As we come to look in God’s word, there is that principle that we can’t survive without and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. We’ve got to trust God not only to show us what is from him but to blind us from what is not. He’s promised that He would pluck up anything that He hasn’t planted. I feel secure in teaching that if there is flesh and blood that sneaks in there, our Lord will take care of that.
I want to share Psalm 20:6, one part of it, “He will answer from His Holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.” Usually if you ask a question and somebody answers, they answer with a word; they give you an answer. Sometimes God doesn’t answer with a word but He always answers with the saving strength of His right hand. In the NAS there is a marginal reference and the literal Hebrew is “With the mighty deeds of the victory of His right hand.” So, when you pray you can expect God to answer with the mighty deeds of the victory of His right hand.
Let’s bow and commit our time to the Lord. Heavenly Father, we thank You this morning that we have the Holy Spirit and that You do hear our cry and you answer with Your saving right hand. So, we ask You this morning that You would minister to our hearts and open the eyes of our understanding and we pray that what is from You might be received and what is not from you might be rejected. We believe that everything from You is right and we hate every false way. We ask for Your revelation and Your protection and we pray in the matchless name of Jesus. Amen As we go through you’ll see why that prayer is big on my heart today.
We’ve completed our discussion of the first four chapters. I’ve probably not completed it to your satisfaction but to mine; I ran out of light, so there we go. I’d like to introduce chapter 5 because that is what we are going to be looking at now. We want to see chapter 5 in terms of the spiritual message of the book. Let me just get that before your heart once again. The great message of Joshua is summarized in Deut. 6:23, “He brought us out from there to bring us in, to give us the land which He has sworn to our fathers.” He brought us out of Egypt and all that pictures in order to bring us in to Canaan and all that pictures. The land of Canaan is a graphic picture illustration of life in Jesus, life in Christ. He is our inheritance, as the land was there’s. He is the Life of milk and honey, as there’s was the land of milk and honey. We enter into Christ as they entered the land. We conquer the enemy as they conquered the enemy. We find our portion in the land as they found their portion in the land. We settle down, live in and off the land, as they learned to do that. It’s a wonderful picture on how to abide in Jesus.
I want to read this, it’s a bit lengthy, Deut. 9:1-6 because what was true of them is also true of us, “Hear, oh Israel, you are crossing over Jordan today to go into possess nations greater and mightier than you; great cities fortified to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of Anakim, whom you know and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’ Know therefore today that it is the Lord your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the Lord has spoken to you. Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your father, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.”
Isn’t that an amazing passage! It’s a reminder that our life in Christ is a donation from God. It is a gift. Nobody deserves to abide in Christ. I don’t deserve it and you don’t deserve it. It is a gift of grace. Moses addressed this new generation in Deut. 11:31, “You are about to cross the Jordan to go in to possess the land which your God has given you. You shall possess it and live in it.” In our study together, and we’re looking at redemptive history, we have crossed Jordan. Finally, we’ve crossed that dividing line, that line that divided between wilderness living and abundant life living, that line that divided the land of disobedience and unbelief from the land of obedience and faith.
The actual conquest of the land, the conflict, the seven year war and driving out the enemy, that doesn’t even begin until chapter 6 with the battle of Jericho. In other words, you have five chapters before the battle begins and we’ve been looking at those five chapters and we called it “preparation”. God gets us ready to go in and take possession and drive out the enemy. We need to be prepared.
In our discussion I gave five principles which we called “general preparation”. That was all in chapter one. Then in chapters two to four, we looked at what we called “specific preparation” illustrated by Rahab, illustrated by the two and a half tribes that didn’t desire to enter, illustrated by the River Jordan, illustrated by the priests who stood on the dry river bed holding up the ark of God, illustrated by the two monuments of twelve stones (one in the river and one in Gilgal), and so on. I’m not going to review those principles again but now we come to chapter 5 and I’m calling this “final preparation”. We had general preparation and specific preparation and now we have final preparation to go in and to possess the land. In this chapter I see three wonderful stories, illustrations of final preparation.
