There’s A Change in The Air
By the time we open the pages of the Second Testament, we can see a change in the way the folks who were then alive were beginning to think about evil. Their move in thought can be seen in the following:
- Sickness is seen to be an extension and effect of sin and is a representation of the kingdom of darkness.
- The coming of the kingdom of God in the ministry of Jesus was to confront and overcome sickness, sin, death, and the devil.
To understand the Second Testament and the ministry of Jesus, a quick overview of the kingdom of God is in order.
Moving Toward The Second Testament
By the time we open the pages of the Second Testament, we can see a change in the way the folks living then were beginning to think about evil. Sickness is seen to be an extension and effect of sin and is a representation of the kingdom of darkness. The coming of the kingdom of God in the ministry of Jesus was to confront and overcome sickness, sin, death, and the devil. To understand the Second Testament and the ministry of Jesus, a quick overview of the kingdom of God is in order.
During the intertestamental period, the framework of two ages began to emerge: this present evil age and the age to come. This movement in thought began to bring into focus the awareness of the devil and his deeds and the cataclysmic clash which was occurring between light and darkness. The Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (written between 200-100 B.C.) provided some of this movement in thought into the Second Testament period. In Enoch 1.9 there is a solution provided for the problem of evil, the Lord will come with ten thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment upon all and to destroy all the ungodly. The theology of a cosmic war was being set in place, a war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. God’s kingdom (rule) was ushered into this present evil age in the words and works of Jesus. The future reign of Jesus has invaded this age. The kingdom has come but is not consummated until the second coming of Jesus. We now live between the times, between the kingdom come and coming. We are caught in the tension of being between the old and the new.
The stories of the Second Testament are lived out in the context of the overlapping of the two ages. To understand the kingdom allows for an understanding of healing.
A Quick Glance At Healing In The Second Testament
The Second Testament has a few things to say about healing. We should begin to wrap our arms around the rather awesome intelligence it shows concerning the subject. The following summary begins to capture the breadth of the Second Testament’s teaching on the subject. We must remember that God is interested in the healing of the whole person.
To understand healing from a Second Testament perspective, one must think about healing as the salvation of the whole rather than the usual thinking about healing a specific part. We must keep in mind that the Greek word (sozo) is also translated salvation. Healing is used in regards to physical, spiritual, and all other aspects of human life and the environment that is under the influence and power of the devil (Luke 4.18).
Release From Demonic Influence
In the future age, there will not be any evil. Satan will be judged and driven out. In the reality of kingdom theology, Jesus has already fulfilled this now but not yet. The most dramatic form of confrontation that the Second Testament presents is
- the breaking of demonic influence (Matt. 12.28)
- demons screech in panic when Jesus confronted them (Mark 1.24)
- Jesus taught that full recovery was needed lest some worse demonic influence occurs (Matt. 12.43-45)
Breaking The Power Of Satan
The practice of breaking demonic influence was a picture of the work of Jesus in destroying the works of the devil that he came to destroy (1 John 3.8b). The Gospels paint a picture of Jesus, the strong man, coming into the house of the enemy and binding him (Mark 4.20f.). Even in the work of the disciples as Jesus released them to go and minister, we are told that Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven like lightning (Luke 10.17-20). God’s kingdom is about breaking anything contrary to his rule in the lives of men and women.
Forgiveness Of Sins
In the age to come, the forgiveness of God will be complete and we will have perfect fellowship with him. The forgiveness has arrived in the kingdom ministry of Jesus. He came to bring release and healing to all dimensions that are affected by sin, conscience, mind, emotions, body, interpersonal relationships, finances, and the list goes on. Sometimes sin and illness are interrelated as in these three illustrations:
- the story of the lame man in Mark 2.5-12.
- emotional and social healing was accomplished through the forgiveness of the street woman of Luke 7.47-50
- Jesus told the paralyzed man in John 5.1-15 to stop sinning.
Restoration From Sickness
Jesus was filled with compassion and anger for those whom the devil had laid low with sickness (Mark 4.40-45). Jesus healed diseases of all kinds in those who came to him (Matt. 8.16-17).
Restoration From Death
We think of death as final, but eternal life is the life of the age to come which is entered into now with the removal of death. Eternal life comes with
- the healing of your spirit from above (John 3)
- the resurrection of Jesus from the dead opened the way for us to be resurrected at the consummation of the kingdom of God
- the resurrected body is the ultimate healing of the people of God (1 Cor. 15.12-58)
- the raising of Lazarus provides us with a picture of the defeat of death and victory over the grave
Sharing The Abundance Of God With The Oppressed Poor
Poverty and hunger are a part of the curse of this present evil age. Jesus came to feed the poor, physically as well as spiritually. God has a heart for the poor and a part of the healing process that occurs with them is as our abundance is shared with them. The rule of God breaks the power of poverty in the lives of men and women and teaches them to give to others in need. The theological term for this is “redemption and lift.”[ref]George P. Wood. “Redemption and Lift“, Influence. Accessed May 17, 2020.[/ref] Jesus freed us and died in poverty that we may share his riches. God wants to break the oppression of a poverty mentality and free us to enjoy and share in his abundance with others. We are redeemed and lifted, not to receive more for ourselves, but to receive to give to others. In my opinion, the ecclesiae should be the prime resource of redemption and life, not a federal or local government.
The Kingdom Community And Its Healing
Our ultimate healing is the fusion of God’s people from every tribe and nation, every color and stripe, into one worshipping community. This has already begun in the ministry of Jesus in the response of the Twelve to come under the rule of the King. These guys were from varied backgrounds. So varied in fact that it was scary. One was a tax collector while another was a Zealot. These two individuals were devout enemies. Yet Jesus took them on a journey and made new people out of them. For a community to grow outwardly it must learn to grow inwardly by loving and accepting those who are different. The community of God will learn to be self-less as Scripture teaches in the “one another” passages. We are to:
- accept one another (Rom. 15.7),
- love one another (John 13.34),
- bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6.2),
- forgive one another (Eph. 4.32),
- teach and admonish one another (Col. 3.16),
- esteem one another as more important (Phil. 2.3), and serve one another (1 Peter 4.10).
These are some of the signs of healing that occur in the community of God under his care and rule.
The process of healing in the kingdom of God as demonstrated in the Second Testament moves toward full restoration of a person, not just a part of him or her. Jesus redeemed us from the effects of the fall and reinstated us so that we could reign in life just as he did (Rom. 5.17).
Community Discussion Questions
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- Why is wholeness so important to God?
- What demonic influence still rattles around in your life?
- How does the belief that forgiveness and healing are akin cause you to see healing in a fuller light?
- When is the last time you shared something directly with the poor?
- How’s it going with the “one another passages in your life? Which ones need work?