Why don't we see more healings in the church today? Has God forgotten about us - has He forsaken us? Let's take a look at the Scriptures today and see what God has to say about healing. What does He promise, and what are we asked to do?
Why don't we see more healings in the church today? Has God forgotten about us - has He forsaken us? Sometimes I hear members expressing those thoughts… "Well, God healed back then, but does He still heal today?" You and I live at the end of 6,000 years of human history, a period of time of man trying to solve his own problems, working his own works, doing his own thing. And as a result, mankind has brought a whole host of sicknesses, diseases, illnesses upon himself. And many of these we have been responsible for bringing about.
In the Old Testament God promised Israel, that obedience to His law, as a nation, talking about the whole nation, to His way of life, would eliminate diseases, that they would not have those problems. What should you and I do when we get sick? What should be the first thing you do? It's not wrong, as we have said over the years, to seek medical help and assistance, but is that the first thing that you should do? Well, for many it's the first thing and the only thing that they do …I'm not talking about members of the church. What does God want us to do when we're sick? Well, let's take a look at the Scriptures today and see what God has to say about healing. What does He promise, and what are we asked to do?
What should we be doing? I want you to notice in Psalms, Chapter 103, and beginning in Verse 1:
Psalms 103:1 Psalms 103:1Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
American King James Version× Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His Holy name!
Verse 2: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
So notice the benefits that God gives us:
Verse 3: Who forgives all your iniquities, - now, is there anyone here who doesn'tbelieve that? That if you go to God and truly repent, that God will forgive you all of your iniquities – all of your sins – all your trespasses. But then notice: Who heals all your diseases.
Now, both of these are a promise from God, but we know that God does not say when He will heal us – that's the difference than forgiving us of our trespasses. You go to God truly and you get on your knees and ask God to forgive you, He will forgive you at that point. But the timing for healing is obviously left up to God. We know, if we believe with all of our hearts, that God will always do what is best for us; that He has our best interests in mind – that His will is more important than our will - what He desires for us, the fact that He wants us in His kingdom.
Let's go back to Exodus 15:22 Exodus 15:22So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
American King James Version×…you find that after God had delivered Israel from Egypt, and led them through the sea, straightened the waters of Marah, He speaks to the Israelites that He is their healer. In Hebrew, the words there, is Yahweh Ropheka, God who heals – one of the very names of God. Notice what He says here, beginning in Verse 22:
Verse 22: So 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.
Verse 23: 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.
Verse 24: Then the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"
Verse 25: So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree; and when he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. Therefore, He made a statue and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them,
Verse 26: And He said, - noticeGod'sinstructions to the nation of Israel – "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 these diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you."
God reveals, in the Old Testament, that He is the healer. He said: I am the Lord who heals you. Now He said that He would not put any of the diseases upon them that He had upon the Egyptians. They would have good health as a nation. It was a collective promise to them; a national blessing that God was going to give to them for obeying Him.
Now in a similar matter, in Deuteronomy 32:39 Deuteronomy 32:39See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
American King James Version×…you might just jot that down…Deuteronomy 32:39 Deuteronomy 32:39See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
American King James Version×God states that He would heal them. So it was mentioned more than once in the Bible.
Turn over here to Exodus 23 though, in Verse 25, and let's notice again, as part of the Old Covenant that God made with Israel:
Exodus 23:25 Exodus 23:25And you shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless your bread, and your water; and I will take sickness away from the middle of you.
American King James Version× "So shall you serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you.
Verse 26: "No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.
In other words, you'd live to a ripe old age. Now God again promised, as part of the Old Covenant, a national-level blessing, that they would have good health as a nation if they obeyed Him. Now notice God said that He would bless their water and their bread. Now let me ask you today, is our food supply blessed in this country? Well absolutely not! I think you find that we have genetically modified foods; we have foods that have been grown on depleted soil; we have foods that have all kinds of pesticides and chemicals and colors…who knows what in them. Our water is polluted – you cannot find a stream in Tennessee that is not polluted (they've researched sections of it that are not), but you'll find… that are polluted. We find today that we are suffering, and obviously there are miscarriages that take place in our nation today. There are barren women – there are couples who would love to have children, who are not capable of having children. Obviously our nation, as a whole, is not obeying God. If they were, the same promises would be fulfilled and given to them. So you find that we are suffering curses, and as a result of disobedience our bread, our food supply, our water is not blessed.
