During the Sunday service Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled The gifts of the Holy Spirit (4)/ Her main scriptures were taken from the Books 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; John 4:46-54; and Jer 17:14
THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – INTRODUCTION
These gifts are special supernatural abilities given by God, the Holy Spirit. They are royal family gifts. By using them we resemble Jesus and God, our Father. They are a witness that our salvation is supernatural. These abilities are not natural. The Christian is not born with them. They are not gained thru the study of the Bible or education in general. A pastor or an elder can pray and lay hands on a believer who desires gifts. But no man can give these gifts. They manifest the atmosphere of heaven on earth. These are Grace-Gifts. In Greek, the word ‘gifts’ is ‘charismata’. The word ‘charis’ means Grace. These gifts are not rewards for labor and are not merited. They are free gifts from King Grace! The Holy Spirit is sovereign in distributing these gifts. He gives them according to His will and depending on the need in the local church. God can give them to baby Christians or to the mature ones! The gifts give glory to God! They increase the unity of the Body and the manifestation of miracles.
THE GIFTS OF HEALINGS
“To another gifts of healings by the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:9).
Healing is a great subject in the Bible. Healing was part of the ministry of Jesus. His disciples also healed sick people. The gifts of healings are powers given by the Holy Spirit to heal any form of sicknesses, spiritual, mental, or physical, acute, or chronic, without using any visible means. Healing is defined as restoration back to health of one who was sick. Restoration is a return to the former, normal, original state of health. It also means restitution, bringing back something (health) that was stolen or lost. Sickness is going astray. Health is coming back to the God given state of wellbeing. This is what God says: “Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; And all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; Those who plunder you shall become plunder, and all who prey upon you I will make a prey. For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord, ‘Because they called you an outcast saying: “This is Zion; No one seeks her” (Jer 30:16, 17). A good verse about recovery of lost health is found in the story of David. The Amalekites have stolen his wives and all his goods. He prayed to God and God answered him: “So David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all” (1 Sam 30:8). Many who are sick are too lazy to pray and pursue the devil, to recover their health. They settle for second best. They accept sickness as part of their ‘portion’ in the land of the living. Let us do like David!
Healing through this gift happens without the use of medicines or surgery. The believer who prays for the healing of another does not need to know the name of the sickness, prognosis, or what type of treatment should be used. The Bible does not explain the meaning of this gift. It is difficult to explain. This gift appears only in 1 Corinthians 12. It is the only gift that appears in plural. It seems that there is a gift for each sickness. Some say that the gift was only temporary and now, it does not manifest. Others say it continues to manifest. Jesus healed people miraculously. He gave the power to His disciples to do the same, in His name. Even after the death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven of Jesus, miraculous healings continued to manifest. The gift of healing is not the same as the gift of working miracles, which is greater and wider in scope. Physical healing was a sign of the authority of Jesus and of His compassion. It is a form of advert to attract people to Jesus and to the Gospel. God’s miraculous healing is the only healing that is total, painless, free of charge, without any complications and brings all the Glory to God! Healing happens thru faith in Christ alone. This faith may be supplied by the sick man, by the believer who prays, or it is a combination of both. This gift is not given to become rich or famous. The gift of healing is given by God, the Holy Spirit, who is sovereign. It is given to heal the poor and weak brethren, to strengthen them, to increase the unity of the Body. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in the distribution and manifestation of this gift. The believer cannot control the gift. He must be led by the Holy Spirit to know when the gift will manifest. For example, Naaman was healed of leprosy by the prophet Elisha. But the same prophet could not heal his own servant Gehazi from leprosy (2 Kings 5). The Apostle Paul healed many people but could not immediately heal his friend, Trophimus, whom he left behind sick (Ac 19:11, 12; 2 Tim 4:20).
