Here in Part 4 we continue with the excerpts taken from chapter 4, "A Study to Show that under the Old Covenant Sickness was Typically Considered to be Part of the Punishment/Penalty/Chastisement for Sin."
SOME OTHER PASSAGES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT WHICH REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT PHYSICAL HEALTH WAS A BLESSING THAT GOD INTENDED FOR ALL THE FAITHFUL IN ISRAEL
God called for all those under the old covenant to be faithful.
PSALM 103, Especially Verses 2-4, 12
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 WHO PARDONS ALL YOUR INIQUITIES [plural of awon];
WHO HEALS ALL YOUR DISEASES;
4 WHO REDEEMS YOUR LIFE FROM THE PIT [my emphasis];
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
12 AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST,
SO FAR HAS HE REMOVED OUR TRANSGRESSIONS [plural of pesha] FROM US [my emphasis].
Psalm 103:2. The rest of Psalm 103 lists some of "His benefits."
Psalm 103:3. Apparently the viewpoint here is that the "diseases" came because of "iniquities" (as a penalty for iniquity); when the iniquities were pardoned, healing could come forth. This is a common Old Testament viewpoint. (See, e.g., 1 Kings 8:27-53.) The Hebrew verb "salach" that is translated "pardons" in Psalm 103:3 is also used in 1 Kings 8:30, 34, 36, 39, and 50, and other verses. "Diseases" is a translation of the plural of "tachalu," which was derived from "chala," as were "choli" and "machalah."
Commenting on the second line of this verse, Leslie C. Allen ("Psalms 101-150," Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 21 [Word Books, 1983], p. 18) says: "The obviously synonymous parallelism is striking: healing is a tangible result of divine forgiveness (cf. Psalm 32:3-4; Mark 2:10-11).... For the direct link between sin and sickness cf. Psalm 107:17 (and 1 Cor. 11:30; Jas. 5:15-16)."
Psalm 103:4. "who redeems your life from the pit." First we think of a person coming back from the edge of premature death, but in the fullest sense we can think of a person being redeemed from sin, Satan, and death (both spiritual death and physical death) through the Lord Jesus Christ and being taken into the fulness of eternal life.
Psalm 103:12. This verse helps explain verses 3 and 4. God removes our transgressions WITH THE GUILT AND WITH THE PENALTIES. (Psalm 103:12 is discussed in chapter 1 of this book.)
What kind of people received the "benefits" spoken of in Psalm 103? Psalm 103:3, 8-14 show that they were not people walking in the full victory over sin. For one thing, they were still in spiritual death. They were people who basically looked to God in faith. They had a (reverent) fear of God (verses 11, 13, and 17), and they, in general, did keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them (verse 18). (Also see under Psalm 91 above [which was not included in these excerpts].)
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2 FOR LENGTH OF DAYS AND YEARS OF LIFE [my emphasis],
And peace they will add to you.
3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
8 IT WILL BE HEALING TO YOUR BODY,
AND REFRESHMENT TO YOUR BONES [my emphasis].
20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 FOR THEY ARE LIFE TO THOSE WHO FIND THEM,
AND HEALTH TO ALL THEIR WHOLE BODY [my emphasis].
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put devious lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead,
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet,
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
WHAT ABOUT THE TRIAL OF JOB?
I should comment on the trial of Job since it does not fit the old covenant pattern that I have been demonstrating. Also, I have heard some very wrong teaching dealing with the trial of Job.
WHEN DID JOB LIVE? I believe Job lived in the days before the Mosaic Law was given. ((I had an endnote here: See, for example, F. Delitzsch (Keil and Delitzsch "Commentary on the Old Testament," Vol. 4, pages 6-8); Meredith G. Kline ("Wycliffe Bible Commentary [Moody Press, 1962], pages 459, 460); W. E. Matheny ("Liberty Bible Commentary," Old Testament [Nelson, 1982], pages 925, 926); Roy B. Zuck ("Bible Knowledge Commentary," Old Testament [Victor Books, 1985], pages 716, 717.) )) I doubt that this trial could have taken place under the old covenant (which was established on the Mosaic Law).
