The God Who Heals
“I am Jehovah who heals you.” It was a remarkable statement. The Hebrew people had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt by the mighty hand of God. On the eastern side of the Red Sea, they wandered into the wilderness of Shur. There, they encountered the “bitter” waters of Marah. But, by a miracle, the waters were made “sweet” – a “healing,” so to speak. In that connection, the Lord gave the Hebrews a “test” ordinance.
“If you will diligently listen to the voice of Jehovah your God, and will do what is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commands, and keep all his statutes, I will put on you none of the diseases which I have put on the Egyptians: for l am Jehovah who heals you” (Ex. 15:26).
This did not imply, of course, that no Israelite would ever become ill – even if he kept the law of God perfectly (which was not anticipated). Death is the common lot of all men (Rom. 5:12), and disease is a preliminary companion to that terminal event. It is not the will of God that humanity live in this earthly environment of sin eternally. There is a better realm where such evils do not exist (Rev. 21:4; 22:1-5).
The Lord’s promise to Israel, therefore was an assurance of general well-being to those who seriously pursued his will. An old writer has noted that the Israelites, in general, enjoyed “a very good state of health” (Clarke, p. 378). Godliness can facilitate longevity (see Eph. 6:1-3).
In his remarkable book, None of These Diseases, Dr. S.I. McMillen has shown that even though Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22), the Hebrew health code was far in advance of that in Egypt. He concluded that the only explanation for this circumstance lies in the fact that the Pentateuch ultimately was given by God (pp. 11-24).
It goes without saying that a God who can create a man from the “dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7), also has the ability – if he so chooses – to heal.
But there are different types of healing. There is miraculous healing wherein God has operated directly — independent of nature’s laws. Then there are “ordinary” cures via the biological mechanisms of nature. In such cases the Lord has provided systems, intricately designed, to facilitate the healing of physical bodies. Let us briefly look at both of these phenomena.
There are numerous cases, in both biblical Testaments, of God’s supernatural healing power.
During the days of the prophet Elijah, a young lad was restored to life by the intervention of God’s prophet (1 Kgs. 17:17-24). A similar event occurred in the days of Elisha (2 Kgs. 4:8ff). Naaman was an officer in the Syrian army, but he was afflicted with leprosy. At the Lord’s bidding, however, he dipped himself seven times in the Jordan and was cured immediately (2 Kgs. 5:1ff).
There is even greater prominence given to healing in the New Testament. There are some twenty-six miracles associated with healing in the ministry of Jesus alone. The Lord could instantly cure blindness (Jn. 9:1ff), deafness (Mk. 7:31-37), hemorrhaging (Lk 8:43-48), a withered hand (Mt. 12:9-14), leprosy (Lk. 17:11-19), or an amputated ear (Lk. 22:49-51).
In addition, there are healing miracles scattered throughout the book of Acts (2:43; 3:7; 5:1-5,12-16, etc).
It is not the purpose of this article to develop an extensive argument for the validity of healing cases in the New Testament record. We simply note in passing:
- The healing incidents in the ministry of Christ are entirely credible due to the vast volume of evidence that demonstrates the divine essence of these documents.
- Even the enemies of Jesus conceded his healing power (cf. Mt. 12:22-24).
- The supernatural cures effected by the Savior were never characterized by bizarre circumstances, as with counterfeit “healings” — in both ancient and modern times.
- The healings performed by Jesus were never associated with monetary enrichment, as are Pentecostal cases today.
Though many have been led to believe otherwise (and in vain, we must add), to miraculous healing is not being performed in this age. While claims of such are made profusely, nothing today rivals the sort of healings which the Son of God accomplished in the first century. I have attended the “healing” services of various Pentecostal groups many times over the years. I have observed scores of folks go through prayer lines with mangled bodies. Not once have I ever seen what even remotely could he characterized as a “miracle.” I have seen hundreds “claim” healing when there was no observable malady. Modern healers are pathetically impotent!
Supernatural healing – which was designed to confirm revelation (Mk. 16:17ff; Heb. 2:2-4) – ceased by the end of the apostolic age, when the New Testament documents were finished (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-10). It is vain to look for healing miracles today.
Healing by Design
Just because we deny that supernatural healings are being experienced in this age, that does not mean we do not praise our Creator for the incredible healing mechanisms that are featured in the human body. Moreover, we are confident, in the providential scheme of things, that the Lord can work through means to facilitate well-being, though, as suggested earlier, it is not his intention that we remain eternally mortal.
Just for a moment, imagine the following conversation. A wife says to her husband, “Honey, the kitchen ceiling is leaking; would you repair it?” To which he replies: “Never mind, dear; it will fix itself” Yeah, right!
What would you think of a machine that was able, time-after-time, to “repair itself.” And yet that is precisely the circumstance that prevails in the human body.
A cut on your finger triggers one of the most baffling physiological processes known to modern medicine. The “healing” phenomenon, which takes place gradually in several well-defined stages, and which will even restore your fingerprint, is not understood fully even in our modern world of medical knowledge.