When it comes to the exercise of this gift, someone who has medical experience has no superiority over others. For example, Luke, the theologian also called ‘the beloved physician’ (Col 4:14), has no advantage over Peter, an illiterate fisherman. The source of the healing is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord Jesus Christ, and thru the Holy Spirit. The only method for healing is speaking the Word and prayer! God alone takes all the glory for the healing! For example, both Paul and Luke arrived on the Island of Malta, after the shipwreck. It was Paul who healed some sick people over there. It was not Dr. Luke (Ac 28:8, 9). The exercise of this gift should not make us look down on medical science, and the medical personnel who have helped people greatly over the centuries. It is true that all healing comes from God. But it is good to know that medical science is the world’s way of healing. But God’s way of healing is though miracles, by exercising the Gift of Healing. The medical treatment of sicknesses done by doctors or nurses, using medicines or surgery, is not recommended in the Bible. The Word of God does not recognize modern medical treatment. In heaven there is no sickness. Therefore, there are no doctors, nurses, or hospitals! Selah!
For healing, there are only two ways the Bible recommends that we should us: 1-THIS GIFT OF HEALING and 2-PRAYER OF FAITH!
We obey God’s Word by praying for this gift or by praying for the sick, by laying of hands, and by anointing with oil, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jam 5:14-16). As you can see, James does not tell them to look for a brother who has the gift of healing. He tells them to go to the leaders of their own local church The leaders are spiritually mature brethren. They will pray with faith and God will heal the sick person.
Prayer: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise” (Jer 17:14)
This incident in the wilderness reveals for the first time that God is the Healer of His people. He introduces Himself and Jehovah Rapha, God the Healer. “Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore, the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So, he 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” (Exo 15:22-26). After God’s people celebrated the crossing of the Red Sea, just three days later, in the wilderness of Shur, they started complaining because they saw no water to drink. They found a pool of water, but it was bitter. The people complained but Moses prayed to God. Prayer is always the key to move on. God tells Moses to cut down a tree planted by the Bitter waters. Please observe that the solution is not far. It is ‘planted’ in the problem. Once Moses cut down the tree and threw into the bitter water of sin, the water became ‘sweet’. The word ‘tree’ also means ‘carpenter’. This is a picture of the Cross of Christ. At the Cross, there is salvation and healing. God tested them to see if they obey Him or not. Obedience to His Word prevents sickness and leads to many blessings. When you are sick, pray for a fresh revelation of God’s Word.
Years later, when he got sick, King Asa failed the test of Jehovah Rapha. “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa developed a disease in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his illness he did not seek the LORD, but [relied only on] the physicians. So, Asa slept with his fathers [in death], dying in the forty-first year of his reign” (2 Chr 16:12, 13). In this story, King Asa, developed a sickness in his feet. He did not seek God during his sicknesses. He put all his trust in the physicians. Lesson: n all situations, even when we suffer or we are sick, we should seek God’s face through His Word. Godly wisdom is found during times of trials. Then the healing may come. To trust man is a curse (Jer 17:5). During your sickness, if you trust only the doctors, they will take the glory for your healing. But if you trust God alone, then God will take the glory!
JESUS’ COMMAND: PREACH THE GOSPEL AND HEAL THE SICK!
“Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. “Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (Lk 9:1-6).
Jesus gave His disciples ‘power’ to preach, heal and deliver. In Greek, the word ‘power’ means delegated authority, privilege, freedom, or mastery. It means that Jesus expects His disciples to study how to be successful in ministry. This does not mean to attend a regular Bible school, or medical school. It is a lifestyle, a walk of faith led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. You may start as a spiritual ‘apprentice’, but with time, faithfully applying the Biblical principles, you become a master in the field of faith. Jesus trusts you with His authority over sin and sickness. Jesus promised to pay for all expenses concerning your ministry. The healing must be purely by prayer of faith or through the gift of healing. It applies to all types of ‘sickness or disease’, anything that troubles or weakens the body or the mind. If any man or family rejects the ministry of preaching or healing, it will be a sin against that one. God will call those to account.
Healing the sick, together with teaching and preaching the Gospel is part of the believers’ responsibility. “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mt 9:35-38). Compassion for the weak and sick is the basic motive of the healing ministry of Jesus. We believers are laborers in His field. We need the same compassion to be like Jesus. Compassion means to be emotionally moved with pity, to feel the pain of another. The word ‘weary’ means to be troubled, frustrated, harassed, or annoyed. The word ‘scattered’ means to be harassed by enemies, to faint from fear, or to shake. Sheep that have gone astray, are under attack by wolves or by sickness. These sheep cannot defend themselves. Their only helper is their Shepherd. That Shepherd is Jesus. We the believers are shepherds under the Great Shepherd. We need compassion, love, and faith to help God’s flock. Pray that more believers take their responsibility seriously and help others.