Now when you come to the New Testament …we could read all kinds of examples in the Old Testament - you'll find that even in the Old Testament when some of them in the nation disobeyed God, and that there were times that God would intervene on the behalf of certain prophets, certain kings, and He healed them. And you know, he intervened, just as He does today.
When you come to the New Testament, there is a significant emphasis on Jesus Christ in the four gospels as our healer – same thing you find in the Old Testament. Take any gospel and you'll read of a multitude of healings taking place. A good example is, the Book of Mark. We could also refer to the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke. Now John is a different one, as I'll mention later on. Let's go over to the Book of Mark…now I'm not going to read every account in the Book of Mark where Christ healed people, but let me refer to a few of these – in the Book of Mark, Chapter 1 and we'll begin to read in Verse 21. I want you to notice here, that Mark portrays Christ as a teacher and as a healer in the opening account of the ministry of Jesus Christ, in Capernaum. Because here in Chapter 1 you find He healed a demoniac, a man possessed of the devil; healed Peter's mother-in-law…the sick were brought to Jesus Christ…he healed them all, and He healed the leper. So notice beginning here in Verse 21:
Mark 1:21 Mark 1:21And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
American King James Version×Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.
Verse 22: And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority…
Verse 23: Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, (the demon cried out)
Verse 24: saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are- You are the Holy One of God!"
Verse 25: But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"
Verse 26: And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.
Verse 27: Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."
Verse 28: And immediately His fame spread.
So I want you to notice what happens when public miracles take place, and public healings take place. The fame, the reputation begins to spread. Now you find He went to Simon's home…Simon's wife's mother laid sick…she was healed:
Verse 32: Now at evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all of those who were sick, who were demon-possessed.
Verse 33: And the whole city was gathered together at the door.
So everybody who was sick, you know – here's our chance!
Verse 34: Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons;
Now, you find that He went out to pray, and Verse 40 a leper came to Him and He healed the leper. So all through the Book, you find healings taking place. In Chapter 2, Verses 1 through 12 He cast out demons, and there were a number of healings…He healed a pair of paralytic…Chapter 3, Verses 1 through 6, he healed a man with a withered hand; Verses 7 through 12, he healed a multitude. Chapter 5, Verses 1 through 20, He cast out a demon. A woman in Verses 21 through 43 came to Him, who was hemorrhaging – He healed her. And He healed Jairus' daughter. Now, in Chapter 6, let's notice this…we will read this, beginning in Verse 7:
Mark 6:7 Mark 6:7And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
American King James Version× He sent the twelve apostles out, two by two, - later on He sent seventy out, two by two. But notice here:
He commissioned them to proclaim repentance, to cast out demons, and to heal the sick. He gave them the power to do this.
Verse 7: He called the twelve to Himself, and He began to send them out two by two, and He gave them power over unclean spirits.
Verse 8: And He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts –
Verse 9: but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.
Verse 10: And He said to them, "In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place.
Verse 11: "And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment - so there is ajudgment day coming, in which Sodom and Gomorrah will live again – than for that city!"
Verse 12: So they went out and preached that people should repent.
Verse 13: And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.
So, here we find that Jesus Christ gave them power to do so, and you find that Jesus (beginning is Verse 53) went about healing many individuals likewise. Now in Chapter 7, Verses 24 through 30, Christ cast an unclean spirit out of a Syro-Phoenician woman; healed the deaf and the dumb man…Chapter 8:22 He healed the blind man. Later on, Chapter 9, He cast out a dumb spirit, and He healed, Chapter 10, blind Bartimaeus.
Now, you could go on, we could quote Matthew, we could quote Luke. Well, why did He heal so many people? What was the purpose behind it? It was an important aspect of His ministry, as we know. The healings, number one, expressed His compassion, His love, His concern for human beings. And many people He healed because of compassion and having pity upon them. But it was also a revelation of who He was; that He was the Messiah. And so he healed, performed signs and wonders, cast out demons as proof as to who He was. Notice back here in Chapter 2:10, it says:
Mark 2:10 Mark 2:10But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (he said to the sick of the palsy,)
American King James Version× "So that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" - He said unto the paralytic,
Verse 11: "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house."
