NOTE: An updated version of this post is available on my new website. It is located here: http://bornofspirit.net/the-first-healing-in-the-bible/
When studying the bible, you can find some great truths if you examine the passages where a subject is first mentioned. That concept is the basis for this article. We are going to look at the first time divine healing is mentioned in the bible It is found in Genesis chapter 20. Here's a link to it on YouVersion.
Here is a brief summary of the story, along with a little background.
- Abraham is married to Sarah.
- Sarah is a very attractive woman.
- Abraham is afraid of someone harming him in order to take his wife.
- On several occasions, he asks Sarah to lie and say she is his sister.
In Genesis 20, Abraham and Sarah journey to a city named Gerar. The king of this city is named Abimilech. Abimilech finds out about Sarah somehow, and he takes her to be in his harem.
Before Abimilech is able to have relations with Sarah, God warns him in a dream that she is Abraham's wife. God makes it clear that it is in Abimilech's best interest to return her to her husband Abraham, because some bad stuff is going to happen if he doesn't. In fact, he's going to die, and the women in his land are no longer able to have children
So, Abimilech returns Sarah to Abraham. Then Abraham prays for healing for Abimilech and everybody else, and God heals them all.
That's it for the summary. At first glance, it is a strange story that does not go the way most of think it should go. I want to identify some principles based on this story that carry on throughout the bible and on into the present day.
1 - God works through flawed people.
Abraham is the one at fault here...he lied and caused this whole problem. Yet, Abraham is the first person that God works through to demonstrate healing power. This shows us that our ability to avoid sin is not a factor is whether or not we get to operate in divine healing. Sin does not stop God's power. God is bigger than our sin.
Sin is bad, don't get me wrong. But, don't fall for the temptation to think that God won't use you because you aren't good enough. Divine healing is based on God's divine goodness, not your human goodness. This is huge, and it is the main point I want to get across in this article. Don't just read past this fact. Let it take root. God works through flawed people because that's all He has to choose from.
2 - The person that is ministering healing may be in need of a miracle as well.
At this time, Abraham and Sarah were childless. They were not able to have children. But, part of the healing that God ministered in this story was restoring the ability of the women in Gerar to conceive.
If you are fighting some kind of physical condition, don't let that be a roadblock that keeps you from stepping out in faith and ministering to others. 100% perfect health is not a prerequisite to be used in divine healing. Don't disqualify yourself, and don't disqualify others, just because you (or they) are currently in a struggle with a sickness.
3 - Although the healing may be instant, the physical evidence may show up later.
Part of the healing that took place in this story was the restoration of the ability of the women to conceive. Because of the nature of the healing, it would be a while before they could tell for sure what happened. They were totally healed immediately, but they would have no physical evidence until they became pregnant.
Sometimes an action is required on the part of the "patient" in order to fully demonstrate the complete healing. In this case, each woman would have to have relations with her husband, and then some time would have to pass before they would have some kind of physical proof that the healing was real.
4 - God does things differently than we do.
I think most of us would expect some kind of punishment for Abraham. It seems like the wrong guy is getting in trouble (Abimilech). Now, he is not innocent either, according to our modern moral standards, but it seems like Abraham's dishonesty is the the real cause of all the trouble. If he would have been truthful, then maybe this whole situation could have been avoided.
But, if you go back a few years in Abraham's history, back to Genesis 12, you will find that God made a promise to him. God said "I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you." God is simply keeping His promise here. This promise wasn't conditional on Abraham's moral behavior. It was based on the fact that Abraham believed what God said.
This is much like the promise we have from God. If we will believe the gospel of Jesus, then He will not count any of our sins against us (past, present, or future), He will adopt us into His own family, give us eternal life, and make us a co-heir with Jesus. And just like the promise to Abraham, this is not dependent on our ability or inability to keep a code of ethics. It is dependent on whether or not we believe what God said about His Son.