Healing for Life in the New World
“And the leaves of the trees were for the curing of the nations.”—Rev. 22:2, NW.
1, 2. What future health program is Jehovah about to engage in, and what is the main objective of the present health program?
JEHOVAH God has been carrying forward an unusual health program for the past nineteen hundred years. Now he is about to engage in a healing work that will cure all humans that live in the everlasting new world. The coming health program will enable all men and women who follow the divine prescription to live evermore in perfect physical and mental well-being on an earth free from all traces of disease and senility.
2 The wonders that will be accomplished in recovering mankind to perfect health were foreshadowed in the astounding cures and healings that Jesus Christ and his apostles accomplished at the beginning of the health program which has been in progress for the last nineteen centuries. As for this present program, it has aimed particularly at preparing certain ones, a limited group from among mankind, for eternal life in the spirit realm. That is, it has been carried on for the particular benefit of the Christian congregation of 144,000 faithful overcomers of this world, who are to be united with Jesus Christ in his heavenly kingdom. But that kingdom itself will be a healing agency. Through it all the families of the earth will be blessed with perfect life and happiness.
3. At its start how was the current health program highlighted?
3 As explained in the last previous issue of The Watchtower, the current health program for the Christian congregation was highlighted at its start nineteen centuries ago with miraculous physical cures. At the word or touch of Jesus Christ blind eyes were opened, deaf ears unstopped, dumb mouths filled with articulate speech; the lame walked without a limp or a crutch, the bedridden got up instantaneously well, the unfortunates crippled with leprosy were cleansed of all its ravages, the dead rose from their funeral bier or memorial tomb. Luke, who himself was a physician, nicely wrote of this manifestation of divine therapy to say: “And Jehovah’s power was there for him to do healing.” (Luke 5:17, NW) Not by any mysterious course in metaphysics, mesmerism, or other hypnotic power, but by direct grant, Jesus conferred on his specially chosen disciples the authority to perform physical cures. With the express command that they were to do these without financial charge! Then he died a martyr’s death, this man of whom it had been prophesied: “Yet surely our sicknesses he carried, and as for our pains he bare the burden of them, . . . the chastisement for our well-being was upon him, and by his stripes there is healing for us.”—Isa. 53:4, 5, Ro; 1 Pet. 2:24.
4. Why did not the health program cease at Jesus’ death?
4 Did the divine health program abruptly cease for all time at Jesus’ death? No; Jehovah God saved it from collapse by raising him from the dead to take his seat at God’s right hand in heaven and there exercise all authority for God in heaven and on earth. Ten days after ascending and returning to heaven, that is, on the day of Pentecost, this glorified Jesus poured out holy spirit upon his faithful disciples on earth, and with it he conferred upon many of them the gift of miraculous physical healing power. Thus the health program from heaven went on among mankind.
5. Why is there no divine physical healing now, and does this represent a real loss for us?
5 As also explained in the previous issue of The Watchtower, the miraculous healings and cures of human bodies continued on till the last of the apostles and their Christian associates died. By those miracles the Christian congregation had been established in its faith and had also been definitely identified as being the true “Israel of God”, taking the place of the natural house of Israel which had rejected Jesus as Messiah or Christ. In due time the Christian congregation passed out of its babyhood. Today, after a career of nineteen centuries, it is at its maturity or full growth of Christian manhood. God has put away from it a number of things peculiar to its babyhood, such as the gift of the spirit for performing instantaneous cures on the human body and mind. So the remnant of this Christian congregation who are yet on earth do not exercise such a gift of the spirit. They have no Scriptural reason to expect from any source or by any channel a miracle of divine healing in their case. But this results in no real loss or embarrassment to them, because their hope and eternal destiny is spiritual, heavenly, and not physical, earthly.
6. Have Christians been and are they subject to illness? How do they seek relief?
6 Even in the first century during the operation of miraculous healing the most faithful of the Christians were subject to physical illness and maladies common to all the rest of mankind, and died of them. Not all died a martyr’s violent death or lived to the extreme old age of the apostle John, who received the Revelation and who may have died from the decay and collapse due to great age. Christians who were gifted with the authority to heal were not authorized to use the power upon themselves or have their similarly gifted brothers use it upon them for the comfort, ease and convenience of the Christians. Nor did they pray for such miraculous healing of their physical organisms. They used reliable remedies or the services of the practicing physicians. So today, long after the passing of the spirit’s gift of physical healing, faithful Christians get sick or fall victim to the major diseases of these times. They, too, seek relief in sensible ways.