THE VIEWPOINT PRESENTED IN THE BOOK OF JOB REGARDING THE CAUSE OF SICKNESS, ETC. Apart from the relatively brief (see below), very exceptional trial of Job, the book of Job strongly supports the idea that God blesses those who are faithful to Him, including the blessing of physical health. He protects them from sickness, etc. by His hedge about them (cf. Job 1:10). The trial of Job is presented as a brief, drastic exception to the rule.
Before this exceptional trial began, Job and his "three friends" (Job 2:11) would have agreed that this sickness, etc. could not have come upon Job apart from his (serious) sin. Throughout the book of Job, Job's "comforters" (until they were corrected by God, Job 42:7-9) kept telling him that his sin had to be the cause of his trial and that he must repent. However, in this very exceptional case, the cause of Job's sickness was not his sin - God Himself said so (cf. Job 1:1, 8, 20-22; 2:3; 42:7-9). Let's look at Job 2:3:
JOB 2:3. "And the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to ruin him without cause.' "
Note that God said there was no "cause" in Job to explain this trial; Job's sin was not the "cause" of this trial. This is not to say that Job was absolutely perfect or had lived totally above sin.
THE DURATION OF JOB'S TRIAL. When Job's trial began he was already a mature man; he was a respected leader in the community and had ten grown children. After the trial Job lived another 140 years (Job 42:16). We are not told the exact length of the trial, but it probably lasted a matter of months. Throughout most (almost all) of Job's long life, he lived under God's blessings, including the blessing of health.
WHY DID GOD ALLOW THIS TRIAL? We have enough information to answer this question to some extent. God was glorified by Job's life in general, and He was glorified by him in a special sense through this trial. Job talked too much during this trial, as God pointed out to him (Job 38:1-41:34), but he remained faithful to God and did not curse Him as Satan had insisted that he would (Job 1:11; 2:5). Satan was defeated through Job's trial, even as God was glorified.
As for Job, he glorified God and there will be eternal rewards. Furthermore, he came out of this trial knowing God on a much deeper and much more humble level (Job 42:1-6). After the trial, God restored to Job twice what he had before it began (Job 42:10-17). The fact that Job had seven more sons and three more daughters may seem to be an exception since he had seven sons and three daughters before the trial began. (All of them were killed in an accident, Job 1:2 5, 13-19). However, Job didn't really lose these first children. (I assume that they will have a place in God's eternal kingdom.) God may have allowed the first ten children to be taken while they were still basically ready to meet Him. If these children were feasting seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, they were on a path that could easily have resulted in a serious fall (cf. Job 1:4, 5).
((I had two paragraph endnote: Job 1:4, 5 say: "And his sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. (5) And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, 'Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' Thus did Job continually.
Job had seven sons and it is quite possible (even probable) that his children were feasting seven days a week (each week constituting a "cycle"), fifty-two weeks a year. Note that Job was concerned that his children might have sinned. If his children were just feasting seven days a year (like on the birthdays of each son), it is hard to imagine that Job would have waited for the completion of a yearly cycle before he "[offered] burnt offerings" in their behalf. (See, for example, C. Carter ("Wesleyan Bible Commentary," Vol. 2 [Peabody: Hendrickson, 1986 reprint], pages 26, 27; and F. Delitzsch in Vol. 4 of Keil and Delitzsch, pages 49-52.) ))
Job's "comforters" ended up wiser and more humble (Job 42:7-9). They had learned a lesson that all should learn: It is easy to judge someone to be in sin, and it is easy to be wrong too. It is very clear that God does not appreciate our wrong judgments (cf., e.g., Job 42:7-9; Matt. 7:1-5).
