Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Initial Return to Zion

Preamble: I entitled this article as such, and NOT as “Return to Zion”, as the return to Zion is as believed by many, still on-going. Some refer to the “Return to Zion” as “Aliyah to Israel” or “Immigration of Jews to the land of Israel”. Here, I just want to touch on the initial return of the Jews to Israel, post the Babylonian exile.

The Babylonian exile was a period in the Jewish history during which the Jews living in the Southern Kingdom, Judah, were exiled to Babylon.

According to Scripture, there were possibly 3 deportations of Jews to Babylon: in 597 BC, involving King Jehoiachin (aka Jeconiah) and his court and many others; in 587/6 BC, of King Zedekiah (Installed by Babylonians to succeed King Jehoiachin) and the rest of the people; and a possible deportation after the assassination of Gedaliah, the Babylonian-appointed governor of Judah province, possibly in 582 BC.

The exile is commonly considered to have ended in 538 BC, with the proclamation by King Cyrus of the Persian Empire, who then was in control of Babylon.

The main books of the Bible on this initial return to Zion are the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. However, there were also many references connected to the subject, found in several other books, including the Book of Daniel, Kings, Chronicles, Jeremiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (the last 3 being the postexilic prophets) etc.

The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book, before it was first split up into 2 books around AD 3. We will be concentrating on these 2 books, in this exposition.

Why this article?
First, my pastor, new pastor, in church has started preaching on “Nehemiah” and has told us that it would be a series, and has given us a compressed history outline, from King David to King Zedekiah (pka Mattaniah, the last king of Judah). So, some members of the church have started reading up on the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. I do not know the precise reasons for his wanting to preach on “Nehemiah”; it could be that the church has embarked on a building extension, and so, he was trying to tie into the “building/rebuilding” theme.

But I do wonder why pastors like to preach on “Nehemiah”; my outgoing senior pastor (“retiring”) also did a series on “Nehemiah” not too long ago. Actually, I cannot remember, for sure, now, what the Senior Pastor was emphasizing then. It did NOT mean I have NOT absorbed the teachings from that series; it probably was that I, and others too, absorbed and internalized some specific truths and lessons, without us, really in any way, thinking that we would ever be found in that kind rebuilding/building project; we probably thought that perhaps, we could apply this and that, in our business, in our workplace, in building of our career or company, and even family, etc. If I have NOT mistaken, perhaps, the Senior Pastor then was using the series to teach on how we should conduct our affairs in our work life. Perhaps, since heavy-weight pastors (well, the current pastor is expected to take over from the outgoing senior pastor), emphasized “Nehemiah”, more members of church were “curious” enough to read up! One brother attempted and called me up, and talked to me, saying that the 2 books are rather confusing, and he was wondering about questions such these:

1. The 2 Books were so similar in what were being recorded there; are the 2 books on the same one thing; one project, reported on by different people?
2. Could it be that some of the key characters there, were one and the same person?
3. There appears to be duplications or overlaps in the accounts of the 2 books. Are they really duplications or overlaps?
4. If we are NOT sure “who were who” and “who were doing what”, how are we to learn something from it all?

Synopsis of main events of the 2 books
Here is my synopsis:

End of exile: I will begin from the end of the Babylonian exile, and this was recorded for us in Ezra 1:1-4.

In 1st year of King Cyrus of Persia, who had gained control of Babylon, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by prophet Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of King Cyrus to make a proclamation throughout his realm (which included more than Babylon) and to put it in writing:

Proclamation of King Cyrus: The proclamation stated these:

That the LORD God had given him (King Cyrus) all the kingdoms of the earth and He had appointed him (King Cyrus) to build a temple for Him at Jerusalem in Judah;

That any of God’s people in the Persian Empire be allowed to go up to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God in Jerusalem;

That the people of any place where the Jews were exiled to, were to provide those going back to build the temple, with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with free-will offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.

The key thing to note: It is a proclamation for the Jews to go back to rebuild the Temple (only the Temple).

The response (Ezra 1:5-6): In response to the proclamation, the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites {this should be in relation to the exiles from Judah, residing in Babylon}, everyone whose heart God had moved, prepared to go up and build the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem.

In accordance to the proclamation, all the neighbors of the returning Jews assisted them with gold and silver, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the free-will offerings for the building of the temple.

First wave, headed by Sheshbazzar (Ezra 1:7-11): King Cyrus, on his part, returned the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD which the previous King of Babylon (King Nebuchadnezzar) had carried away from Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:13). Now all the articles (5,400 articles of gold and silver) were counted out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah then; who brought all of them along with the returning exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:11).

Key thing to note: So, from the above, we can say that as far as the exiles from Babylon going back to Jerusalem, they were headed by the prince of Judah then, one called Sheshbazzar. In Ezra 5:14-16, it was again mentioned that articles of the temple were entrusted by King Cyrus to Sheshbazzar. Additionally, it was said there, that Sheshbazzar was appointed Governor of Judah, and was tasked by King Cyrus to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem.

Another key thing to note: There is a question of whether or NOT Sheshbazzar was Zerubbabel. Who was Zerubbabel? Zerubbabel was the grandson of Jehoiachin, the penultimate King of Judah, and so he qualified as a prince of Judah. He was also listed first in the list of Jews returning from Babylon to Jerusalem, as in Ezra 2:2. In Ezra 3:8, he was again mentioned first, with Jeshua, among those who started work on the Temple. In Ezra 4:3, he again headed the Jews in telling off the Gentiles inhabitants who wanted part in rebuilding the Temple. Then, we also read in Zechariah 4:9 that it was Zerubbabel who laid the foundation of the Temple, whereas Ezra 5:16 recorded for us it was Sheshbazzar. Also, we read in Haggai 1:1 that Zerubbabel was the Governor of Judah. Notice the time specified in Haggai 1:1; it was shortly after the first wave of return (return was in 1st year, Haggai's mention was in 2nd year). Could they be the same person? One claim said precisely that; there are still other claims: one being Sheshbazzar was in fact Shenazzar, Zerubabbel's uncle (mentioned in the Books of Chronicles) and another, Sheshbazzar began the work and Zerubbabel finished it.

