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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

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