DIVINE HEALING: GOD‟S PROVISION FOR HIS CREATION THROUGHOUT ETERNITY

Dan Morrison Divine Healing 17 July 2009

people place their loved ones on life support. In some instances. John explains that this tree possesses healing elements. The reemergence of the tree of life in the eschaton seems to reveal some need for healing. 1 1 . even when they see no signs of life. 2009). the Book of Revelation. he does so by describing the restoration of all creation in the New Heaven. the Bible reveals that humans will never overcome death by their own power.un. http://www. Though these actions do not constitute some form of evil action and have been provided by God for the betterment of the human condition. and New Jerusalem. people have tried their best to overcome sickness. The tree of life reveals characteristics concerning healing in the new creation. approximately 105 people die every minute on planet earth.pdf (accessed July 14. United Nations. New Earth. As he focuses on the New Jerusalem. contains more Old Testament imagery than any other New Testament work.org/esa/population/publications/worldmortality/WMR2007_wallchart. the presence of the tree of life in the new creation provides some ideas regarding healing in the old creation. Individuals seek the help of the scientific community for better health through means of medication. In his description. and ultimately death. “World Mortality 2007. Ever since the Fall of humanity. The latest work of the New Testament. others not. John describes an object which has not been indentified since the early chapters of Genesis – the tree of life.” United Nations Population Division Homepage. His description raises the question of the need for healing in the new creation. This writing seeks to investigate the presence of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem and its purpose among the people of God in the eschaton.1 These deaths result from various forms of sickness and disease – some curable. As the Apostle John culminates his work.Introduction Based on information from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. but given the parallels of the old and new creations. by every means possible.

the tree of life first appears in Genesis 2:9. The questions proposed by many address the nature of that distinction. 2 . The Bible clearly argues for a difference between humanity and the animal kingdom. All quotations are from the English Standard Version. Within this account. Here the writer notes it as one of the two trees “in the midst of the garden. the place of the tree of life among the people of God becomes quite apparent. Such access opens the opportunity and plausibility that Adam partook of the tree of life. When the Bible discusses the 2 Genesis 2:17. The Trees in the Midst of the Garden In the creation account of Genesis. he permits him to eat of every tree in the garden. one must observe the physical composition of the human body.”2 The Lord permitting Adam to partake of every tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil gives him access to the tree of life. he notes the tree of life in the New Jerusalem.The Tree of Life in the Original Creation In John‟s transition to a new creation in Revelation 21 and 22. “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. the Lord informs the man of the repercussions of disobedience in this area by stating. save one – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In order to understand this. the first creation account. unless otherwise noted. it seems most appropriate to begin a discussion concerning the new creation by taking a moment to observe the place it originally appears. Observing John‟s use of Old Testament imagery throughout his writing. This also means that God utilized the fruit of the tree of life in order to sustain Adam and Eve.” When the Lord places the man in the garden. When instructing man concerning this prohibition.

4 5 Bruce Waltke.creation of animals. The tree of life serves as the only source mentioned in the text which could 3 Genesis 1:24. and later Eve. 184. and the man became a living creature. Given the idea that animals died before the Fall. Jewish Publication Society Hebrew-English Tanakh.4 The identical source for humans and animals leads to the understanding that the disparity between them extends beyond physical composition.6 Since Adam. Michigan: Zondervan). In his Old Testament Theology textbook. creeping things. Numerous Christians hold to the general view that no death occurred prior to the Fall of humans. Such thought leads to the question of what allowed humans to live while all other forms of life experienced death. the distinction between man and beast lies in the immaterial nature of the human being. the descriptions of God making humans explains that he “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Jewish Publication Society Hebrew-English Tanakh. An Old Testament Theology: A Canonical and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids. Such an approach to the text places the idea of plant and animal death prior to the Fall within the scope of reason. Unlike the description of the creation of animals. 6 3 . A more careful reading of the text reveals that plant death must have occurred. the similarity between human and animal bodies would therefore provide an opportunity for human death to occur prior to sin. Genesis 2:7b. would need some point of reference to understand death.”3 Interestingly.”5 Given the difference between the ways in which humans and animals were created. the Genesis account also notes man having “the dust of the earth” as his source. it explains that “the earth [brought] forth every kind of living creature: cattle. as plants served as food for both humans and animals. it would seem likely that they would gain this understanding from observing animal death. and wild beasts of every kind. Genesis 2:7. Bruce Waltke argues for animal death as well.

