Summary: An exploration of how and why God heals based on covenant relationship with his people
I once had a colleague who talked about how she had broken her ankle and asked God for healing and received it, instantaneously and miraculously. Another gentleman was diagnosed with cancer and genuinely believed God would heal him. Several months later I attended his funeral.
Healing is another one of those areas where there is a great deal of confusion, extremism and, sometimes, downright deception.
This morning we’re going to explore the issue of why and how God heals, and, if he heals, why he doesn’t always do it.
GIFTS OF HEALINGS and SIGNS AND WONDERS
Healing usually comes up in the context of the gifts, and we talk about the ’gift of healing’. But the Bible doesn’t actually mention a gift of healing. In 1Cor 12 Paul talks about gifts of healings – plural, and a couple of weeks ago we saw that the healing itself, not just the ability to heal, is the gift. So this morning I want to take a look at the broader biblical view on healing.
Another side of healing we need to touch on is signs and wonders. When Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God, and the Apostles after him, one of the ways that God authenticated their message was through miracles and signs and wonders. In fact, God still does this and we often hear of amazing stories of miracles and healing in places where the gospel is being preached.
In the 60’s and 70’s there was a powerful work of God that took place in PNG and there were even testimonies of people being raised from the dead. I recently heard an Indian Christian leader talk about a move of God taking place in his country and he said they are witnessing signs and wonders.
But these are a little different to the church context I want to look at this morning.
HEALING AND THE COVENANT
To understand the context of healing in the church we need to go back to the Old Testament and to an understanding of who God is.
In Exodus 15 the Israelites were not long out of Egypt and wandering through the desert when they came to a spring of water they ended up calling Marah.
Why don’t we read that story it’s in Exodus 15.22-26.
READ EX 15.22-26
This event was a test of faith for the Israelites – would they trust God? But it was also an object lesson in God’s nature. God turned the bitter water sweet, bad water good. And then he said, “I am the Lord, who heals you.”
This is the first lesson that God taught them after they cross the Red Sea. At the Red Sea they learned that God is a deliverer. At Marah they learned that he is a healer.
He tells them, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians.”
What we’re seeing here is the beginning of the terms of the covenant that will bind God to Israel and Israel to God. The reason God is going to spare them from the diseases he afflicted on Egypt and bring them healing, is because they’re his people and he is their God and this is what he does. The promise of blessing flows from covenant relationship.
Let’s turn to Deut 28 where God spells this out in more detail. In Deut 28.1-12 God tells them what’s going to happen if they keep up their side of the covenant.
READ DEUT 28.1-12
“What’s this got to do with healing?” You ask. It’s actually much bigger than healing. God’s will for his people isn’t just that they’d be healed, but that they wouldn’t need to be! His desire is for their health, their wholeness, their prosperity.
If we’re going to understand why and how God’s heals, we need to understand divine healing is based on covenant relationship. In his love and mercy God desires his people to be whole.
THE NEW COVENANT IN CHRIST
The problem of sickness goes right back to the fall when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. In Genesis 3.17-19 God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you... it will produce thorns and thistles for you... By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground...” In short, we are cursed because of sin, and that curse impacts us spiritually, physically, relationally - everything. In short, death comes as a result of sin.
The covenant with Israel was meant to go some way towards dealing with sin so that the people could live in relationship and wholeness with God. But if you’re familiar with the Old Testament story you’ll know that didn’t happen very often, so God made another way. He sent Jesus as Saviour.