WHO LOWERED THE HEDGE? In my opinion, the book of Job makes it very clear that God lowered the hedge around Job and all that he had (Job 1:10-12; 2:3-6). Some teach that Job lowered the hedge through his fears and doubts. They typically refer to Job 3:25 in the KJV:
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me,
and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
Job 3:25 (with all of Job chapter 3) speaks of Job's frame of mind in the midst of his trial, not his frame of mind before it began. The book of Job does not bear witness to the idea that Job was fearing (anticipating) a trial. He would have considered this trial an impossibility. In the midst of the trial, he repeatedly claimed that he was being wronged by God. (As I mentioned, God pointed out to Job that he had talked too much.) We cannot use Job 3:25 to explain why this trial came upon Job. Notice the tense of the verbs in the NASB:
For what I fear comes upon me,
And what I dread befalls me.
I agree that the New Testament teaches that Christians are required to walk in faith and to resist fear, doubt, sin, and Satan. If we don't resist the enemy, it could be said (at least in one sense) that we are lowering the protective hedge about ourselves. It is not proper, however, to read this new covenant perspective back into the book of Job.
This is the end of the excerpts taken from chapter 4 of my book.
Now we'll go on to chapter 5, "A STUDY TO SHOW THAT HEALING AND HEALTH ARE INCLUDED IN THE NEW COVENANT ATONEMENT." I'll quote essentially everything I said in this 13 page chapter. For one thing, many evangelical Christians haven't put a priority on looking to God for healing and health. Some evangelicals totally deny that healing and health are included in the atonement at all, and some deny that God anoints ministers with gifts of healings, etc. in our day. This topic is not nearly as important as holiness and victory over sin, but it is important. God cares about every aspect of our lives, and He is glorified when people are healed. He is also glorified when His people look to Him in faith.
This study supplements that which has already been said on this topic in chapter 2 (under Isa. 53:4-6) and in chapter 4. We won't be able to fully cover this topic in this brief study, but we'll look at several key passages of Scripture and discuss some key issues.
I know many sincere Christians disagree, but I believe the Scriptures make it clear that physical, mental, and emotional healing (and health) are provided in the atonement. (This topic is important, but it is not important enough that it should cause Christians to separate from one another and divide the Body of Christ.) As we discussed in chapter 4, healing (and health) was even provided under the old covenant - the new covenant is a better covenant. Spiritual healing is much more important than physical healing, and we need the right priorities; however, I BELIEVE WE GIVE A VERY WRONG IMPRESSION OF GOD IF WE SAY THAT HE IS NOT DIRECTLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND EMOTIONAL NEEDS OF HIS PEOPLE. The more that people see what God is really like, the more He will be glorified.
The fulness of our salvation, which was purchased at Mount Calvary, cannot be fully appropriated during this age; however, it is important for us to understand, to receive, and to walk in all that God has made available for this age. It is not humility, nor does it glorify God, for His people to do without that which He has provided. We must also guard against pride and presumption.
This is an area where we Christians must be very careful about passing judgment on one another. Talk is cheap, but it can do a lot of damage. For example, we have no right to judge a Christian who happens to be sick. Typically we don't have enough information to make such judgments, and, in general, we have not been given the assignment to make such judgments. As a general rule, being healthy or being sick is not an indicator of spirituality. We must also be very careful about saying that some Christian's healing ministry, or healing, is not from God; but all things must be tested against the Word of God.
It is true that demon spirits and the occult are active in the area of "healing," and there are fakes and quacks, but we can't afford to back off from that which is the will of God because of these things. ((I had an endnote: Ross E. Price ("Isaiah," "Beacon Bible Commentary," Vol. 4 [Beacon Hill Press, 1966], p. 224) makes an interesting comment: "The doctrine of divine healing in both Testaments has been too often neglected by the churches, and left for the perversion of fanatics." The Christian church has often left a vacuum that has been filled by everything but the truth.)) Some Christians seem to think that Satan is the only one allowed to work miracles and do "healings" in this present age. Other Christians are so uninformed they don't know that demon spirits are active in this area. This lack of knowledge and discernment can have catastrophic results as Christians submit to clever demonic counterfeits for the gifts of God. Any "healing" or other "benefit" that comes through Satan's kingdom will never work for ultimate good; there will always be a price to pay.