And so He prayed and God healed him. So He showed that the Son of Man had power on earth to forgive sin. Now I want you to notice the account over in Luke, Chapter 10 – we'll begin in Verse 1 where Jesus Christ sent the seventy out. Now we know that there were only twelve disciples, those who became the apostles when the church started, but there were seventy others here. Were all of these a part of the 120 that were in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost? It doesn't say, but there were 120 if you'll remember. A number of them were women. But it says:
Luke 10:1 Luke 10:1After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, where he himself would come.
American King James Version× After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.
Verse 2: Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few, therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
Verse 3: "Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.
Verse 4: "Carry neither money bag, sack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.
Verse 5: "But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.'
Verse 6: "And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.
Then He told them, notice:
Verse 9: "And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.'
The kingdom of god has come near to you…
Verse 10: "But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say,
Verse 11: ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near to you.'
So brethren we find, that whenever healings take place, especially in public, it is a demonstration that the kingdom of God is near to them. And it shows it is a picture of what God will do in the future, when the kingdom of God finally comes to this earth in all of its glory and power that God is going to heal mankind. He's going to preach to them. So God blessed them with power and miracles, signs and wonders, and as a result He said the power of the kingdom was among them. Jesus Christ, as the king of the kingdom, was there on earth at that time, so He proved that He was the Messiah by all that He did, and He shared some of that power with those who followed Him.
Now the first three gospels take up the Old Testament understanding – that is, that God is the healer of the people - and we see the same thing fulfilled in the New Testament among the people, by Jesus Christ. John's gospel is different from the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. There are only four healings that take place in the Book of John, and many of these you don't find in the other writings. Number one was the Officer's son was healed in Chapter 4, beginning in Verse 46. The man who was ill for 38 years, Chapter 5, Verse 1 was healed. A man born blind, Chapter 9, was healed - and then the climatic raising of Lazarus from the dead. These incidents are carefully related to accompanying discourses that Christ clearly showed as signs revealing who He was. And they were outstanding miracles. But these are four that are recorded in the Book of John.
Now when you get to the Book of Acts, the acts of the apostles, we find a continuation of Jesus' ministry through the Spirit at work in His disciples. So now, or through them now, they are empowered by God's Spirit. They've been converted; they've been given God's Spirit, and God began to work signs and wonders and miracles through them, and it was proof where God's servants were, where the church was at that time – proof of whom God was working through. Because, when they would heal somebody in public, it would attract a crowd, people would know about it, and then they were able to have an audience for preaching the gospel. They didn't have a bullhorn, like we might have today – and they didn't have a PA system; they didn't have radio, didn't have TV, didn't have printing press, so how were they going to attract a crowd? Well God used signs and wonders to do so. The Old Testament church started, you might remember, with power being displayed by God in Egypt, where He brought His people out and established His Covenant. The New Testament church likewise started with the miracles of hearing and speaking on the Day of Pentecost – Acts 2, you might remember, that God gave them the ability to speak in tongues. And the people heard them speak in their own language, whatever language they spoke. And 3,000 people were converted on the Day of Pentecost. We've never, that I know of, in this age had 3,000 people converted in one day! I have baptized forty people in one day – that's the most that I know of. You know, you might baptize fifteen or twenty, but to have 3,000 people converted in one day! It drew crowds for the preaching of the gospel – remember, it was the Day of Pentecost – Nine o'clock in the morning! All at once they're speaking in tongues; people hear them. And they understand them. No matter what language they spoke, they understood – everybody understood.
And Peter gets up and preaches this powerful sermon. The Day of Pentecost, there were hundreds of thousands – could have been millions of people there in Jerusalem. And they heard – out of that number 3,000 were converted. When miracles were performed in this manner, the Gentiles especially would be attracted; they would learn who the true God was, that God is the God of Israel - not our Pagan gods; not our idols, but the God of Israel, and would come to know the true God. In public healings and miracles, many times people are healed and it doesn't require faith on their part – they're just healed, and God does something miraculous. Let's notice in Acts 3 – Acts 3 we have the example of the lame man being healed:
Acts 3:1 Acts 3:1Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
American King James Version× Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, which was the ninth hour.
