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Healings in the Old Testament – Danny’s Blog – Part III

So Thursday morning I woke up around 2:30, wanting to go right back to sleep, but having very clear thoughts (that went on for a while) about the prophet Elijah and we believers. Seems the Holy Spirit wanted me to reflect on James 5 re: Elijah and He wanted me to revisit my mention of him in Part II (last blog).

The last instance of healing we looked at in Part II of Danny’s blog was that of the prophet Elijah actually raising from the dead the young son of the widow of Zarephath. Interestingly this is the only “healing” recorded in Scripture of the prophet Elijah.

But here is the problem with many of we believers - - we tend to look at that powerful raising from the dead he performed and wrongfully conclude, “Well of course Elijah could do that. He was a mighty prophet of God. He did lots of miracles. I’m just a contractor whose parents were not believers….or I’m just a Sunday school teacher, etc. Never performed a miracle in my life!”

The problem the Holy Spirit seemed to be speaking to me about early Thursday morning was that of a widespread sense of disqualification in the body of Christ when it comes to being used by Him to heal the sick, much less raise the dead. And that’s why James 5 is so important because James knew this was an issue and he thus made sure we all know that “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours,…” (vs. 17). Elijah was not a superhero! He was born in sin and had to fight the reality of never ending sin until his last breath, just like you and I do.

Well when I got up later that morning and started my quiet time I felt the need to turn to James 5, and it turns out James 5:13-18 speaks to more than one issue raised in Part II. For that reason I want us to take a look at it:

Prescription for Suffering and Prescription for Sickness

Is anyone among you suffering? The he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:13-18

Please note first of all that James by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit differentiates between suffering and sickness. Each condition requires different responses. Remember how we touched on this in our discussion about Job and his suffering and sickness? To be honest, I had never noticed this clear distinction until Thursday morning. In a later blog I intend to deal with the various causes of sickness, sin obviously being one of them, as James alludes to in this passage. Finally while James wants us to not fall for the super hero/I’m not qualified trap, he does want us to know that walking in righteousness (not sinless perfection) and devoting ourselves to prayer are crucial in the pursuit of being used by God to heal the sick. Seems to me vs. 17, 18 are in the context of a discussion about healing the sick, though they apply to other aspects of life.

So with all of that in mind now we can look at the prophet Elisha’s four healings, agreeing in truth with one another he also is not a superhero, though obviously a righteous and godly man.

Never too Late to Have a Child

The first instance with Elisha, who received a double portion of prophetic anointing from Elijah is in II Kings 4:14-17. (BTW – scripture records exactly twice as many miracles at the hands of Elisha (28) than at the hands or words of Elijah (14). A prominent Shunammite woman had initiated providing first for Elisha’s food needs and then lodging as well. He wanted later to return the favor and asked his servant Gehazi to find out what she needed. Gehazi discovered she had been unable to bear children and her husband was probably too old to do his part any more. So Elisha prophesied to her that she would bear a son in about a year, which she did. And we must assume the husband overcame his age issue, so in one sense Elisha enabled them both to do what they were unable to do on their own.

Who Initiated the Healing?

Was there a root cause or reason for the sickness/condition?

How was the person healed?

Was there a declared purpose or motive for the healing?

What were the results of the healing?

Now folks to be clear - - when I say Elisha was not a superhero - - he was called and anointed by God to be a prophet and he did receive a double portion from Elijah. So I don’t mean to down play that. Prophets or prophetesses who are called and anointed by God to fulfill that role are clearly going to prophesy with greater frequency and anointing and power than those who are not so called and anointed. But we can still learn from them and from how God worked in and through them. And in the New Testament we are all commanded to “desire earnestly ….that you may prophesy.” (see I Cor. 12:31 and I Cor. 14:1).

Faith in the Midst of Grief

Next in the same chapter we find that this same boy miraculously born to the Shunammite woman and her husband was now deathly sick and then died (vs. 19,20). Vs. 18 informs us that he “was grown” to some extent when this happened. But he later died in his mother’s lap (vs. 20) so he couldn’t have been too old. I can’t imagine the heart ache and trauma when that woman’s only son died in her arms. Elisha was evidently still living there though not there at the time of the boy’s death. So she carried him up to his room and laid him on his bed knowing perhaps that the same God who gave her this son could restore him to her (through Elisha). Off she went to find him. Elisha offered for his servant Gehazi to go and pray for him, but she would have nothing of it – refusing to leave until Elisha left with her. God then used Elisha to raise him from the dead (see vs. 32-37).