We must use wisdom and carefully test every "ministry" and every "healing" against the Word of God, but certainly we can discern the difference between what is of God and what is of Satan. To think otherwise would, I believe, reflect on the plan and ability of God.
ISAIAH 53:4 WITH MATTHEW 8:17. The first two lines of Isa. 53:4 (which are discussed in chapter 2 of this book) are quite relevant to our topic, and all the more so since these words are loosely quoted in Matt. 8:17. Let's look at Matt. 8:14-17. ((I had an endnote: See D. A. Carson on these verses ("Expositor's Bible Commentary," Vol. 8 [Zondervan, 1984], pages 204-207).
Matthew 8:14-17. "And when Jesus had come to Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. (15) And He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him. (16) And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill (17) in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 'HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.' "
The apostle Matthew's use of Isa. 53:4 shows that he understood these prophetic words of Isaiah to teach (at least in part) that healing (including the casting out of demon spirits) would become available through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 8:14-17 show that this healing became available (to a considerable extent) in the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not just in the age to come.
It is true, of course, that the healings mentioned in Matt. 8:14-16 took place before the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ; however, these healings did (in a very real sense) flow out of His atoning death. I believe we can even say that the first stages of salvation (which the believers experienced who lived on the earth before the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ) flowed out of His atoning death. Before the fall of man, God the Father had already planned to send His Son to die for us that He might save us. This plan was always a major factor in God's dealings with His people. (Cf., e.g., Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah chapter 53; Rom. 3:25; 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:18-20; Rev. 13:8; 17:8.)
A FEW COMMENTS REGARDING THE EARTHLY MINISTRY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Although it was not His top priority, healing had a prominent place in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as He ministered on the earth before His crucifixion. (Proclaiming and teaching the Word and calling people to repent and believe were higher priorities. Otherwise there could have been no deep and lasting health.) To illustrate this point, each of the following passages in the book of Matthew speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ healing the multitudes: Matt. 4:23-25; 8:14-17; 9:35; 12:15; 14:13, 14, 34-36; 15:29-31; 19:1, 2; and 21:14. Many other passages in Matthew also deal with the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 8:2-13, 28-34; 9:2-8, 18-34; 10:1, 5-8; 12:9-13, 22-37; 13:58, cf. Mark 6:5, 6; Matt. 15:21-28; 17:14-18; 20:29-34).
It is very significant that the healings of the Lord Jesus Christ were not wrought just to bear witness to Himself (as the promised Messiah), though that much was true - HE MINISTERED TO THE SICK WITH COMPASSION (cf., e.g., Matt. 14:14; 20:34; Mark 1:40-42). I don't believe He has any less compassion today, and I don't believe God the Father has any less compassion than the Lord Jesus Christ. The earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was in perfect agreement with the will and plan of God the Father - He did the works of God the Father.
It is significant that the Lord Jesus Christ called healing good (Matt. 12:12; Mark 3:4, 5; Luke 6:9; John 10:32; cf. Luke 13:10-17; Acts 10:38, 39). As we discussed in chapter 2 of this book, healing and health were considered a blessing under the old covenant and sickness was considered part of the curse. If we aren't careful, we can lose sight of what is good and substantially misinterpret God's will (cf., e.g., Matt. 12:9-14; Luke 13:10-17; John 5:1-20; 9:1-41). ((I had an endnote: Can good come out of sickness? Many have repented because of sickness, others have humbled their hearts before God, and these are good things (very good things), and more could be said, but this doesn't make sickness good. Sickness is closely related to death; and death, which came because of sin, was considered defiling under the old covenant (cf., e.g., Num. 19:1-22) and is called "the last enemy" in 1 Cor. 15:26 (cf. Rev. 20:14).))