Some commentators divide this chapter into four stories. Let me just show you their stories and how they divide it. One to nine; the reinstitution of the circumcision. Verse 10; the reinstitution of the Passover. Verses 11 & 12; God replacing the manna now with the fruit of the land of Canaan. Finally, verses 13 & 15, the end of the chapter, the appearance of the Angel of the Lord with the sword in His hand. Four stories; circumcision, Passover, manna and then the Angel of the Lord. I’m taking it to be three stories because I believe the story of the reinstitution of circumcision and Passover are not two stories. They are one story. They belong together. Whether you look at it as one or two doesn’t really matter much but I think one principle, an organic principle, ties them together. So, we’re going to look at this first final preparation; chapter 5 verses 1-10. Then, we’ll look at the second story, 11 & 12, the manna and then finally 13 – 15, the Angel with the sword in His hand.
This morning we’re only going to look at the first picture. There are three. We’ll look at circumcision and Passover. And because that connection suggests a tremendous principle and because I know, even in recent days, many who have misunderstood that principle have gone under condemnation and carried a cloud of guilt. I want to spend some time applying the principle that is suggested in this chapter.
Now we’re on the resurrection side of Jordan with much ground to be possessed. Because you’ve passed into the land of faith, it doesn’t mean you’ve arrived. You’ve only begun to arrive and we need this final preparation. Many enemies to be taken and many strongholds to be brought down and many lessons to be learned. I want you to picture this. God’s people have now entered the resurrection side. It’s their first day there. It’s new to them. They know nothing, nothing of the Christian life and nothing of what it means to abide in Christ and to draw from Him and to live off of Him. They have crossed the river and there they are. All they know is that they are in Christ, now, finally. The wilderness is behind them and Egypt is behind them and it’s a new day and a new life. What that new day holds, they don’t know yet. These three stories lay it out and I wish when I was delivered from Egypt, I wish I had known this final preparation at that time. I didn’t know it. It took me seven years to begin to know it. I honestly don’t think you can be finally prepared until you’ve crossed Jordan. You’ve got to be on the resurrection side to even begin to understand these principles.
So, this is the first day and it’s really like the first week. It would have been helpful to know that right when I got saved, but it took me seven years and it takes others longer and it takes some shorter than that but let’s just say it’s early in the believer’s life when God shows these principles and it’s usually when they finally understand what it means to be in Christ Jesus.
Before I state the principle in chapters 1-10 which describes this reinstitution of the right of circumcision and the celebration of Passover, I want to lay this before you. The three final principles, every one of them is a paradox. What is the plural of paradox? Paradoxes, paradoxi, paradoxen? Anyway, more than one; it’s the opposite of what you would think. This first principle, they are there brand new and they have expectations but God is going to blow up their expectations. Everything is opposite and each story presents a paradox. I’m going to show you the paradox, then the opposite and then the principle and then the very, very meaningful application that is based on that principle. You are going to see as we go along, I’m going to make a large point of this paradox.
I don’t want to play with this in an irreverent way because this is Bible and it’s history and it happened but wouldn’t you expect after forty years wandering in the wilderness and you finally got it right and you finally crossed the line and you are finally on the resurrection side, what would you expect now that you are on that side. Let me show you the history they had. I want you to hear what God told them as a promise, “You are going into the land and here is what it will be like.” Deut. 6:10&11, “It shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build., house full of good things which you did not fill, hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant. You shall eat and are satisfied.”
Deut. 8:7-10, “For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.”
One other description, Deut. 11:10&11&12, “For the land , into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.” That’s what they were told and that’s the promise they embraced.