8 Some commentators. the Bible presents no evidence suggesting the material nature of man changed after the original sin. both Adam and Eve experience death. such as Robert Wall.”7 This means that since creation.9 Though this approach is plausible. After Adam and Eve disobey God by partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:22-23. Robert Wall. the words originally spoken to Adam in Genesis 2:17 come to pass. thereby granting the man and woman eternal life. 8 9 10 4 . Michigan: Zondervan) 629. until they sinned against God.have perpetually prevented the breakdown and decay of the human body. assuming that one bite of its fruit would sustain them for all eternity. including the Garden of Eden. Rather the physical death of humanity results from a lack of access to the tree of life. but the provision of God provided in the fruit of the tree of life prevented it. Revelation (Peabody. the Lord sends Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in order that they might not continue to eat of the tree of life. Genesis 3:22. Not only do they encounter spiritual death. Though physical death possesses some connection with the Fall. Massachusetts) 256. Despite the curse affecting the garden. The statement of the Lord discussing banishing humanity from the garden “lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life … and live forever”10 has the potential for an alternate translation. argue that Adam and Eve never partook of the tree of life. The entire earth suffers from the curse as a result of Sin. but they experience physical death as well. Christian Theology (Grand Rapids. it seems likely that they partook of the tree of life on a regular basis. humanity had a disposition toward physical death. 7 Millard Erickson. The tree of life functioning as a continual life source for the man and woman leads to what Millard Erickson refers to as the Pelagian conclusion that “humans were created mortal.

12 Genesis 3:15. So often. readers view this passage in terms of spiritual salvation. Adam and Eve become acquainted with their mortality. the Lord promises that the seed of the woman would overcome the serpent.11 Though God judges them for their actions. When Isaiah discusses the “Suffering Servant. 5 . the Prophet Isaiah speaks concerning the protoevangelion.13 Though not using the same terminology as the writer of Genesis.The Hebrew term for “also” (‫ )גַּם‬can be translated “again. the prophet explains that by the wound the servant experiences. Healing in the Interim Despite the sin of humanity. people obtain 11 Yossi Feintuch. but only in the midst of suffering from a bruise himself. “The Folly of Impetuous Speech: Four Biblical Incidents. 14 In this discourse. In light of the entire testimony of Scripture. God provides for the health and preservation of his creation. but includes the healing of the physical body.” No matter the translation.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 34 (2006): 16. The use of the word “soul” may be used interchangeably with the term “spirit” in reference to the immaterial aspect of a person‟s being. but the whole of Scripture teaches that God cares for all aspects of the human being and therefore aims to totally redeem humanity. Along with the judgment of sin. he continues to make divine provision for the life and health of his creation. this account sadly demonstrates that because of their sin. 14 13 Isaiah 53:5-6.” he speaks prophetically concerning one who would be bruised for the iniquity of all humanity.12 Such an occurrence plants the seed of hope that the results of what has taken place will be overturned. the promise of Genesis 3:15 relates not only to the salvation of the soul.

