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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Healing: Part V: Healing of the Nations

We will return in this blog shortly, to a discussion of the different kinds of personal healing which are made manifest in Jesus' life on earth. Most of what we have discussed so far has been from the individual's perspective: physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing, healing and deliverance, and the Healing of the Cross. Before moving on though, to the particulars of the 'kinds' of personal healing, we stop to describe an aspect of scripture and teaching that in modern times has only been briefly alluded to, but is just as essential and works similarly in macrocosm to personal healing. The issue is the "Healing of the Nations".

The clearest scripture that deals with the "healing of the Nations is in Revelation:

Rev 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations.

We think often about the idea of the healing of bodies and occasionally of minds, but we do not think often about the "healing of nations", and yet if one looks at the world today, it becomes obvious, that healing is more needed on the national level than anywhere else. To most, that would mean a lack of conflict, and while that certainly would be central, it does not imply a one world government. In perfect healing, diversity can exist and so can peace, but that is not often understood today. The Healing of Nations though, is only mentioned in those exact words once, but is seen as a theme throughout the Old and New Testament.

Israel as the First Among Nations

When issues of healing nations arise, Israel is most often the 'prototype' which God holds up, to show how He deals with nations. This is why we can often apply the principles and commands God used in dealing with Israel to other nations across the centuries, because though Israel was unique as a divinely appointed theocracy among nations, it also acted as a 'firstborn' and ensample for all to learn from.

Jeremiah, Israel and the Potter's Wheel

In another bible study, we discussed the issues of national healing with regard to the Potter's Wheel Jeremiah mentions, while speaking of the Potter [God] being both the Creator and Destroyer of the pot: the word itself can refer to both. When a nation is either not formed correctly or strays from a right path, healing is necessary, or the nation is destroyed, that a new thing may be created. This is why there is a constant cry from God's heart throughout scripture to bring Israel back to her God and to righteousness: to 'right ways', for it is not in the heart of God to destroy even a recalcitrant nation. The passages in Jeremiah which deal with the breaking of a nation though, also shows a standard way God deals with a nation He rightfully deals with: with the harsh and sometimes almost unbearable 'destructions', come also covenant and promise of healing, making whole, and setting right the nation which has erred.

Jer 19:8 And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof.

But with the multiple curses in addition to the above, comes a prescription for repentance and 'turning around', away from the sins which caused God to judge Israel, and example of which is found in Jer 22:3

Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
Jer 22:4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.

And even when severe and devastating judgment is sworn by God against the Land, God always couches the rebuke and judgment, in His trait of Justice, with His dovetailed trait of mercy:

Jer 23:3-5 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this [is] his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

So that we see a threefold primary dealing with a nation which is 'diseased' and in need of healing:

I. The Statement of Sin and Call to Repentance, with a detailed description of forthcoming Judgment
II. The Giving of a Prescription or Command for Obedience which will turn the course of judgment, and
III. The Promise given upon forthcoming Judgment when Israel [or nations] fail to repent, of Mercy, and the covenant of taking the desolations and turning them to the good.

The one difference between Israel and other nations in the way God deals with them, is that God does not seem to be under any 'contractual' or covenantal obligation to restore or have mercy on a 'pagan' nation, especially if it is an enemy of Israel. Assyria and Babylon, once they had been used as God's 'sword' against his own people as an instrument of judgment and chastisement, is not promised a return to grandeur, and in fact neither returned to the grandeur of the time ever again! In sum, though, the above pattern of God's dealing with and healing broken and even rebelling nations often holds.

II. Therapeia and Ethnos

The word used in the expression "healing of the nations" for healing is Therapeia, from which it is obvious, we derive our modern English word 'therapy' and 'therapeutic'. BlueletterBible.com uses the following definition:

Service, care (hence healing), household.

And 'therapon', a related word is a servant or person who renders service.

The ideas which emerge are a submission and service, within a body, and those principles at least are quite applicable to the healing of nations.

Ethnos, from which we derive the word 'ethnic' refers to nations which are Gentile, pagan, or foreign, often described as 'heathen' or a 'people'. Various levels of persons within a government are similarly derived such as 'ethnarches' which means governor, ethnikos, which refers to a pagan or Gentile , or Ethnikos as an adjective referring to 'after the manner of Gentiles'.

While a word study is not enough by itself to intuit all of God's purpose or plan in the healing of a nation, it is clear that the intent of God with regard to even Gentile nations [goyim] is healing and 'setting right' and 'making whole' and according to their divine and expected purpose. A fascinating aspect of this study, which we will examine in more detail later, is that it is the Leaves [Phyllon] of the tree of life, the one that sits in the midst of Eden and Heaven, that are 'medicinal' to the healing of nations, and I posit that to mean both metaphorically and literally.