What would you expect when God says, “You are going into a land that’s all finished for you, a land where you will lack nothing, a land that is always under the watchful eye of God, from the start of the year to the end of the year.” If God had given me a word like that, I’d be ready to set up my hammock. I’d be ready to have a glass of tea and just enjoy the sunshine and kick off my shoes and enjoy my inheritance. That’s what I would expect. I’m not sure that they didn’t expect something like that. Here’s the first word they get, verse 2, “At that time the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” “Say what?” I’m going in to this land to enjoy all of these goodness and now He brings me back to the flint stones. He brings me back to this rite.
Chapter 5:4, “At that time the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” Sharp stones! I know they did not expect this. It was quite literal for them but it contains a profound spiritual principle. We’re entering the land; we need to understand this principle. Before we can appropriate the spiritual significance, I think we need to understand the Bible symbolism. Perhaps many of you have already studied this and you know all about it but not everyone has grown up cutting their teeth on Bible stories. We don’t want to leave anybody behind. Many who will follow this mechanically, listening to CD’s and tapes. I don’t want to take for granted that they’ve been to Bible School and that they know all these things. I’m going to ask you to be patient with me because I want to give you the Bible principle illustrated by circumcision. Then it will make more sense to you.
The rite of circumcision was first given to Abraham, you remember. Genesis 17:10, “This is my covenant which you shall keep between you and Me and your descendants after you. Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin. It shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.” The New Testament calls it “the covenant of the righteousness by faith”. It was by grace. How so? Circumcision, literally, is a removal of a piece of flesh. It’s taking a piece of flesh and separating it from the person. The separation of flesh. Genesis 17:12, “Every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations.” So, God says, “I’m going to have a covenant with you and I want to illustrate what is life separated from the flesh.” And He gives this wonderful illustration of that and it takes place, as you know, at the very source of the production and fruit in life. It’s a very intimate and a very precious sign.
The foreskin is only a little piece of flesh. The picture is small. A little piece of flesh, not even the size of a dime; a little piece of flesh separated from the body. That’s the picture. What is the reality? The reality is in Col. 2:11, “In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” In the picture it’s just a little piece of flesh separated from the body. In the reality, when Christ circumcises our hearts, it’s the removal of the whole body of the flesh. That’s a lot different than a little piece of skin, taking the whole body of the flesh. If God was going to picture that, he’d have to skin that little baby. God says, “Just a little piece will do it. The flesh is being separated from the body.” In Christ He takes you to the cross and He takes me to the cross; the whole body of the flesh has been dealt with.
So, circumcision as a principle is a principle of holiness. It’s a principle of Godliness. It’s a principle of separation from the flesh. God meets these new Christians (new in their heart), He meets the redeemed who have now stood on the resurrection side, He says, “You are about to go into a land and don’t think there is not temptations in there and don’t think there are not enemies in there. There’s a lot in there that will mess you up. Here’s what I expect of you. In the land which is Christ, I expect holiness. I expect a life that is separated from the flesh.” That was the beginning principle and on that first day they had to learn that God was bringing them into Christ and He expected a holy life. Life in Christ is not reckless. It’s holy life.
As you know, the Jews through the years never understood that and they will filled with spiritual pride. They thought that circumcision of babies and they had that mark on their flesh, that they were special to God and they were God’s favorites and they were God’s chosen people. They looked at the whole world and said, “You are uncircumcised. We are the people and we are the ones that have that mark.” So, the Bible says that they gloried in the flesh. That means that they gloried in that mark and they thought because they were physically circumcised that they had an in with God and it didn’t matter how they lived. They could sin all they wanted and say, “I’m God’s; I have a mark. I belong to Him. He loves me more than He loves you. You are uncircumcised and I’m circumcised.” They never saw the spiritual side, even though Moses (that’s Old Testament), in Deut. 10:16 says, “Circumcise your heart and stiffen your neck no longer.” They called attention to the spiritual side. Even the prophet Jeremiah, same thing, Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise yourself to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart.” They never got that part.
