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What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches
Many Christians that I meet today rarely speak about Jesus' healing in the Gospels, even though stories of His healing ministry practically dominate the Gospels and coincide completely with what He teaches spiritually about repentance in His parables. And out of those Christians that do speak about His healing, they speak of it evidencing only that Jesus is God because of "miracles," as though he were only doing it to demonstrate a "magic" quality and supernatural power available only to His followers and to persuade a people He was the Son of God.
The truth is that Jesus healed "unconditionally." And even though His miraculous healing was a very important part of Jesus' convincing a people of who He was, His need to perform miracles of healing on the grand scale served another purpose as well. His mission was radical and very political and social because He was in fact breaking the laws of Rabbinic Judaism when he drove out "demons" in the insane, made the blind see, the deaf hear and the mute speak. Jesus was in fact breaking strict religious laws, and the "Pharisees," who represented Rabbinic Judaism at the time, did not like that.
[The Pharisees [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharisees] were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought in the Holy Land during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Pharisaic beliefs became the foundational, liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism.] (The Pharisees were an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity. The use of the term "Pharisee" today is also a term that is sometimes used to describe an individual or ANY sect - secularist or religious - that holds superior or sanctimonious views.)
Background of Jesus' Healing Ministry - Why It Is So Important
Why was Jesus's healing a threat to the authority of the Pharisees?
When Jesus healed he was not only healing the sick, He was "erasing" and "wiping away" (by his healing of the multitudes and driving out of the "devil") the power and thus contempt the Pharisees held towards anyone who was sick, and their conditional idea of sin. Why? The Pharisees believed that anyone who became sick had been disobedient to the law and that illness itself was the result of that sin of disobedience and God's judgment upon them. And, therefore, consequently, to heal those with disease was to go against God Himself and God's just discipline of sinners.
On the other hand, if a person was healed "miraculously," then under Rabbinical Law the Pharisees could no longer "convict" and proclaim that God was punishing them! A miraculous healing could only come from God, they reasoned. They believed also that only God is allowed to heal the sick, no one else. If anyone else healed the sick, they were going against Rabbinical Law and would be arrested and punished for interfering with God. But if the sinners were healed "miraculously" then it meant that God Himself removed His own wrath.
It is important to note too that the Bible tells us there were those - besides Jesus - that could heal people of the devil but who were not part of Jesus' ministry at the time and did NOT follow Jesus, which is proof that medicines existed in that day that could cure the sick and drive out the "devil" but which were used in secret - to avoid condemnation by the Pharisees. This is revealed in Luke 9:50.
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not accompany us.” 50“Do not stop him, Jesus replied, “for whoever is not against you is for you.
Here, Luke 9:50 reveals that those who could heal hid their identity for it was against prevailing religious law to heal anyone. Clearly this verse means that though the Pharisees and its followers had doctors and those gifted in healing among them, they denied the sick help and made it illegal for any person to heal the sick. No man had any right, therefore, to put God asunder by usurping His just discipline.
The purpose of Jesus' ministry then, by miraculously healing a people of their illnesses and "demonic" possessions, was to annihilate - utterly destroy - the Pharisees' self-righteousness. Jesus - who hated (and hates) self-righteousness - knew that if He healed all those that were judged by the Pharisees as condemned by God, He could throw their judgment of the sick right back in their faces to reveal to them that they in fact are being condemned by God for their "judgmental" beliefs. And thereby no longer could the Pharisees manipulate and control and "keep down" through ostracism those with disease as "evil" or sinners while holding themselves above reproach. Thus, they could no longer hold themselves up on a pedestal above "sinners" or claim they were "sinless" - by adherence to the law alone.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish,[i]and then the outside will become clean, too.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. [Matt. 23:25-28]
So, to avoid being arrested and punished - especially in the beginning of His ministry - Jesus frequently asked those He healed not to reveal to others that it was He who had healed them. [This He asked at the beginning of his ministry knowing that His "time [has] not yet come."]