We will turn in the next study, to look at what the characteristics and descriptions are of 'national' healing.

08/26/2007 E.K.Best Contact Us

Healing: Part V: Healing of the Nations

We will return in this blog shortly, to a discussion of the different kinds of personal healing which are made manifest in Jesus' life on earth. Most of what we have discussed so far has been from the individual's perspective: physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing, healing and deliverance, and the Healing of the Cross. Before moving on though, to the particulars of the 'kinds' of personal healing, we stop to describe an aspect of scripture and teaching that in modern times has only been briefly alluded to, but is just as essential and works similarly in macrocosm to personal healing. The issue is the "Healing of the Nations".

The clearest scripture that deals with the "healing of the Nations is in Revelation:

Rev 22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Healing and Deliverance: Part IV---Healing of the Cross

All healing, ALL really begins at Golgotha. There is surely no way around it. While even unbelievers can be healed by a Believer filled with the Holy Spirit, lasting, life-changing and permanent healing comes first with belief, and that at the Cross. We have already discussed why in has to begin there by the nature of the Atonement, the great Sacrifice, the great EXCHANGE which took place there.

When I was an unbeliever, and I was one of the more vocal, I dismissed all of the above as foolishness and nonsense. I was both humanist and pragmatist. I believed what I could see, touch, experience, and hear, and was not given to local Christians with southern accents in Gainesville telling me to 'get saved'---in fact, I believe that drove me far from the real Messiah. It took years to come to understand that there was a God, a wondrous God, and that He was not just a pantheistic 'notion' or Oversoul, but a real, living true life-breathing healing God. Both modern Jews and Christians, though they may have attended synagogue or church all their lives, first have to come to that 'revelation': that God, the God of Heaven, not one of man's conception is real, true and working in the world.

I came to understand surrender, though, and to understand what was done on that dark afternoon on Golgotha 2000 years ago. We were healed. When the veil rent, the partition between man and God was gone: we could walk again with Him in belief and with his righteousness instead of our own, in the communion which had not been seen since Eden. So among the tasks on the Cross which were accomplished were

1. Our Healing [by His Stripes we are healed]
2. Our Righteousness
3. Our Salvation- safety, oneness with God,
4. Deliverance, from Death-- 2 Cor 1:10
5. Deliverance from Hell and Everlasting Judgment
6. Deliverance from Satan [the destroyer]
7 Deliverance from the Power of Darkness

We have already discussed how the Stripes of his Cross healed us, it was the exchange which was to lead to ours: His life for ours. Righteousness, the gift of God we could never attain on our own, was a healing to what we would need to do, to be with God, to have life eternal, and to be 'fit' for His presence in Heaven. Even in the Old Testament, this concept of 'righteousness' is replete: the concept of it being a total GIFT from God that man could not earn, is not a 'Christian' concept, but a Jewish one---every passage dealing with righteousness in the Old Testament, shows it to be a gift of God, and not an earned quantity, because, our righteousness is not sufficient to ever match His. When through Jesus' [Yshua's] blood and death, the righteousness of God was imputed to us in divine mystery, it was again, the healing that brought us into wholeness: He was the cornerstone and plumbline bringing God's creation back into line, back into right order for the purpose it was intended, in Love. We talk so little about the love of God these days except in a general sense, but it is more than good works, caring for the poor, the lame, the hungry, blind, deaf and so on---it is the undeniable reaching out of perfect whole unadulterated Love by the perfect Spirit of God, for the imperfect: us. Not only are we "imperfect", but before 'regeneration', we are vile in His eyes, but He can see past to our healing, to the person we will become in Him. Given this healing, we are delivered to FREEDOM---the perfect law of Liberty.

Now if we are given to liberty, we are no longer under the bonds of darkness. Darkness in the Bible is a symbol of spiritual darkness and sometimes the occult or demonic activity, seen for example in the description in Zechariah:

Zec 11:17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword [shall be] upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

or the description in Daniel of the Abomination of Desolations:

Daniel 8:23: a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.