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul said in Romans 2:25, “Indeed, circumcision is of value if you practice the law but if you are a transgressor of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. You are just like those who never knew the Lord.” Romans 2:28, “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward in the flesh. He is a Jew who is one inwardly. Circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit and not by the letter. His praise is not from men but from God.” Physical circumcision was to picture in the heart, separation from sin, separation from the flesh and a desire to live a holy life, complete victory, the whole body of the flesh and not just a little piece of skin. That’s a picture, but the whole body of sin removed by the circumcision of Christ, without hands; spiritual by the spirit in the heart. That’s spiritual circumcision. God was saying that you guys are about to go in and possess the land which pictures Christ and right at the beginning you need to know that you are going to have to live a holy life, a Godly life.
The question comes, “How do you do that?” I want to live a holy life. Deut. 10;16 again, “Circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” Doesn’t that sound like something you have to do? “Circumcise your heart.” It sounds like a command. Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise yourself to the Lord and remove the foreskin of your heart.” You might say that you’d like to do that but how? How am I supposed to live a holy life?
It’s like Ephesians 4:22, “In reference to your former manner of life, lay aside the old self which is being corrupted in accordance with the lust of deceit, that you may be renewed in the Spirit of your mind. Put on the new self which is in the like ness of God, create din righteousness and holiness of truth.” That sound so good. I’d love to lay aside the old self and put on the new man. How? How can I be separated from the flesh?
I believe the message of Joshua 5, how to enter this land, by being circumcised. Circumcision was the seal of God’s covenant and in that connection listen to Deut. 30:6. I love this passage. “Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so you may live.” God says, “Circumcise your heart.” I say, “How?” He says, “The Lord your God will circumcise your heart.” The pressure is off of me. The burden is taken away. He has promised to do what He commands. The duty is always mine but the power is never mine. The responsibility is always mine but the ability to perform is always His. He has to circumcise the heart and circumcise the flesh. There’s no way I can stop sinning. Flesh is flesh and it will always be flesh and it will never be improved. I’m as much flesh now, sixty one years after knowing Jesus as I was that day in Jan. 29, 1958 when the Lord Jesus came into my heart. I’m the same me and the flesh is still flesh.
As they go into the land they are going to encounter powerful enemies and many occasions of lust, many lust arousing damsels live in that that land with idolatry of every kind, temptation of greed and materialism and so on and God says right at the door of the land, “Do you really want to enter into Christ, you know that you’ve got to be circumcised in heart. You’ve got to be holy. And only God can do it. It’s a circumcision of the heart made without hands. Christ, by the circumcision of Christ, by the Spirit of God. God begins with that.
Genesis 17:12, “Every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised through your generations.” You know when they went through the wilderness, everybody that was under twenty had already been circumcised, when they were babies. They aren’t circumcised again. It’s only those who were born into the wilderness, that hadn’t been circumcised at that time. It was to be done to a baby. Many were older. These are men that are going to be circumcised that hadn’t been circumcised. It was to be done to a baby eight days old. That’s the covenant of grace. A baby of eight days old can’t circumcise themselves. It’s not possible. It’s just showing that it’s all of the Lord. What God did, and we’ll see, when these circumcised soldiers have to march around Jericho in their pain, he put every soldier in the place of a child eight days old. He made everyone little children. He’s talking about helpless dependence. You are about to go into the land. “I want you to go in as helpless dependent children, trusting Me to make and keep you holy.”
I’ll give you my testimony and I’m going to give you yours. I have zero power over my flesh, my sinful desires. That’s my testimony. Here’s yours; you have zero power over your flesh and over your sinful desires. Right at the beginning God is teaching them that the Christian life is a holy life and it’s a Godly life. It’s not, “Look to Jesus and live any way you want to live.” It’s the opposite of that. In Christ Jesus there is complete separation from the whole body of the flesh.
That’s why I connected it to Passover because God gives this impossible command and then they celebrate Passover, the same as to say, “Praise God for the blood! Praise God for Calvary! Praise God for the cross!” The Passover was what God did and now God says, “You need to be circumcised,” and then they went back to the foundation and it’s only because of what He does and what He is.
