Healing Faith

According to Even Zohar (Rabbi Lichtenstein), these verses (Luke 7:22) indicate that the good news of the kingdom brings both physical and spiritual restoration. The Messiah came to bring both spiritual redemption and physical redemption, and the healing of sickness and infirmity is part of that physical redemption.

-Jordan Levy
“Chapter 9: The Ruach HaKodesh in Early Messianic Judaism,” pg 176
Discussing Rabbi Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein’s commentary on Luke 7:22 in his Bi’ur Lesifrei Brit HaChadashah Markos Velukas.
Gifts of the Spirit

I occurred to me as I was going over my notes for Jordan’s and Jeremiah Michael’s separate articles in the “Gifts of the Spirit” book (here’s the review), that we have misunderstood the nature and purpose of the gift of “spiritual healing” possibly in the extreme.

Modern day “faith healers” are seen by many (and often, rightly so) as hucksters and crooks who prey on the innocence or desperation of the sick, the disabled, and the dying, in order to fill their bank accounts and wallets. Those who claim the ability to heal and do so for their own profit are to be dismissed, but if there is still an authentic “healing from heaven,” then where do we find it?

On page 177, Jordan quotes Abram Poljak (“The Bible on Faith Healing”) when he asks, “Why have we not been freed from our illnesses although our friends have prayed for us?”

The answer isn’t that the person desiring to be healed lacked faith or even that the person desiring to be the instrument of God’s healing lacked faith. God alone heals and for His purposes. But just what purposes are those? To make sick people better? Partially. But the full answer may tell us why even when everyone involved has faith in abundance, sometimes physical healings are not achieved.

Here’s a clue:

But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

Luke 5:19-20 (NASB)

Now if Jesus stopped right there, we might be puzzled as to his response, though we shouldn’t be. After all, what is more important, the healing of the body, or the healing of the soul? What is more injured, a disabled body or a crippled spirit?

But because the scribes and the Pharisees lacked faith and thought that Jesus was blaspheming, Jesus went on to prove he was capable of healing a dying faith in man by also healing his body.

But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God.

Luke 5:24-25 (NASB)

Are you beginning to see the connection?

The next spiritual gift is healing, which can be linked to the spiritual acceptance of faith, since the use of healing was used to strengthen faith in HaShem, and in Yeshua as Messiah.

-Jeremiah Michael
“Chapter 10: Tanach and the Gifts of the Spirit,” pg 195
Gifts of the Spirit

Jeremiah MichaelAs you may recall from a previous blog post, Jeremiah’s paper sought to find the various mappings between 1 Corinthians 12 and numerous portions of the Tanakh (Jewish Bible or Old Testament). Only by apprehending and comprehending the definition and meaning of “healing” in the Old Testament can we begin to understand how healing was used in New Testament times by Jesus and his apostolic followers, and perhaps understand how and why healing does and doesn’t work (to our expectations) in the present age.

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

Malachi 4:2

“Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness.”

Jeremiah 3:22

Heal me O’Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.

Jeremiah 17:14

And of course…

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we hare healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Jeremiah (Michael, not the prophet) continued to insert numerous scriptures into his article, all illustrating the abundant healing promised by God, a healing of faith, and yet also a healing that isn’t divorced from the repair of our physical ailments, either as a “down-payment” on the promises of healing and peace in the Messianic age or as physical evidence of a complete spiritual healing from Heaven.

The eighth blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei prayer is as follows:

Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; save us and we shall be saved, for the one we praise is You. Bring complete healing for all our sicknesses [ * at this point, you my interject a prayer for one who is ill ] for O God, for You are our faithful and compassionate Healer and King. Blessed are You, O Lord, the Healer of the sick of Israel.

-from the Siddur

Although, on the surface, this blessing seems to be a petition to God to heal the sick, that healing is as much spiritual and physical.

Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

Matthew 11:2-6 (NASB)

HealingJesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2 when he responded to John’s disciples indicating that his performing physical healing was evidence of who he was, the Messiah, the healer of Israel’s physical and spiritual ills. After all, Jesus characterized his association with “tax collectors and sinners” this way:

And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (emph. mine)

Luke 5:29-32 (NASB)

Jesus came to “heal the sick of Israel,” so to speak and his healings were more than just a showy way to bring attention to himself. Rather, it was to restore the faith of Israel to health by healing the bodies and the spirits.

Then Yeshua traveled around in all of the Galil. He taught in their synagogues, he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and he healed every sickness and every disease among the people.

Matthew 4:23 (DHE Gospels)

In his conclusion to this section of Jeremiah’s chapter, he says (pg 199):

It must be noted that Paul lists the spiritual gift of healing after that of faith. This is because, as can be seen from the examples of Yeshua’s healings, this particular type of miracle was meant to bring about faith in God. Healing is not limited to the physical realm; God is also faithful to heal the brokenhearted. Healing, then, is a very precious gift, because it not only heals people’s bodies but also has the ability to heal their souls and to bring them comfort and peace.

Imagine then that physical healing is one means by which God heals the broken faith of human beings, but also believe that God can and will heal the injured and bleeding spirit of a person without necessarily healing their physical ailments, at least in this life. It is said that in the resurrection, all of the faithful will rise with perfected bodies, no injury, infirmity, or illness will be seen among the restored of God’s people. This will also be true of our faith and knowledge of God as the Holy Spirit will be poured “out on all flesh” (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17).