The healing of 'deliverance from Darkness' is a powerful one: often physical healing and 'mental' or 'emotional' healing are tied up in this deliverance. The Modern Mind does not comprehend the notion of 'darkness' except perhaps in a metaphorical sense, but anyone who has confronted the occult, though they may not be very 'spiritual' has seen or felt at least some of what the Bible refers to. Even hard hearted hard core police officers investigating real cases of ritual abuse and worship report 'feelings' or a sense of something overpowering. I was trained in a Psychology Department at a major Southern University. 'Darkness' and the occult were almost never mentioned---in fact, just as God was considered the premiere 'off topic' conversation, the notion of a heaven or hell, or the existence of a real entity of evil, was considered laughable: we were all far too 'sophisticated' (a psychological term for spiritual blindness) for all of that. Yet still, in metaphor or out, even some Psychologists have noted the idea of 'evil' or darkness. The eminent existentialist, mentioned before, Dr. Rollo May wrote a series of essays on Psychology and the Demonic: he noted the concept within psychotherapy of something that 'overpowers' the person, that the person become controlled by or enslaved by, although he stopped short of religious views, and attributed it to primarily cognitive-emotional phenomena, e.g. depression. One particularly fine address in 1961 at the National APA [American Psychologist Association] given by the then head of the APA, reknown psychologist Murray was entitled "Psychology and Satan".

While it was the first [and perhaps last] keynote address of the APA which will be always remembered, the Chair made some remarkable points for a psychologist: He said, that " here is where our psychology comes in with...its prevailing views of human personality, its images of man obviously in league with the objectives of the NIHILISTIC SATANIC SPIRIT, Man is a computer, an animal, or an infant. His destiny is determined by genes, instincts, accidents early conditionings and reinforcements, cultural and social forces...there are no provisions for creativity,... for voluntary decisions... no power of ideals, no bases for selfless actions...if we psychologists were all the time, consciously or unconsciously intending out of malice to reduce the concept of human nature to its lowest common denominator, and were gloating over our successes in doing so, then we might have to admit that to this extent, the satanic spirit was alive within us" Murray, Past President APA 1965 Keynote Address.

So, at least in metaphor, 'darkness' and the occult and even the 'Satanic' spirit, exist in concept not only in lived faith, but in theology, psychology, and even philosophy, and believe it or not in the Legal System!!! Several cases which have involved the practice, for example of exorcism, when brought to court, had to establish the reality of 'possession', a widely held recognition across cultures and religions. [See : "the Exorcism of Emily Rose."]

Even outside of the Christian walk then, there is at least the notion, that 'whatever' spirit it is, even just sort of generic one, there is a wave of what we are referring to here as 'evil' or darkness---the popular author and psychologist Scott Peck, while his doctrine is somewhat secularized, gained fame by positing the unstated observation of many psychologists, that true 'evil' really does exist.x

So then, darkness, and what the Bible refers to as 'the power of Hell' and Satan, while many in secular society today do not agree on the nature, most see at least the 'effect' in observation: police investigating ritualism, lawyers trying exorcisms, psychologists confronting sundry cases including ritual abuse and psychopathologies, theologians wrestling with the goodness of God, and even historians and ethicists trying to come to terms with the Shoah and other genocides.

Yet in the teachings about the healing and deliverance afforded us on God's Cross on Golgotha, we are promised that the obedience of the Messiah included power over darkness, over sin, over death, and over Satan.

Spiritual Darkness

What the Bible refers to as 'darkness' can run the gamut from unbelief, all the way to the 'dark' arts. Darkness is a theme which can be only momentarily expounded here, but which is frequently referred to in Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testament. 'Darkness' is mentioned in the beginning of the Creation when the world was 'dark and void' referring to a literal darkness, but also to a sense of 'nothingness', a juxtaposition of time and space without form or meaning, etc. Darkness is seen as part of the great judgment on Egypt when they would not allow Israel to go forth in the desert to worship God, and is part of the plagues, and the darkness then, intimating the great spiritual void of idolatrous Egypt in harming God's anointed people is mentioned as so great they could not see one another, which while meant literally, can be taken figuratively as well. Darkness is also mentioned in Psalms consistently as surrounding the place God dwells such as:

Psa 18:9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness [was] under his feet.
Psa 18:11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him [were] dark waters [and] thick clouds of the skies.

Darkness also intimates, interestingly, a lack of understanding, a sort of spiritual and mental void or confusion, and is equated with chaos and the world being out of equilibrium and 'not whole'

Psa 18:28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
Psa 82:5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

Darkness is equated then with chaos, misunderstanding, reprobate conditions, and confusion and being less than whole.

It is also though eminently associated with dark arts and the occult: magic, and such and a darkened eye refers in several places in scripture to a person with unnatural power of an ungodly sort. Descriptions of the Anti-Christ in Daniel list this as a characteristic of the 'vile one' who arises to control the nations. The understanding of dark sentences is equated with the practise of the occult

Dan 8:23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.