THE HEALING MINISTRY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WAS PASSED ON TO THE TWELVE, TO THE SEVENTY, AND TO THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
Matthew 10:1-15 deal with the sending out of the twelve. Matthew 10:1, 8 say: "And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. ... (8) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give."
Luke 10:1-20 deal with the sending out of the seventy. (Some manuscripts say seventy-two.) Luke 10:8, 9, 17-20 say: "And whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat what is set before you; (9) and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' ... (17) And the seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.' (18) And He said to them, 'I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. (19) Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. (20) Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.' "
On the day of Pentecost, the Lord Jesus Christ (having been crucified, resurrected, and taken up in glory) poured forth the promised Holy Spirit on His waiting disciples; in a very real sense, the Christian church was born. (Cf., e.g., Luke 24:49; John 7:37-39; Acts 1:4 9; 2:1-47; Rom. 8:1-17; 2 Cor. 3:1-18.) The Holy Spirit brought spiritual life (the new birth), sanctifying power, and the fruit of the Spirit for all that would become united with the Lord Jesus Christ through faith. He also brought the gifts of the Spirit for the benefit of the Christian church.
On the gifts of the Spirit see, for example, 1 Corinthians chapter 12. There are nine charismatic gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12:8-10. Many of these gifts relate to the topic of healing to some extent; especially relevant are the gifts of healings, the working of miracles, and the discerning of spirits. On the healing ministry that was passed on to the Christian church, also see Mark 16:17, 18; John 14:12; James 5:14-18; and much of the book of Acts.
In my opinion, there is not the slightest suggestion in the New Testament that the charismatic gifts were to be withdrawn from the Christian church this side of glory. ((I had a lengthy, two-paragraph endnote: God set the charismatic gifts in the Christian church (cf., e.g., 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14, especially 1 Cor. 12:28-30; Rom. 12:3-8; Eph. 4:7-16). It is undoubtedly true, however, that it was the plan of God to have a greater manifestation of the gifts in some generations than in others. We might have expected that there would be a greater manifestation of the gifts in the early days of the Christian church, and also at the end of this age as God prepares His people for the second coming of Christ and warns mankind of the impending day of judgment (cf., e.g., Acts 2:14-21; Rev. 11:3-12). It seems that we have already entered the closing years of this present age and have already begun to experience a special sovereign outpouring of God's gifts. I believe it is also true that a major cause for the great decrease of the charismatic gifts in the Christian church has been the widespread sin, worldliness, and lack of the knowledge of (and misinterpretation) the Word of God.
On the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit in the Christian church, see, for example, the following references: (1) J. Sidlow Baxter ("Divine Healing of the Body" [Zondervan, 1979]). In this book Dr. Baxter includes several testimonies of healing, including the healing of his wife and his own healing, and he includes the testimonies of four persons who were healed through the ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman. (In general, Dr. Baxter speaks with approval of Kathryn Kuhlman's ministry. To the extent that I was acquainted with her ministry, I was of the opinion that this was indeed a genuine and effective work of God, even if not perfect. I attended at least five of her meetings, heard and saw her quite a few times on radio and TV broadcasts, and read several of her books.) These testimonies, however, are not the most important part of this book. Part One, titled "Divine Healing Through the Centuries" (pages 11-105) is an important part of this book. (2) Stanley M. Burgess ("The Spirit and the Church: Antiquity" [Hendrickson, 1984]). Dr. Burgess covers the period from the end of the first century to the end of the fifth century in this book. (3) D. A. Carson ("Showing the Spirit" [Baker, 1987], pages 152-158, 165-169.) )) Even under the old covenant, they had the gifts of the Spirit (except for the gifts of tongues and the interpretation of tongues) working through God's ministers. The gifts of the Spirit will be done away with when we no longer need them, that is, when the perfect comes (1 Cor. 13:10). Let's look at 1 Cor. 13:8-13.
We will start with the study of 1 Cor. 13:8-13 in Part 5 of these excerpts.