Illinois: Crossway). Wayne Grudem. he includes distinctive literary phrases. appealing to Jesus‟ fulfillment of the predictions found in Old Testament prophetic texts. A New Testament Hermeneutic Concerning Isaiah’s Prophecy of Healing One way of gaining and understanding of what the Bible says about a specific topic is to look for how the Bible addresses the topic in the whole canon of Scripture. The Spirit-inspired interpretive methodologies of Matthew and Peter help explain to what Isaiah refers when discussing healing. the context in which Matthew places the text of Isaiah 53 assists the reader in gaining Matthew‟s understanding of Isaiah‟s approach to healing.access to the privilege of healing. 15 Isaiah 53:5. A Matthean Interpretive Approach Functioning as the first of the synoptic gospels.16 Given Matthew‟s interpretive abilities. Such usage of the text serves as a great advantage to the reader. the Book of Matthew serves as an evangelistic tool for Jews in which the author develops a written account explaining that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. the reader of the Isaianic passage must inquire about what type of healing the writer speaks. ed. ESV Study Bible (Wheaton.15 Some theologians argue that this passage simply uses healing in the metaphorical sense and deals strictly with salvation. Noting the intertextuality of Scripture serves as one of the best ways for gaining an understanding of a specific passage or phrase found in the Bible. 16 6 . Matthew‟s historical identity as a Galilean Jewish Christian supports the understanding that he was capable of interpreting the words and actions of Jesus in light of Old Testament messianic expectations. As a result. As a result. especially when New Testament writers refer to Old Testament texts and interpret them for the readers. Two New Testament authors address portions of Isaiah‟s passage. 1815.

18 Shortly after the account. these actions maintain great importance for those in these accounts. Prior to the account in the house of Peter. 15:25.19 Though the woman touching Jesus‟ garment might not have a significant effect on the modern reader and Jesus touching the leper holds no significance besides functioning as a mode of healing. a woman suffering from some form of hemorrhage stretches out her hand and touches Jesus‟ garment in order that she might receive her healing. “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: „He took our illnesses and bore our diseases. where his mother-in-law was ill. Matthew notes. 18 19 20 21 7 . In looking back on this account. Leviticus 13:45.‟”17 Matthew‟s quotation of Isaiah 53:4 directly relates to the healing of physical ailments. Matthew explains that Jesus heals her with the touch of his hand.20 As a result. According to the Law of Moses. This miracle led to others. as later that evening. Matthew records Jesus healing a leper as he comes down a mountain.Matthew 8 records an account of Jesus going to Peter‟s home. The concept of Christ delivering the oppressed from demons may also be used to say that Matthew interprets Isaiah‟s prophecy in terms of some form of spiritual deliverance. While there. just as they. Matthew 8:1-4 Matthew 9:18-26. Matthew illustrates the meaning of Isaiah‟s statement concerning Jesus taking our illnesses and diseases. Jesus casts out spirits and heals all the sick. In his writing.21 17 Matthew 8:17. Leviticus 22:4-6. the leprous and those with a discharge of blood are ceremonially unclean. Jesus having physical contact with these individuals renders him unclean.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. like Matthew.” In the history of the Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions. Peter notes Christ bearing sin in his body so “we might die to sin and live to righteousness. one must observe the literary context in which Peter places the text of Isaiah in order to see how Peter sees Isaiah‟s approach to healing. Some have gone so far as to state that the verb tense Peter uses demonstrates that the healing has already taken place and that believers should look for the manifestation of healing in their bodies.”22 In the same verse. “By his wounds you have been healed. 23 24 25 8 . 1 Peter 2:23. many have appealed to 1 Peter 2:24 in order to argue for physical healing. I Peter 2:24.A Petrine Interpretive Approach Noted in the canon as the First Epistle of Peter.”24 they were saved by the suffering of Christ on the cross. the apostle encourages his audience to continue “entrusting [themselves] to him who judges justly. In Peter‟s letter to these Christians. I Peter 2:24. these Christians “have been [spiritually] healed. Interestingly. Peter‟s use of this passage maintains no relation to physical healing.”23 As a result of Christ‟s suffering. Ultimately. supports the idea that he was capable of interpreting the words and actions of Jesus he saw in light of Old Testament texts. the apostle writes to Christians dispersed across the Roman Empire in order to encourage them to maintain their faith in the midst of suffering and persecution. Seeing the same events as Matthew. he appeals to Isaiah 53:4 and says.”25 22 1 Peter 2:24. he continues by appealing to verse 5 of Isaiah‟s passage and says. Peter‟s background as a Galilean Jewish Christian.

