Deuteronomy 32:39 – Yahweh says: “I, yes, I, am he; and there is no god beside me. I put to death, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; no one saves anyone from my hand!”
The ministry of healing throughout the Bible takes on many forms, and many passages tell us that people are to petition Yahweh for healing. But is all healing to come only from Yahweh through what might be termed “faith cures” or “miracles”? Let’s take a look and see:
Yahweh/Yeshua Is Our Healer
2 Kings 20:5 – Yahweh says: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears, and I will heal you.”
Psalm 30:2 – “Yahweh my God, I cried out to you, and you provided healing for me.”
Acts 9:34 – “Aeneas, Ha’Mashiach is healing you! Get up, and make your bed!”
Matthew 9:35 – “Yeshua went throughout all the cities and villages . . . healing every disease and every affliction.”
Healing, we are told, is one of the responsibilities of Yahweh/Yeshua, and prayers for healing are the primary method for him to hear our need and provide the remedy. Yahweh, himself, revealed to his people that he is Yahweh-Rapha’, which is the Hebrew title for “He who completely and wholly heals you” (Exodus 15:26, Numbers 6:26, Psalm 30:2). Matthew 9:35 shows that for us, Yeshua is Yahweh-Rapha’. This statement is echoed in Psalm 103:3, which says that Yahweh is the one “who heals all your diseases”, and in Psalm 147:3 which states that “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” The word translated heal, or wholly heal, is usually the Hebrew word rapha’ [רָפָא H7495], but in Numbers 6:26 the Hebrew word shalom [שָׁלוֹם H7965] is used and in Matthew 9:35 the Greek word therapeuo [θεραπεύω G2323] is used.
Other Means of Healing
Biblical practice indicates we are both to pray and to use medicine or other available means. Naaman is cured of leprosy by bathing seven times in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:1-14). Hezekiah is healed both through the prayers of Isaiah and through the use of medicine; in this case a cake of figs applied to his wound by the priests (2 Kings 20:5-8, Isaiah 38:20-22). The disciples cast out many demons, anointed many sick people with oil, and healed them In (Mark 6:13). Paul, while on the Island of Malta, went in to the father of Publius, prayed, laid his hands on him, and healed him (Acts 28:8). Paul counseled Timothy to drink wine to alleviate his stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23). In three instances Yeshua used saliva alone or with mud, a common healing medium in that day – with a deaf and speech afflicted man (Mark 7:33) and with blind men (Mark 8:23; John 9:6 7). It was also widely believed in Biblical times that oil had a medicinal value (Isaiah. 1:6; Luke 10:34). We should always avail ourselves of medicines, and both trained medical personnel and the great physician, Yahweh-Rapha’.
Instantaneous healing is what most people basically hope for and expect to receive when they pray to Yahweh for healing, or when they call upon the Elders of the church to pray for them. The Newer Covenant gives us many examples of the instantaneous kind of healing, especially in the ministry of Yeshua. Leprosy is immediately cured: “Then Yeshua stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do choose. Be made clean’. Immediately the leprosy left him” (Matthew 8:3; Mark 1:42; Luke 5:13). Hemorrhages are instantly healed: “Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (Mark 5:29; Luke 8:44). Sight is restored at once: “Immediately they regained their sight and followed him” (Mark 10:52; Matthew 20:34; Luke 18:43; Acts 9:18). Ears are opened and tongues are freed (Mark 7:35; Luke 1:64), fevers are rebuked (Luke 4:39), and the lame are made to walk (Mark 2:12; Luke 5:25, 13:13). Even the dead are raised: “And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age)” (Mark 5:42). Aeneas was healed when Peter prayed, and “immediately he got up” (Acts 9:34).
The Older Covenant also has a few examples of healings which may have been instantaneous, such as the healing of barren wombs: “Then Abraham prayed . . . and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children” (Genesis 20:17), and the healing of those who looked up at the serpent on the pole: “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live” (Numbers 21:8-9).
Not So Fast, Pilgrim
Scripture does not guarantee that healing will be immediate – it may indicate that healing will be through a process or a slight delay, and there are many passages to indicate that this does occur. It took seven dips in the Jordan River for Naaman to be cured of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-14). It took two applications of saliva and laying on of hands before the blind man was able to see clearly again (Mark 8:23-25). Another blind man, after having mud and saliva applied to his eyes, then had to go wash in the pool of Siloam before he was able to see again (John 9:6-7). Epaphroditus also remained sick for some time (Philippians 2:25-27).
Jeremiah 8:22 asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?” From this, we can say that scripture does indicate that it is not the case that in all situations there is instant healing.
Nor does the scripture guarantee that healing will take place through a process or delay. At times there may be no healing at all, despite fervent prayer and anointing of oil, laying on of hands, or other medicine. Trophimus remained sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), Yeshua denied Paul healing for the thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-9), and seven sons of Sceva attempt healing a man but were so overpowered by an evil spirit that they fled out of the house naked and wounded (Acts 19:13-16). Even the disciples of Yeshua had problems rebuking a demon (Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29).
The Book of James and Healing
James 5:14-15 – “Is someone among you ill? He should call for the elders of the congregation. They will pray for him and rub olive oil on him in the name of Yahweh. The prayer offered with trust will heal the one who is ill – Yahweh will restore his health; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
James 5:14-16 admonishes us to pray and to use medicine, but does this passage indicate that the believer, or for that matter, the non-believer, has a right to even ask for healing from Yahweh? Indeed, this scripture does indicate that the ailing person does have a right to ask for healing from Yahweh.
James 5:14-15 is one of only a few passages that tell us explicitly what to do when we are in need of healing. To determine if we are in need, James asks us only two questions; 1) Are any among you suffering?, and 2) Are any among you sick? If either question can be answered in the affirmative, then the suffering and sick should pray and “call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of Yahweh” (James 5:14), for the elder’s prayer of faith “will heal the one who is ill” (James 5:15). But, if faithful prayer is all that is needed to bring about a cure, then one must ask the question: Of what use are doctors, medicine, and technological advances in the ministry of healing? James clearly states that medical means, such as oil, are to be used.
Additionally, the Greek words used for heal or restore, raise up, and forgive – sozo [σώζω G4982], egeiro [ἐγείρω G1453], and aphiemi [ἀφίημι G863] are verbs that can mean either restoration to physical health or healing of the spirit. Any expected healings are conditional upon the sick person first having confessed their sins, however, so that they can be healed! James confirms what Yeshua said to the man he healed at the pool of Bethesda: “See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you” (John 5:14). James talks about the whole healing of the person who is sick; mind, body, and soul.
Scripture indicates that there are four basic time sequences for healing:
→ Some healings are instantaneous
→ Some healings occur in a process, gradually.
→ In some healings there is a delay.
→ Other healings do not seem to occur at all, at least on the physical level.
The right to ask for healing from Yahweh is both acceptable and expected, and that Yahweh can and does heal. At times, the healing may be instantaneous (Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:42, Luke 5:13, Acts 9:18), but at other times Yahweh may employ other means in the process (Isaiah 38:21; Mark 6:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:23).
James 5:14-16 gives us explicit instructions on what to do when anyone is in need of healing. The sick person should pray, sing songs of praise if happy, and should then “call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of Yahweh” (James 5:14). In doing so, Yahweh may grant an instantaneous healing, a delayed or process healing, or perhaps only a spiritual healing. Regardless of the type of healing, scripture guarantees that the “prayer of faith will save the sick, and that Yahweh will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven” (James 5:15).
To this we say a hearty “Amen!”