What I love about these two stories is there was no grand purpose for healing this couple from barrenness nor raising their son from the dead. The purpose was not to prove to folks around that Elisha was a true prophet of God or to cause more people in the village there to believe in Yahweh. To the contrary it seems to me the purpose was merely to help people Elisha was in relationship with and whom he deeply cared about.

Who Initiated the Healing?

Was there a root cause or reason for the sickness/condition?

How was the person healed?

Was there a declared purpose or motive for the healing?

What were the results of the healing?

The Only Healing of Leprosy in the O.T. (that we know of)

In our next story the purpose for Naaman’s healing from leprosy does seem to be to both demonstrate that Elisha is a true prophet and that the God of Israel is the one true God. Note these two verses, “….Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” Elisha speaking in (vs. 8). And “….Behold now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel…” (vs. 15). Naaman speaking to Elisha and company.

Naaman was a commander in the Aramean army, which from time to time warred against Israel and thus had some Israeli captives turned into slaves or servants. In the sovereignty of God one of those captives was a little Israeli girl, who became the servant for Naaman’s wife. This little girl could have been very bitter about being taken from her parents and family. She could have been glad Naaman had leprosy. It is possible her parents were even killed when she was taken. But despite all that, this nameless little girl (in the story) had compassion towards her master, who was a captain of the army, which from time to time attacked her people! Were it not for her compassion coupled with mercy and forgiveness, Naaman might have never known about Elisha. When and if we ever get to Jesus’s healing ministry in these blogs we will discover compassion was a huge motive for many of His healings. God give us more compassion for those around us and not just the folk we naturally like!!

Who Initiated the Healing?

Was there a root cause or reason for the sickness/condition?

How was the person healed?

Was there a declared purpose or motive for the healing?

What were the results of the healing?

Strange Grave Fellows

I guess we really shouldn’t count the man who was raised from the dead by being hurriedly dumped in Elisha’s grave since Elisha was dead and therefore a bit passive in the transaction. Only two verses are given to this story and I can’t say I have a lot of insight into it. But only God heals and/or raises from the dead and God apparently brought it about via this dead Moabite soldier being dumped on top of Elisha’s dead but anointed body. You can read it in II Kings 13:20,21. Tis also another example of God’s mercy extended to a non Israelite.

Changing God’s Mind

King Hezekiah was a great revivalist. But towards the end of his life he got deathly sick, and was even told by the prophet Isaiah to “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.” II Kings 20:1. Hezekiah knew Isaiah well and thus knew he only spoke God’s words. But despite Isaiah’s track record, Hezekiah turned straight to God and asked Him to change His mind. He reminded God of how he had walked with God and served God. And then he wept with “great weeping” (see vs. 2 & marginal note at end of vs. 3). God heard his prayer and saw his tears and did indeed change His mind (vs. 4-6). This is a pretty amazing story. And one that should give folk like Danny great reason to keep crying out to God for their healing. Even if God had initially decided this sickness was a sickness unto death. He has been known to change His mind!

Body and Soul Connection

Our last story is actually a Psalm. In Psalm 6 King David asks God to heal him (vs. 2). Sometimes in the Old Testament the word “heal” refers more to spiritual or emotional healing. The way to know whether physical healing or spiritual or emotional healing is being spoken of is primarily the context, though there are a few examples where it is hard to know for sure (e.g. Psalm 30:2). In Psalm 6 David speaks of his bodily condition as in need of healing in vs. 2, though he also speaks of his emotional grief and sadness (vs. 3, 6,7). It is possible his deep grief and sadness brought about his bodily condition. Sometimes when God heals our emotions, grief, depression, etc., it has a dramatic effect on our body. Sometimes when God heals our body it has a dramatic effect on our emotions. They are quite intertwined. Cool thing in this Psalm is God answered David’s prayer for himself as seen in vs. 8,9.

One of the things I often pray for people whom I pray for is that they will know God as their Healer. He wants to be known as such. He is pleased when our trust and hope is solely in Him and not in doctors or meds or whatever else, though He sometimes uses those people/things. May each of us grow in our trust and hope in Him as our Healer and may we never hesitate to come to Him for healing. And thanks for praying for Danny! BTW – his chemo and radiation start on March 7th. We are praying it will not have the sickening and weakening effect on him that is sometimes has on people.

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