9 .The “Both-And” Nature of Healing in Isaiah The differing explanations of Matthew and Peter have the potential to raise questions from those studying the concept of healing. Peter writes to Gentiles who had lived in their “former ignorance”26 and had no Messianic expectation. In order to draw conclusions concerning this. Understanding that God provided physical healing prior to the Fall. while Peter refers to the same passage discussing spiritual healing (salvation). Given God‟s care for the whole individual. In an attempt to reach Jews. Interestingly. Pauline Perspectives on the Ultimately Healed Body Of all the New Testament writers. Given Peter‟s audience. his work aims to redeem 26 1 Peter 1:14. stating it refers to physical healing. both writers maintain accuracy in their use of the Isaianic passage. Matthew appeals to the passage. These discussions of resurrection lead to questions concerning the nature and function of the human body in the age to come. one must refer to the writings of the New Testament. This emphasis rests with the target audience and the point the author attempts to communicate. Various writings discuss the future hope of the resurrection of the dead. Each simply places his emphasis on a specific aspect of healing. the Apostle Paul takes time to discuss the future state of the human. he focuses on spiritual healing by way of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. readers recognize that Isaiah‟s prophecy concerning healing deals with both the spiritual and physical aspects of healing. begs the question of what healing will look like in the age to come. Matthew appeals to the cultural expectation that the Messiah would bring physical healing. Allowing both divinely inspired New Testament authors to speak for themselves. and continues to do so during this period in history.

But how is a body that suffers from sickness. provide additional clues concerning the post-resurrection body. Paul explains that Christ “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body. and decay to be redeemed? Paul explains the mysterious nature of what he refers to in Romans as the “redemption of our bodies.”30 As a result. Toward the end of I Corinthians. when discussing this transformation of the body.both the body and the soul. 27 Romans 8:23. 28 29 30 10 . 1 Corinthians 15:53. death. disease. “O death. the Scripture gives some ideas concerning this “new” body.”28 In 1 Corinthians 15:55.29 When describing the state of the body in the future age. where is your sting?” Here Paul explains that “the sting of death is sin” – the very thing which separates humanity from the tree of life.”27 In discussing the resurrected body. Jesus Christ. where is your victory? O death. Philippians 3:21. The totality of this information seems to reside in the hidden knowledge of God until the full consummation of humanity‟s redemption takes place. Paul tells the Corinthians that the “perishable body must put on the imperishable” and the “mortal body must put on immortality. Paul does not give much of an idea concerning physical characteristics. the descriptions of the first fruits of the Resurrection. the Apostle Paul explains the future state of the physical body. Paul explains the significance of what humans do in the body by explaining that the Lord will one day make their bodies eternal. At the same time. 1 Corinthians 15:56. he quotes Hosea taunting death saying. In his letter to the Philippians. In an effort to correct the behavior of the Corinthians.

Yet the 31 Colossians 4:14. a Galilean Jewish fisherman. writes his gospel in an attempt to communicate to others that they can have eternal life through Jesus Christ.36 Luke and John note that Jesus‟ body was the same as theirs. As a result. as he has flesh and bones.We Shall Be Like Him Of the gospel writers. John. Based on a series of interactions with Jesus. his followers and the readers of the biblical text can understand that Christ possesses physical strength and can move objects. Many eyewitness accounts confirm the bodily existence among his followers. A physician by profession.32 On at least one occasion he enters a room where the doors are locked.31 Luke had some understanding of the human body and how it functions.35 Given the frequency of the Old Testament‟s relation of breath and life. Luke 24:30 John 20:19 Luke 24:39. each of his descriptions concerning Jesus‟ postresurrection actions demonstrates some characteristic of Jesus‟ body. yet different in some way. 32 33 34 35 36 11 . Interestingly. Luke and John provide great detail concerning the postresurrection body of Jesus.33 Despite his defiance of the laws of physics. Christ explains to his followers that he is not a spirit. John notes that in the same way that God breathed into man the breath of life that Jesus breathes on his disciples and commands them to receive the life giving gift of the Holy Spirit. The similarities seem to be accounted for in Jesus maintaining his physical nature. Luke 24:43 John 20:22.34 He even partakes of food with his disciples. the activities of Jesus recorded by John present evidence supporting that the one who provides eternal life is indeed alive.