One thing for sure, it was NOT Ezra who headed this first works on the Temple building in Jerusalem, following the proclamation of King Cyrus. Ezra came into the picture afterwards, which we shall see later on Ezra 7:1-10.

Ezra came into the picture afterwards: Ezra was NOT involved in the Temple building at all! The party that went up to Jerusalem from Babylon, headed by Sheshbazzar (given in Ezra 2), and that headed by Ezra (given in Ezra 8, a small party) are different. It is a mistake to say that the company of 42,000 (Ezra 2:64) was headed by Ezra, as was sometimes said when the exposition of the Book of Nehemiah (Neh 7) was done; the company of 42,000 was referring the very first batch, and it was headed by Sheshbazzar, prince of Judah (or if you accept it, Zerubbabel).

Second wave, headed by Ezra (Ezra 7): By this time, the Temple was already completed and dedication had been done (Ezra 6). The “these things” in Ezra 7:1 was referring to such completion, dedication and installation of priests and Levites to run the Temple. It is after these things that Ezra, a scribe coming from the priestly line traceable all the way back to Aaron, came up to Jerusalem, from Babylon.

Who was Ezra?: Ezra was a scribe, an official chronicler. He is also a priest since he came from the line of Aaron (Ezra 7:1-5, 11). He was also a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses. The King, King Artaxerxes, granted him everything he asked, for the hand of God was on Ezra. Ezra went to Jerusalem with some Israelites, including priests, Levites, singers (temple singers), gatekeepers and temple servants. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 5th month of 7th year of King Artaxerxes’ reign. Ezra and his team successfully reach Jerusalem from Babylon in 4 months, for the hand of God was on him.

What was Ezra tasked to do?: Since the Temple had already been built (Ezra 6:15), why was Ezra sent to Jerusalem? Ezra 7:10 recorded for us what Ezra did, having returned to Israel: He devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of God and he taught the Law in Israel. We also know from later verses (Ezra 7:25-26), pertaining to the content of the commissioning letter the King gave to Ezra, the latter was to appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates. The King had wanted both the law of God and the law of King to be adopted. It has always been in the olden days in the Jewish community, certain Levites were sent out to be judges and magistrates in the land (1 Chr 26:29); here, the King was tasking Ezra to ensure the Law of God was applied in the land. In the later chapters, we would read of Ezra getting involved in matters pertaining to intermarriages forbidden under the Law of God.

Some regard the sending back of Ezra to Zion marked the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. I can only say that, it was a putting back of the “software” of the city, but NOT the physical rebuilding or the “hardware”. Another way of viewing Ezra’s work was that he was into the spiritual rebuilding of the Jews in the city of God, even as the Temple of God had been put in place (rebuilt).

Key point to note: Ezra was sent to establish once again the Law of God for Jerusalem which once again was with the Temple of God, newly built. Ezra was NOT involved in the rebuilding of the Temple, and he was NOT directly responsible for the physical rebuilding of the city, especially the city walls.

Nehemiah who?: What about Nehemiah? Where did he fit in? He too, went from Babylon, sanctioned by the King, to Jerusalem. What did he do there, if it was NOT the rebuilding of the Temple? For this we have to look into the Book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer. Basically, when sent over to Jerusalem, he supervised the rebuilding of the city walls, subsequent to the rebuilding of Temple in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah revealed what he was tasked to do (Neh 2:17-18): Now, addressing the people at Jerusalem (the Jews), he told them that they could see the trouble that the people in the city were in; that the city was in ruins, and its gates had been burned with fire. Nehemiah called to the people to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that they would no longer be in disgrace; as it was indeed a disgrace the great city of God lied forlorn. Nehemiah told the people about the gracious hand of God upon him (that the King of Babylon would send him to rebuild the city) and what the King had said to him. The Jews at Jerusalem were in agreement, and replied that they would start rebuilding; and so they began that good work.

If we consider Ezra was the one who started putting back the “software” for Zion, then Nehemiah was the one who started putting back the “hardware” for Zion. With the Temple rebuilt, and the city once again secure, the Initial Return of Zion had happened.

Key point to note: Nehemiah was sent to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem after the Temple was rebuilt and that was after Ezra was sent over to reinstitute the Law of God, and he, Nehemiah, was made Governor (Neh 8:9) of Judah.

Neh 7:4 – city wall completed: By this time, the wall of the city had been successfully rebuilt, and Nehemiah had set the doors in place, and had appointed gatekeepers to be on duty; in other words, the city was once again secure. According to Neh 6:15, it only took the Jews 52 days to complete the entire wall, finishing it on the 25th of 6th month.

The walled-in city was large and spacious, but there were few people in it, and the houses had NOT yet been rebuilt.

Wall finished, time to do a census (Neh 7:5): Once the wall was completed, the Jews were to return to their own towns (or villages), and God impressed upon Nehemiah to do a census (to register everyone) (Neh 7:5); and this most probably took place at the end of the 6th month (wall finished on the 25th of 6th month {Neh 6:15}) since after census, they assembled as one people to remember the covenant God made with the Jews (their forefathers), and renew their own commitment to God on 7th month (Neh 7:73). It was likely they gathered right from the 1st day of the month (7th month), for Neh 8:13 mentioned that the Jews re-gathered again on the 2nd day of the month after one day (you shall see that the 1st and 2nd days of the 7th month were significant, in the last item discussed in this article).

