Yahweh's Provision for Healing
Sabbath School: Saturday 31 May 2003
I have to honesty confess to feeling a certain amount of trepidation when I am called upon to preach on a subject that I don't consider myself an authority on. Such is how I feel when it concerns the subject of divine healing. And though I believe I have a sound biblical understanding of the doctrine on this subject, the gift of healing has never been one of those gifts that I have possessed to date. And indeed as most of you know, I am myself not well physically. When it comes to spiritual healing I feel rather different for this is an area I feel competent in and about which I shall be talking a lot next week. As far as physical healing is concerned, though, I must defer to other ministers who are better acquainted with it and who have been party to great and wonderful miracles. I often quote them.
One thing that scripture makes plain is that you can't really separate physical healing from spiritual healing. The word 'health' translates some very interesting Hebrew words such as 'arûka which literally means 'new flesh that grows on a wounded spot'. The same word is used in a figurative sense of the healing and restoration of Israel (Is.58:8; Jer.8:22; 30:17; 33:6). Health is reiteration to that perfect state that Yahweh has ordained for mankind.
Another word is marpé or rip'ût meaning 'to sew together' or 'to mend' and is often linked in Proverbs to the good health that results when we speak good, pure and uplifting words. (12:18; 13:17; 16:24). And it's true pleasant words that soothe and heal, but sharp words - cynical words, harsh words - that wound and are detrimental to our well-being. Jeremiah uses the word to refer to the blessedness that comes when a nation repents from its sin which makes it sick (Jer.8:15).
Two other Hebrew words complete the picture of health. The third is y'shu'a (Ps.42:6,11; 43:5) and literally means 'health of my face' which is a periphrasis (round about way of saying) 'my help', 'my deliverer, or 'my saviour'. Yes, you've guessed - this is the Name of the Son of God - Yah'shua or Yeshua (Jesus)! The salvation of Christ is therefore directly tied to health. To be saved is to be spiritual healthy.
The fourth word which may surprise you is shalom which translates as 'peace', 'completeness' or 'wholeness' which if you think about it is another way of saying 'health'.
Taking these five words together we gain a scriptural understanding of what is meant in the total sense by the word 'health': to be 'healthy' means the 'renewal', 'healing', 'mending', 'salvation', 'peace', 'completeness', and 'wholeness' that comes about as the result of repentance from sin and turning to the Deliverer, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
There are a couple of other words worth mentioning which are the Greek renditions of Hebrew and Aramaic words in the New Testament. The first is 'soteria' which means 'bodily health', 'well-being' or 'safety', which is the Greek rendition of y'shua'a meaning 'salvation'.
The second is hygianó which means 'to be healthy' (3 Jn.2) which is also used by Paul in a metaphorical sense to mean 'sound doctrine' (2 Tim.1:13; 4:3; Tit.1:9; 2:1). At a time in Christendom when sound doctrine is ignored for the sake of an illusory unity, we need to remind ourselves that the Messianic Community (Church) needs true doctrine to be healthy. We are therefore under a strict mandate to teach the true doctrine of Torah uncompromisingly for the sake of our spiritual health.
One of the greatest blessings or mortality is to have good physical health. Those who are well often have no idea how debilitating physically and psychologically bad health is, especially if it is protracted. Some people tragically suffer from poor health all their lives and those who have only ever known good health not infrequently find it difficult to empathise with them. I know that for myself some of the most anguished questions I have ever asked Yahweh have been over health and I am sure that is true of nearly everyone, including believers. "Why - why do we get ill??" is the impassioned prayer of those suffering. We feel desperate in ourselves and for our loved ones when we see them suffering and apparently often without any meaning. Health is without a doubt a subject that really engages people. We are surrounded by it all our lives so it is natural to ask searching questions.