Then He touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one finds out about this!” But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout the land.… [Matt 9:30]
Immediately the man’s ears were opened and his tongue was released, and he began to speak plainly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more He ordered them, the more widely they proclaimed it. The people were utterly astonished and said, “He has done all things well! He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak!” (Mark 7:35-37)
Therefore Jesus told them, “Although your time is always at hand, My time has not yet come. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me, because I testify that its works are evil. Go up to the feast on your own. I am not going up to this feast, because My time has not yet come.” (John 7:6-8)
Yes!! Jesus, by healing the multitudes, was mocking the Pharisees' "cleanliness" on the "outside" by the law alone. His actions were "radical" and "political" because he was removing the barrier that set those that were sick apart from a people as the only sinners in their midst. Jesus also, by healing the sick, in fact was declaring "sin" to be that which is "deeper" within the conscience of man, and not always evidenced by disease. To live by cleanliness on the "outside" for other men's eyes, but remain within one's heart "unrepentant" is the real sin.
Jesus taught instead that the law must be written on the heart of man, not lived in strict obedience for only the eyes of other men for their approval alone, or at the expense of others in self-righteousness, but for God alone Who is "Spirit." He spoke of a "conscience" frequently [albeit, a circumcised heart], the Holy Spirit. And he spoke in parables of the true "circumcised" heart because He knew only those with true mercy and compassion for others in their hearts [conscience] could understand and "hear" the message. He taught a people about change of heart, through the power of "grace" and the reciprocated true love of God, the Holy Spirit - the love of one's neighbor as oneself, and true repentance. (A person "healed" would then "...and then the outside would become clean, too." [Matt. 23:26])
[To want someone to remain sick so a people could "feel above reproach" and "cleaner" is the "self-righteousness" Jesus hated.]
As stated, the Pharisees believed and taught that the sick suffered because of disobedience to God, so illness was accepted as God's punishment in Old Testament times and anyone who attempted to heal would be arrested and punished for going against God's "justified" punishment for disobedience to His Laws, particularly His laws of cleanliness [see Leviticus 11 - http://www.giveshare.org/BibleLaw/lawindex/18.html].
You can therefore imagine how confounded the Pharisees were when they met Jesus!!
But Jesus taught the Pharisees were wrong and not only wrong, but acting for their own self-interest and acting purely out of a desire for power:
And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be clearly seen that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”…[John 3:20]
Instead, Jesus taught that no man can pass judgment on any sick individual, for it is only God, and God alone, working through an individual, that has the power to pass judgment:
His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened that the works of God would be displayed in him. While it is daytime, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.…[John 9:3]
It was not long before the Pharisees heard about Jesus' healing of the multitudes. It is easy to imagine how threatened the Pharisees felt when they heard of Jesus' miracles. For, despite their practice of living by the law absent their hearts, they still held with their reasoning that if one was healed, and the healing was miraculous, it did in fact have to be God Himself that did the healing!!
But when they heard it was Jesus they were confounded! This man could not be God, so who was He? If God did indeed make a person sick because of sin, they reasoned, then only God Himself could heal them!! The Pharisees were not only confounded, they felt Jesus a threat to all that they lived and ruled by. WHO IS THIS MAN? they pondered.
Jesus was brought before them. Since they could NOT accept Jesus as the Son of God, they instead reasoned that Jesus must be the devil. Jesus responds:
"Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. Matt. 12:26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?
In other words, Jesus replied, "If in fact I am the devil, why would I drive myself out of a person possessed with the devil to drive out myself"? And, truly, what a fantastic answer, right? (What devil would drive out himself and yet be a devil?)
