Now, there are two things to note sharply here in order to keep the poise, to get things straight and clear. And they are two common things, well understood and emphasized in the pages of this book.
The first, and less thing is this, that any break with God takes one away from the protection of His presence, and so automatically exposes him to whatever conditions surround him.
The natural thing is keeping in touch with God. His mere presence, in unbroken touch, is a continual protection from ills that surround us. His touch upon us, it is this that keeps our bodies strong, and functioning naturally and vigorously.
This teaching is like an ever-present undertone through the older pages of the Book. It was true from Eden on before the main story of the Book was lived out and written down. It is true today. This is the continual background of all the Old Testament teaching about bodily conditions.
One simple illustration may help. But it is merely one bit from a flood of passages. It is given because it is a picture, pictured teaching. It is an open window into the whole house of the Book.
It is the graphically told story of the unnamed prophet in the First Book of Kings (1Ki_13:1-34). He had been sent to King Jeroboam, in a very critical time, with a message, and with detailed instructions as to his own conduct. Clearly his own conduct in the particulars named was to be an acted-out bit of the message.
Another prophet, clearly merely a professional prophet, jealously deceived the man with God's message, who accordingly disobeyed God's explicit instructions. Then the unnamed prophet returning home, by the way he was distinctly bidden by God not to take, is slain by a lion.
The whole story is dramatically told in much detail of an intensely interesting sort. And is evidently told fully for the teaching it contains. For the whole nation knew the story by the universal grape-vine means of communication, and discussed it from door to door.
And the bit of teaching that belongs in just now is simply this: this unnamed prophet, in disobeying God's implicit directions, had gone out of the protected zone.
In touch with God he was in the protected zone. No evil could befall him in the simple path of obedience. He was protected. When he went out of that path he was exposed to the dangers always there.
The true natural human life is meant to be lived in simple touch of heart and life with God. Anything else is abnormal, unnatural. When in touch one is constantly protected and preserved and strengthened, in body and circumstance and life.
Break with God, either partial or full, exposes one to whatever there is of evil, and to the Evil One. And, it is an unhappy common place that so many Christians, confessedly, do not live in that full simple intelligent touch with Christ in all their affairs.
This is one bit of teaching. It is the background of all teaching in the Old Testament especially. Unhappily it is missed so much in the haphazard, unconnected, choppy reading of the old Book, so common in pew and pulpit, home and study.
It is a striking thing that the Bible, taken as a whole, is always self-explanatory Any question raised at any place in it as to the meaning is always answered somewhere else in the Book. And every thoughtful, serious question has an answer here somewhere. If only we would read it, and read it intelligently as a whole, one connected book, it would flood us with its light at every turn.
But the second thing stands out in plain open day before all eyes. It is the bigger thing of the two. It is the Book of Job. The story of Job deals directly with this question of sickness and disease, the source, and more the purpose.
It stands at the front door of the Bible. It was first of all in its writing. It is put there in plain sight that we might understand at once this sorest of all questions, suffering, and why allowed.
It tells plainly that the troubles that came to Job, including his ulcerous boils at the last, came directly from Satan (Job_1:12-19; Job_2:6-7). Though Job himself didn't so understand, and ascribed them to God (Job_1:20-21; Job_2:10).
They came distinctly by God's permission. There were sharply defined limits to Satan's activity, beyond which he could not, dare not, go (Job_1:12, middle clause; Job_2:6). There was a purpose of God in the permission He gave. It was distinctly a purpose of love. Then the healing came (see Job_33:15-25; Job_42:10-17). And the gracious flood of blessing that followed made the days of his earlier prosperity seem tame. That in a word, just now, is the Job story.
But the teaching could not be clearer. It answers our present question. It answers it fully and plainly. And the teaching stands at the front door of God's Book, that all who will simply read thoughtfully may understand. Of course, it must be confessed that reading the Book of God is just a bit scarce, and reading it thoughtfully just a bit scarcer.