God is bad. Do we look at a judge who has passed a harsh judgment on a criminal and call him bad? No. We know that the criminal deserved the punishment. Similarly, sickness is a part of a judgment of sins; sickness is not something that God gives.
Now God is reassuring the Israelites that they needn’t worry that He would deal with them in the way He dealt with the Egyptians. He proved it by declaring His name to them – the Healer. He was saying that they were His chosen children. He wouldn’t harm them at all. Healing is something that was part of His very essence.
For example – We all know Einstein. Did you know that he was pretty good at plumbing? But we don’t recognize him for his plumbing skills. We remember him as the genius! Similarly, one of God’s main attributes is healing. It’s part of His character, that’s who He is, that’s His main job.
We see numerous instances of it. God healed the Israelites who were bitten by snakes in the desert by lifting a bronze serpent. David says that God has forgiven all His sins and healed all His diseases. Jesus also healed every sick person that came to Him. So God is saying to the Israelites now that since He is a healing God, how He can even think of causing them to fall sick! Healing is in His nature just as justice and love are.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The point of a name is to be known by that. People think of God as the punisher or the destroyer. God doesn’t want to be known like that. He is the healer and He wants to be known like that. That’s what He does all the time – healing. Because healing is important to God’s name and reputation. Let us glorify God as our Healer.