The problem with this subject is that there are no simple answers. Not only that, but illness is as much an individual thing as it is a collective social one. Suffering and disease are always connected to evil in the Bible in some way. Suffering is a human experience, obviously considered necessary by Yahweh that we experience it either in ourselves or in others, otherwise He would not permit us to. It is a universal human experience, moreover, with diverse causes, and is one of the results of human sin. We've mentioned a number of words in Hebrew for health that connect to attitudes and connections to salvation and this is something we must not lose sight of. From the account of the Fall of man in Genesis, it is clear that soon afterwards man began to know insecurity, fear, and pain (Gen.4:13) all of which are well known contributors to disease. The Hebrew word 'issabôn means 'sorrow' or 'pain' that clearly in the beginning stemmed not from physical illness but psychological stress caused by mental anguish (Gen.4:13). We know medically that stress and anguish have a negative affect on our immune system which renders us susceptible to invasion by microbes such as bacteria and viruses. Mental health must surely then be the first place we should look in understanding the root of illness. We have seen the Greek word hygianô from which we get our English word 'hygiene' and we have seen how Paul connects it to 'sound doctrine'.
There is an interesting account in the Gospels that illustrates this well, I feel.
"And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Yah'shua (Jesus), he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with You, Yah'shua (Jesus), Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!" For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Yah'shua (Jesus) asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. And they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Yah'shua (Jesus), and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Yah'shua (Jesus), clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid" (Luke 8:26-36, NKJV).
Next week we will be talking more about this but it is important to introduce here. Notice that the result of the healing of this demonised man was that he came in possession of "his right mind". He was thinking properly and therefore acting normally. When a person is demonised they are not thinking correctly and believe many untruths about themselves, about others, about Satan and about God. What was it that caused the Fall of man? People say Eve eating the forbidden fruit but that is not strictly correct. It was the second of two actions that led to the Fall. What led to the Fall of Adam and Eve, and of the whole of mankind, was first of all that Eve believed a LIE - she believed Satan's word instead of Yahweh's Word.
Now this is absolutely critical to a proper understanding of both mental health and, ultimately, physical health. The source of all ill-health is UNTRUTH which is why Yah'shua (Jesus) said the following:
"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32, NKJV).
That is why works do not save a person. We can mechanically do something like a slave or a robot and cease being human. What saves is the truth which in turn leads us to do good and pleasing works of righteousness. Eve believed Satan's lie and her 'bad work' was eating the forbidden fruit which led to her Fall. She would not have eaten if she had not believed Satan, would she? Why should she? Cause and action are related. Sinful thoughts lead to sinful actions. Pure thoughts lead to Yahweh-pleasing actions ... to Torah actions. Right thinking leads to right behaviour. How do we know it is right behaviour? Because the Torah will reveal if it is or not. If a man continues murdering, his action reveals that he still believes a lie and is not saved. A person who is saved - who is in 'right health' - ceases to wilfully sin and yields himself to obedience - not slavish obedience, but obedience flowing out of truth and thus love.
Notice also that for sound health Yah'shua says that "if you abide - live - in my Word, you are My disciples indeed ... and the truth shall make you free". It's not just a question of believing once and assuming that's enough - you must continue abiding in that truth. You must reject every and any lie that comes your way, and the only way you will know whether it is a truth or a lie is what the Bible says. If you are doing something that is contrary to what Yahweh's commandments say, what does that tell you? It tells you that you are believing in a lie and are not in a right mind. You are unhealthy - diseased - poisoned by untruth.
Lies always conflict with reality. When we chose to believe a lie instead of reality, we have chosen to reject reality. When we do that, we will invariably come into contact with people who have not rejected reality and that at once sets up tensions and conflicts. To protect the lie we resort to words which become aggressive weapons instead of instruments of peace and health. The result is to solidify the lie and deny reality even more. Taken to an extreme it results in madness. To believe a lie is to be slightly mad. It means to live an illusion or a fantasy. And that in turn can lead to ill health.