Therefore, Jesus had become religion's/the Pharisee's worst nightmare. By healing all the sick, he removed the power the Pharisees held over sinners - and their power over correcting sin itself!! For the Pharisees believed that they were God's advocates in their application of the law and the sick, while Jesus taught their haughtiness and self-righteousness a greater evil. And not only was Jesus' healing ministry removing the control the Pharisees held over the sick, He was also removing the Pharisee's ability to take "credit" for any "repentant sinner" who got well! He was removing their high and mighty superiority. Without their self-righteousness, they no longer could hold onto power or convict.
What Revelations Is Revealing to Christians
Revelations therefore is a warning to Christians then to not commit adultery with self-righteous thinking and the false doctrine the unrepentant embrace for control and power.
Not coincidentally then, Revelations is written about this age we are now living and the world's hatred of Christ in the end times. Theologians have argued whether "the end" is an actual physical end, or "the end" of Christian beliefs. To me, they are one and the same. For to live without the spirit of and love of God is, at the very least, the end of our world.
What does the end of Christian lack of spiritual understanding and love mean for Christians today? What does it mean for the church? Why is Jesus Christ's message of healing not spoken about in today's churches? The Book of Revelations holds the answer.
WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCHES
The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2…having their conscience seared… (1 Tim. 4:1-2)
The Meaning of Jezebel in Revelations - First, a Warning:
These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow (tolerate) that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols… Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death …. (Rev. 2:19-23)
[Definition of Jezebel:
1) Jezebel in the Bible is the Phoenician wife of Ahab who according to the account in I and II Kings pressed the cult of Baal on the Israelite kingdom but was finally killed in accordance with Elijah's prophecy; and
2) a morally unrestrained woman.]
While sexual morality is certainly a sin, in the spiritual context in which this verse was written, and in its message to "you" (believers), spiritual sexual immorality can also be a "condition" of living, like "adultery" can be a sin of the heart whether one actually physically cheats on their spouse or not. In fact, when one's heart is conditioned to feel justification in self-righteousness, believers are indeed committing "adultery" with Jezebel, the spiritual opposite of seeking deep repentance from God alone. People who embrace the philosophy and spirit of Jezebel feel superior and self-righteous when they follow the law alone. Obviously, if Jezebel is "spirit," the act of committing adultery with her is to cling to false doctrine, and in so doing turn a blind eye to the oppression that was witnessed by Jesus over 2000 years ago.
[One might ask: If God is Spirit, why would He care about how "good" one was on earth for the eyes of men alone when in the spiritual life to come it is irrelevant? What is in our hearts then is the only thing we take with us.]
The Book of Revelations then is about the world's hate and end of Christianity and the persecution of Christians (even by some of those who call themselves Christian), and about how God will remove the true Christians from the earth before God's Judgment (which is called "The Rapture").
The persecution of Christians is happening now with the startling increase in persecutions all over the world which we hear about often on the news. What we do not hear much about, however, is the growing exploitation of people medically, medicine practiced for profit, exploitation of infectious disease, medical misadventure - and all of it proliferating due to the Church's and Christians' silence about it! Those who were slain for spreading the gospel, hated for speaking of Christ's spiritual message and love, hated for even saying they are "Christian," and those hated for confessing Christ as their savior, will all be taken out of the world before God brings upon the earth His Judgment.
(Note: The subject of timing of "the Rapture" has been exhaustively debated by theologians for generations and is much too lengthy to expound upon here, but in Christianity "the Rapture" refers to the belief that either before, or simultaneously with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Earth, believers who have died will be raised and believers who are still alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the resurrected dead believers) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. There are four (4) views concerning the Rapture that argue the "timing" and three different viewpoints Bible Scholars have debated and on whether it will occur simultaneously with The Second Coming. They are as follows: Whether the Rapture will occur either during the "Premillennial" phase (before the tribulation with Christ's Second Coming after destruction of the earth to judge the living and the dead), or "Postmillennial" (Christ arriving after the world is prepared for Him with some Christians enduring all or part of the tribulation before being raptured) or "Mid-millennial" [during which Christ will come during the tribulation to receive still living Christians in the air.] Most Christians hold the "Premillennial" view.) [See http://www.christianciv.com/eschatology_bs_Sect1.htm]
9And when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony they had upheld. 10And they cried out in a loud voice,“How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge those who live on the earth” and avenge our blood? 11Then each of them was given a white robe and told to rest a little while longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers, were killed, just as they had been killed.…[Rev. 6-10].