Chapter 5:10, “While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.” So, that’s what God taught them, “You are My covenant people and I will circumcise your heart to love Me and I’ll separate you from the flesh and all it’s subtle forms,” and they responded by celebrating Passover. Praise God for the cross and praise God for the blood. Do you realize that every good thing that God has ever done for you and me, praise God for the blood and praise God for the cross.
In this connection and this is where I get to the application, I want to tell you the difference between something that is based on the atonement, every good thing God ever did for you is based on the atonement. I want to show you the difference between what is in the atonement and what is based on the atonement. It’s not the same thing. It’s a difference of life and death. Many earnest believers are knocked off balance because they don’t understand the difference between what is included in the atonement and what is based on the atonement. I’m going to use the remainder of this lesson to try to drive home that truth. It’s designed to liberate.
What do we mean when we say that something is included in the atonement? It means that Jesus died, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ was to atone for whatever is in the atonement. He died to atone for that. It’s easy to nail it down because in the atonement is sin. That’s what is in the atonement. Jesus died to atone for sin. Here’s the rub. That’s what is in the atonement and that is all that is in the atonement; nothing else is. The benefit of that atonement is twofold. Because He died for sin, I can claim forgiveness. Because He died for sin, I can claim reconciliation with God. That’s in the atonement. He died for my sin, the penalty of my sin and He broke the power of my sin and He took away the sting of sin. It’s all in the atonement.
You say, “Yes, but how is that made yours?” The answer is that benefit becomes mine by faith. I have to claim it. He died and if I don’t claim that forgiveness, I don’t have that forgiveness. If I don’t claim union with Christ, I don’t have it. It’s in the atonement. I can claim it. If I don’t receive the benefit of what is in the atonement, it is simply because I didn’t take the simple step of faith and I didn’t trust the Lord and I didn’t rely on what He said is true. That’s all that’s in it; sin, its penalty, its power and its sting. All of that is in the atonement. Every other blessing you ever receive in life is certainly based on the atonement, because of the death and resurrection of Christ. Every good thing He has ever done is because God loves you and gave His Son to die for you.
I have a perfect wife, not because Jesus died to give me a perfect wife. I praise God that if it weren’t for Calvary I wouldn’t have her. I know that. That’s from the Lord. I have a wonderful family and I have beautiful friends and you are part of the beautiful friends. I have a precious ministry and I thank God for all of that but He didn’t die to pay my rent and pay my mortgage. He didn’t die to give me friends. He didn’t die to give me security. He didn’t die to make me healthy. He didn’t die to put my life in favorable circumstances and give me a good job and a car that works. That’s not why He died. But if you have that, praise God for Calvary. As a Christian, you’ve got to keep going back to Passover and celebrate Passover.
So that you know exactly what I’m talking about and you won’t be knocked off balance, I’m going to use a very pointed illustration and because it’s very precious, it becomes a little controversial. Love me and have patience with me. We need to differentiate between what is in the atonement and everything based on the atonement. I told you that sin is in the atonement; the penalty of sin, the power of sin, the sting of sin. All of that is in the atonement. 1 Cor. 15:3, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I received. Christ died for our sins.” That’s what He died for, according to the scripture. That sounds simple. We say, “Everybody knows that He died for our sins. Praise God!” But what the means practically is that everything else is not in the atonement.
I’m going to use an illustration and I’m talking about the dangerous teaching which says that healing is in the atonement; healing, a physical disease, is in the atonement. I’ll tell you right up front that it is not in the atonement. If God heals it’s certainly based on the atonement and you’ve got to praise God for that. But it’s not in the atonement.
