I am painfully aware that as I take a surgical knife to the subject of healing I will be cutting into a number of sensibilities and run the risk of being carved up myself. Yes, healing is a gift of God, but it can also be a satanic present that carries bondage and distress under its colorful wrapping.
In the last few posts in the Revelation Revisited series I have been dealing with the seven letters to the churches. Last week I focused on pornography as one of the societal problems in the city of Pergamum. In this post I want to develop another aspect of that cities serpentine god Æscalapius’ influence both then and in our day. Strange as it may seem, healing was a gift that this pagan deity bestowed on its devotees. But healing is a good thing, a gift of God… isn’t it?
Although, regrettably, modern medical science claims as its heritage from Greek myth, I regard it as part of God’s overall provision for us and I consult doctors and take antibiotics when they are needed to restore my health. I see divine healing as a more direct and immediate gift of grace. Medicine can heal and is seldom linked directly to God’s goodness and mercy, but divine healing, true divine healing, always points us back to God and evokes praise and gratefulness. If it were not for divine intervention in my life when I was a baby I certainly would not be here now writing this article. I believe in the present-day reality of divine healing both on biblical and experiential grounds.
But supernatural healing, or what appears as such, is not necessarily from or of God. The pagan priests of ancient Pergamum healed by operating in satanic power and their modern- day equivalents do the same.
About 20 years ago the Philippine Faith Healers were in the spotlight and thousands flocked to them for healing. They were the product of Roman Catholicism and indigenous Voodoo and practiced a sort of ‘psychic surgery’. A person with a stomach problem would be laid on a table and the priest would run a dirty thumb nail down her belly. A scarlet incision would appear and the priest would seem to plunge his hand into the wound and then pluck out bloody material of some kind. He would then run his thumb back over the gash and the wound would disappear. The person was then pronounced healed.
Sleight of hand? Crude but effective showmanship? Most certainly, but I suspect that there was more going on than that and that some malign force was also at work. From the reports I have read it seems that the ‘patients’ almost all felt better immediately after the ‘surgery’ but the symptoms soon returned leaving the poor person, well…. poorer.
More recently, the Nigerian Prophet Joshua [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._B._Joshua] has attained notoriety and once again Christians by their tens of thousands have been flocking to Lagos to be healed. I have watched hours of documentary video evidence and have had firsthand experience with a misguided member of my local church. I am convinced that something more than smoke-and-mirrors is involved. Certainly there is a lot of powerful psychological pressure and suggestion, but I discern more. There appears to be a spiritual power at work which, although manipulated in the name of Jesus, does not conform to anything I know of the Lord Jesus’ ways as revealed in the Bible.
Then there is the leg-stretching so favored by itinerant and TV evangelists. Are we supposed to believe that so many physical ailments are caused by one leg being shorter than the other and that instant healing occurs when the offending limb is ‘grown out’ before the amazed eyes of the faithful? Pull the other leg, why don’t you!
Most of these ‘healing’ events stimulate a rush of adrenalin and a resultant feeling of well-being. But it doesn’t last and the sufferer ‘losses’ their healing. Say what?! When Jesus healed people they stayed healed irrespective of whether they continued to confess their healing and avoid all negative thoughts. When the disciples of the book of Acts healed someone there is never any mention of conditions and the possibility of losing the gift from God.
I don’t see any biblical warrant for psychic healing, leg-stretching, or losing a genuine healing gift from God. In my opinion these are a machinations of Æscalapius, not the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
I must stress again that I believe that divine healing is valid in our day as a ministry of the church of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God the Father. I see it in scripture, in the life of the Lord Jesus, in people I know, and in my own life. I urge Christians to believe in and be open to receiving divine healing and I counsel them as urgently to run from the false and manipulative ministries of the serpent, no matter how ‘Christian’ they are presented as being.
In my next post I am moving on to uncover some of the spiritual wealth contained in the letter to the church in Thyatira… can’t wait!