Power Over Darkness

Healing comes in deliverance from 'darkness'. Colossians 1:13 says:
Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Part of the healing process which occurred on the Cross, was the deliverance from darkness, and as the scripture above notes: the giving of power over the power of darkness. We may be healed, not in the flesh from 'darkness', but in the "new man", in which Christ, the Messiah is indwelling, [the Light] and is Master over the darkness: this may be a somewhat awkward way to say it, but it is nevertheless true, that the power of darkness of any kind: occultism, confusion, witchcraft, satanism or unbelief and chaos, are under the foot of the conquering Redeemer. We will turn to discuss the idea of the healing of mental and spiritual afflictions later, but for now we note that to be whole, a person who has allowed themselves to participate in dark arts, practices or 'states' is healed through being delivered from the 'power' of darkness, by a power greater than darkness:

John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The light of Messiah is so great, and the accomplishment of healing of such magnitude on the Cross, that the powers of darkness at work in the world, cannot overpower the light of Christ, and are subject to His sovereignty.

Power Over Death

The premiere idea of Salvation, the healing and making right and whole of God and man his creation, the finished work on the Cross of Golgotha, is power over death. Believe it or not, this is not a new concept in the New Testament: the words O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? [1Cr 15:55 ]is found also in the Old Testament in Isaiah.

Isa 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken [it].

The power over death is a reality we rarely get ahold of and yet that is what our blood bought faith is all about: a real transaction took place that day on the Cross: we were 'healed' or 'delivered' from DEATH. Before we are saved, the idea of death is of either a complete end or some shadowy fearful unknown. But the Great Exchange on the Cross, and the victory won there on that hill, was a literal putting underfoot of death: we will not die, but live, and we will live the eternal life of God, since Jesus, Yshua, the firstborn of Creation, placed even death under his feet.
When I was a younger researcher I was in a department where a couple of persons were studying 'death threat' or 'death anxiety': they looked at how fearful and tense persons were about the concept of death, their own and others. Most people are very fearful: even Christians, but that fear can be healed, in knowledge that when we are imputed with His life and righteousness, we are given Life as a gift: eternal life and what we call death becomes a mere doorpost. When we are delivered not only of the fear of death, but death itself, we are able then to live the rest of our lives in victory and surrender---but not until then. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian and leader of the Confessing Church in the Shoah noted near his death that the "last temptation is hope". Until we reach for surrender to eternal life, we are always holding out and begging for 'one last chance at life'---the hope that we will escape death. The power of our life however is magnified immensely when we surrender even that hope and boldly take hold of the power of the New Life, the gift of Golgotha and the rich man's tomb: that even death could not provide a darkness so great that the power of God could not overcome it.

Power Over Satan

Satan is a created being: he is not a competing 'god'. He was originally among the Angels or ministering spirits although a vaguely described war took place in Heaven and a third of the angels fell in rebellion against the sovereignty of God. The hows and whys, or the attempt to make sense to the contemporary unbelieving mind, is almost impossible, it is an issue of faith. There is however a definitive, divine battle which goes on unseen except in effect behind natural contentions. In Daniel, for example, an angel is detained for weeks because he says he had to confront the Prince of Persia: a 'principality' or power in a hierarchy of powers which are behind the national workings of this world. Satan has power in this world, but it has limits, and can be overpowered by the blood of Christ, the Word of God and "loving not one's life unto death". He is a defeated foe, but a real adversary. C.S. Lewis, a former agnostic, became a great Christian apologist and author and in the Screwtape Letters notes that unbelief in Satan is one of his greatest accomplishments: he prefers it, that His power may abide. The unbelief in a real 'Satan'--mostly because he has been trivialized into a cartoon character, is the reason for defeat in many Christian lives. He is all that opposes Christ, the Messiah, the Prince of the Covenant [Sar B'rit]. We have no victory over him until we have a power greater than him in us:

"Greater is he that is in us, than he who is in the world".

This part of healing and understanding the deliverance from the adversary of souls, is essential, because it means that we are not enslaved to what his power can do in our lives, and it is monstrous: there is a way out. It means there is recourse, even when we confront the terrible destructions he is capable of wreaking on nations and persons. Madeleine L'Engle in a novel "Wind in the Door" describes the process in metaphor as 'un-naming' and uses the name 'ecthroi', for the destroyer. The things in life, such as loss and horror which leave us in utter despair can be his work: our power over them, and hence healing, lies in our knowledge and belief, of the indwelling power of the HOly Spirit: dunamous, which grants us God's authority over even Satan.