Verse 2: And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;
Verse 3: And seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms – (alms for the poor, you know – alms for the poor.)
Verse 4: And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us."
So I'm sure he's thinking, "Aha, I'm going to get a big gift here"…
Verse 5: So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
Verse 6: Then 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."
Verse 7: And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
Verse 8: And so, leaping up, stood and walked and entered into the temple with them – Walking, leaping and praising God.
So what do you think all the people around there thought? Because they knew that he sat out there every day – they'd seen him, who knows how many years.
Verse 9: And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
Verse 10: Then they knew that it was he who sat begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement as to what had happened to him.
Verse 11: Now the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John – And you know, said, "These are the men; you know, they healed me."
And then Peter clarifies: "We don't have any power of ourselves – this happened through Jesus Christ." And so they preached to them, and it was an opportunity for them to be able to preach the gospel to the people. Notice in Chapter 4 –
Acts 4:1 Acts 4:1And as they spoke to the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came on them,
American King James Version× Now as they spoke to the people, - see they were speaking to the people – the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,
Verse 2: And being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
Now okay – maybe the healing was okay, but the resurrection! Jesus…you know, they wereagainst that:
Verse 3: And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
Verse 4: However, many of those who heard the word (saw what happened – heard theword) believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
Now we've got five thousand, or two more thousand being converted here somewhere along the line. So now you've got five thousand being converted - so many heard the word.
Come over to Chapter 5 - you might remember – Ananias and Sapphira conspire to lie to the Holy Spirit. They said they'd sold a piece of property for a certain amount of money, and then you know, they lied about it and kept back some…I mean they could have given $2.00 – you know, they weren't obligated to give it all. They gave, you know, a little bit, but they indicated to everybody they gave it all. And they lied about it. And as you remember, Ananias came in, lied, fell down dead, and they carried him out. His wife Sapphira came in…Peter asked her, "Is this the sum you sold it for?" For she knew her husband had to have said that, so she said "Yes" – she drops down dead. Both of them are carried out. They lied to the Holy Spirit. So let's notice, beginning in Verse 11:
Acts 5:11 Acts 5:11And great fear came on all the church, and on as many as heard these things.
American King James Version× So great fear came upon all the church… I would say so! You can't lie to the apostles – you're going to drop dead! You know, I'd be afraid too – and upon all who heard these things. So not only on the church, but on all who heard –
Verse 12: And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch.
Verse 13: Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.
Verse 14: And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.
Now we've got multitudes being converted – how? Well, they saw miracles; they hear the apostles preaching –
Verse 15: so they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.
Verse 16: Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
Now, think what this would do to the medical profession! Clean out the hospitals, so to speak. Everybody who was sick, you know - come and they're healed. Now, this also, as you go on in the story here, you'll find it brought persecution, did it not? The religious leaders, Pharisees, Sadducees – all of them said: "Hey, you can't do this – you can't be preaching this man's name –stop it!" And they let them go. And you'll find that it brought persecution, first of all religious, from the religious establishment, and later on from politics, from the political leaders. So that eventually, the very might of the Roman Empire was turned against the true believers.
You'll find in Acts 28 that the apostle Paul healed a barbarian – if I remember, he was shipwrecked on this island – Publius was the Magistrate there. They built a fire, he brought some sticks, there was a viper, a snake, latched onto his hand – they thought he was going to die, they said "Well, he must have been a murderer"…couldn't get away, so therefore they looked for him to bloat up or to die…he didn't die, then they thought he was a god. So he goes over to the Magistrate and heals his father, and you know, God performed some miracles through Paul. The barbarian did not have faith – this leper did not have faith – they didn't even know what was going to happen. And yet, God healed. And so, you'll find in the early New Testament church, that one of the methods that God used to attract people, get an audience, was through signs and wonders, and you'll find that the apostle Paul said that God performed signs and wonders through him. It was proof that he was an apostle, and at that time, apparently God gave to the apostles this type of power to be able to perform those.
Let's turn back to I Corinthians, Chapter 12, and Verse 7 – apparently there's more than one type of healing that takes place. And what I mean by that, any healing is a miracle – it's a miracle from God. But I'm talking about public miracles as opposed to, what we would call, a private miracle, where a minister comes and anoints you in your own home, and which is more private and quiet. But notice here in Verse 7:
I Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for the profit of all:
So God gives us His Spirit; that Spirit imparts gifts and it does so for the profit of all.