Some are shy to present this for fear of offending someone. I’m getting a little old to worry about that. Even recently I’ve seen some of God’s dear children wounded because they have not understood this. I’m using this illustration because I know some have been very confused and even pushed a little off balance because of the teaching that healing is in the atonement. Sometimes they think they meet the conditions and they pray and God doesn’t heal and then they get confused and they scratch their heads and say, “What in the world went wrong.” Then they go under a guilt of condemnation and they carry a burden and so on.
Let me lay this out what it is. The teaching is based in a large part on an expression used several times in the Bible. And it’s first mentioned in Isaiah 53:5. In the KJV it says, “By His stripes we are healed.” The NAS quotes it this way, “He was pierced through for our transgressions and He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening of our well-being fell upon Him and by His scourging we are healed.” It’s also mentioned in 1 Peter 2:24, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you are healed.”
If you just took that expression, “By His wounds we are healed, by His scourging we are healed,” it certainly looks, at first appearance like healing is in the atonement. It looks like Jesus died for my sin and Jesus died for my sickness and died for my diseases. And because He died for sin, by faith, I can claim forgiveness and reconciliation. And because He died for sickness, I can come with the same faith and claim healing and claim deliverance.” If I refuse to take forgiveness by faith, it’s my fault; if I go away unforgiven or guilty, if I didn’t claim it by faith. They say, “If you refuse to take healing by faith, it’s your fault, and you go away sick. Or those you pray for go away sick. The only reason I’m not forgiven is that I don’t believe God. Some would then say that healing is in the atonement and the only reason I’m not healed is that I don’t believe God. He died for my sin and He died for my diseases and by His stripes I’m forgiven and by His stripes I am healed. Everything is mine for the taking.
Because this teaching is so widespread, especially among televangelists, many have claimed a healing that God never promised to give and then they’ve beaten themselves up and gone away guilty because they can’t blame God, so they have to blame themselves. There’s only one reason that God didn’t heal; “I didn’t believe enough or I’m weak in faith. If I had more faith, then they would have been healed.” Then they go away under condemnation under a cloud and are constantly beating themselves up.
Let me show you from the Bible what that expression means, “By His stripes we are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 is really clear, that it is spiritual and not physical, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you are healed.” Clearly here it is spiritual healing, “He bore our sins in His body.” My sickness there is sin and my healing is forgiveness. That’s clear. There is plenty of that in the Bible, by the way, and throughout the scriptures, that spiritual approach to healing. That doesn’t rule out physical but it is also spiritual.
Jeremiah 3:22, “Return, oh faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness.” Boy, that’s a healing I want. Hosea 14:4, “I’ll heal their apostasy. I’ll love them freely. My anger is turned away.” Acts 28:27, “The heart of this people has become dull. Their ears they scarcely hear. They’ve closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and return and I would heal them.” Clearly we know at least some verses refer to a spiritual healing. Maybe not all but some absolutely do.
Someone might ask, “Well, doesn’t Isaiah 53:4 actually
refer to physical sickness?” And I have
to answer, “Yes, it does.” Listen
carefully, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore and our sorrows He carried.” The Hebrew word for sorrows is
“sicknesses”. Our sicknesses He carried.
“We ourselves esteemed Him stricken and smitten of God and afflicted.” That verse is quoted in the New
Testament. So, you’ve got to see where
it’s quoted. It’s quoted in Matthew
8:16, “When evening came they brought to Him many who were demon possessed and
He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were ill.” That’s not spiritual. That’s physical; “He healed all who were ill.” “This was to fulfill what was spoken through
Isaiah the prophet, ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our
In other words, what was God doing in Isaiah 53:4? He was prophesying that when Messiah came He would have a healing ministry. That’s why he said, “That is fulfilled.” He did it. He had a healing ministry. Nobody can deny that. But look at the next verse in Isaiah. That was verse 4. Look at verse 5, it begins with the word “but”. “But He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquity.” In other words, verse 4 says, “Jesus, when He comes, Messiah, will have a healing ministry but He’s going to die for our sins, for our transgressions, for our iniquity.” So, he makes a difference there.