When Job rebuked his 'comforters' as "physicians (doctors) of no value" (Job 13:4) it was because these men were not seeking the truth of Yahweh. They had prejudged him and accused him of being a sinner because he was ill and had suffered misfortune. In this instance his illness was not the result of sin but a test for him, his wife, and his friends. Yahweh used illness inflicted by Satan to ultimately bless everyone with a right mind. Job knew he had not broken the commandments but his affliction caused him to doubt but never to the point of cursing God. Horrible though his experience was, its result was redemptive. His friends learned a lesson - not to prejudge illness. And neither should we. Sometimes the Ruach (Spirit) reveals the cause, sometimes She does not. Either way, we are faced with a challenge: do we continue to abide in the truth or reject it? Many people turn away from Yahweh when tragedy strikes - their faith is sorely tested, as Job's was. And when they do, they start believing lies. And when you believe lies, what happens? It is an open door to Satan and his demons.
It is interesting and significant that the rôles of physician and priest were always combined as echad or one in the Hebrew faith. Priests were doctors, and doctors were priests. In the New Covenant, where everyone - men and women alike - are a Royal Priesthood in the making, this gives added meaning to our calling to get to the roots of sickness by first of all considering our spiritual health. This is by no means a call to stop seeing your doctor - for one thing, not all illness is the result of spiritual problems. If you fall and break a leg that is a purely physical thing. If you overwork and burn yourself out, that is a physical thing. But it is to say that the more we as New Covenant Christians tune into the truth and into spiritual matters, we will have less need for physicians because our health will improve. Diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and demons will diminish. And the sign of this will be right-mindedness as evidenced by the fact that we are walking in Torah and in faith, not compulsion.
Sickness sometimes is given to test us, as we have seen. Sometimes it is to keep us humble, something Paul discovered for himself. Sometimes it is to reveal the glory of Yahweh in divine healing miracles. Sometimes it is to elicit compassion in us - to prompt us to start caring more for others than ourselves.
The story of the Good Samaritan (Lk.10:20-27) clearly teaches this by reminding us that everyone is our neighbour. It presents an ideal of care which has always inspired the medical profession, and typifies selflessness and aftercare. And finally, there is what the Jews call 'the medicine of the family' or the ideal of marriage which is so necessary for our spiritual, mental and emotional health. The instructions given to members of families in Ephesians, if obeyed, are an excellent preventative psychiatry. Let's read that:
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord [Yah'shua]. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the messianic community (Church); and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the Messianic Community (Church) is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious community (church), not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord [Yah'shua/Jesus] does the Messianic Community (Church). For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Messianic Community (Church). Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord [Yah'shua], for this is right. "Honour your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord [Yah'shua]" (Eph 5:22-6:4, NKJV).
It is my personal belief that so much ill-health is the result of wrong relationships in families. Wives do not obey their husbands, and husbands do not sacrificially love their wives. Parents won't let go of their children when the time to marry comes and try to hold them under mental and emotional control. The key to good health must surely be right relationship with Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus) and right relationship with each other. And the way we learn to have right relationships with each other is unquestionably in the home. The home prepares us for the wider world so that we can be Good Samaritans and treat everyone as our neighbour and worthy of our care. If everyone would do this - caring for everyone in their immediate environment instead of retreating within themselves and defending their own little mental plot of ground - disease would become a thing of the past. Notice the promise that attaches to honouring your parents - "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth".
People often complain to me that the healing gifts of the first apostles aren't around as they were then. Yes, we hear of incidents, but not often. And the reason that this power has been withheld is because it is useless to the eternal soul of a man or woman unless it is rooted in truth. When Yahweh heals, He forgives sin too. Remember that. But when man heals, or demons heal (as they can), there is no forgiveness of sin. There are therefore counterfeit healing miracles taking place in the world amongst both those claiming Christ as well as those who do not. Supernatural healing isn't necessarily from Yahweh. Remember that. Physical healing without healing the mind and spirit is useless healing, because instead of being rooted in truth it is rooted in a lie. And lies kill.
The truth is liberating and healing which is why today I stress mental health. Lies create tensions and friction between people who try to force their distorted view of reality on others. And tension leads to pain and illness. If the truth abides in us, we need not live in a state of daily anxiety for we will have found shalom health in the Messiah (Christ).
Next week we shall be looking at this very important subject in considerably more depth. May Yahweh at least inspire you to make a commitment to find the truth, no matter what the cost, and so lift from you the burdens of stress and anxiety that always come from believing in lies. Amen.
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