The Seven Churches - [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_churches_of_Asia]
The seven Churches are named for their locations. The Revelation provides descriptions of each Church.
- Ephesus (Metropolis of Ephesus) (Revelation 2:1-7) - the church known for having laboured hard and not fainted, and separating themselves from the wicked; admonished for having forsaken its first love (2:4)
- Smyrna (Metropolis of Smyrna) (Revelation 2:8-11) - the church admired for its tribulation and poverty; forecast to suffer persecution (2:10)
- Pergamum (Metropolis of Pergamum) (Revelation 2:12-17) - the church located at 'Satan's seat'; needed to repent of allowing false teachers (2:16)
- Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) - the church known for its charity, whose "latter works are greater than the former"; held the teachings of a false prophetess (2:20)
- Sardis (See of Sardis) (Revelation 3:1-6) - the church that has a good name; cautioned to fortify itself and return to God through repentance (3:2-3)
- Philadelphia (Metropolis of Philadelphia) (Revelation 3:7-13) - the church steadfast in faith, that had kept God's word and endured patiently (3:10)
- Laodicea, near Denizli (see Laodicean Church) (Revelation 3:14-22) - the church that was lukewarm and insipid (to God) (3:16)
18You also teach that it doesn’t matter if a person swears by the altar. But you say that it does matter if someone swears by the gift on the altar. 19 Are you blind? Which is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Anyone who swears by the altar also swears by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple also swears by God, who lives there. 22 To swear by heaven is the same as swearing by God’s throne and by the one who sits on that throne.
23 You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you’re in for trouble! You give God a tenth of the spices from your garden, such as mint, dill, and cumin. Yet you neglect the more important matters of the Law, such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the important things you should have done, though you should not have left the others undone either. 24 You blind leaders! You strain out a small fly but swallow a camel.
The world cannot hate you; but me it hates, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. [John 7:7]
The truth is that what is happening today in the church is a repeat of how the Pharisees ruled their people over 2000 years ago and how the exploitation of disease is being used politically and economically, while at the same time producing disease!!
Without understanding what Jesus' healing ministry was fully about then, it's little wonder that what we see today returning to the Church is a separation, or break, from the deeper spiritual message of Jesus' parables in the Bible and how medical exploitation is for power and control. In fact, much of the way Christians think about the sick and poor today is evidence too that the Church has submitted itself to what secularists and other religions believe about the needy, thus provoking its members to silence with respect to the weak person's exploitation as well.
Politically speaking, socialism has not diminished the population of the poor, it has increased it!! We can see and feel the individual left out of the message too, and when a member either smokes or drinks, or divorcing their spouse, fingers fly in unison in agreement as to who the "sinners" are in attendance. Right away we are made aware who to avoid, who is not liked and who is not welcome - as though only the exterior of a person is judged, not the interior, and those that think themselves "cleaner" are better than everyone else.
I believe it is our duty as Christians to speak out against the political and social movement that is exploiting infectious disease in people that is creating more of a needy population out of greed, like Christ had done with the rulers in His day, and speak together against it to bring attention to it. In so doing, two things are accomplished: 1) we expose the hate of us, and 2) we seek to bring to repentance those Christians that have wandered away from Christ's message out of fear of retribution. The Great Commission is not over, and I hope all can come together and be solidified against the enemies of light who are doing this to us, believing as they falsely do they have a future without us, or that the world would be better if we were not here.
There is still time to save souls, to lengthen our days, to change the course of our direction. The Good News is that we - as the Bible tells us - prevail in the end, when it comes.
© 2017 Cynthia Taggart