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WILDERNESS: The Lord Our Healer

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Exodus 15:22-25 (NIV)

There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

CONSIDER THIS

Something tells me the Egyptians were not the healthiest people on the planet. After all, the Israelites were doing all their heavy lifting. There is a reference coming in chapter 16 to the fleshpots of Egypt and eating their fill of bread. It seems reasonable to infer that the Egyptians ate pretty high on the hog and steered clear of the gym. I mean, if their slaves were enjoying all you can eat buffets, imagine what the average Egyptian ate on a daily basis.

As it relates to the reference about the diseases suffered by the Egyptians, it strikes me that we may see something of the law of sowing and reaping here. It’s too complex to delve into now, but in ancient biblical times, people did not have a strong sense of secondary causes. They understood everything in terms of direct causation by God. Later in Exodus, we will see God give the Israelites all sorts of dietary restrictions as part of the Law. These dietary laws had to do with ritual purity and yet they also had to do with good health. Some of you see where this is headed’straight to the refrigerator!

Today we get a bit of a foreshadowing. God puts the Israelites on notice that health and healthy living matters. He doesn’t want them to live like the Egyptians, who were presumably overweight, with dangerously high cholesterol, suffering from hypertension, pre-diabetic, and consumed massive quantities of high fructose corn syrup. I’m kidding’sort of. It seems clear to me this is what is going on here:

“If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians.”

God cares about our bodies and our health. So many Christians live in the illusion of a hard separation between things spiritual and things physical with the former being superior to the latter. At this point in history we are settled into the deep ruts of a dualistic worldview which at times borders on Gnosticism, pitting the soul or spirit against the physical body. This is increasingly the emerging dominant worldview of our culture as evidenced by the insanity we are witnessing around matters of gender, sexuality, and the human body. So before my Dad throws his phone at me for using a word like Gnosticism, I need to get back to the matter at hand—which I contend is our physical bodies and our health.

Our bodies matter. They carry enormous weight (in my case too much weight). Hear Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Christians. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Though he references sexual ethics here, which also figure prominently in the Mosaic law, there are much broader implications for the point he makes.

The point is crystal clear. We must honor God with our bodies. God does not bring the Israelites into the wilderness in order to put them on a diet. He aims to comprehensively change their entire way of life and lifestyle. He is crafting a people who will live for the praise of his glory at every level of life.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

It’s a question. If I assessed my physical body, my diet, my exercise practices and my overall health stewardship, and I honestly answered the question, I would have to answer as follows. “No, I don’t think I really know that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I get it in theory, but I ignore it in reality. In theory, I think my soul is a temple of the Holy Spirit. In reality, I am a practical dualist. I believe I should be more healthy but not so I can be more filled with, attuned to and powerful in the Holy Spirit. Honestly, I don’t think of my physical body as having that much to do with the Holy Spirit.” So here’s my $64,000 question to myself today: What if my obesity hinders the Spirit’s work in my life? What if my lack of physical fitness hinders the Spirit’s work in my life?

These are hard things to say, and in saying them I want to break off any condemnation anyone reading may internalize. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2) In other words, if you are feeling condemnation, it’s not from Jesus, so renounce it in Jesus name.

I will close with the last phrase in today’s text. “for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

This is what we need. We need the Lord to heal us. First we need the Lord to heal our mindset and our broken patterns of thinking on these things. This runs very deep. Second we need the Lord to heal our will, which we have exercised unsuccessfully and to the point of futility in order to overcome our bad habits, and thereby heaping shame upon ourselves when we repeatedly fail. Third, we need the Lord to heal us from the shame we have heaped upon ourselves in association with our physical bodies. Before any of this, we need the Lord to heal our broken sense of identity. The text says so clearly what we tend to miss entirely. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

The Israelites were God’s own people. He rescued them from slavery. Now he was healing them from slavery’s deeper wounds: the ones that cut to their core. This is the deep work of the wilderness. We need this healing, every single one of us. Far more than we need a new diet or a higher commitment to exercise more or a physical trainer or any of that, we need the Lord our healer.

What if this is true? What if our problem is all at once much deeper than we thought yet much easier for the Lord to handle? I know what I have tried hasn’t worked. I’m open. You too?

THE PRAYER

Father, reveal to me the deeper wisdom of your will and ways in the wilderness. I confess that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I confess I am not my own. I confess I have been bought with a price. I desire to honor you with my body, and yet I need you to heal me of all that keeps me from this. You are the Lord my healer. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

THE QUESTION

I know this is a hard subject for many if not most. I’m concerned about you. I don’t want you to self-shame or worse, to rev up your striving to do better. I want you to be healed. Let’s sit with this Word from God today: My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I am not my own. I was bought with a price. I will honor God with my body—The Lord as my healer.

P.S.

I want to thank so many of you who have pre-ordered the People Who Say Such Things book and so many who have gone above and beyond by making a gift at checkout. We are blown away by your generosity—and deeply helped. We realize we are all in the same boat, and we are bailing water, but let’s remember—we have a God who walks on water and there’s a record of him teaching at least one of us to do the same! Who needs a boat when you can walk on water, right?! I’ll keep the reminder going for another day or two, so Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of People Who Say Such Things.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com