Divine Healing

I spent a year praying for country singer Joey Martin Feek, and she died. Then Nabeel Qureshi — the Muslim author and speaker who converted to Christianity — and he died.

They both succumbed to cancer. Despite the prayers of millions of people — they died. Was it because of a lack of faith? You may want to refer to our Twog on healing as it provides additional background study.

The context of this post is Matthew 8:14-17 where Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law; and many who were demon-possessed were brought that they might be touched. The apostle wrote that all were healed to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Esaias (Isaiah).

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

In chapter 53, Esaias foresees the suffering servant who will take away Israel’s sorrow; and Matthew interprets the prophecy as being fulfilled in the context of physical healing.

Peter, on the other hand, sees fulfillment in the healing of our sin condition:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24).

Faith healers quote Peter (by his stripes you are healed) as validation of their healing ministries. However, the apostle correctly interprets the prophet’s submission that sin is a disease from which we have been healed by the scourging of God’s servant. (In his commentary on Peter, Dr. McGee concurs with the apostle’s interpretation.)

Is there a conflict, then, between Matthew and Peter — as when James seems to disagree with Paul regarding salvation by faith, or works? Of course, James and Paul are not in disagreement — nor are Matthew and Peter. The apostles are citing two different verses — Matthew (v.4), and Peter (v.5):

But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.

Why does Matthew interpret the prophet as speaking of physical healing when Peter rightly interprets the very next verse in context of our spiritual condition?

The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint, was widely used in Apostolic times. Paul quotes from it extensively, and there are about 300 direct quotations or references in the Greek New Testament.

Though it has been disputed for 2000 years, early church fathers — Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Hegissipus, and Jerome — gave witness that the original copy of Matthew was written in Aramaic, or Hebrew. This accords with the general consensus that Matthew was addressed to a Jewish-Christian community.

Esaias wrote that the suffering servant bore our griefs, and took away our sorrows. This is a Greek translation of the original Hebrew. Remember, Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience so he alludes to the original meaning — infirmities and diseases.

The Jewish Publication Society translates the prophet: Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried …

Sorrows (וּמַכְאֹבֵ֖ינוּ) is correctly understood as mental anguish associated with a guilty conscience stemming from our sinful disobedience towards G-d.

Griefs (חֳלָיֵ֙נוּ֙), however, does not convey the original meaning — affliction, sickness, disease, and illness.

Matthew and Peter are both correct in their interpretation of the prophet. In fact, Word of Faith might have a more tenable defense if they quoted Matthew rather than Peter; but I suspect they don’t understand what either man is saying.

In Judaism, physical and spiritual well-being are interconnected. Our sin condition is reflected in the health of our body and mind.

Recall the story of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof that he might be healed (Mark 2:1-12). Jesus said to the man, Your sins are forgiven. After he had been charged with blasphemy, Jesus simply replied, Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’?

Yeshua literally fulfilled, as noted by Matthew and Peter, the prophet’s revelation. The question that must be asked is this:

Does Jesus heal today?

Two thousand years ago, Christ healed the multitudes. He healed completely and immediately. Does Benny Hinn perform such miracles? A mother took her disabled son to several Benny Hinn events in the hope that her child might be healed. Each time she was denied access to the stage. Only pre-screened candidates suffering non-debilitating ailments were permitted on-stage.

The fact is, Benny Hinn could not heal her child. The question remains … does G-d heal today? This is an issue that tests our faith, and causes some to walk away. A person who prays for healing surely demonstrates the faith to be healed (Mark 5:34). It is taught in both Old and New Covenants that if we seek the LORD our prayers will be answered (Matthew 7:7-11).

I don’t know why G-d heals some, but not all. If Jesus fulfilled the prophecy 2000 years ago does the Lord even receive prayers for healing today? We can’t know the answer except to live by faith. Clearly, things are different after the Cross, or else Joey and Nabeel would have been healed.

He said, “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, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” [Exodus 15:26]

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

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Do Your Prayers Put God to Sleep?

This article was inspired by my friend and brother in Christ who posts articles at For Freedom – Galatians 5:1.

In a recent post, he offered some insights on prayer. I left the following comment:

One of my pet peeves are those repetitious corporate prayers that are recited in many evangelical churches. For example:

“Lord, we just want to thank you for (long pause), Lord, this opportunity, Lord, to worship you, Lord. And, Lord, (very long pause) we thank you, God, for blessing us, Lord, with every good blessing.”

After a minute or so your mind starts to wander, and you’re thinking about lunch. Imagine if people spoke like this in normal conversation:

“Michael, I really enjoyed this article. You made really good points, Michael. I think, Michael, you’re a great writer.”

People don’t talk like this! Most corporate prayer I hear is so awkward. I think this is what Jesus meant by vain repetition — speaking just to be heard, but with nothing to say.

[End comment]

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words (Matthew 6:7).

Ellicott suggested that modern prayer has become mechanical — lacking emotion. Compare the standard church service prayer with Yeshua’s prayer on the Mount of Olives:

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44 ).

I hear so many prayers that are devoid of any thought or feeling. They’re nothing more than a robotic recitation as if the speaker has given no thought as to what they might say. Then there are the speakers who have something to pray, but they repeat it a dozen different ways. After the second reprise I start to get droopy.

A good source of study on prayer is a book by Benjamin Reynolds, The Ten Greatest Prayers of the Bible. It’s available in Kindle format, or you can read it online here.

The greatest prayer ever spoken was the petition offered by Jesus Christ atop the Mount of Olives, but who among us has ever prayed with such emotion that we sweated blood?

Reynolds begins his book with Hannah’s prayer. If you’ll recall, Hannah was barren and this caused her extreme grief and distress. She prayed for years that the LORD might bless her with children. I said, she prayed for years. How many of us pray once and when nothing happens we conclude one of the following?