Time to re-gather and renew (Neh 7:73b – Neh 10): What better time to re-gather, to remember the covenant God made with the Jews (their forefathers) and to renew their own commitment to God, than immediately after the city wall was completed!

Ezra and Nehemiah together!: Some people are a little puzzled with the mentioning of Ezra’s role in Nehemiah 8-10, when arrival of Nehemiah was subsequent to Ezra. Some even wondered if Ezra, Sheshbazzar, Zerubbabel and Nehemiah are one and the same person! Apart from the possibility of Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel were the same person, Ezra, “Sheshbazzar/Zerubbabel” and Nehemiah were different persons, for sure. I know, in Neh 8:9, Nehemiah was also said to be the Governor; but it was entirely possible Sheshbazzar/Zerubbabel was governor and subsequently Nehemiah took over (in any case, Haggai 1:1 stated for us that Zerubbabel was governor in the 2nd year of King Darius, years before Nehemiah reached Jerusalem). In Neh 8:9, Nehemiah and Ezra were named together, and so, it could NOT be that they were one and the same person. When one understood the sequences of events as expounded above, there was nothing unusual about the Book of Nehemiah mentioning Ezra’s role, when in fact he was still alive and kicking, so to speak, and was performing what he was tasked by King Artaxerxes, the same king who send Nehemiah to Jerusalem. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the 7th year of the King (‘s reign), and Nehemiah, 20th year.

According to Ezra 6:15, the Temple in Jerusalem was completed in 6th year of reign of King Darius. Now, there are disagreements, even among scholars, on the reigns of various Persian Kings, but generally there is no dispute in this chronological order: Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes. Whether or NOT Darius and Artaxerxes are the same king (and that would make Xerxes was also Darius/Artaxerxes) is NOT pertinent to the sequences of events here (perhaps, pertinent for those trying to account for “time period of Daniel” in the Book of Daniel), except on the age of Ezra. Plain reading gives us 3 kings listed in Ezra 6:14b (Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes). What is important is the same king name, Artaxerxes, was linked to the sending out of both Ezra and Nehemiah. We only need to believe that Ezra did live for another 13 years more after he reached Jerusalem, to account for he being recorded in Nehemiah 8-10, together with Nehemiah; for me, I just believe that.

Key point to note: Arguably after the wall was completed, Nehemiah and Ezra worked together on the ongoing rebuilding of the both the people of God and the city of God, Jerusalem, physically and spiritually (Neh 8-13).

As the synopsis of the main events of the 2 books, Ezra and Nehemiah, the above, I believe, is quite adequate; and it helps to answer some of the issues confusing people trying to unravel the books.

What are perhaps missing from the above are the followings:
1. I did NOT mention that Nehemiah did go back to King Artaxerxes, for a time and then he came back to Jerusalem. This was mentioned in the last chapter of Nehemiah, Neh 13:6-7.

2. Also, I have NOT touched on the oppositions the Jews faced in the initial return to Zion, covered in both books. In fact, this fact of oppositions, could stumble some to treat the projects in the 2 books as one. But of course, we know now, clearly, the separate projects included these: rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem (under Sheshbazzar/Zerubbabel), re-instituting Law of God in Jerusalem (under Ezra), and rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (under Nehemiah). All these projects, they collectively was attempting to re-establish Jewish presence and dominance back to the land of Israel, and the key city being, the city of God, Jerusalem; and so, under whichever phase, oppositions were expected and indeed they occurred, and so, we read of them in both the books.

Rather than doing an exposition of the relevant verses in both the books, and the number of verses involved are many, I will attempt to give some background information, instead, for readers to understand how come there would be oppositions:

Before the Southern Kingdom, Judah, fell to the Babylonians, with the consequent exile of the Jews living in Judah to Babylon, the Northern Kingdom had fallen first, and it fell to the Assyrians. Generally, Judah was occupied by 2 of the 12 Tribes of Israel, Judah and Benjamin tribes. The Northern Kingdom, also known as Samaria (sometimes also called land of the Ephraim, because her 1st King was an Ephraimite, the half-tribe of the House of Joseph). The other 10 Tribes of Israel were living in the Northern Kingdom. The real culprit why the United Monarchy of Israel, broke into 2 was King Solomon (King David’s son who succeeded him). Despite the wisdom God granted him, Solomon, in his old age, sinned greatly against God; on the instigation of his wives or concubines, he set up high places (of worship) for pagan gods, causing many to worship other gods. God then decreed the punishment against King Solomon, but for the sake of His promise to King David, he relented to NOT breaking up the Kingdom in the time of King Solomon, but He said that it would come to pass in the time of the reign of the son of King Solomon, King Rehoboam. And it happened as said by the LORD; an Ephraimite, Jeroboam, tore 10 tribes away, leaving only the small tribe of Benjamin to remain loyal to the Judah tribe which was the Tribe King David belonged to. The Northern and Southern kingdoms then became enemies. The Northern Kingdom sinned greatly against God; King Jeroboam instituted the temples for the golden calves, and misled the people to bypass the Temple in the south, in Judah, to worship “God” in the 2 temples of the golden calves put up. Subsequent kings also went for other pagan god worship, and misled the people. Eventually, before the fall of Judah, God gave Samaria over to the Assyrians. The Assyrians had a strategy of hollowing out the land they conquered and replacing the residents with people from other lands they conquered, and so, the 10 Tribes of Israel staying in the North were exiled all over the places, and Samaria was then populated with peoples from other lands. With the fall of the South, Judah, the whole Promised Land was left with few Jews, probably only some in the south, in Judah, for the Babylonians still appointed governor over the remnant in Judah {Only the poorest were left behind – 2 Kings 24:14}. Over time of course, the peoples, non-Jews, from other lands, as well as the original inhabitants of the Promised Land, they just moved about in the land, including going down south, into Judah and Jerusalem. That was why it was NOT surprising that the 2 books made mention of Canaanite tribes (original inhabitants of the Promised Land) and other people groups like Ammonites, etc, opposing the coming back of the Jews to Zion. Of course, the returning Jews did NOT want the non-Jews inhabitants of the land to have part in building the Temple, for if they had done so, pagan gods would be insisted by the non-Jews to have place in the Temple, which of course, would NOT do. And you can easily understand the rebuilding of the city wall was NOT welcomed. Sanballat (Neh 4), a Horonite, an inhabitant of Horonaim in Moab, for example, with his alliances in Samaria would NOT want the wall. Tobiah, an Ammonite, was sided with him (Sanballat) {By the way, the Moab and Ammonites were descendants from Lot, Abraham’s nephew; and the Israelites crossed with them in their exodus into the Promised Land}. Even the Arabs and the men of Ashdod were there, and they objected to rebuilding of the wall, for they all wanted NOT to see the power of the Jews return {Who are the men of Ashdod? Maybe this helps: “The first documented settlement in Ashdod dates to the Canaanite culture of 17 BC, making the city one of the oldest in the world. Ashdod is mentioned 13 times in the Bible. During its history the city was settled by Philistines, Israelites, Byzantines, Crusaders and Arabs.” Today it is the 6th largest city in Israel.}. The Trans-Euphrates region’s habitants did NOT want the Jews to regain their glory, and the various officials (for the region) under the Persian Empire tried to stall the return of the Jews (they sent letters to the King to instigate the King to abort the return of the Jews). Nehemiah was well aware of that (he was the cup-bearer of the King, and he was close enough to know), so he asked for letters from the King for safe-passage as well as letters from the King directing the officials to support and supply resource for the rebuilding of the wall. All those talk of oppositions were NOT duplicates, rather they were ongoing oppositions against the Jews regaining foothold in Israel.

3. The 2nd last issue I will address is concerning the near exact duplication of Ezra 2 in Neh 7 (more specifically, Neh 7:6-73a). Ezra 2 was indeed “plucked in” to complete what was said concerning Nehemiah’s finding of the genealogical records of those who had been the FIRST to return. This actually was referring to those who came back in the first wave, under Sheshbazzar, NOT Ezra. Those who came back with Ezra were recorded for us, in Ezra 8. You should just read the text as a “pluck-in”, there are no mixing of separate events.

4. The last issue I will address here, is in a way connected to the confusion in point 3 above, but it is an understanding that one is to have, so that the verses saying, “When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled as one man…” (Ezra 3:1) and “When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people assembled as one man…” (Neh 7:73b-Neh 8:1) are NOT treated as one and the same verse attached to Ezra 2. In other words, the Book of Nehemiah’s “7th month came” was NOT the same “7th month came” of the Book of Ezra; they were 7th months, alright, but belonging to different years or times. In the book of Ezra, it was referring to the time after the Temple was completed and dedicated and Ezra came to Jerusalem (he arrived in 5th month) and then in the 7th month of the year, he gathered all the people. In the Book of Nehemiah, the 7th month was the 7th month of the year in which the wall of Jerusalem had been finished building (finished on 25th of 6th month). But why big events on both 7th months? It is because the 7th month is the year the Jewish Calendar year increases by one, in other words, the first day of the 7th month was the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) {just like our present day Gregorian Calendar’s 1st Jan is the New Year Day}! Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri (7th month). In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Many of us use the New Year (Gregorian New Year) as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the New Year. That was what happened in both occasions of the New Year, in book of Ezra and in the book of Nehemiah. In fact, Neh 8-10 showed that the Jews NOT only looked back at the mistakes of yesteryear, but yesteryears!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord, perhaps, now with such revelations as above, readers can then move pass the confusion stage; and with understanding of events, begin to learn valuable guides you embedded in these historical recordings in Scripture, to apply in their lives, be it their work life, personal life or in service to you. Lord, I have learned much myself. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sinner’s Prayer - Sample

Have you ever led one to Christ? Or if you have, did you find yourself unsure of how to do it? This little article is NOT about how to share the Gospel; it is about praying with a person to receive Jesus Christ into his or her life. As I will be heading up a regular Healing Meeting in which I hope this ministry will also be seeing people coming to Christ (after all, physical, emotional or psychological healing is only a temporal solution to men’s fallen predicament, salvation, the permanent solution), I have recently crafted the Sinner’s Prayer that I (and perhaps, my Meeting Partners, too) could use. As a side, you can get details of the Healing Meetings here: “Anthony Chia’s Healing Meetings”; and I covet your prayers for the ministry.

The sample prayer is simple enough: there are 7 points altogether, including the “thank you, Amen”. What you should do is, first of all, confirm that the person is ready to accept Jesus. The person must know what he/she is about to do; it is a serious matter – the coming to Christ. You are to lead the person in the Sinner’s Prayer; and by that, I mean you ask him to repeat after you, the Sinner’s Prayer. It is best you let the person know what the prayer consists of. So, what you do is that you tell the person the prayer will cover these 7 points:

1. (A)cknowledge that you are a sinner
2. (R)epent from sinning
3. (C)onfess your sins {specific and generally}

4. (A)ffirm your belief that Jesus died for you
5. (R)esolve to follow Jesus
6. (C)onfess submission to Lordship

7. Thank Jesus, followed by (Amen).

Ask the person if it is alright with him to repeat the prayer with you. When he/she says it is ok, you can then go ahead. If he/she has question(s) concerning any of the 7 points, you can explain first, before actually doing the Prayer with the person. I have given (below) the scriptural support for the points in the Prayer; you can use them in your explanation if necessary. The lines in bold and italic and within quotation marks are the prayer lines you are to say, and the person will repeat after you.