7. Are unusual recoveries today to be viewed as healing divine?
7 Sometimes surgical operations are submitted to as a last resort. The life of the patient hangs by a slender thread. Recovery seems very unlikely. There is almost every reason to despair for his life. But then there is a turn, and the sick one or the subject of the surgical operation recovers and resumes his former activities. Because it is so marvelous should we view it as a case of divine healing in this twentieth century? The recovered one may feel that way about it. He will use expressions of gratitude to God and describe it in terms that make it a case of divine healing. He will say God was merciful to him and spared his life especially for the further work which God has purposed for him.
8. What are the sensible arguments against such a view?
8 But if God accomplished the cure, that is, if it were a case of divine healing, why, then, did this Christian have to resort to doctors and their prescribed medicines? Or why did he have to agree to an operation and maybe violate God’s law and take a blood transfusion or an injection of blood plasma? Were such things the preliminaries of divine healing in apostolic times when this was an operation of God’s spirit? Not at all. Back there God’s miracles were direct and instantaneous, without aid of human physicians and medical remedies, and where these had failed. But this is not so today. Hence where a Christian experiences an unusual recovery and survival, he should not persuade himself that this was by special intervention from heaven. Persons outside the Christian congregation have unexpected, extraordinary recoveries, too. Besides, while one Christian may have staged a baffling comeback from the jaws of death, another Christian or many other Christians under similar circumstances have not been so successful but have succumbed to the great physical distress. So what? Did divine favor smile on the one who had the revival of his physical forces and who came back to normal health and activity? But did it frown on those who had no physical improvement and who lingered, grew worse and finally died from their affliction or operation? That would not be fair to say, especially where those who succumbed were just as faithful and devoted to God as was the one that had an unusual recovery.
9. What further shows that failure to recover is no sign of divine displeasure or lack of attention?
9 Remember that shortly after God appeared to Jacob and pronounced his name as henceforth “Israel”, his beloved wife Rachel had hard labor in bringing her second son Benjamin to birth and died. Not as any sign of divine displeasure, we may be sure. (Gen. 35:9-20) At the age of 147 years Jacob himself fell sick and died of his illness. But not because of being out of God’s favor, for he continued as God’s prophet down till the last. Jacob was embalmed by the physicians of Egypt. (Gen. 47:28 to 48:1; 49:33 to 50:3) Elisha, too, fell sick of a sickness from which he died, but he prophesied even on his deathbed as one of Jehovah’s witnesses. (2 Ki. 13:1-20) It is possible, also, that Timothy’s cases of stomach trouble and his frequent spells of sickness continued with him till his death, and that the wine which Paul advised him to take served only to give him some relief. (1 Tim. 5:23) So one’s succumbing to an operation or a sickness is no evidence of God’s displeasure or lack of interest and attention. No more so than a phenomenal recovery is to be interpreted as his special intervention and favor. We must be reasonable and balanced in mind. Bear in mind that there are many bodily factors and accompanying circumstances which work for pulling some through an operation or siege of serious illness, but which are not present for those who succumb.
10. Is sickness a proper matter for prayer? With what limitation?
10 This does not mean we are not to be grateful to God and to voice gratitude to him if we convalesce. Nor does this mean we may not take the matter to Him in prayer when we are sick or our beloved fellow Christians are sick. Every circumstance and affair in our lives is a matter which we can take to him in prayer. Still, we may not ask for divine healing and expect it, even if we use as a basis Jesus’ words: “If you remain in union with me and my sayings remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will take place for you.” (John 15:7, NW) We know what the sayings of Jesus are regarding his followers for this day, and they do not tell of miracles on the physical organisms of his followers at this time.
11. During sickness what can we properly ask for? And if we die, whose are we still?
11 The proper thing we can ask is for our heavenly Father to help us to endure in Christian fortitude during illness or physical impairment. We can ask him to help us to act as faithful witnesses through it all, not to lose faith in him, to suffer no spiritual injury because of it. We can pray that we may be guided in the use of proper remedies which are available or the proper medical services. Even amid sickness we can let our light shine. Our obligation is to “preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season”. (2 Tim. 4:2, NW) There have been cases where the physically infirm have been improved bodily by proving their zeal for his Kingdom in getting out actively into the field service, although poor health appeared to dictate against it. Let us remember that, to quote the apostle, “both if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. Therefore both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah. For to this end Christ died and came to life again, that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living.” (Rom. 14:8, 9, NW) So the faithful Christian who fails to recover and dies still belongs to the Lord Jesus.
BLAMING IT ON THE DEVIL
12. To whose case do some refer to argue for Satan’s hand in sickness and accident?
12 Some will now propound the question, Is not Satan the Devil the one who causes us to fall sick and so puts us out of commission? Is he not the one who causes fatal accidents to Jehovah’s faithful or accidents that cripple their further usefulness in his service? For support of an affirmative answer they will refer to Job’s case. There Satan caused fire to fall from heaven and consume Job’s great herds of sheep and their keepers, and also a violent storm to strike the house where his ten children were feasting and to collapse the house upon them to their death. In addition to this that wicked one struck Job with a frightful disease which covered him from head to toe with corroding, itching boils.
