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We will now look at the three most direct and profound words addressing the cause of disease in two of the five books of Moses: Exodus 15:25b-26; Deuteronomy 7:12,13a,15; and Deuteronomy chapter 28.
We start in Exodus chapter 15 right after God parted the Red Sea, delivered the Israelites, and closed the waters upon Pharaoh’s army. The Song of Moses and Miriam opens this chapter with worship and gratitude to God for revealing His mighty arm and delivering the entire Nation of Israel from bondage. Verses 22-25 then describe Israel traveled for three days in the desert without water before finding only bitter water at Marah. They grumbled to Moses, and Moses called out to the Lord. The Lord directed Moses to throw a piece of wood into the water (perhaps foreshadowing the Cross), and the water became sweet.
Now, savor these key verses, Exodus 15:25b-26: There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there He tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.”
This is a key word of God on disease for at least three reasons. First, this is the second of the multiple “I AM” names of Jehovah. “Jehovah Rapha” is Hebrew for “I am the Lord who heals you.” God thus lovingly assured His freshly delivered people I am the Lord who heals you. Take a moment and apprehend this powerful, priceless promise. Savor the importance of it being in the PRESENT TENSE. This is not a promise for after we suffer and die from disease and receive “ultimate healing in heaven” – no, this is to be taken hold of here and now! Our heavenly Father wants us to know it, believe it, and apply it in accordance with the Holy Spirit from this day forward. Rejoice that I am the Lord who heals you never expires, for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Second, note that word “any” in Exodus 15:26 – the Lord promised to keep ALL diseases from His people IF they (1) listen carefully, (2) pay attention, and (3) obey Him. Putting it another way, if they revere God and do not sin, no disease will come upon His people. (There is no account of the only sinless Man, Jesus, ever being sick. Not so much as a cold or a rash came upon He who did and said only what the Father was doing and saying.)
Third, note that aside from ordinances about the Passover, this is actually God’s first law given to Moses, preceding the ten commandments (reread v. 25b). Thus, God’s first law declared by Moses promised that reverence and obedience to all His other decrees will protect His called out people against disease. Let this settle a while in your spirit!
Now, believer, if the law has served its purpose and brought you to confess with the apostle Paul,I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out…. What a wretched man I am! (Romans 7:18, 24a), then rejoice knowing that you are made righteous by the obedience of Christ (Romans 5:19). Christ IS your Obedience, and there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1). Hallelujah!
If you feel irritated by this and do not identify with Paul’s words above, know that there is no one righteous… there is no one good (Romans 3:10, 12). Then rejoice knowing that it is God who is working in you, and He who began the good work will carry it on to completion (Philippians 2:13, 1:6). God has put you in Christ, and as you continue to look at Him, He will lead you in all righteousness.
…Let’s worship Him before proceeding….
In Deuteronomy chapter 5, Moses started introducing the law to the new generation of Israelites which had grown up during their desert wanderings, nearly 40 years after he had received it from God upon Mount Sinai. In chapter 7 Moses exhorted: If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep His covenant of love with you, as He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb…. The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but He will inflict them on all who hate you. (vv. 12-13a, 15)
Again, God promised His beloved people that obedience will protect them from EVERY disease – if they do not sin, they will not suffer any disease, and their children will be blessed as well. Those Christians who have received the requisite Romans chapter 7 humbling quoted above should apprehend this glorious truth: since Christ is your Obedience, the Lord will bless you and the fruit of your womb, and He will keep you free from every disease.
The fullest of the three Pentateuch Scriptures expounding on the spiritual reason for disease is the entire 28th chapter of Deuteronomy. This chapter opens with Moses describing the blessings full obedience will bring God’s people. In short, they, their children, their herds, and their land will be abundantly prosperous, and they will be feared by all because they are called by the name of the Lord (v.10), and established as His holy people. (v. 9).
Starting with verse 15, however, in the remaining three-quarters of Deuteronomy 28 Moses expounded upon all these curses [which] will come upon you and overtake you if all the commands of the law are not completely obeyed. Diseases, both physical and mental, are named multiple times (e.g. vv. 20-22, 27-28, 34-35, 58-61). The last cited verse notes [t]he Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in the Book of the Law until you are destroyed; that is without limit, and explains why new diseases continue to appear.
God is plainly revealing that disease is a curse from Himself as a result of disobedience, which is sin. This chapter further discloses that all human, animal, and agricultural afflictions and disasters are likewise a curse from God as a result of our sin. Recall that God’s curse on mankind, animals (especially the serpent), and the land originated in Genesis chapter 3 because of Adam and Eve’s sin. Much to fathom here…. Rejoice knowing God is redeeming fallen creation through Christ becoming manifest in us: the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:21).
If God’s cursing of His people runs counter to your beliefs about His goodness, understand that He is not only good and merciful, but also just and righteous. Rejoice in assurance that justice was administered through Jesus Christ who IS our Righteousness! As the only sinless Man, Jesus was not cursed by God the Father until the day He bore the curse on the Cross for all who would believe on Him. This was in order that justice be served. As Galatians 3:13 declares, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” By bearing the curse, Jesus IS our Deliverance, and He IS our Healing.
It is a tremendous blessing to know this truth and stand firm upon it as we learn God’s word about disease, isn’t it? Take a moment to rejoice and thank Him for delivering us from this curse! Thank Him for opening the Scriptures up to us (Luke 24:45) in order that we may apprehend the great truths and promises that may have been hidden until now! Proverbs 25:2 and 4:18 come to mind: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings; The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
Now, a common concern at this point is how diseases affecting pregnancy, infancy, and childhood before the age of accountability are explained. How can fetuses, infants, and young children be cursed with disease if they haven’t sinned? The answer lies in Deuteronomy 28:18, which reads The fruit of your womb will be cursed. This is reminiscent of God’s words following the second commandment, punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:4). Note the great discrepancy between the number of generations that suffer from another’s sin, and the number of generations that are blessed by another’s obedience! What does this say about the Lord’s mercy and goodness?
Before closing this part of our study, the following three words of exhortation are for those of us who are disturbed by these Scriptures because we or our saintly family members suffer(ed) from disease: First, only one sinless Man walked the earth. Again, with the exception of Jesus, [t]here is no one righteous… there is no one who does good (Romans 3:10, 12). We ALL need the Savior continuously to overcome what remains of our sin nature, day after day.
Second, we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, emphasis added). The entire Body of Christ is blessed as another member calls out to Him in absolute dependency in the affliction – and He is thus glorified (more on this later in the study). We are so very grateful to all saints who share(d) in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10)!
Third, any condemnation we may feel is not from the Lord. The Holy Spirit’s conviction, however, is an essential element of our transformation from glory to glory – we must respond to Him immediately and rejoice in Christ’s cleansing! If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). Thank God for loving us so!
We will close this part of our study with a word from the closing of Moses’ second presentation of the law: I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19b).
That Life has a name: Jesus. He IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). To Him be all praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever! (Revelation 5:13). Amen.
link to Part III