Guiding cues to remember: 7 points – A.R.C., A.R.C., Amen; 1st 4 points start with “God, I ...”, the last 3 points, with “Jesus, I …”.

Sinner’s Prayer – A.R.C., A.R.C., Amen (crafted by Anthony Chia – 08 Sep 2011)

1. Acknowledge that you are a sinner. Rom 3:23 stated for us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

“God, I acknowledge that I am a sinner, and that I have fallen short of your glory”.

2. Repent from sinning. Acts 3:19 – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

“God, I know that sinning is NOT acceptable to you and I now turn from it, and turn to you.”

3. Confess your sins. 1 John 1:9 said that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

“God, I now confess specifically these sins of mine: … “ (say: you name them silently before the Lord, as far as you can remember. The Spirit of God will bring some of them to memory. {Give the person a minute or two to do this})

“God, I also confess generally, all other sins of mine, and ask for your forgiveness and cleansing. God, forgive me all my sins and cleanse me of all unrighteousness.”

4. Affirm your belief. John 3:16 stated that we are to believe that God so loved the world that He sent His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us on the Cross, and that whoever believes in Him should NOT perish but have eternal life.

“God, I believe you so loved me that you have sent your one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for me on the Cross to pay for the penalty of my sins, and NOW THAT I believe in Him, and the works of Him, I should NOT perish, but have eternal life.”

5. Resolve to follow Jesus. In Mark 8:34, Jesus said this: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

“Jesus, I resolve to follow you. I resolve to deny the carnal me, and I resolve to take up the cross you will be assigning me, and I will follow you.”

6. Confess submission to Lordship. Romans 10:9 said that if we believe in our heart that “Jesus is Lord” and that God raised Him from dead, and confess it with our mouth, we will be saved.

“Jesus, I confess you as my Lord and that you are the resurrected Messiah/King”

7. "Jesus, I thank you for your grace, Amen."

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - Lord, may many find use for this sample Sinner's Prayer I have crafted, to lead many into your Kingdom, as you have desired.  Amen.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It is God can heal and God does heal (PART II)

In PART I, we have looked at the issue of whether or NOT God CAN heal. In this part, we will look at whether or NOT God DOES heal.

It is NOT in the past, God DOES heal
It is NOT God did heal and He does NOT heal anymore. Some segments in the Christian faith believe, that is the case; that God did heal people in the past, but He no longer heals. In other words, they do NOT doubt that God is capable of healing (God CAN heal), but they do NOT believe God DOES heal anymore.

From the Word:
1. As we have seen above (PART I), God healed in the OT period, in the NT period, healed in the early years of the Church. God healed in the OT, Jesus healed in His earthly ministry, His early disciples healed when they were with Jesus, and thereafter, too, i.e. after Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Here are some examples of healings done “through” the early disciples, after Jesus was resurrected (from the Book of Acts):

- 1.1 Lame from birth healed by Apostle Peter (Acts 3:2,6-8)
  2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called
  Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple
  courts. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.
  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he
  helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped
  to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts,
  walking and jumping, and praising God.

- 1.2 Apostles healed many (Acts 5:12, 15-16)

- 1.3 Paralytics, cripples and demonized/demon possessed healed by Apostle Philip (Acts

- 1.4 Ananias of Damascus healed Paul’s blindness (Acts 9:17-18)

- 1.5 In Lydda, Peter healed a paralytic of 8 years (Acts 9:33-35)

- 1.6 In Joppa, Peter raised philanthropic Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-37, 40-42)

- 1.7 In Lystra, Paul healed a cripple/lame from birth (Acts 14:8-10)

- 1.8 Paul delivered a slave of the spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-18)

- 1.9 Paul healed and delivered through transference onto objects {handkerchiefs and
  aprons} (Acts 19:11-12)

- 1.10 Paul raised a young man from the dead {fallen from 3rd storey} (Acts 20:7-12)

- 1.11 Shipwrecked on Malta, Paul himself was healed of venomous snake bite (Acts

- 1.12 On Malta, Paul also healed the island’s chief’s father of fever and dysentery, and
  others of sickness (Acts 28:7-9)

2. There was no recording anywhere in Scripture that divine healings were only for the setting up of the early church, and that it was to cease thereafter. Such a posture that divine healing was only for the initial setting up of the Church is mere unsubstantiated speculation.

3. On the contrary, the Apostles left us clue to expect God’s continual work of healing. The Apostle James left these words to us:

“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14)

4. Jesus’ words in the Bible:

- 4.1 Concerning the Great commission: These were the words of Jesus, recorded for
  us in Gospel of Mark –

  15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all
  creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not
  believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In
  my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will
  pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt
  them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get
  well.” (Mark 16:15-18)

Do you think that this work that Jesus referred to, is already all done; the good news has finished being preached? It cannot be, for if it were the case, Jesus would be back (Matt 24:14). No, right! So, do NOT believe the speculation that divine healing is no longer applicable past the initial years of the worldwide church.

The Lord worked with the early disciples, there is no reason, and indeed there was no reason, given in scriptures, pointing to He will NOT work with us, past the Apostle Paul’s era.