PEOPLE’S REACTION TO MIRACULOUS HEALINGS REVEALS THEIR HEARTS
People reacted to the miraculous healings in two ways: some were amazed and gave glory to God. Others gave glory to the devil. The Pharisees attributed the power of Jesus to the devil (Matt 12:22-24). After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees wanted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus (Jn 12:9). Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man at Lystra. The people around thought that they were gods. They wanted to worship them. When Paul discouraged them saying that they are only men like them, they beat them and almost killed them (Acts 14).
PETER HAD THE GIFT OF HEALING
Peter had the gift of healing. He healed the lame man who was asking for money, Aeneas, and brought Dorcas back to life. This gift helped him in his ministry as an evangelist. “Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength” (Ac 3:6, 7). “Peter found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. So, all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord… 40 But Peter put them all out and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord” (Ac 9:33-35; 40-42). Praise the Lord!
THE CROSS IS THE PRICE FOR SALVATION AND HEALING
There is a price to pay for divine healing. The price was paid at the Cross. Jesus died and rose again for me, for the salvation of my soul and for the healing of my body. The devil hates that you should know the truth. Healing removes suffering and destroys the works of the devil. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Ac 10:38). “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8). What are some of the works of the devil? He steals the Word from men’s heart (Matt 13:19); he teaches men to kill and to lie because he is a murderer and a liar (Jn 8:44). He blinds the minds of people to the truth of the Gospel. He keeps them ignorant to the power of God’s Word to save, heal, and deliver. The devil is the agent of doubt, fear, and unbelief. He blinds men’s minds to the truth (2Cor 4:3, 4). Because of the devil’s works, people become wicked, liars, deceiving one another, spiritually blind and insensitive. They hate God and humanity. What do we do? Take the whole armor of God and do spiritual warfare. As disciples, we pray for the healing of men’s souls, minds, and bodies. The devil will fight back protecting his prisoners. But in the name of Jesus, our victory is sure! Praise the Lord!
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3Jn 1:2-4)
Apostle John wishes the beloved believers good health and prosperity, spiritual and physical. In Greek, the word ‘health’ means sound body, without any corruption (no viruses or parasites). God can allow sickness to discipline us when we are unfaithful to Him. But sound health is better. We need a strong body to do God’s Work. The word ‘prosperity’ means to find help along the way to succeed in business. Knowing God’s Word which is truth, is the sure way to live a good life in this world, to prosper in body, soul, spirit, and business affairs. Selah!
HEALING IS A SIGN OF FAITH IN JESUS, AND CONFIRMS THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS AND HIS WORD
*Healing the sick is a sign of faith in Jesus; a sign that you preach the right Gospel, and that you are a co-worker with Jesus in ministry! Jesus said: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen” (Mk16:15-20). Apostle Paul confirms that wherever he went, he preached the Gospel, and miracles followed his ministry (Rom 15:18, 19).
*In the early church, the believers prayed for boldness to preach God’s Word and for miracles to follow their preaching. “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Ac 4:29-31). This request was necessary to confirm their ministries and increase their confidence as servants of God.
*Healing of the body confirms the authority of Jesus as The Savior. Jesus forgives sins, to save men. He also heals their bodies. There was a sick man who was paralyzed. The religious rulers opposed Jesus. Then He said: “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men” (Matt 9:4-8).
*Healing confirms the Gospel. It is one of God’s methods to prove that Jesus died and rose again for sinners. “But you denied the Holy One and the Just and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Ac 3:14-16).
*True faith in Jesus should be in His Word and also in His works (healings). “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (Jn 10:37, 38).
*Healings and miracles were signs done by Jesus to attract people to Him, to listen to His Words. “A great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased” (Jn 6:1, 2).
*Healings are performed so that God is glorified. “Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:12).
