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19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
20 The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken Me.
21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until He have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.
22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.
23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be bra.s.s, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.
27 The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.
28 The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: 29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.
30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.
31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine a.s.s shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.
32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.
33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: 34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.
35 The LORD shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.
36 The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other G.o.ds, wood and stone.
37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.
38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.
39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.
40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.
41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.
42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.
43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.
44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.
45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy G.o.d, to keep His Commandments and His Statutes which He commanded thee: 46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.
47 Because thou servedst not the LORD thy G.o.d with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; 48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until He have destroyed thee.
49 The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; 50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young: 51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.
52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy G.o.d hath given thee.
53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy G.o.d hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee: 54 So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave: 55 So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.
56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, 57 And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.
58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the Words of this Law that are written in this Book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and Fearful Name, THE LORD THY G.o.d;.
59 Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.
60 Moreover He will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.
61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the Book of this Law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
This calls our attention to a truth of the greatest importance: the intimate relations which exist between obedience and health, between sanctification which is the health of the soul, and the divine healing which ensures the health of the body both are comprised in the salvation that comes from G.o.d. It is noteworthy that in several languages these three It is noteworthy that in several languages these three words, salvation, healing, and sanctification, are derived from the same root and words, salvation, healing, and sanctification, are derived from the same root and present the same fundamental thought present the same fundamental thought. (For instance, the German Heil, salvation; Heilung, healing; Heilichung, sanctification.) Salvation is the redemption which the Savior has obtained for us, health is the salvation of the body which also comes to us from the Divine Healer, and lastly, sanctification reminds us that true salvation and true health consist in being holy as G.o.d is holy.
Thus it is in giving health to the body and sanctification to the soul that Jesus is really the Savior of His people. Our text clearly declares the relation which exists between holiness of life and the healing of the body. The expressions which bear this out seem to be purposely multiplied: "If thou wilt diligently hearken... if thou wilt do that which is right... if thou wilt give ear... if thou wilt keep all His Statutes," I will not send any sickness upon thee.
Here we have the key to all true obedience and holiness. We often think we know well the will of G.o.d revealed in His Word; but why does not this knowledge bring forth obedience? It is because in order to obey we must begin by hearkening. "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy G.o.d... and give ear..." As long as the will of G.o.d reaches me through the voice of man, or through the reading of a book, it may have but little power with me, while if I enter into direct communion with G.o.d, and listen to His voice, His commandment is quickened with living power to facilitate its accomplishment. Christ is the living Word and the Holy Spirit is His voice. Listening to His voice means to renounce all our own will and wisdom, to close the ear to every other voice so as to expect no other direction but that of the Holy Spirit. One who is redeemed is like a servant or child, who needs to be directed; he knows that he belongs entirely to G.o.d, and that all his being, spirit, soul and body, ought to glorify G.o.d.
But he is equally conscious that this is above his strength, and that he needs to receive, hour by hour, the direction which he needs. He knows also that the divine commandment, as long as it is a dead letter to him, cannot impart to him strength and wisdom, and that it is only as he attentively gives ear that he will obtain the desired strength; therefore, he listens and learns thus to observe the laws of G.o.d. This life of attention and action, of renouncement and of crucifixion, const.i.tutes a holy life. The Lord brings us to it in the first place by sickness, and makes us understand that which we are lacking, and then also by the healing which calls the soul to this life of continual attention to the voice of G.o.d.
Most Christians see nothing more in divine healing than a temporal blessing for the body, while in the promise of our holy G.o.d, its end is to make us holy its end is to make us holy. The call to holiness sounds daily stronger and more clearly in the Church. More and more believers are coming to understand that G.o.d wants them to be like Christ; and the Lord is beginning again to make use of His healing virtue, seeking thereby to show us that still in our own days the Holy One of Israel is "the Lord that healeth thee," and that it is His will to keep His people both in health of body and in obedience.
Let him who looks for healing from the Lord receive it with joy. It is not a legal obedience which is required of him, an obedience depending upon his own strength. No; G.o.d asks of him, on the contrary, the abandonment of a little child, the attention which hearkens and consents to be led. This is what G.o.d expects of him; and the healing of the body will be the result of this childlike faith, for the Lord will reveal Himself to him as the mighty Savior who heals the body and sanctifies the soul.
JOB'S SICKNESS AND HEALING.
"So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils, from the sole of his foot unto his crown"
The veil which hides from us the unseen world is lifted for a moment in the mysterious history of Job; it reveals to us heaven and h.e.l.l busily occupied with G.o.d's servants upon earth. We see in it the temptations peculiar to sickness, and how Satan makes use of them to dispute with G.o.d, and to seek the perdition of the soul of man, while G.o.d, on the contrary, seeks to sanctify it by the very same trial. In the case of Job, we see in G.o.d's light the source from which sickness proceeds, what is the result which it should have, and how it is possible to be delivered from it.