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:19-20)

- 4.2 Jesus’ manifesto was prophesied by prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 61, and it was
  restated for us, by Jesus, in Luke 4:18-19:

  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news
   to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of
   sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s
   favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Without doing a full exposition of the manifesto of Jesus, we can accept that apart from spiritual healing, it pointed also to physical and emotional healing for the sick, and the driving out of evil spirits from people. In the sending of the Twelve, what was recorded for us in the Gospel of Matthew was consistent with it:

He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; ….. and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:1-8)

What do disciples do? Disciples carry on with the manifesto of the master. The Lord, Jesus, was the master of the Twelve; is He NOT your master? Wouldn’t we be doing the same, carrying on with the manifesto of Jesus? This is what Jesus left us with, concerning this:

I {Jesus} tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

Isn’t it clear enough that Jesus expects us to continue with the same, which included praying for the sick, and He would work with us, like He worked with the early disciples, as stated in Mark 16:19-20 (given above)?

- 4.3 Do the things you did at first {said Jesus}: In warning the 7 churches in the Book
  of Revelation, through vision and revelation to the Apostle John, and as against the
  Ephesians church, Jesus said this:

  4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the
   height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you
   do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Rev

I submit to you that one of the items comprised in the unhappiness, and the warning, is the lack of attentiveness to what was closest to the master’s heart. What is closest to the Master’s heart? Think about it, as a disciple, what do you think is dear in the master’s heart? Yes, his manifesto. When a master takes in a disciple, what do you think he is hoping for? Yes, the disciple would carry on with what is dear in his (the master’s) heart; even when he, the master, is no more around, he would be expecting his disciple to be doing just what he, the master, would be doing. This really calls for the attentiveness that we first gave to our master. The point is that the master’ manifesto did include healing; he does want to heal, and does want us to work with Him, at the opportune time, to heal the sick. We got to want to do that, be attentive, to heal (pray for healing), in the name of Jesus.

5. God the same yesterday, today and forevermore:
  “I the LORD do not change (Mal 3:6a). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and
   today and forever. (Heb 13:8).

While it will be exaggeration to say nothing will change with God, it is clear enough, the nature-attributes, or some called them character-attributes, of God, do NOT change, meaning that God is holy, He is holy; it does NOT change. That He loves, full of wisdom, consistent, reliable, and dependable, such do NOT change. Also, the personhood attributes of God do NOT change either; these included such personhood of God as: God is God, God is Creator, God is Father, God is Saviour, and God is Healer, etc.

The perfect harmonization of the nature-attributes and personhood attributes does NOT change either; but such perfect harmonization belongs to God and God only; we cannot reach that level of wisdom and sophistication of the Godhead, and the RESULT of that perfect harmonization is NOT the same all the time. In other words, if today calls for a little more fatherly love to be shown to you, the perfect harmonization of God will result in just that, that perfect level of fatherly love for you; likewise, if today, chastisement should be rendered you, God would reach that perfect harmonization required for chastising you. That is why God NEVER gives up His prerogative to be true to Himself, and so, we read of such thing as “Sovereignty is mine”. Or “I shall have mercy on whom I have mercy on, and I shall have compassion on whom I have compassion on.” (Rom 9:15). But undoubtedly, it is in God the personhood of a Healer; He is Jehovah Rapha, God the Healer, and so, God can be expected to heal, although it may NOT be at every time or situation, but it is indeed He did heal and He does heal.

6. God is holy. What does it got to do with healing you may ask? It has everything to do with healing, because “God is holy” implies He can only be consistent, reliable and dependable. It is in such character attributes coming from His holiness, that we can and are reasonable to expect that God will continue to heal.

7. That there is to be false/counterfeit signs and wonders, and miracles, means that there is also the authentic things in the first place: 2 important things people failed to realize:

One, when there is no genuine one, there is no false or counterfeit to talk about; why would the Bible warns of false or counterfeit signs and wonders, and miracles if there was no expectation there will be the real things? It is because there is the real and the counterfeit, that there is a need to warn people. Did the Word warn? Yes,

“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (Matt 24:24). “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (2 Cor 11:13-15)

Two, what do you do? No, the answer is NOT that we forget about signs and wonders and miracles. You mean, you also forget about the pastors and the apostles of the church, since 2 Cor 11:13-15 said that there will be fakes, false apostles, deceitful workmen masquerading as apostles of Christ. Do you shut yourself in and not mix with anyone, since the one you mix with or talk to, can be a crook, out to cheat you or mislead you? No, right? You go tell a woman to forget about diamonds and precious stones on the ground of there are useless stones out there. They will tell you, you are crazy and stupid, you don’t forget about diamonds and precious stones, you learn to tell them apart; you keep the precious stones, and throw away the useless stones or counterfeits. Or please don’t throw the baby out together with the bath water. Are not signs and wonders and miracles precious, or the baby precious? Yes, so you don’t throw them out. Just because there is the true God and the false God, are you going to tell God, sorry God, in that case, I will have nothing to do with God. So, if there is expectation of counterfeit healing, there is the real healing coming; meaning, God can be expected to heal, and you should want it.

8. Scriptures spoke of spiritual gifts for believers, including gift of healing (1 Cor 12:8-10). The Books of Corinthians were written by the Apostle Paul; if divine healing was NOT expected beyond his time, do you honestly think that Paul would record them for us.