Verse 9: to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,
So notice the plural: gifts (plural) of healings (plural) by the same Spirit. Now in Verse 28:
Verse 28: God has appointed these in the church; first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues,
Verse 29: Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
Verse 30: Do all have the gift of healings – or the gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
So it shows that the gift of healings was an absolute gift that God gave to His church, but not to everyone. Apparently at this time it was to the apostles. So again, realize that all healings are miracles; they're all of supernatural intervention by God. Now you can quickly think of public types of healings and miracles in the Bible, and you can think of those that are more private. The Old Testament…how did God deal with Israel when He brought them out of Egypt - brought ten plagues on the Egyptians; parted the Red Sea; gave them manna to eat. He gave them quail to eat; water out of rocks; their clothes and shoes lasted for forty years! Don't you wish yours would? And you know, they were blessed in that way – He parted the Jordan River; brought the walls of Jericho down. Said He would drive out the nations from before them.
Now notice in Joshua, Chapter 2 – why did God do all of this? Same type of thing as we find in the New Testament: Joshua 2:8 Joshua 2:8And before they were laid down, she came up to them on the roof;
American King James Version×– and here's Rahab – it says:
Joshua 2:8 So before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof,
Verse 9: and said to the men: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.
Verse 10: "For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan,
Verse 11: "And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain anymore courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath,
So God proved to Israel that He was God by the miracles He performed, and also His reputation went before them as they entered into the land - their enemies were afraid. They didn't really have to fight, you know. And all they had to do was trust God.
Now Jesus Christ came along and He performed miracles as a sign that He was the Messiah, and as a result of that you find that God worked with Him. Let's just notice one Scripture here, Matthew 11 – God backed up His ministry showing that He was the Messiah – Chapter 11:2 it says:
Matthew 11:2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples
Verse 3: And said to Him, "Are You the Coming One (are you the One we're looking for to come) or do we look for another?"
Verse 4: Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:
Verse 5: "The blind sees, the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Verse 6: "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."
And so He showed that that was proof – He said you go back and tell John that here's the proof that I am the One that you're looking for – I am the Messiah. Now the apostles in the Book of Acts and you find through Paul's writings, that God backed them with signs and wonders – they performed miracles. In the future, we know that there are going to be two men – let's go over here to Revelation, Chapter 11 – two men that we're all familiar with – the two witnesses…not the four witnesses, or the six witnesses, but the two witnesses. That God will give them power in the future to perform signs and wonders, miracles. Let's notice in Revelation 11:3 Revelation 11:3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
American King James Version×:
Revelation 11:3 Revelation 11:3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
American King James Version×"And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophecy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, (So 3 ½ years in other words), clothed in sack cloth."
Verse 5: And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. - So, you know, they're able to…like that…snuff their enemies out! And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.
Verse 6: They have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.
Verse 7: Now when they have finished their testimony, - so notice, not only do they perform miracles, but they finish their testimony…the beast who rises up out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.
And then 3 ½ days later, they rise up – God resurrects them at that time. When they do these signs and wonders, it will not be done in a corner – it will not be done off in somebody's barn – it will make the headlines on BBC, CNN or whatever news channel there might be at that time. God will intervene and begin to punish the nations, and they might say, "Tomorrow the Euphrates River is going to be turned to blood" – it turns to blood; "The Caspian Sea's going to turn to blood" - it turns to blood. "This plague is going to come on this nation – destroy all of their armies" - and their armies' destroyed. And they will make pronouncements and these things will happen.
Now do you think that that will endear the people of the earth to them? They will hate them and want to destroy them. So God will intervene to punish the nations. And in the millennium we know that God will heal all manner of sickness and diseases. He'll destroy the armies of the strong nations – change the nature of animals and mankind. And you'll find a different world at that time.