Whence comes sickness; from G.o.d or from Satan? Opinions on this point vastly differ. Some hold that it is sent of G.o.d, others see in it the work of the wicked one. Both are in error as long as they hold their view to the exclusion of that held by the other party, while both are in the right if they admit that there are two sides to this question. Let us say then that sickness comes from Satan, but that it cannot exist without the permission of G.o.d. On the one hand the power of Satan is that of an oppressor who has not himself any right to pounce upon man and attack him, and on the other hand the claims of Satan on man are legitimate in that the righteousness of G.o.d decrees that he who yields himself to Satan places himself under his domination.
Satan is the prince of the kingdom of darkness and of sin; sickness is the consequence of sin.
Herein is const.i.tuted the right of Satan over the body of sinful man. He is the prince of this world, so recognized by G.o.d, until such time as he shall be legally conquered and dethroned.
Consequently he has a certain power over all those who remain down here under his jurisdiction. He then it is who torments men with sickness, and seeks thereby to turn them from G.o.d, and to work their ruin.
But, we would hasten to say, the power of Satan is far from being almighty; he can do nothing without G.o.d's authorization. G.o.d permits him to do all he does in tempting men, even believers, but it is in order that the trial may bring forth in them the fruit of holiness. It is also said that Satan has the power of death (Hebrews 2:14), Hebrews 2 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil; that he is everywhere at work where death reigns, and nevertheless he has no power to decide as to the death of G.o.d's servants without the express will of G.o.d. It is even so with sickness.
Because of sin, sickness is the work of Satan, but as the supreme direction of this world belongs to G.o.d, it can also be regarded as the work of G.o.d. All who are acquainted with the Book of Job know how very clearly this is brought out there.
What ought to be the result of sickness? The result will be good or evil according as G.o.d or Satan shall have the victory in us. Under Satan's influence, a sick person sinks always deeper in sin. He does not recognize sin to be the cause of the chastis.e.m.e.nt, and he occupies himself exclusively with himself and with his sufferings. He desires nothing but to be healed, without dreaming of a desire for deliverance from sin. On the contrary wherever G.o.d gains the victory, sickness leads the sufferer to renounce himself, and to abandon himself to G.o.d. The history of Job ill.u.s.trates this. His friends accused him, unjustly, of having committed sins of exceptional gravity, and by them to have drawn upon himself his terrible sufferings. It was, however, no such thing, since G.o.d Himself had borne him witness that he was "perfect and upright, one that feared G.o.d and eschewed evil" (Job 2:3). But in defending himself Job went too far. Instead of humbling himself in abas.e.m.e.nt before the Lord, and recognizing his hidden sins, he sought in all self-righteousness to justify himself. It was not until the Lord appeared to him that he came to say, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6).
To him sickness became a signal blessing in bringing him to know G.o.d in quite a new way, and to humble himself more than ever before Him. This is the blessing which G.o.d desires that we also may receive whenever He permits Satan to strike us with sickness, and this end is attained by all sufferers who abandon themselves unreservedly to Him.
How are we to be delivered from sickness? A father never prolongs the chastis.e.m.e.nt of his child beyond the time necessary. G.o.d, also, who has His purpose in permitting sickness, will not prolong the chastis.e.m.e.nt longer than is needful to attain His end. As soon as Job had understood Him, from the time that he condemned himself and repented in dust and ashes, through hearkening to what G.o.d had revealed to him of Himself, the chastis.e.m.e.nt was at an end. G.o.d Himself delivered him from Satan's hand and healed him of his sickness.
Would that the sick in our day understood that G.o.d has a distinct purpose in permitting the chastis.e.m.e.nt, and that as soon as it is attained, as soon as the Holy Spirit shall have led them to confess and forsake their sins and to consecrate themselves entirely to the service of the Lord, the chastis.e.m.e.nt will no longer be needed that the Lord could and would deliver them!
G.o.d makes use of Satan as a wise government makes use of a jailer. He only leaves His children in his power for the given time; after which His good will is to a.s.sociate us in the redemption of Him who has conquered Satan, who has withdrawn us from his domination in bearing in our stead our sins and our sicknesses.
THE PRAYER OF FAITH.
"The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up"
The prayer of faith! Only once does this expression occur in the Bible, and it relates to the healing of the sick. The Church has adopted this expression, but she hardly ever has recourse to the prayer of faith except for the sake of obtaining other graces; while according to Scripture it is especially intended for the healing of the sick.
*"Does the Apostle expect healing through the prayer of faith alone, or should it be accompanied by the use of remedies?"
This is generally the question which is raised. It is easily decided, if we take into consideration the power of the Church's spiritual life in the early ages: the gifts of healing bestowed on the Apostles by the Lord, augmented by the subsequent pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:30; 5:15-16), Acts 4 30 By stretching forth Thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the Name of Thy Holy Child Jesus.