Power Over Hell

Lastly, the Power Over Hell, is in line with the power over death and Satan: once our citizenship or conversation is in the Kingdom of Heaven, we are not going to Hell, the entropy which lasts forever. Our fear of death is a fear of what happens next, and when we are encompassed in our own flesh and sinfulness, without Christ, we cannot rest easy even if we seldom consider hell or heaven. Today, in the slight belief that is out there, there is a very erroneous assumption that all are going to heaven because God is Good. This is not the teaching of the Torah or the Gospel: both teach the need to abide in God. While God is a god of Love, He is also a God of Justice: and the wicked, and those who choose unbelief, enter at death by their choosing and His assignment, a place of intense suffering. One has to have the indwelling life of God inside at death: what is of God will go to live in the presence of God, in bliss, and what is apart from God, will live apart from God in eternity. It is not a matter of what we think is 'fair' but of what actually will happen. Jesus showed such power on earth that we can hardly doubt that His knowledge of the afterlife is in error, and He taught about hell, warning that it was better to go limbless than to suffer there. His concern was so great, that He willingly laid down his life for the Way out. His call away from that suffering, pain and diseased state, condition and place was continuous: He could see beyond the limits of earthly life. Once we are healed via the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have rest and peace: death and hell, Satan and the powers of hell can no longer harm us. It is a place of surrender, which affords us the ability, even when facing the most horrible events of life, to be healed and whole, while others fragment and find twisted adaptations to this life. The healing is so great, we can face a willing death in peace.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Healing and Deliverance : Part III

The Deliverance from Death, Hell and Satan.

While we have already alluded to the primary importance of the healing of Salvation, the act of Messiah, that very black afternoon two thousand years ago on Golgotha, has fallen into such repetitiveness and sameness, that we often fail to see the depth and wonder of what was done there.

The first thing which needs to be seen, is the nature of the Choice that Jesus, Yshua, had to make: It bore several characteristics:

1.) Though he expounded it several times to His disciples, it was a choice no one understood, so it was a critical choice, made terribly alone to bring about the Will of God for the rest of human history

2.) It was a painful choice: the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, was human and divine agony, like none before or after. He willingly chose to obey and lay down His life, but counted the severe cost. I do not think it was only the mere surrender of will appointed and anointed since the beginning of time, but I believe He saw and had knowledge in His Spirit, of what it meant, though unseen, to take on the one war
no one else could fight, for His nature alone in history was different from other men. The painful surrender came in the light of what it meant to endure, taking on all the darkness, pain, suffering, sin and separation from God, since the beginning of man, in order to bring back the healing of the human race, starting with Israel, in a way only a rabbi could, who was completely human and completely divine.

3.) It was a choice which could not be turned away from in a person who while agonized from His human nature at the pain and loss it would require, was also beset by divine Love, so intense, that there was no other choice, for though Israel had turned for the umpteenth time to their own way, away from God, He could not withstand losing the ones He loved. He counted the cost.

The 'all in all' of His choice, was to heal man back to God. The disease of the Fall of Man had reached a point so severe, that if a healing did not come, the cancer of sin and separation had become so metasticized, that a complete cutting off [karet] would be necessary: it was then or never.

How Could a Crucifixion Bring Healing?

Promised and shadowed since the beginning, the idea of a healing sacrificial death was made clear from Genesis on. [e.g. Ps 22, Isaiah 6, 53 and others] Already mentioned is the sometimes baffling passage in Isaiah, "it pleased the LORD to bruise Him"---the idea that a severe suffering and wound, could please God seems anathema to a loving God, but the desire was towards an infinite healing. But the wounding of Golgotha, and the 'stripes' [see Section 1] in which our healing was found, represented first and foremost our healing to God from the 'crack in Creation' that occurred at the Fall, and secondarily the healing of every kind we would need for this life or the next. True healing was not possible outside of the events that day: healing had been seen occasionally in the Prophets in the Old Testament, such as Elijah and the widow's son

1Ki 17:23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

Like other gifts of the Holy Spirit, in the days before the Cross, it was not that God did not operate in the same way in His communication with man, but it was not available to all at all times, but given in part for the purposes of God attendant at the time. The fullness came at Pentecost, but was made possible by the death of the Cross. The deliverance of healing given on Golgotha, through the Stripes and through the accomplishing death and blood sacrifice, brought first, the healing and deliverance we call 'Salvation'. It was the healing through deliverance from

1. Death
2. Darkness
3. Hell and Satan

Healing from Death
2. 84.