Now, let's focus on us – let's go over here to James 5 – you'll find that there are such things as public miracles - and when will God do them here in the future? Well we know the two witnesses. Will God do it prior to that? He may – well we don't know. I have a feeling that He will, but we simply don't know. God does public miracles, signs and wonders like that when He knows that it's best for carrying out His work and doing what He wants. In James 5:14 James 5:14Is any sick among you? 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:
American King James Version×:
James 5:14 James 5:14Is any sick among you? 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:
American King James Version× Is anyone among you sick? – It could describe a lot of us, couldn't it – anyone 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.
Verse 15: And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven.
Now notice the prayer of faith will save the sick. So I think the Bible is very clear when it comes to God dealing with us personally. It requires (1) that the minister has faith that is anointing you, and secondarily that you have faith; that you believe in the promise of God; that you believe that God can heal and that God will heal. So the prayer of faith will heal the sick. Now why did Jesus Christ go through the beating and the suffering that He did? You might remember, back in Isaiah 53 – I won't read this, but Verses 3 through 5 says: "By His stripes we are healed." That Jesus Christ was beaten, scourged so that we might be healed, and we need healing in every sense: emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. Too often we just focus on physical, but we need to be healed in all these ways. We need to be made whole, complete.
Now healing, as we find here, is not always for the forgiveness of sin – notice Verse 15: The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if (not that he has) – but if he has committed sin, he will be forgiven. So that's a big if – if he has sinned. So, it's not always the forgiveness of sin. In cases where it does involve sin, repentance is necessary, and we know that if we repent that God will forgive our sins. Now God can forgive our sins, but that does not mean that He will necessary heal us immediately. We need to realize that there is a difference. You get on your knees and you say, "Father, I'm sick; I know that I helped to bring this on – I haven't been eating properly, I haven't been exercising, haven't been sleeping…I realize I've run myself down; my immune system is, you know, down here ‘in the ditch' – I helped to bring this about – forgive me!" So God will forgive you – we're asking that God then heal you. It doesn't always mean that God will heal you immediately, even though our sins are forgiven. Notice the example in John 9 – a blind man being healed:
Verse 2: And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" So – who sinned?
Verse 3: And Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, - he's not blindbecause he sinned or they sinned – but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
Verse 4: I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; - he goes on to say.
So you have the example of Christ healing the blind man – he was there so that would be an example to people of God's power. There are examples in the Scripture of people being sick, that who do not lack faith, that we know who had faith – there's no example necessarily of their personal sins that brought the illness on. What about Paul where he besought God three times to remove a problem, probably a health problem; a thorn in the flesh. We know that God said, "I'm going to leave this because you need to be humble." So sometimes God will allow us to go through a trial, doesn't take it away, simply because we need to learn certain lessons. If God always…you get down and pray and God always, just like that, immediately every time, you're healed… "I'm healed! I'm healed! I'm healed!" You can go out here and do anything you want to…you've got this automatic healing that takes place – doesn't work that way.
Once God begins to deal with you personally, on a one-on-one basis, then there are occasions when God might want to correct us. I want you to notice that we have part in the process – let's go back and read Verse 15 here again in James:
Verse 15: The prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up. If he's committed sins they will be forgiven.
So there has to be a prayer of faith, and we have to have faith our self.
Verse 16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, - nownotice…we are commanded to pray for those who are sick, and it's very easy to forget about others, but we need to pray for them…that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
So we confess our sins, we pray, we ask God to heal us and notice: Our prayers must be effective – they must be fervent, and they have to come from an individual who's righteous; who's doing what is right. They avail much with God; they carry clout with God. They carry weight with God. Then notice he cites Elijah:
Verse 17: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, - as you and I think of Elijah and allthe miracles that were performed by him – but the Bible says he's a guy just like us – and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
Verse 18: And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth produced its fruit.
So, you find that Elijah, being just like us, that God heard him and God intervened. Now, it's not saying that if you and I have complete faith, that every time we ask to be anointed, that we will be healed immediately. There are exceptions, are there not? Read Hebrews 11 – the faith chapter. And what does Hebrews 11 tell you? There are those who had faith and God intervened on their behalf; there were those who had faith and God allowed them to die. He allowed them to be martyred; He allowed them to be sawn in sunder; He allowed them to wander in the deserts and in the wilderness. Was it a matter that they lacked faith? No, they're listed as men and women of faith. But God was dealing with them. And if we do have more faith brethren, if you and I have more faith, we know that God will perform more miracles – that there would be more healing. Luke 18:8 Luke 18:8I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?
