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Monday, March 12, 2007

MIND OF CHRIST-Healing and the Laying on of Hands

When I was a younger person, I liked the idea of healing: especially of the healing of painful emotions- I suppose I was somewhat more sensitive to such things, and over time wanting to see people healed of suffering led me to study Psychology rather than Philosophy. As an unbeliever, I shared alot of the ideas that many unbelieving professionals share, that healing emotionally can come about merely by 'understanding' whatever confronts us, or by learning about it---but the 150 or so years of psychological or quasi-psychological approaches have not faired well: rather than having developed a healing profession called "Psychology" we instead have hundreds of small to moderate theories and models of people and how they act and think and feel, often contradicting one another? Are people made whole? Largely, no, unless they are really motivated, young, self-directed and other characteristics which would have made them change anyway. So for our years and years and billions of dollars and countless treatments, people fare about as well now as they did before Psychology, save for the fact that many are more self-obsessed.

But Growing in Christ after 22 years, I have come to understand, that mere introspection and understanding, much to the field's dismay, does not lead to emotional or physical healing. I would not argue that there are not emotional components to even physical healing, but to divorce the person from his or her creator, who made and heals both body and spirit, is to seriously miss where healing comes from.

Salvation and Healing

Our first and foremost healing, without which all other healings are fruitless and meaningless, is that of Salvation. Today, too often, people hear words like "salvation" and they picture staid older church women telling them they are just no darn good. [forgive the darn] and they need to 'git saved'. Well the truth is, we all do, but it is a good and wonderful gift, the 'good news' the Angels announced to the poor shepherds in the field, the announcement that God still loves us, is still with us, and paid a price so great that we could have His righteousness, and live in love in His presence forever! But we had to be healed to Him and His Way, to be made whole again, infected as we are with the Edenic sin which cursed the world and separated us from God because we, as Adam and Eve, just didn't want it God's way, just wanted to be in charge with His power instead of our own, the creation rebelling against the creator. The root of the word is the same as salve, a healing balm, and Jesus, who bought our Salvation and healing [by His Stripes we are healed] with His blood, and He is called the 'Balm of Gilead'. That healing though, is not just a 'getting right with God' or 'getting religion' [who wants that?]---but a new birth, being born once again from above, and becoming a new creation one day to live forever in His presence. New mind, new heart, new world view, new Father, new citizenship and Kingdom, and the wondrous peace and rest in His accomplished salvation. That is the foundation of healing.


Hebrews, though, when urging Christians to grow deeper in the things of the LORD, lists some foundations of life in Christ which are so basic, that Paul simply expects the Christian of some time to already know these things. They are:

1.Repentance from dead works
2. Faith towards God
3. Doctrine of Baptism
4. the Laying on of Hands
5. the Resurrection of the Dead
6.Eternal Judgment.

Of all of these, the basic teachings accompany Salvation and receiving and trusting Jesus' atonement as full payment for our sin: but the one of this list that is not simply introducing the new Christian to the beginning of belief, is the one which involves the gift of healing and authority: the Laying on of Hands.

Some churches today relegate the laying on of hands for another time, or assign it to gifts which they declare are no longer operative, but the gifts, like the gift giver has continued. The 'laying on' of hands though, is not only a New Testament concepts: it is a very Jewish one, mentioned since early times in the Old Testament. Thompson's Chain Reference Bible notes that the laying on of hands is used in Old and New Testament in

1. The Consecration of an Offering: Lev 1:4; 3:2; 4:15; and 16:21 in which a burnt and/or sin offering was consecrated by placing hands on the beast's head, to appoint it for a purpose before God. This included the Priest laying hands on the Azazel, or scapegoat of Israel and sending it out into the desert, imbued with the sins of the nation. A corollary practice is in
2) Ordination Ordination by the laying on of hands is seen in both the old and New Testament. The first Covenant saw the laying on of hands for the conveying of purpose, authority and anointing in Numbers 8:10 , in the anointing/appointment of the Levitical Priesthood:

the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:

or when Joshua is anointed for leadership in Israel:

And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom [is] the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.And thou shalt put [some] of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. Num 27:18-21
(also in Dt 34:9)

This type of 'laying on of hands' commands purpose, authority to do a work or hold a position, and anointing or power to do it. In the New Testament it is commanded for the appointment of Church offices and gifts and the sending forth of disciples in the Great Commission. [Acts 6:6; 1 Tim 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim 1:6]. This kind of laying on of hands, is still done in most Churches, from fundamentalists to pentecostals, and often in 'high' churches or liberal Churches which practice only a 'social' gospel or Christian philosophy. In fact in 1 Timothy 5:27, Christians are warned to take this transmittal and consecration seriously warning them to "lay hands suddenly on no man". It is interesting that the hands are usually laid on the brow and on the top of the head, which is both a comforting posture, and one indicating authority: the head is often mentioned as a symbol of authority of the body of Christ, the Church, a marriage, etc, and the brow is the place in the end time, when we choose either to bear Christ's mark or Satan's and the world's. It is also reminiscent of our role as children: when our children are young we often without thinking in affection and protection lay our hands on their heads: it speaks authority and love, not oppressively, but rather like the presence of a loving fortress. God's love, protection and anointing is not less.

3. Blessings
Even in the Old Testament we see the laying on of hands of a blessing: the great story of Jacob and Esau involves an aging father laying hands on whom he thinks is his firstborn to convey the power and authority and inheritance of a firstborn. It is also essentially the consecration of a will, a bequeathing. Joseph also blesses his children, and Jacob blesses his: the blessings of the tribes in scripture convey purpose and descriptions: their place in God's plan and history is coupled with their unique 'style' both in their perfections and decided imperfection.
[Gn 48:14] Matthew 19:15 denotes the famous passage of Jesus blessing the children, the disregarded little ones cherished by Christ, their God and Father, whom all others neglect and degrade:

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.And he laid [his] hands on them, and departed thence.
Matthew 19:15

So blessings, like the appointment of authority and anointing have to do with power, purpose, mercy and good will in the order of God, but the great gift of healing and the laying on of hands remains.

4. Healing and the Laying on of Hands
What we usually think of when we speak of the 'laying on of hands, is exactly this: healing. Jesus, many times in scripture, laid hands on people and they got well.
The Greek for 'laying on ' in this matter is 'episthesis', which is a literal 'laying on' and can cannote touching, although when Jesus lays hands on dying or just dead children or adults, or the sick or possessed, it is according to the age old Hebrew tradition coupled with the power and authority and love of God. In fact the hallmark of Jesus' Messiahship comes when in John 9 he heals a man blind since birth- a sign of Messiah as is the healing of a deaf man. A noteworthy point, is that He does not have to touch the ill, infirm, possessed, because as with Jairus' daughter, merely faith and His Word will do, but His Jewishness and His 'fatherly love' often are characterized in this ancient Hebrew comfort.

This blog on healing and the laying on of hands, will continue with the next entry.ekbest
2. 84.