Physicians scratch their heads in attempting to find the words to describe it. In a book titled, ABC’s of the Human Body (published by the Reader’s Digest Association), the body’s healing ability is called “a miracle” (Guinness, p. 99) Similarly, Miller and Goode, two evolutionary science writers, describe one phase of the healing process as “miraculous,” an “astonishing performance” at which “scientists do not cease to marvel” (p. 43).
These authors are not using the term “miracle” in the biblical sense; they are simply grasping for jargon to conceal their ignorance of how this terribly complex process came to be. The late Dr. William S. Beck of Harvard, a prominent apologist for Darwinism, described the initial stage of the healing mechanism as “among the most complex and interesting self-regulating processes in physiology.” It was a phenomenon, he asserts, that “had to emerge in evolution if species were to survive” (p. 265). The baffling question is: How did species survive while this process was developing over those eons of evolutionary time?
Moreover, are we to believe that this intricate mechanism was forged blindly by “Mother Nature,” through a materialistic, evolutionary process – when the most brilliant minds of science today do not fathom how “healing” occurs? Incredible!
There are five phases in the healing process of a skin wound. Beck describes it as a “complex process requiring the coordinated functioning of many tissue elements and regulatory agencies” (p. 748). That statement literally screams, "Design! " – a term, in fact, incorporated into the title of Professor Beck’s textbook, Human Design. Of course, “where there is design, there must be a designer.” This is fundamental logic.
The first phase of healing is the coagulation of the blood. Blood is the life stream of
the body. Why does it flow easily throughout some 100,000 miles of “pipeline” within the body, only to mysteriously solidify (congeal) when a cut occurs? All of the elements for coagulation are present at any time, yet only under the most precise of circumstances is the “clotting” contrivance triggered. Who designed this “timing” device?
The “clot” is a tough, solid meshwork of fibrin strands which entrap red blood cells. This is the first line of defense as the deeper healing process begins. Subsequently, “inflammation” is generated (redness and swelling). Capillaries permeate the area, facilitating plasma and white blood cells which are imported to fight infection. Collagen fibrils develop. A scab forms to protect the region as the wound begins to contract internally.
As healing continues there is a tenfold rapidity in the multiplication of cells. It is as if a computer program signals – “full speed ahead!” A regenerative function is inaugurated as epidermal and connective tissue are formed. Eventually the parameters of the cut are sutured together by a tight “scar.” Long after the wound appears to he “well,” there still is vigorous healing activity – beneath the surface.
To believe that this highly specialized operation developed “just by accident” defies the laws of critical thinking. It is the fantasy of fools.
Facilitating God’s Healing Process
This writer once engaged in a debate with a representative of the “Church of the Firstborn.” This cultish group repudiates the use of medicines and physicians. One member of the congregation in that community, very sincere but woefully deluded, had allowed his grievously ill baby to die, rather than consult a doctor. Curiously, the same gentleman had used a veterinarian when his milk cow became sick. [Is not a child “of more value” than an animal (cf. Mt. 10:31)?] Other groups are misguided also; “Christian Scientists” refuse medical treatment, and “Jehovah’s Witnesses” prohibit blood transfusions.
Scripture does not sanction this ideology. Medicines are alluded to in the Bible on numerous occasions (cf. Pr. 3:8; 17:22; Isa. 1:5-6; 3:7; Jer. 30:13; 46:11; Ez. 47:12). In addition, Jesus suggested that those who are in health do not need a physician, but those who are ill do (Lk. 5:31). Too, Paul referred to Luke as “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14), a descriptive that would not have been employed if the use of doctors is evil.
Since it is obvious that God has designed the human body with a capacity for healing (to some degree), we would do well to use common sense in working with nature’s laws to accommodate the mending process. We can do this in several ways.
- We can eat nutritious foods and get exercise.
- We can try to get adequate rest (see Sleep: An Evidence of Divine Design).
- We can seek to avoid stress.
- We can pursue the joys of serving God and others.
Finally, as we emphasized earlier, we must have a realistic view of life. Neither good health practices, physicians and medicines, or faith, prayer, and godly living are going to bestow eternal physical-longevity The main point is: Trust God and faithfully serve him – no matter what.
Scripture references: Exodus 15:26; Romans 5:12; Revelation 21:4, 22:1-5; Ephesians 6:1-3; Acts 7:22; Genesis 2:7; 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:8; 2 Kings 5:1; John 9:1; Mark 7:31-37; Luke 8:43-48; Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 17:11-19; Luke 22:49-51; Matthew 12:22-24; Mark 16:17; Hebrews 2:2-4; Matthew 10:31; Proverbs 3:8, 17:22; Isaiah 1:5-6, 3:7; Jeremiah 30:13, 46:11; Luke 5:31; Colossians 4:14
- Beck, William S. (1971), Human Design (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich).
Clarke, Adam (n.d.), Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon), Vol. I.
Guinness, A.E., ed (1987), ABC’s of the Human Body (Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Assoc.).
McMillen, S.I. (1963), None of These Diseases (Westwood, NJ: Revell).
Miller, Benjamin and Goode, Ruth (1960), Man And His Body (New York: Simon & Schuster).