HEALING AND THE WORD PLANTED IN THE HEART
Healing in the Bible is always connected with God’s Word and prayer! The more you study the Person of Jesus (The Living Word), the more your faith in His healing increases. This faith is thru the Holy Spirit, and thru faith in the written Word of God! “He sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions” (Ps 107:20). God sends His Word as an injection from heaven! You must receive the injection so that you are healed! This is an unfailing spiritual law: the more you feed on the Word, the more your faith in healing will rise. “The seed is the word of God” (Lk 8:11). For the seed to grow and become fruitful, the seed must be planted in the heart. “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet 1:23). God uses His Word that is thought or preached to bring salvation, healing, or deliverance. The Word of God is living, incorruptible, indestructible, and immortal. It brings eternal life. The Word abides forever. The word ‘abides’ means to stay in a spot, waiting for you to believe it. The heart is the field. The seed must be watered with prayer. It will grow. It will produce salvation, healing, deliverance, and other miracles.
God’s Word must be planted in the middle of the heart and kept there for it to manifest the healing. It works on all organs. It becomes health to the whole body. “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (PV 4:20-23). To give attention and to incline your ear mean the same thing: to stretch out your head to listen to something important. Do not let God’s Word depart from you. Be careful not to lose it. Watch it because it is a light guiding you through the darkness of sickness. It is your responsibility to keep the Word ‘in the midst of your heart’. The word ‘keep’ means to protect, to surround with a hedge, to attend to. It is your responsibility to protect the Word of God in your heart. Who can steal God’s Word from your heart? The devil. Read the Parable of the Sower (Lk 8:11-15). The devil steals the word from hearts that are not deep, not spiritual. They hear the Word but make no effort to retain of understand what they have heard. So, the Word does not penetrate the heart. The demons love to steal the Word away. If there is no deep root, the Word cannot grow. If there are weeds of anxious care, love of money and pleasures of life, the Word also cannot grow. The only fertile ground/heart where the Word stays and grows is a noble and a good heart. In this good heart, the Word grows and multiples.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (PV 4:23). The heart/field is to be kept with all diligence. It is your responsibility to protect your heart from strangers and from Word killing weeds. Out of the heart proceed the issues, the rivers of life. The heart is like a pump, like a fountain. Like the natural heart pumps blood into the arteries of the body, so the spiritual heart. The unconverted heart is the seat of sin. The spiritual heart is the seat of the Word of God. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Lk 6:45). Speak life!
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye (envy), blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mk 7:21, 22). The word ‘defile’ means to become unclean, and incapable to worship God. A defiled heart is a sick heart and speaks sickness to others. Faith in Jesus cleanses, heals, and opens the heart. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38). Faith cleanses the heart and opens the rivers of life to flow to others. This is therefore the path of blessings and healing: Receive God’s Word! Keep and guard it in your heart. Confess the Word by faith! Pray over it! Repent of every known sin. The heart will become cleaner, and the Word will grow. Healing of the body and soul will be the result.
BY HIS STRIPES, WE ARE HEALED
“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. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way” (Is 53:4-6). “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matt 8:16, 17). “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Pet 2:24, 25)
On of the greatest verses about healing in taken from the Book of Isaiah 53:5. “By His stripes, we are healed!” With the eyes of faith, the prophet Isaiah saw Jesus crucified. Please observe that all the words are in the past. Salvation and healing are works that have already been fulfilled. On the Cross, Jesus purchased both the salvation of our souls and the healing of our bodies. We must have faith in both. The salvation of the soul is a greater miracle because it is immediate, personal, and eternal. The healing of the body is less important because it is temporal. Sin still dwells in the body and sin leads to sickness and death. Peter says that Jesus died and by His stripes we are healed so that we too die to sin and live sanctified lives. The healing is not for its own sake. It is to help with our sanctification. The final healing of the body will manifest when Christ comes back the second time and resurrect our bodies, to be like His Body, spiritual and eternal. On the Cross, Jesus ‘took our infirmities’. It means He received our moral and physical weaknesses. He ‘bore our sicknesses’. He ‘carried away’ our sicknesses. It is the same verb saying ‘He bore our sins’. ‘By whose stripes, you were healed’. The word ‘stripe’ means wounds or bruising done by scourging. The word ‘grief’ is anxiety. The word ‘sorrow’ is anguish. He borne and He carried means to be pregnant with grief and sorrow.
“Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified” (Matt 27:26-31)
This is a glimpse of the suffering of Jesus just before He was crucified and died. You can see the wickedness of men, taking advantage of their victim. The soldiers did not have to add their mockery. They did not have to spit on Jesus or strike His head with the reed. But they did that. This revelation is the root of your faith in the healing of your body. Jesus paid for the salvation of your soul with His blood shed on the Cross. But for the healing of your body, Jesus suffered terrible pain, mentally and physically. You must feel His pain to be able to believe in your healing. Selah!
Jesus was beaten and wounded so that we can be healed. He was wounded by the crown of thorns, by the nails in His hands and feet and by the spear of the Romans soldier. The death of Christ upon the Cross was a painful, shameful death. It is His pain that is the source of our healing. That chastisement was for our peace. In Hebrew, shalom, means peace, prosperity, health and wealth, friends, and favor. Jesus suffered on the Cross for our healing, peace, and prosperity. He shed His Blood and died for our salvation! What a Savior!
THE BRONZE SERPENT
“They journeyed from Mount Hor… to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore, the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So, Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived” (Num 21:4-9).
The international sign for doctors, medicine and hospitals is a snake on a rod. It is taken from this story in Numbers 21. God leads the people on a longer, circular path. They just discover that now, the Promised Land is behind them. They became angry with God’s leading. The word ‘discouraged’ means impatient, or restless. They expected to enter the Promised Land faster. The people started complained against God and Moses. God became angry and He sent poisonous serpents to bite them. Many died. The people repented. Moses prays for them. God gives His prescription: He commands Moses to make a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who is bitten by a serpent and looks to that bronze serpent shall live. The vision of Christ crucified brings healing and life!
The people got addicted to complaining. God warns them many times, but they still continued. In the past, they grumbled against the manna, God’s bread from heaven. They said: “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (Nu 11:4-6).
Some Egyptians followed God’s people thru their exodus. It was these unbelievers among them that started complaining against the Manna. It is known all over the world that poor unbelievers cannot endure the lack of their favorite food. They miss their Egyptian’ vegetables. They claim that they have lost their appetites for food because of looking at this Manna. They have no faith in God’s Word!
Question: Where do you look? What do your eyes see? If you see God’s Word, then you shall be healed and you shall live!
God judges their sin. Moses prays for them. Then God shows mercy. At the Cross, you see God’s holiness and love combined. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life“ (Jn 3:14-16). Jesus is the One lifted on the Cross. The sinner needs to look with faith to Christ. Then he will be saved and healed.
Lessons: God is holy, and God hates sin. Complaining and grumbling are serious sins. Be careful not to become impatient with God’s leading you thru life, especially when trials seem longer than you expected. Be sensitive to the temptation of grumbling. Pray against it! God answers the prayer of an intercessor. We should always pray. God gives Moses the wisdom that leads to healing. There is no natural connection between the bite of the snake and the bronze snake. The only connection is faith in the God who kills and makes alive. The Look of faith unto Jesus is life and healing! This was God’s treatment prescription. It was easy. Just look! It was the same for all, the rich and the poor. The same applied for the bad cases and for the mild cases. It was free of charge. If any man bitten by the snake refused to apply God’s treatment, he will die. If he refused to look at the bronze snake and only look at his wounds, or pay doctors to cure him, that one would die. The Gospel is the only cure for all sinners. Its power is immediate and eternal. Jesus is the only Way to life! Look and Live!
There are many false brethren who claim to heal by the power of God. These are not even saved. Most are found in the Philippines and Brazil. They claim to perform surgery with bare hands. Many are deceived by these charlatans. Then there are others, who may be saved but they have very few fruits of the Spirit. Their moral character is weak. They are called ‘faith healers’. They claim that the only gift they have is to heal people from physical sickness. In the early church, the gift of healing was working to attract people to the preaching of the Gospel. There is nothing like healing for healing’ sake. The following are some of the famous American faith healers: Alexander John Dowie, Jack Coe, A. A. Allen, and William Branham. These all had many followers and claimed thousands of healings. They became rich and famous through this gift. They became proud and died untimely deaths. Most churches that used to sponsor these massive tent crusades got tired of the religious entertainment and the price to pay for the flashy lifestyle of these healers. But these sad stories do not cancel the fact that God gives the gift of healings to believers.