American King James Version×tells us simply this:
Luke 18:8 Luke 18:8I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?
American King James Version× "when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" - Will He find faith?
Well, our faith will be tested and tried at times. Let's back up to Verse 14 – now I want you to notice something that I feel, over a period of time, we've allowed to slip. You and I have a responsibility in all of this – notice:
James 5: 14 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.
Our responsibility is to call; our responsibility is to ask to be anointed if we're sick. Now I've noticed, over recent years, that I've found many members do not ask to be anointed. They may ask people to pray for them… "Will you pray for me; I've got this…I'm going to have an operation…I'm going to do this – pray for me."…but they never get anointed. Many times we're the last ones to hear that somebody's really sick and they've got some type of a problem. They ask members to pray, but God says our first thing we should do is to ask to be anointed. And I'm not saying you can't seek medical help – certainly you can. But first be anointed, and then…you know, that's what God tells us to do.
The minister's responsibility then is to anoint you, and as Acts 19 shows, Verses 11 through 12, if he can't get there we will mail an anointed cloth. But in any case, we will get down on our knees and pray for you, anoint that cloth, lay hands on it and ask God to perform a miracle on your behalf. So we have a responsibility to pray for you.
One thing I've noticed also, sometimes a person…and what I'm about to say here is something that I've observed…that maybe they are going to be operated on. They'll call the minister to be anointed, and many times I ask myself, "What are they being anointed for?" Well, they want the minister to pray that God would guide the surgeons hand, that there be no complications. They're not asking to be prayed for to be healed; they're asking that, you know, this would take place. Well, to me there's a difference. If you're sick, you're asking God to heal you: ask the minister. Now, we will certainly come to the hospital…you're about to go in for an operation…and pray for you, but I won't anoint you. You know, there's a difference. I may lay my hands on you; ask God to be with you, to guide you, to direct you that He would guide everything, but you know, that is not sickness. Now if you're asking me, you know, "I believe God can still heal me; please anoint me" - I'll certainly go ahead and anoint you. But I think there's a difference between the two operations.
You'll find that there are reasons why sometimes we're not healed. You might remember I Corinthians 11 – it said there were many sickly among you and many have died…why? Because they were not discerning the Lord's body, that's why. I John 3 talks about the fact of our obedience, if we obey God, that He hears our prayers. And so God will try our faith; He will test us. And what is God's ultimate purpose? His ultimate purpose is our salvation – He's developing our character. He knows when it's best to heal us, or if it's not good for us to be healed in this life. But, you know, He will do it if we have faith. Remember, there are many examples in the Bible of the timing of healing being left up to God. God told Abraham and Sarah they would have a child – you know it took them over twenty years to get that promise fulfilled. God said He would bring Israel out of Egypt – they were in Egypt 230 years before God brought them out, and brought them to the Promised Land.
Paul besought God three times to have the thorn removed. God said, "No, My grace is sufficient – I'm not going to remove it; you need to be humble." And so he had to put up with it. Epaphroditus almost died…and Paul had prayed for him – he almost died. And so God intervened on his behalf. So there are many examples that we could go to and read and study, where you'll find that God does not do it immediately, because He's concerned about our character, our salvation and our being in His kingdom. And He knows what's best for us.
Now what you find is that Satan wants to put doubts in our mind – he wants us to mistrust God. It's very easy for us to become discouraged when we're going through a trial, whether it's a health trial, financial trial – whatever it might be. But God is molding our character or our attitude – we need to pray for faith, we need to study, as the Bible says in Romans 10:17 Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
American King James Version×:
We need to pray that God will help us. We need to walk with God on a daily basis; we need to trust God. We need to believe in the promise from God, and claim that promise. Christ healed when He was on the earth because of compassion, and proof that He was the Messiah and as a demonstration that the kingdom of God had come to them. And that was a forerunner of the world tomorrow, when Christ will be here and the resurrection will take place, and there will be physical and spiritual healing in the Millennium.
Brethren, you and I are learning to trust God today, because at that time, God will use us – we will be a part of the process to heal the people and to guide them and to teach them. And be there to help heal all mankind, especially mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. We don't know exactly what God will do with us, but we know that we will be there to assist Him in carrying out those responsibilities.