13, 14. Why does not Job’s case provide the rule to measure all cases?
13 But Job’s case does not provide us the rule by which we are to measure all cases of sickness and accident. Job was made a special test case. First, Jehovah called Job’s integrity to Satan’s attention, and then the adversary accused Job of serving God for his selfish benefit, because God had hedged him and all his good things about with divine protection, so that it was prosperous for Job to serve God. But now let God lift this protection and let Satan touch him in the matter of these selfish benefits, and Job would renounce God, cursing him to his face. When Job refused to be pressured into this unfaithfulness by loss of property and children, then Satan obtained permission to touch Job’s skin and flesh and threaten his life with an incurable disease. Added to this, Job’s own wife turned against him and three of his prominent friends condemned him as a hypocrite afflicted by the just hand of Jehovah God. But these keen tests from the Devil failed to move Job from his integrity. Satan’s challenge to God concerning this godly man was thus defeated, and Almighty God miraculously healed Job and more than made up for all that Job had formerly lost during the crucial test.
14 True, we Christians are each under a test of our integrity in the midst of this hostile world. But no one is to think he is of such importance that he is singled out and made a special test case such as Job was made. If such were the case, then we would have to carry the picture of Job all the way through in its application to each individual Christian. In that case each Christian would in this life have to have restored to him twice as much as he lost by accidents engineered by Satan. He would have to experience miraculous divine healing and afterward live a long life of good health, to correspond with Job’s 140 years after he got well.—Job, chapters 1, 2, 42.
15. Whom did Job picture, and hence what did his test foreshadow?
15 Moreover, the test on Job was permitted by God and was written down to serve as a prophecy. It foreshadowed how the Job class, beginning with Jesus himself (who never got sick), would be exposed to the testing of their integrity toward God by Satan. However, this test was not to be by literal accidents, loss and terrible diseases due to Satan. No; but by persecutions and opposition from this world which would bring loss of close associates, and bring us a disgraceful, misrepresented appearance in the eyes of the world, making us look loathsome to them, so that they would accuse us of being religious hypocrites and under God’s curse. For instance, when orthodox religious systems of Christendom accuse us of being blasphemers, haters of everybody, and Nazis, Fascists and imperialists here and Communists there. Job’s miraculous restoration, therefore, foreshadowed, not the divine healing of our physical ailments and our being made immune against further accidents, but how Almighty God would restore the faithful remnant of his anointed witnesses to his favor and would counteract all the false accusations and misrepresentations of his servants before all the people of good will.
16. Why do the cases of the woman with the spirit of infirmity and Paul’s thorn in the flesh not argue for Satan’s hand in all sickness?
16 So let us take the sane view of sickness and accident. There are many things besides sickness and accident which Satan can use to put our integrity to the test. True, Jesus did say of the woman who was bent over double and whom he cured: “Was it not due, then, for this woman who is a daughter of Abraham, and whom Satan held bound, look! eighteen years, to be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” But we note that the record says the woman had a “spirit of weakness” and was evidently under the power of a demon who would not let her straighten herself up. (Luke 13:10-16, NW) True, also, Paul spoke of his “thorn in the flesh” as an “angel of Satan, to keep striking me”; but this was not a sickness or accident, as we explained in our previous issue of The Watchtower. Whatever the thorn was, it was something that Satan the adversary worked on in order to make matters hard for Paul and to worry him. So it may be with ailments and accidents in our case. While Satan may not be blamed for them, yet he can use them after they have befallen us to worry us, weaken our faith in God, break down our zeal in God’s service, make us lose God’s spirit and quit.
17. Do normal causes produce the same ill effects in Christians as in others? Does turning Christian change their bodies any?
17 Sickness, diseases and accidents have their normal causes. These causes produce the same results in the lives of devoted Christians as in the lives of unconsecrated worldlings. At Lystra, in Asia Minor, when the pagans wanted to worship the miracle-working Paul and Barnabas as gods, they leaped out into the crowd and objected: “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are human creatures having the same infirmities as you do.” (Acts 14:8-15, NW) And we can all agree with the psalmist David when he said: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51:5, AS) So just because a person believes the good news of God’s kingdom and devotes himself to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, God does not work a miracle and change his bodily organism any. Oh, he might be able to prolong his life by better living henceforth as a Christian, both morally and physically, because he learns more and more of the truth and gives his body decent treatment and does not abuse it as those in the world do with their bodies. Unselfish activity in God’s service does one good in both mind and body. Study of God’s Word and applying it in word, thought and deed has a salubrious effect upon one in every way. To quote Solomon: “Fear Jehovah, and depart from evil: it will be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”—Prov. 3:7, 8, AS.