Acts 5 15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter pa.s.sing by might overshadow some of them.
16 There came also a mult.i.tude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
what Paul says of "these gifts of healing by the same Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:9), what James here insists upon when, in order to strengthen the reader in the expectation of faith, he recalls Elijah's prayer and G.o.d's wonderful answer (James 5:17-18).
James 5 17 Elias was a man subject to like pa.s.sions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the s.p.a.ce of three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Does not all this clearly show that the believer is to look for healing in response to the prayer of faith alone, and without the addition of remedies?
*Another question will arise: "Does the use of remedies exclude the prayer of faith?"
To this we believe our reply should be: "No," for the experience of a large number of believers testifies that in answer to their prayers G.o.d has often blessed the use of remedies, and made them a means of healing.
*We come here to a third question: "Which is then the line to follow, that we may prove with the greatest certainty, and according to the will of G.o.d, the efficacy of the prayer of faith? Is it, according to James, in setting aside all remedies or in using remedies as believers do for the most part? In a word, is it with or without remedies that the prayer of faith best obtains the grace of G.o.d?
Which of these two methods will be most directly to the glory of G.o.d and for blessing to the sick one? Is it not perfectly simple to reply that if the prescription and the promise in James apply to believers of our time, they will find blessing in receiving them just as they were given to believers then, conforming to them on all points, expecting healing only from the Lord Himself, without having any recourse to remedies besides? It is, in fact, in this sense that Scripture always speaks of effectual faith and of the prayer of faith.
Both the laws of nature and the witness of Scripture show us that G.o.d often makes use of intermediary agencies to manifest His glory, but whether by experience or by Scripture, we know also that under the power of the fall, and the empire of our senses, our tendency is to attach more importance to the remedies than to the direct action of G.o.d. It often happens that remedies so occupy us as to intercept the presence of our G.o.d and turn us away from Him.
Thus the laws and the properties of nature, which were destined to bring us back to G.o.d, have the contrary effect. This is why the Lord in calling Abraham to be the father of His chosen people had not recourse to the laws of nature (Romans 4:17-21).
Romans 4 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before Him Whom he believed, even G.o.d, Who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of G.o.d through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to G.o.d; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.
G.o.d would form for Himself a people of faith, living more in the unseen than in the things visible; and in order to lead them into this life it was necessary to take away their confidence in ordinary means. We see therefore that it was not by the ordinary ways which He has traced in nature that G.o.d led Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, the Judges, David and many other kings of Israel. His object was to teach them by this to confide only in Him, to know Him as He is: "Thou art the G.o.d that doest wonders" (Psalm 77:14).
G.o.d wills to act in a similar way with us. It is when we seek to walk according to His prescription in James 5, abandoning the things which are seen (II Corinthians 4:18) 2 Corinthians 4 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
to lay hold of the promise of G.o.d, and so receive directly from Him the desired healing, that we discover how much importance we have attached to earthly remedies. Doubtless there are Christians who can make use of remedies without damage to their spiritual life, but the larger number of them are apt to count much more on the remedies than on the power of G.o.d. Now the purpose of G.o.d is to lead His children into a more intimate communion with Christ, and this is just what does happen when by faith we commit ourselves to Him as our sovereign Healer, counting solely on His invisible presence. Renouncing remedies strengthens faith in an extraordinary manner. Healing becomes, then, far more than sickness, a source of numberless spiritual blessings. It makes real to us what faith can accomplish, it establishes a new tie between G.o.d and the believer, and commences in him a life of confidence and dependence. The body equally with the soul is placed under the power of the Holy Spirit, and the prayer of faith, which saves the sick, thus leads us to a life of faith, strengthened by the a.s.surance that G.o.d manifests His presence in our earthly life.
ANOINTING IN THE NAME OF THE LORD.
"Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church: and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord"
"Anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." These words have given rise to controversy. Some have sought to infer from them that, very far from prescribing recourse to the prayer of faith alone, without the use of remedies, St. James had, on the contrary, mentioned anointing with oil as a remedy to be employed, and that to anoint in the name of the Lord had no other signification than to rub the patient with oil. But as this prescription applies to all kinds of sickness, this would be to attribute to oil a miraculous virtue against all sickness. Let us see what the Scripture tells us about anointing with oil, and what sense it attaches to these two words.
It was the custom of the people in the East to anoint themselves with oil when they came out of the bath; it was most refreshing in a hot climate. We see also that all those who were called to the special service of G.o.d were to be anointed with oil, as a token of their consecration to G.o.d, and of the grace they should receive from Him to fulfill their vocation.
Thus the oil which was used to anoint the priests and the tabernacle was looked upon as "most holy" (Exodus 30:22-32), and wherever the Bible speaks of anointing with oil, it is an emblem of holiness and consecration. Nowhere in the Bible do we find any proof that oil was used as a remedy.