9. By His strips we are/were healed. If you look at Isaiah 53:5, it said there, that “we are healed”. If you look at 1 Peter 2:24 (KJV, clearer), you find that it was written there as “we were healed”. Regardless of “are” or “were”, there is no contention over the fact that a one-time incident of Jesus’ crucifixion is still good for any future person, relative to Jesus’ crucifixion. In other words, today, in the 21st century, an unbeliever can still become a believer despite Jesus having died more than 2,000 years ago. If the person can enter into salvation now, it also means that now, as he enters into salvation, he can be healed. This is still so, even if Isaiah 53 were worded with “we were healed”. What this meant is God can still heal, since what held true then, must still hold true today, or in the future, for the person who is entering into salvation, that he will effectively enters into salvation and can receive healing by the stripes of Jesus. This is apart from the controversy over whether or NOT, there is present continuous healing for our body, as argued by those believing that the correct rendering of Isaiah 53:5 is “are healed”, and NOT “were healed”.

From experiences:
Of course, the many accounts cited earlier were healing experiences of people, but because they were recorded in Scripture, they formed part of the Word. So, the experiences here are to be taken as extra-biblical experiences. What is the essential difference between the two? There is a difference, and we must know to avoid falling into the fallacy of, we can form doctrines and theologies out of our pure experiences. We cannot do that, for doctrines and theologies of the faith can only be formed solely from the Word which included recorded accounts of experiences. That they were selected through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for recording in the Word, they formed part of the Word, but our experiences (extra-biblical) are NOT; our experiences only testify to the truth of the Word.

So, what extra-biblical experiences are there to testify to divine healings still happening, or that God still heals?

There are many, and of course, if we search the internet, you will find many listings of divine healings (from the Christian God). You may argue that you do not know of the authenticity of all those reported accounts, but there are enough that clearly cannot be untrue. I will just for the purpose here, give one site where I believe what are listed there are to the best of knowledge of the church leadership, genuine divine healings: Prophet Kobus’ Spirit Word Ministries Miracles.

Closer to home, I would like to share my friend, Barney Lau’s testimony of his and his wife’s healings by the Lord in 1995, in Singapore. His full testimony can be read from Full Gospel Business, Singapore (FGB{s})’s gatekeepers magazine Issue No 5 starting from page 20.

Back in 1995, both Barney and his wife were yet believers or Christians, even though they had had been to church services and church-type activities. Barney’s wife was then diagnosed with Trigemina neuralgia with pain coming on from one side of her head. The pain came all the way to the face; even a light wind blow on her face would cause excruciating pain on her face. Further examinations including scanning revealed that she was having a tumour in her forehead. Meanwhile, Barney himself was with searing back pain for more than 2 decades (20 years), with the pain coming on and off, but when it came, it would be very painful for Barney who had to close his eyes and clench his teeth until the pain passed over. In that year, 1995, Barney attended a miracle healing service in a church in Singapore, with his wife. They responded to the call of the Minister; knelt down, sobbed and surrendered their lives and sicknesses to God. After two weeks, they discovered that God had healed them both. The pain of both disappeared and did not return. Up to today, Barney, with grown up children, still testifies of the miracle of God healing them back in 1995, and Barney himself, now actively invites people to the same healing service in which he and his wife were healed back in 1995. Does God still heal? Yes, He does.

In part I of this 2-parts article, we have looked at the issue of whether or not God can heal; and we concluded, from looking at the Word and the healing accounts done by God or His Son, Jesus, recorded in the Word, that God indeed can heal, and did heal. In part II, which we have just seen, from the Word, healings accounts done by God through the ministries of the disciples of Jesus in the Book of Acts, and from men’s extra-biblical experiences of divine healings, even up to present day, we can conclude that God has continued to heal, and therefore, we can confidently say that God CAN and DOES heal.

Although it is God CAN and DOES heal, it is NOT God MUST and WILL heal, the latter I have established for us, in my separate article, “People are NOT healed all the time, why we still pray”.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – God, you know I know it is NOT that every sick MUST be healed by you, every time, for it is NOT in your plan that men will NOT die physically, yet, you are a God of compassion and love, and you still care for us, men, while we lived, despite we are destined to die physically. You CAN heal, and you DID heal, and it is clear that you DO heal, and so, with this understandings, I have stepped forward to be your minister for healing, and I ask, in the mighty name of your Son, Jesus Christ, for the authority and power to heal the sick and cast out demons. I ask for your supernatural gifts of healing and miracles, as detailed in 1 Cor 12:8-10, to be activated in my life, to bless those in need, to glorify you, and to lift up Jesus, so that Jesus will draw men into your Kingdom, as you have desired. Amen.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

It is God can heal and God does heal (PART I)

Preamble: This is 2-parts article, Part I (this article), we will cover God can heal. In Part II we will finish off with God does heal.

PART I – God can heal

It is NOT God MUST and WILL heal. If it is God must heal, then every time we pray, God MUST heal, and every sick will be healed. Our experience, even though we are NOT to rely wholesale on it, tells us that it is NOT true that God MUST and WILL heal. More importantly, we know from the Word of God that it is NOT God MUST heal. In my separate article, “People are NOT healed all the time, why we still pray”, I expounded that in short, the reason why NOT every sick is healed all the time, is because God did NOT promise unconditionally to heal every sick, in His Word. While there are many scriptures in the Word that support God heals, none is an unconditional promise. The further explanation to that, that God did NOT give such an unconditional promise, is that it is NOT part of the Lord’s redemptive works to FULLY redeem the body of a Man in his current living on earth. Full redemption of the body is to be had, only after we passed on or when Jesus returns (with rapture following), when we take on our incorruptible body. Since the Fall, it was never intended that Man will live forever and NOT die physically; rather Man is destined to die physically to take on the incorruptible body. If it is God MUST heal, then it is Man cannot die physically, and when Man cannot die physically, he will NOT be able to take on the incorruptible body, and the words of Jesus concerning the taking on, of our incorruptible body, will NOT come to pass. Of course, Jesus’ words MUST come to pass, and so, we must die physically.