God can choose to heal our physical disabilities, illnesses, and deformities as evidence of His power to also heal our faith, but healing of faith is the greater miracle. A healed and healthy body serves us well in the present world, but it is no guarantee of a life devoted to God now or in the age to come.

A healed faith, on the other hand, regardless of the state of the body, serves the glory of God across all time and into eternity. And yet, if we pray for God to heal our stony and faithless hearts, will He not also be faithful to heal many other ailments if it be to His purposes?

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:31-33 (NASB)

TearsYou may never see the physical healing for all those who suffer and those you have prayed for. You may have watched friends and loved ones wither and die tragically, though you prayed, though you had great faith, and though they also had great faith. The lack of their healing may have shaken the faith of some of you. You may believe that God lied about healing. You may believe your Pastor lied about healing.

But don’t be afraid. If those dear ones you have prayed for were not healed in their bodies, believe that they were healed in the spirit. And if they departed our world for God’s, then they now are truly healed in every sense, just as we will be if we maintain our faith in Messiah, may he come soon and in our day.

But a word of caution:

But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.”

John 5:13-14 (NASB)

Amen.

“My father wrote that he heard in the name of the Alter Rebbe that all rabbinic authors until and including the Taz and Shach, composed their works with ruach hakodesh, the Divine Spirit. An individual’s ruach hakodesh, as explained by Korban Ha’eida in Tractate Sh’kalim (Talmud Yerushalmi), end of ch. 3, means that the mysteries of Torah are revealed to him. This comes from the aspect of chochma in its pre-revelation state.”

-Compiled and arranged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 5703 (1943) from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory.

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4 thoughts on “Healing Faith”

  1. I think it is clear that we need to do what scripture tells us to do regardless of whether we see results. Does one stop teaching or preaching because they don’t see the response they would like? In the same way, we continue to pray for healing.

  2. In your opening statement, you refer to the “gift of spiritual healing”, but I gather that this isn’t necessarily intended to address the “spiritual gift of healing” as described in 1 Cor 12:

    “7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

    My take on verse 9 is that some individuals were given a “manifestation of the Spirit” through which they would be the instrument through which the Spirit could heal of physical infirmities suffered by others, similar to those powers demonstrated by Jesus and his apostles.

    To the extent that this gift involved physical healing, I believe its primary purpose was to confirm that these so-gifted individuals had the Spirit of God upon them. The healing itself was not the purpose. The purpose was for these individuals to deliver the message of the forgiveness — and the healings authenticated them for that purpose. And yes, what better metaphor than healing to represent forgiveness? Our souls are sick with the guilt of sin, and our souls are healed by forgiveness and mercy.

    Jesus stated this clearly in Luke 5, when he predicated a miracle of healing by saying, “But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”

    Forgiveness of sins itself is invisible, and so a visible healing was made to confirm the reality of the invisible spiritual promise. Visible signs to confirm invisible spiritual realities are seen elsewhere too, e.g. the veil in the temple being torn at the completion of Christ’s sacrifice, or the “wind and fire” that accompanied the promised coming of the Spirit.

    IMO, we should not expect to continue seeing such miracles now. People receive the Spirit and have their sins forgiven without the evidence of such visible signs, but rather through faith (the evidence of things not seen). It’s not that God cannot do such miracles (or grant such gifts to people) any more. It’s just that those gifts were given to establish the gospel, and God doesn’t have to re-establish it.

  3. @Chaya: I’m not suggesting that we don’t do what scripture tells us. Yes, we should continue to preach, teach, and pray for healing. The Sunday bulletin at my church always contains a multi-page prayer list for people’s needs including healing.

    @Unusuallylogical: Welcome. I’ve never seen an individual lay hands on a sick person and see the sick person be instantly healed. On the other hand, I have seen situations where a sick person was prayed for and by the by, they were healed. Of course, often, they were also undergoing medical treatment, but I don’t think prayer and medicine should be mutually exclusive.

    I’ve also seen plenty of situations where a person has been prayed for and healing never took place. As I said above, prayer for healing isn’t some sort of “magic show” where we can manipulate God. Only God heals, not human beings.

    That said, I don’t think it’s impossible for God in this day and age, to use a human being to heal another human being, but again, this would be for God’s purposes and to heal not just the body but the spirit as well. It is also an indication or a “first fruits,” if you will, of the Messianic Era, when there will be no illness or injury and we will all be healthy in body and spirit.

    Frankly, I think miracles happen every day. But as I said in other parts of my review on the “Gifts of the Spirit” book, miracles don’t have to be big and splashy and violate the known laws of physics. I can’t reduce God to a set of equations that are capable of fitting inside my skull. I still think God is all-powerful and that, if he so chooses, He can make Himself known in majestic and awesome ways. But He doesn’t perform “on command,” so to speak.

  4. Shabbat will be here soon, at least in my neck of the woods. Let us take advantage of this time of rest that takes us that much closer to heaven while we still reside on earth, and receive that blessing of the olam habah. It makes me think of the scent of a perfume that a woman wearing it has left behind, although she is gone from the room. Perhaps that scent is healing or wisdom or whatever we need at this moment in time.

    May we earnestly desire spiritual gifts, and may we experience real holy fire in our day.

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