I need to call attention, since I want to make this complete, to two more passages. I want you to understand that there is such a thing as penal sickness. I don’t like the word “penal”. It’s because penal means that you are subject to punishment. Jesus already took the punishment. We’re never going to be punished again. God will never collect for the same debt twice. He’s too honest and too holy. I’m using penal in the sense of chastening, that God brings chastening. There are certain things that God uses in chastening. 1 Cor. 11:29, they were abusing terribly the Lord’s precious table, “He who eats and drinks eats and drinks judgment to himself. He does not judge the body. For this reason many among you are weak and sick and a number sleep.”
Do you see what God did in Corinth? They were coming unworthily to the table of the Lord. Some were coming drunk to the table of the Lord. Some were coming in an exclusive way; “I’m a Jew and you are just a gentile. I won’t sit with you.” God said, “You can’t come to the table that way. We are one body.” So, some were made weak and they didn’t repent. So, God sent sickness and they still didn’t repent. So, a number God actually took home. It was the sin unto death.
That’s just an illustration. Not all sickness is penal. Not all sickness is chastening but as in Corinth, sometimes it is. God uses many things to chasten. He uses the weather and He controls circumstances and sometimes He uses sickness. Penal sickness is dealt with differently than some sickness that is in the will of God for the purposes of God and for the glory of God. In other words, if He chastens us by famine and we repent, He removes the chastening and it rains. If the chastening that God has closed this book and He is not speaking to me and I repent, He opens the book and removes the chastening and I get revelation. If chastening is affliction and I repent, He removes the rod and I’m not afflicted anymore. If God decides to close some door of opportunity because I’m rebelling and I repent, it’s amazing how doors will open up because God has removed the chastening. Many times the chastening is financial hardship.
Be careful with your generosity because you might work at cross purposes with God. If God brings a financial hardship into somebody’s life and you come along and rescue them, you might find yourself working against God. I think at the judgment seat of Christ we’ll not only be judged for our stinginess but God will hold many accountable for their generosity. The point is, if God uses a financial difficulty and we repent, then He provides. If the chastening is sickness and that person repents, God removes the chastening. We look at it and say, “They’ve been healed,” because God took away the chastening and the chastening was sickness. Sometimes, as in Corinth, He will weaken and He will cause people to get sick and even take people to heaven if it’s a penal sickness.
All of that brings us to the most controversial and that is chapter 5 of James. This is probably one of the most misunderstood texts in the New Testament, especially in those reality epistles after Hebrews. James 5:14, “Is any among you sick? He must call the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins one to another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Many only read this passage as far as verse 15 and they have this idea that this is God’s promise to all who are sick for any reason. They say, “Sickness is not from God. He’s not like that. He’s a God of love. That has got to be from the enemy. So, if you are sick, and you call for the elders and they anoint you with oil and you pray the prayer of faith, didn’t God say, ‘God will raise him up and God will heal the sick.’? Claim it in the name of Jesus, just like you claim forgiveness.” The confusion comes that some have done that, they call the elders and they’ve been anointed and they pray the prayer of faith and it didn’t work and God didn’t heal and God didn’t deliver. Sometimes the ones we prayed for have even died and gone to heaven. So, God’s people are scratching their heads, “What is going on. How come when you have a promise like James 5?”
May I suggest that the context of James 5 is penal sickness? It’s chastening. The sick person has departed from the Lord and God sent sickness and he’s ready to repent and he calls the elders of the church and says, “I’ve been out of fellowship and I need to repent.” They anoint with oil which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. “I want to get back with God. I want to get right with the Lord.” They pray the prayer of faith and God removes the chastening. God removes the sickness. It says, “If anyone has sin.” That’s unfortunate in the English because the Greek is “Since you have sinned.” That’s why it says in that context, “Confess your sins one to another.” The context of James 5 is sin and that sin has cause somebody to be chastened and the chastening was sickness and they are getting right with God and God removes that sickness. James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” There is a healing guaranteed by God to be healed and that is when it is chastening. That is guaranteed. My heart goes out to those who go out and think that God has promised to heal every disease. He has not. Then they go into a depression because they think that their faith failed. Then they carry the guilt, “I wish I could have had more faith.”