Please don’t go round promising
We mustn’t go round promising that God MUST and WILL heal so-and-so. We mustn’t tell people that God heals every sick all the time, or we exaggerate our success at praying for the sick, to the extent that we have 100% success all the time. It does NOT edify, and you are NOT doing God a favor; rather you may put people off, for it is NOT a truth that every sick will get healed all the time.

It is God CAN heal and DOES heal
What is the difference? What is the difference between “God MUST and WILL heal” and “God CAN and DOES heal”? The difference is we do NOT misrepresent God, and we do NOT put people off. No one like to be misrepresented, it is the same with God. We should NOT put people off, because if people are put off, they may shut themselves from the gospel, and miss the salvation grace of God; we want to advance the gospel, NOT hinder it.

Temporal vs permanent
In fact, healing is only a temporal solution; God’s overarching desire is that a person be redeemed from the destiny of burning fire of Hell. Healing of a person of any sickness only enables the person to live another some tens of years of life on earth, but the redemption of our Lord, Jesus Christ, serves to grant eternal life, eternal living with God in Heaven. Receiving Jesus Christ as one’s personal Lord and Saviour is far more important and is the permanent solution to Man’s fallen predicament.

The Word tells us that God CAN heal
Does the Word tell us that God could heal? If it does, how great is God’s capability to heal? Could He heal a virus infected fever? Could He heal the lame? Could He heal the blind? Could He heal the leprous? How about cancer? How about the demonized or even demon-possessed? How about bringing back to life a dead person? Could God do all of that and more? Did God do all of that and more? If we find from the Word that God did do all of that, and more, then it is at least showing that God is indeed a great Healer; He healed, and He CAN heal, unless He lost those powers or anointing or authority.

Below are from the Word, and they are more than enough to show that God CAN heal:

1. Who is God? Amongst others, scriptures tell us that God is God {Elohiym} (Gen 1:1; Jer 32:17 – nothing too hard; Luke 1:37 – nothing is impossible; Ps 115:3 - cannot be stopped, does as He pleases), God is the Creator (Gen 1:1), God is Almighty {El Shaddai} (Gen 17:1), God is Wisdom (Rom 11:33-36; James 1:5), God is the Healer (Jehovah Rapha} (Ex 15:26). Being such, can God NOT able to heal? It is more than reasonable to expect He CAN.

2. Examples of recorded healings from New Testament. From the simplest to the most difficult:

- Peter’s mother-in-law healed of fever (Matt 8:14): When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. (Matt 8:14)

- Paralyzed servant of “Centurion of great faith” healed (Matt 8:5-10, 13): 5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. (Matt 8:5-10,13)

- Blind Bartimaeus Received Sight (Mark 10:46-52): 46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:46-52)

- Many healed at one seating, the mute, crippled, lame, blind, etc (Matt 15:29-31): Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. (Matt 15:29-31).

- The “are you willing” leper healed (Matt 8:2-3): A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. (Matt 8:2-3).

- Demon-possessed daughter of a Gentile healed (we can pray for non-believers for healing) (Matt 15:22-28): A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matt 15:22-28).

- Lazarus raised from the Dead by Jesus (John 11:17, 38-44): 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:17, 38-44)

- Demons cast out and all sick THERE were healed (Matt 8:16-17): When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” (Matt 8:16-17).

- Jesus healed all kinds of sicknesses and diseases (Matt 9:35): Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. (Matt 9:35).

3. Some healings examples from Old Testament:

Barrenness healed (Gen 20:17): “Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again” (Gen 20:17);

- God healed as a sign and wonder (Ex 4:7): “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh {no more leprous}. (Ex 4:7);

- Miriam healed of leprosy (Num 12:10, 13-14): 10 When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy; 13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, “O God, please heal her!” 14 The LORD replied to Moses, “… Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back {healed}.” (Num 12:10, 13-14);

- Many healed of snake bites (Num 21:8-9): The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. (Num 21:8-9)

- Naaman Healed of Leprosy (2 Kings 5:1, 9-10, 14): 1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of {prophet} Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. (2 Kings 5:1,9-10,14)

- King Hezekiah healed and given another 15 years of life (2 Kings 20:1-6): 1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” 2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life.(2 Kings 20:1-6)

- Elijah raised the Zarephath widow’s son from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22): 17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” 22 The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. (1 Kings 17:17-22)

- Elisha raised a Shunammite woman’s son from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35): 32 When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. 33 He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. 34 Then he got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm. 35 Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.(2 Kings 4:32-35)

- A dead resurrected by touching Elisha’s bones of old (2 Kings 13:21): Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.(2 Kings 13:21)

4. No loss of powers, anointing or authority. Nowhere in scriptures was there a recording of any loss of powers, anointing or authority of God to heal and to perform signs and wonders and miracles. The conclusion can only be one – God is still with all those powers, anointing and authority to heal and to perform miracles.

From the above, it is clear that God CAN heal, and He did heal, and there was no loss of powers, anointing or authority to heal, meaning we can still expect God CAN heal.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – God, you are Jehovah Rapha, God the Healer. Your name tells of you, of who you are. Jesus, when you walked the earth, you healed sicknesses of every kind and delivered people from demonic oppression and possession; and you said that for those who believe, greater works would they do, meaning for us who believe, we too, can pray for the sick to be healed and the oppressed freed. Lord, help us in our unbelief, so that your will be done, just the Father’s will was done by you, Lord Jesus, in your time on earth. Amen.

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