THE HEALING OF THE NOBLEMAN’S SON (Jn 4:46-54)
Jesus started His public ministry. The first miracle sign was done at Cana of Galilee where He changed water into wine. He did this sign to reveal His glory. His disciples put their faith in Him (Jn 2:11). This is the story: Jesus goes to Samaria. He does not perform miracles there, but the people believed His Words. He comes back to Cana of Galilee. A Jewish noble man who was living at Capernaum has a need. His son is sick almost to death. He has a high fever. He hears of Jesus that He performs miracles. At this time, Jesus has only performed the miracle of water turned to wine at Cana. But the nobleman believes that Jesus can also heal his son. He immediately travels from Capernaum to Cana to meet Jesus. This distance is about 20 miles. This is the first time we see someone seeking Jesus for a miracle of healing. It is also the first time that we see the direct connection between faith and healing. There were some Jews gathered there when the nobleman came. Jesus said to them: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe”. Jesus was comparing them with the foreigners, the Samaritans, who believed His Word alone, without waiting for any signs of confirmation. “For Jews request a sign” (1 Cor 1:22). A sign is a supernatural event that points to something else. Wonder is a miracle. Jesus was confronting the Jews that their lust for miracles is a proof of their lack of faith in Him. The nobleman called Jesus ‘Sir’. This is true humility. He wanted Jesus to ‘come down’ to his house to heal his son. His faith was real but small. Compare his faith with the great faith of the Centurion and of the Syrophoenician woman, who were both foreigners. Jesus told the nobleman that his son will live. This time, he ‘believed the word Jesus spoke to him’. Having only the word in his heart, he went back to Capernaum. Arriving home, he discovered that his son was healed at that very hour when Jesus said: ‘your son lives’.
Jesus cares for the needy humanity. At Cana, Jesus did miracles to bless families. He made wine for a wedding. He healed a man’s son. He brought joy to families! This nobleman hears of Jesus and travels 40 miles to receive his miracle. He received the Word that produced the healing. Faith has feet. Faith seeks Jesus and His healing. That word was enough! Jesus appreciates faith. It is not the miracle that produces faith. It is the faith that produces miracles. Jesus is always sensitive to the faith of the people who desire miracles. If their faith is small, He will increase it. If their faith is big, but not focused, He will help them to adjust it. Jesus could not perform miracles where pride and unbelief were predominant. “He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matt 13:58). If faith is small but it is focused on Jesus, it will work miracles. If the faith is big, but its focus is outside Jesus, it will not work miracles. The object of faith is extremely important! It is more important than its size. Faith in God’s Word is enough for the miracle to happen! The nobleman had faith. He was not in a hurry to run back home. He arrived home to Capernaum the next day at 7 pm. It seems that he slept in Cana before going home. His son was healed. This healing has three effects: the physical healing of the son; the spiritual healing of the father and the third effect is that his household now all believe in Jesus. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). Jesus rewards faith and rebukes unbelief! Religion is a hindrance to faith.
This is a reminder, man’s soul is more important than his body. Even if he is healed from sickness, even if he comes back from the dead like Lazarus, he will still become old and die. But salvation of the soul is eternal. Even death cannot destroy that. Sin is the real problem. Sickness is only a symptom. It is clear that the Bible gives priority to the spiritual problems of man. Jesus healed a man who was paralyzed for 38 years. Later, Jesus found him and said to him: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (Jn 5:14). Jesus said that something worse than sickness can happen to an unrepentant sinner. Selah!
We are commanded not to be discouraged by the breaking down of the body. We focus on eternal things which are eternal. “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:16-18).
When sick, repent of any known sin. Then pray for healing. If you are still sick, then call your leaders in the church (James 5). We are not told to look and call the faith healers who are traveling from place to place to heal. We are told to call the leaders of the local church we attend. These leaders will pray with faith and anoint with oil if it is possible. Then God will heal the sick person. Worship the Lord!