God doesn’t hear my prayer.
God doesn’t answer prayer.
God said no to my prayer.

The Lord doesn’t work according to our timetable. Abraham and Sarah were promised a son, but it was 25 years before Isaac was born. We have to understand that God is not constrained, but sees the bigger picture. Why didn’t Messiah enter our world after the Fall? Why were God’s people enslaved in Egypt for 440 years? Why has the Lord delayed his second coming?

Hannah’s long story short was that she finally reached an emotional break point, and poured out her heart to the LORD. Eli, the high priest, thought she was drunk, but Hannah answered:

No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation (1 Samuel 1:15-16 ).

Within a year, Hannah gave birth to Samuel — one of the greatest figures in the Bible. As evidence that the LORD always provides more than we may ask, Hannah delivered five more children.

We cannot worship the LORD nor offer prayers in vanity, unbelief or with an unclean heart and expect that God will receive them.

There is so much more to say about this, but I wanted to share with you the story of Benjamin Reynolds. He was afflicted with ulcerative colitis. One day his wife found him unconscious on the bathroom floor. He was held lifeless in her arms as she prayed to God to save her husband.

His was an out-of-body experience so dramatic and detailed that it is difficult to dismiss. Yet, we believe Ezekiel’s testimony of being carried up into the inner court of heaven (Ezekiel 8:3, Ezekiel 11:24, Ezekiel 43:5), or Paul’s testimony of being caught up in the third heaven after he was stoned and left for dead (2 Corinthians 12:2), or even John in his vision of the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:2).

I strongly recommend that you read Benjamin’s testimony. Due to Fair Use copyright laws I am not permitted to post his story here, but he recounts it in the preface of the book which can be viewed in preview format on Amazon. (Simply click on Look Inside on the product image.) I sincerely hope that you take a few minutes and read this brother’s compelling story of how prayer healed his body and saved his life. It’s truly amazing. I know you will be blessed.

Book Review: The Ten Greatest Prayers in the Bible by Benjamin Reynolds.

The book received outstanding reviews on Amazon (93% 4-stars or above). There were only a few 3-stars, and none lower.  One of the 3-star reviews noted the poor editing, but they recommended the book as a “tremendous tool”. If you view the author’s bio you’ll see that he is rather accomplished and well-educated.

The book was poorly edited as if it had not even been proofread. However, I agree with the reviews that it is a useful tool if for no other reason than it encourages discussion, promotes Bible study and highlights the importance of prayer. For me, the Table of Contents is valuable as the starting point for further group study. The ten prayers are useful examples of how we should pray individually and as a body.

I posted the link to the free online version of the book. You don’t have to sign-up, and may close the box that asks you to log in. As a group study tool the book may inspire a deeper appreciation for the necessity of prayer.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Twog #4 (Forgiveness)

Subject: Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!

Let me preface this by saying that the context for this post is an article I wrote earlier titled Loving Your Neighbor.

In that piece I complained about my inconsiderate neighbors. Long story short I recently had to move because the place wasn’t habitable. Moving is very stressful, and I hadn’t been well for some time. I learned on a Monday that I would have to leave, and immediately sat down to pray. Within 24 hours I had signed a lease on a new place.

I’ve moved a lot over the years, and have never found a place so easily. It was amazing, and I thank God. Not only that, the apartment is more than I could have hoped for — it’s below market rent and fully deluxe with laundry, garage and great location. The Lord always provides more than we could even ask (or imagine). His grace is abundant beyond measure.

So how does this relate to our subject verse? Well, the upstairs tenant has a nicotine addiction. I mentioned this in my other post about smokers who move into non-smoking apartments. I have to live in a non-smoking environment because my number one allergy is tobacco smoke.

This guy has been the neighbor from hell. He’s a younger man who stays home all day. Every 20 minutes he comes downstairs for a cigarette break — from 9 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock the following morning — that’s 18 hours a day, and 54 cigarettes (almost three packs).

And he moves up and down the stairs like a herd of elephants. It’s driving me crazy. I’m losing my mind. I prayed to God — “Lord, you gave me this great apartment, but …”

I started looking for a new place. I thought about confronting him, but I got the impression from our first encounter that he’s got issues. I started to send an email to the property manager, but deleted it because I don’t want to be tagged as a complainer and have my rent increased.

The tobacco smoke is killing me!

This morning it sounded like Patton’s tanks rolling through Casablanca in 1942. That was the camel that broke the straw — no, I mean the straw that broke the camel’s back. I held my tongue 4860 times — that’s 54 cigarette breaks a day for 90 days (I’ve been here three months).

I bolted outside like the running of the bulls during the festival of San Fermin. There he was … smoking a cigarette at the base of the stairs. But before I could unleash my tongue I noticed that movers were loading his stuff into a moving van.

Hallelujah, Jesus … and pass the butter!

Peter was told to forgive seventy-seven times (or seventy times seven in some translations). I’ve needed the patience of Job to forgive this guy almost 5000 times.

Here’s the thing about that. Some theologians say you only have to forgive a person if they ask to be forgiven — that God’s forgiveness is conditional on our confession and repentance. Also, Peter asked about forgiving a brother not someone who is unsaved. I saw a Christian woman on the news who would not forgive the man who killed her son. What about that?

Pastor and blogger David Murray wrote an interesting article, Let’s Stop Forgiving Those Who Don’t Want Forgiveness.

Then there’s the matter of loving your neighbor. This guy’s nicotine addiction became my problem. That’s not very loving, and it’s in violation of the lease agreement.

I pray that the next tenant will be more considerate.

Answer Key

1 Samuel 25

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