Now, we are talking about God's attitude in this matter. And so we naturally turn to God's Book. It is striking to find out how the other book, the Book of Life, tallies up with, and illustrates, this written book, as of course it would, for the Book of God is a part of the Book of Life. It grew up out of human life. These are our two chief books of study here.
It is striking to look, at once, at the original Eden picture of life. For that was God's own, unhurt by any after touch. There man was in perfect health of body and spirit, living in happy unbroken contact with his God-chosen helpmate, in a garden. There was fulness of life, perfect health, and such a thing as weakness or disease or death quite unknown.
The story of Job stands as a sentinel-teacher at the opening of this old Book of God. It stands at the outpost to guard and point the way.
It is clearly the earliest of these books in its writing. It is devoted to the sorest question of human life that is, human suffering, and God's solution. We usually miss that "and."
There are two parts to the story, Job's suffering, and the outcome. We have been fed up on the first part, the suffering. The second part, the outcome, has been strangely ignored. Yet it is the bigger part, by all odds.
There is suffering indeed, in family, in circumstances, and then in body of a very grievous sort. Then the healing touch comes. And all is changed. Even the ash-heap becomes fragrant now, for it was the gateway to a new life of the spirit, and so to bodily health and vigour, and all else that came.
Job's story is put at the very gateway of God's Book, with this stirring message: it is God's will to heal the inner heart and life, and the body.
Now note that this blessed trail of healing runs through the older pages of the book unbroken. The teaching trail and the healing trail persist throughout side by side.
It is a three-fold healing, protection from actual disease just at hand, the continuance of health and vigour through the unseen touch of God, and the positive healing where disease had actually gotten in.
From Eve's recognition that it was through that touch of her body that weakness was overcome, and she was able to go through what has become the severest bodily test of life(Gen_4:1 with Gen_3:16, through Abimelech's experience(Gen_20:17-18), and Sarah's(Gen_21:1-2 with Gen_11:30 and Gen_17:16-17), and Rebekah's(Gen_25:21), and Rachel's(Gen_29:31; Gen_30:22-24), and Moses' leproused hand(Exo_4:6-7), and Miriam's leproused body(Num_12:9-15), the story runs.
And the remarkable experience of the Hebrew people, in Egyptian slavery and as they were being freed, in closest touch with contagious epidemics, reveals the unseen touch of God plainly there, giving unusual bodily vigour under sore physical stress, and protecting from disease.
There's an outstanding bit at the beginning of the training of the new messenger nation. Israel was to become the world's teacher-nation. And as they enter their long session of schooling special emphasis is laid on God's eager willingness to heal.
It comes first in the flush of the tremendous Red Sea deliverance, when they were peculiarly sensitive to impressions. In the tense plea that they keep in full touch with their Deliverer comes this: "I will put none of the diseases upon thee which I have put upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Exo_15:26).
There was the triple healing, protection from, the touch of continuous health, the actual healing where disease had gotten in.
Then under the hush and awe of the lone Mountain, all aflame with the presence of their wondrous God, in the midst of a yearning plea to them to keep in touch with Him, this word rings out: "I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. There shall none cast her young, nor be barren in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil."(Exo_15:26)
So the trail persists. Solomon remembers it in the great temple prayer.(1Ki_8:27-38) There's Elijah and the widow's only son(1Ki_17:17-24), and Elisha with another mother's son(2Ki_4:17-20; 2Ki_4:32-37, and with Naaman(2Ki_5:8-15, and Hezekiah's never-to-be-forgotten story.(2Ki_20:1-11; Isa_38:1-21)
There's Asa's failure to ask for needed healing, with the implied criticism (2Ch_16:12, and Nebuchadnezzar's recovery from insanity by direct touch(Dan_4:24-37, and Jonah's grateful experience with that shady palm, and his remarkable preservation inside the huge fish. (Jon_1:17; Jon_2:1-10; Jon_4:6)
David's heart repeatedly rings out the same music in a sweetly rhythmic monotone.(Psa_6:2; Psa_30:2-3; Psa_34:20; Psa_41:2-3; Psa_91:3-7; Psa_91:10-13) One bit in particular stands out for the fulness and richness of its tone. Let me paraphrase it to make the meaning in David's mind a bit closer home.
"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
Who healeth all thy diseases;
Who keepeth thee from going down to the grave before thy full span of life is run out;
Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy matured years (when mental and spirit depression is apt to come) with the renewal of vigour until thou art as eager in spirit as an eagle soaring through the vast aerial heights" (Psa_103:1-5).
Here are five things named. The first is spiritual. The fourth refers to the outer circumstances of one's life. The other three have distinctly to do with bodily health and vigour.
There's a choice bit from the pen of the wisest man before he became the stupidest of moral fools.(Pro_14:30) The revision gives this, "a tranquil heart is the life of the flesh."
Literally it reads: "the life of the body? a quiet heart." Our psychological friends would find much here for their side of things.
The processes of grace are fascinating. Full touch with God gives the quiet heart that passeth mere mental understanding, and that in turn acts directly on all the bodily functions.
And the trail runs eagerly ahead into the future glories never out of the Hebrew vision. The coming Messiah-King is to bring these physical blessings, along with all others.
Isaiah's exultant song of the coming day (in chapter 35) may be taken as an index to the long list. The blind and the deaf, the lame and the dumb, will know all these disabilities completely gone.(Isa_35:5-6)
Rare Ezekiel's remarkable river, from trickling beginnings to flood, carried exuberant physical life and healing everywhere. And the leaves of the trees it fed would be a healing potion for all.(Eze_47:9; Eze_47:12)
The whole of these older pages makes one rhythmic answer to our question. They reveal plainly and graphically God's attitude. He not only can heal, but it is His eager wish to do so. His love outruns His power.
And always there's the eager reaching through bodily healing to the deeper, the richer, the spirit healing. The disciplinary side of suffering is plain. It's a wooing process. Through these silent pleadings and teachings of suffering God reaches in for the deeper.