You can tell if something is true by following it to its logical conclusion. For example, I’ve heard people say, “Little babies are saved.” Have you heard that? Well, follow that to its logical conclusion. If they are saved then they are secure and everybody has started off as a baby and that leads to universal salvation. So, you know it’s not true. Babies are not saved. They are safe. They are safe and if they die they are going to heaven, based on the blood. They are safe but not saved. Just be following it to its logical conclusion you can tell whether something is of God.
If you say that Christ died for sickness, follow it to its logical conclusion. It would be a sin to die from sickness and no believing Christian would ever die of sickness if that were so. Some say, “Well it’s not sin that He died for but sickness is the result of sin. Certainly there would be no sickness if there hadn’t been sin. So, he died from the result of sin.” Follow it to its conclusion. Thorns and briars are a result of sin. Do you have weeds in your garden? Well, you don’t have enough faith. If you had enough faith there wouldn’t be weeds in your garden. Follow it to its conclusion. Many who teach that healing is in the atonement wear glasses? Why? They have hearing aids. Why? They use a cane or a walker or a wheelchair. Why? They have false teeth. Why? Why don’t you trust God. If it was in the atonement, even after they died, why did you stop praying? He has as much power to raise the dead as he does to heal the sick. Why did you stop praying? God can do both.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, my heart goes out and it’s suggested in 5 that everything is based on the atonement. Can God heal? Absolutely! Does He? Yes, He does. Often He heals, Praise God! Has he promised to heal so that you can claim it? The answer is “no”. He has not promised to heal every disease. He has promised to forgive every sin and He has promised to lift the chastening but He has not promised to heal every disease. When someone is sick, a dear sister or brother, it’s very difficult in my heart with the light I have (I could be wrong) to take a passage on penal sickness and apply it to that dear brother or sister and you know they have not committed sin. They are not in a situation because of that.
I always show up. I’ll not not show up. I’ll lay my hands on and I’ll be there with the oil but I’m coming because of Galatians 6:1-4 because God says, “Bear one another’s burdens.” I’ll be there to pray but if it’s not penal, now can I pray for the sick? Let me suggest, “If it’s possible, let this cup pass, but if not, Thy will be done.” That’s a good way to pray. How about this, “Father, glorify Thy name.” There are prayers to pray for the sick, but I just want you to know in concluding, that healing is not in the atonement. Is based on the atonement. Everything is based on the atonement. Only sin is in the atonement and I can come and claim by faith forgiveness and reconciliation. The idea that I can claim by faith healing is very dangerous and it is destroying God’s beautiful people.
Let me return to Joshua 5 and say that these eleven verses, we see God’s high impossible standard. If you are going into the land, you’ve got to live a holy life. “I can’t.” I know. He will circumcise your heart. Let me celebrate Passover. Let me praise God for the blood because of that. Apart from the Lord doing it, it’s not going to be done. If God restores and heals a sinning Christian, praise God for the blood. If God uses a sickness redemptively for His purposes, praise God for the blood. He has grace for everything. May God give us eyes to see the difference between what is in the atonement and what is based on the atonement and if in anything I have said things that are not from God, I pray He will pluck it up. I don’t want anything to come from my own reasoning. Next time, Lord willing, we’ll pick up the paradox of the manna.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your word and not what we think it means but all you know it means. We thank You, Lord, that every good and perfect gift comes from above and everything is because you love us and died for us and everything is based on the atonement. We praise You and can’t stop praising You. Even when You do heal, we know it’s because of Your love and Your grace and Your ultimate purpose. We just want to praise You and we pray that we might have eyes to see as You see and that our minds might be renewed to think as You think. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen