Healing has a lot to do with common sense
By Kathleen McCann
MILTON KEYNES, England--We are a major part of a natural world designed to work as a harmonious whole and to heal itself. Healing has a lot to do with common sense and cause and effect. Let's take a look.
In Exodus 15:25-26 the Lord revealed to Israel that He is Yahweh-Rapha', the God-Healer. He gave the Israelites an ordinance in which He explained what is required for healing: to look to Him and the commandments and statutes He would give them.
"So he [Moses] cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, 'If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.'"
Clean water was the first essential to good health. The Lord's statutes also taught fundamental hygiene, what food to eat to be healthy and how to conduct relationships with one another.
Washing with water was of paramount importance (Leviticus 13:6; 14:9; 15:5; 16:4; 17:15); the Israelites were to cleanse their homes (Leviticus 14); they should build latrines outside the camp, disposing of refuse carefully (Deuteronomy 23:12-14); people should be quarantined when they were sick (Leviticus 13); they were to eat certain meats only (Leviticus 11).
Nowadays we accept so much understanding as common sense, but the Israelites, coming out of Egypt and surrounded by other nations, had to learn.
Following certain laws leads to certain benefits. Sickness and healing have a great deal to do with cause and effect. For example, "If you will wash your hands before dealing with food, these diseases will not come upon you."
God is practical
The Lord is practical. He created our bodies to avoid major illness if we take due care, but, if we become injured or sick, our bodies will heal themselves, given correct attention and treatment. In fact, God has made this blessing available to all of mankind.
In the 20th century we understood a lot about hygiene in our Western world, although nowadays we are in danger of becoming lax.
Also in the 20th century we separated mental from physical health.
In times past people had an appreciation that mind and body needed healing together; in other words, the whole person. As this became recognized again in modern times, it became known as "holistic healing."
In biblical times certain words illustrated how the Israelites and the early church saw healing. For example, in Hebrew:
o Rapha': to heal, cure, repair, restore health (basis of word for doctor).
o Marpe': healing, restoration of health, remedy, cure, tranquillity, deliverance, refreshing.
And in Greek:
o Therapeuo: to heal, cure, restore to health; originally related to the word for a domestic servant who attended to sick family members.
o Iaomai: to heal, make whole, free from errors and sins.
o Hugiaino: health, soundness in body.
Many interesting concepts come through here. Evidently the Israelites and the early church expected healing to involve actively attending to a sick person's needs, as well as repair, remedy, restoration of the whole person and deliverance from affliction, from errors and from sin.
The Bible gives examples of remedies used:
o 2 Kings 5:1-15: Naaman bathed in water.
o 2 Kings 20:1-11: Hezekiah used a poultice made from figs on a boil.
o Luke 10:34: The Samaritan poured oil and wine into the man's wounds and bound them up.
o John 9:1-12: Jesus rubbed clay onto a blind man's eyes and also told him to wash.
o 1 Timothy 5:23: Paul recommended a little wine for Timothy's infirmities.
The use of oil and wine is interesting. Wine has been known for thousands of years to be antiseptic and restorative. Many oils have been used from ancient times for their healing benefits.
Frequently when a person has an ailment, the symptoms may mask a deeper or more long-standing problem, hence the need for holistic healing and to have a problem correctly diagnosed, because it is hard for the person to understand his own problem without adequate knowledge and understanding.
The Greek word sozo is used to signify healing of the whole man. Luke 8 uses it in several incidents where the same word describes healing of various kinds.
o Luke 8:12: To be saved means being made "whole."
o Luke 8:36: Being healed from demon-possession in this case involved being made "whole."
o Luke 8:43-48: Not only was the woman healed of a blood flow, but her body was made "whole," suggesting other factors in her recovery.
o Luke 8:50: Raising Jairus's daughter from death involved becoming "whole."
Healing is an individual matter. God knows what the person needs most for life, health and happiness now and for salvation in the long term.
God knows what to deal with in each person; e.g., cause of illness, sin, pride, unwillingness to forgive others, obstinacy. Naaman, for example, looked for instant recognition and a cure, rather than to obey a simple instruction.
Holistic healing is not only about our physical complaints. The Hebrew and Greek words talk about deliverance and freedom from errors and sins.
The role of forgiveness
The issue of forgiveness features strongly in the Bible when it comes to healing. Jesus died so God could forgive our sins.
Isaiah prophesied (53:4-5): "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed."
The Hebrew words for "griefs" and "sorrows" specifically mean physical affliction, so the passage suggests that forgiveness of our transgressions is a factor in healing our sicknesses.
Sin has caused human suffering, and Christ paid the price. Did Jesus die also that we might learn to forgive each other's sins?
Psychology tells us that harboring anger, guilt, grief and bitterness may indirectly cause great physical suffering, as will disturbance in our relations with each other.
Go ahead, make me laugh
We could take another look at cause and effect here. Taking certain scriptures, we might paraphrase for effect. For example, "If you will be good-humoured when someone has offended you, you will avoid suffering from ulcers" (Proverbs 17:22).
"If you will be approachable when someone tries to apologise for a wrong, you will keep your friends and your peace of mind" (Matthew 18:15).
In the case of the paralyzed man who was let down to Jesus through the roof on a stretcher (Luke 5:17-26), evidently healing and forgiveness were closely allied. We are not told what his sins were, but simply (verse 23): "Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise up and walk'?"
It is true to say, of course, that not all sickness is caused directly by personal sin. Pollution of our planet, for example, accounts for much of our sickness.
But, as James 5:15 says, ". . . If he has committed sins, he will be forgiven."
Paul told us to examine ourselves before we come to the Passover, and he directly linked failure to do this to sickness and death in the congregation (1 Corinthians 11:30).
Judging by the context, it has to do with our relations with each other.
Faith and healing
Faith in Jesus Christ is an important element in healing for a Christian, as the Lord directed us to look to Him in Exodus 15:26.
However, healing is more than expecting miracle cures from Christ. When we have faith in Christ, it is in a God who created a self-healing world, but that self-healing is based on people observing certain statutes. Without those statutes we and our world become polluted and prone to illness.
We also have faith in Jesus Christ to preserve our life till healing takes effect and ultimately to heal when natural resources are beyond the reach of the illness.
Do we seek a climate of faith?
In a hostile environment Jesus could not function (Mark 6:5). Verses 2-3 suggest that the people of Nazareth were cynical about Jesus' power and wisdom. He could heal there, but His power was seriously limited. Cynicism will obviously interfere with any climate of faith.
Another factor helping to produce a climate of faith would be prayer for each other (James 5:14-16).
Jesus greatly desired to heal the sick. He healed often out of sheer compassion, regardless of cause or sin.
Similarly, we should not be judgmental of people who are sick. Healing can come in the way we behave towards each other, in a smile, in kindness, reassurance and compassion and in sharing laughter and tears (Romans 12:15).
The natural world
The Bible promises that in the Millennium God will heal the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2 reminds us of the importance of pure water and the natural world for healing:
"And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
God created the world as a complete environment of which we are a major part. Mankind has adulterated and damaged the ecosystem, which God designed to work as a harmonious whole, able to heal itself by regeneration.
It seems to me that as individuals and as a church we need to look closely at our own relationship to the natural world and each other when we seek healing.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God