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Friday, September 23 2011

Heal The Sick, Cleanse The Lepers

Leprosy has been one of the most feared health maladies of humanity, from ancient times to the present. Excerpts from an article about Leprosy provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

"Leprosy is an infectious disease that has been known since Biblical times. It is characterized by disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive debilitation."

"Leprosy is caused by the organism Mycobacteriumleprae."

"Leprosy has two common forms, tuberculoid and lepromatous, and these have been further subdivided. Both forms produce sores on the skin, but the lepromatous form is most severe, producing large, disfiguring lumps and bumps, or "nodules."

"All forms of the disease eventually cause nerve damage in the arms and legs, which causes sensory loss in the skin and muscle weakness. People with long-term leprosy may lose the use of their hands or feet due to repeated injury resulting from lack of sensation."

"Leprosy is common in many countries worldwide, and in temperate, tropical, and subtropical climates. Approximately 100 cases per year are diagnosed in the United States. Most cases are limited to the South, California, Hawaii, and U.S. island possessions."

As stated above, leprosy has been recognized from "Biblical times" (although actually, humans have always been living in Biblical times, historically or prophetically). Leprosy (a term that also sometimes included other similar-appearing infections involving the skin) was included in the health laws of ancient Israel (see The First Christian Church) which stated that lepers (and all others who were a source of infection) were to live in isolation.

"13:45 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. 13:46 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." (Leviticus 13:45-46 KJV)

"5:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 5:2 Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead: 5:3 Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell." (Numbers 5:1-3 KJV)

"The lepers are cleansed"

By the time of the human birth of the Messiah, leprosy remained a dreaded disease. Notice that in this example, although "great multitudes" were present with Jesus Christ, a leper was able to speak alone with Him (i.e. the reason that Christ said "See thou tell no man"), either by scattering the crowd by the presence of a leper, or by waiting until the end of the day when only His apostles would still have been there to run for it. The term used in the Holy Scriptures for the healing of lepers was "cleansed" or "made clean," rather than just healing i.e. "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers" i.e. remove the active source of infection from them.

Healing of the Lepers at Capernaum

"8:1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 8:2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

8:3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 8:4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." (Matthew 8:1-4 KJV)

The Twelve were cured of their fear of leprosy by the power of the LORD, when they too were given the means (see the Fact Finder question below) to heal all diseases (although nothing is recorded of them doing so until after Christ's resurrection; see also Their Eyes Opened After Christ's Tomb Did).

"10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 10:3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 10:4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:1-8 KJV)

Jesus Christ was driven away from Nazareth (see also The Prophet Of Galilee) because, in response to their "Physician, heal thyself" challenge, He used the example of the healing of a leper to illustrate their lack of faith in the Word of God.

"4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day [see Do You Observe Christ's Sabbath Or Babylon's Sun Day? and What Did Jesus Do On The Sabbath?], and stood up for to read. 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias [see What Did Isaiah Know About Jesus Christ?]. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

4:20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 4:21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

4:22 And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?

4:23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.

4:24 And he said, Verily, I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 4:25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 4:26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

4:28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 4:29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong." (Luke 4:16-29 KJV)

Notice also in this example that of the ten lepers healed, only one "returned to give glory to God." Does that mean that the ingratitude and lack of faith of the other nine resulted in the return of their leprosy? Was their cure only partial - the reason that the Christ described the healing of the faithful one as "whole"?

"17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 17:12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 17:13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

17:14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 17:16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 17:18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 17:19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole." (Luke 17:11-19 KJV)

Only days before His Crucifixion, the Messiah "was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper" - a man who, although still known as "the leper," had obviously been healed because lepers were required to live outside of towns, and the Messiah would not have left a believer "unclean."

"26:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 26:2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. 26:3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 26:4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. 26:5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 26:7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

26:8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

26:10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 26:12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 26:13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her." (Matthew 26:1-13 KJV)

Fact Finder: What was the spiritual basis of "healing"?
See The Healing Touch

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This Day In History, September 23

63 BC: Octavian was born. Grand-nephew of Julius Caesar, Octavian, with the official name Caesar Augustus, was the first emperor of the Roman empire (see Ancient Empires - Rome). He reigned from 31 B.C. to 14 A.D., which covered the birth and early life of Jesus Christ.

1122: The Concordat of Worms was signed between Roman Catholic Pope Callistus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V (a German king). Signed at Worms (in German, Vorms - a city in Germany), the agreement ended the Investiture Controversy - a centuries-long (and not-yet-done) power struggle between the allied European emperor and Catholic pope (see Emperors and Popes).

1459: The Battle of Blore Heath, the first major battle of the English Wars of the Roses.

1553: The Sadians became the rulers of Morocco in opposition to the Ottomans (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

1578: English explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed from Plymouth, England, in search of the Northwest Passage. The passage was not actually found until 3 centuries later.

1723: The site of present-day Toronto was purchased from the Mississauga Indians.

1817: Britain and Spain signed a treaty to end the slave trade.

1846: The 8th planet from the sun was discovered by astronomers at Berlin University. A British astronomer had earlier calculated the presence of the planet, but it was not searched for at Cambridge until after the German discovery. We know the planet today by the pagan name Neptune.

1941: During the Second World War, the first Nazi gas chamber experiments were conducted at the Auschwitz concentration camp (the gas chamber was not a Nazi invention; the U.S. began using it as a means of execution in 1924).

1972: Martial law was declared in the Philippines by President Ferdinand Marcos.

1973: Juan Peron was re-elected as President of Argentina (he was overthrown in 1955). His wife, Evita, became the Vice President.

2004: Hurricane Jeanne killed over 1,000 people in Haiti.

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Copyright © Wayne Blank