The prohibition of consumption of the fruit of the tree after the Fall allows the effects of nature – sickness and death – to take place. the discussion of the parallel language between John‟s description of the new creation and Ezekiel‟s description of the eschatological temple were excluded. John explains the tree of life is “on either side of the river. along with his notation of its healing properties.”37 The Already Meets the Not Yet As the metanarrative of Scripture comes to a close. Using language reminiscent of Genesis 1-3. With the resurrection of the body.”39 Though difficult to visually and geographically grasp. he describes the layout of the city of God in which the Lord once again makes his dwelling place with humanity. when the mortal becomes immortal.38 After describing the river of life. appears to be an unnecessary aspect of the eschatological hope. How to Read the Bible Book by Book (Grand Rapids.”40 With the understanding from the Pauline letters of the immortal state of the human‟s post-resurrection body. John‟s writing in his description of the new creation refers not only to the early record of Genesis. the tree of life is present for humanity to once again eat of its fruit. 39 38 37 Revelation 22:2.differences the writers note concerning his body seem to only be understood in terms of the Spirit empowering Christ‟s body. 40 12 . [as] it will be refitted for heavenly existence. Given the brevity of this work. Their accounts provide information explaining that in the eschaton the human body will be “the same. In the Garden of Eden. the Lord provides eternal life for his creation by way of the tree of life. Michigan: Zondervan) 331. Some Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. but not quite the same. Ibid. John‟s inclusion of the tree of life. the Apostle John takes the time to describe what he sees in the new creation. he explains that “the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. but also to Ezekiel‟s vision of the eschatological temple.

God demonstrates his power to heal both the body and soul. Michigan: Baker Academic) 772. throughout eternity. Grant Osborne. while reassuring those who partake of the tree of his continued care for them. no matter the recipient.may argue that people will not eat of the tree of life in the age to come but the Lord tells those in the church at Ephesus that he “will grant [the one who conquers] to eat of the tree of life. both spiritual and physical “has already occurred at the eschaton. These proleptic healings from God. show that the ultimate healing. The leaves of this tree. Conclusion The presence of the tree of life at the beginning and end of the Bible demonstrates that God is the one who gives life to his creation. brings about the ultimate healing for his children at the eschaton. 41 Revelation 2:7. 42 13 . who has always sustained his creation. In the interim.”42 This revelation therefore serves as a reminder of God‟s redemptive work of the past. both spiritually and physically. through which God originally provided eternal life for the physical body. which were for healing. God provides healing in this life for both believers and non-believers. Revelation (Grand Rapids. where humanity finds itself in a world full of sickness and death. Even as salvation is universally available to everyone in this life. should encourage believers to look forward to the day in which God. The eating of this tree serves as a constant reminder of the restorative work of God through the atoning death of his Son.”41 This reversal of the effects of the curse reminds believers that they may partake of the tree of life.

Christian Theology. Grudem. Daniel.org/esa/population/publications/worldmortality/WMR2007_wallchart.” United Nations Population Division Homepage. 2006: 16. Illinois: Crossway. 2002. Michigan: Zondervan. Osborne. Feintuch. Fee. Wall. 2006. Gordan. Millard. Grand Rapids.un. Bruce. Paul. Waltke. Peabody. An Old Testament Theology: A Canonical and Thematic Approach. Watson. Robert W. 1998. ESV Study Bible. http://www." Biblioteca Sacra. Grand Rapids. Wheaton. 1980: 232-238. 1991. Grant. "The Tree of Life in Revelation 2:7. “World Mortality 2007. Michigan: Zondervan. ed. "The Tree of Life. Michigan: Baker Academic. Grand Rapids. and Douglas Stuart. 2009)." Restoration Quarterly. Revelation. Michigan: Zondervan. 2003. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. United Nations. Wayne. Yossi. 1998: 211-226.pdf (accessed July 14. How to Read the Bible Book by Book. Grand Rapids.Bibliography Erickson. "The Folly of Impetuous Speech: Four Biblical Incidents. 14 . Revelation. Wong. 2008." Jewish Biblical Quarterly.

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