18. Rather than Satan’s direct touch, what operates for disease without discrimination of any?
18 All the sickness that has entered the earth resulted from the original violation of God’s law. Likewise today, sickness and disease are due to some violation of God’s laws concerning physical well-being. They are not due to the direct touch of Satan. Various ones of us may inherit tendencies to certain bodily ailments, and these may appear after certain causes lead them to develop and break out. Say a plague is sweeping the land. A worldling with a healthy constitution may go through it unaffected, whereas a faithful Christian may be laid low with it and die or have a hard time recovering. The reason for this may lie entirely in the weaker physical frame and in not knowing what precautions to take against becoming infected. So these are natural, physical processes which may operate in any and all persons regardless of one’s faith. It would be unreasonable to blame the Devil directly.
19, 20. If not Satan, what is the cause of accidents, impartially?
19 The same with accidents: These are generally due to carelessness. Under those same circumstances carelessness by anyone will result in the same accident. A bus loaded with conventioners is returning them to their homes and the driver falls asleep at the wheel. The bus crashes, many are killed and almost all others are wounded. Aha, the Devil is to blame! No; rather the carelessness and thoughtlessness of the driver. Again, a carload of witnesses who have been out in the field service spreading the Kingdom news drives off for a little outing and parks at a curve in the road. Another car rounds the curve and, for momentum, makes too sweeping a turn and crashes into the parked car and kills all the occupants. The work of the Devil? No! Lack of thought and caution at a curve.
20 A Christian steps on a loose rug on an oiled floor, skids, falls and breaks his hip. Blame the Devil? No; anybody else stepping in haste on that rug on the slippery floor would have had the same experience, even the Devil’s favorite. Two Christians get married and want to stay childless for freer action without worries and burdens. Suddenly, to their dismay and despite all their carefulness, along comes an unwanted baby! They claim the Lord was the one who led them to meet each other and get married, but as for this baby, why, that was where the Devil took advantage of them to interfere with their service of God. But if they did not want to have children, why did they get married in the first place? Is not the primary function of marriage the bringing of children into this earth? By getting married, they endangered their freedom for service and exposed themselves to the burdens and responsibilities of children. No, Satan did not implant the power of reproduction in men and women. He did not start that baby’s life, a life which Christian parents are to view as “holy” in God’s sight. (1 Cor. 7:14) No, that baby was no “accident”. Do not fool yourself about the operation of natural law which God the Creator fixed unalterably in the human system. That law operates where all your carefulness may not be smart enough to block its operation.
21. Are Christians to expect certain common physical conditions to result differently in their case from that of others? Why your reply?
21 So sickness, malignant maladies, accidents, and old age may be expected to take their usual course among devoted Christians the same as among the rest of mankind. When the body gets old and no longer has youth’s power to repair itself or to build up new tissues, it can be expected to break down, Christian or no Christian. Isaac, the son of Abraham, turned blind in his old age and was sightless for about 50 years, although he was a type of Jesus Christ. (Gen. 27:1, 21-23; 35:28, 29) We may try to patch up the worn-out body, but if medicines, a specialist’s treatment, or a surgical operation fails to add a cubit to the old Christian’s life span, that is not directly his fault. Yet, when such measures fail, he is not then to look or pray for divine healing. Christians have long since had this operation of the holy spirit suspended toward them. You may recall how God turned back the time dial fifteen years for King Hezekiah, and the prophet Isaiah put a fig plaster on Hezekiah’s malignant boil as a symbol of God’s power to heal. (Isa. 38:1-22) But we are no longer living in the days of prophets and apostles gifted with the power of supernatural healing. So the extraordinary is not to be expected or prayed for just because we are faithful Christians.
22, 23. May some succumb to death at Armageddon for natural causes? And would this indicate judgment executed against them?
22 When the oncoming battle of Armageddon strikes in its fury and with its desolations, many devoted Christians will be in their old age or in an infirm condition. Hence it may be that during the progress of that battle with all the conditions which it will produce on and around the earth, many Christian aged, weak in constitution, or with poor hearts, may die from sheer natural causes. When we read the prophetic accounts of that battle, for instance, Psalm 46, telling how the earth will be moved, the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, the waters roaring and showing great agitation so that even the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, we can see it will be a time that will be hard on the hearts and physical constitutions of even the hardiest of persons. We may have to undergo many privations in common with the people of the world, including food reductions, exposure to the heartless elements, etc., so that it will be a strenuous time, taxing our physical powers. Some, because of physical condition, age, or other circumstances, may prove no more able to endure the hardships of Armageddon than others.
23 But the death of faithful witnesses of Jehovah then simply because their bodies cannot take it will not be a judgment against them, betokening an execution of them by Jehovah’s heavenly hosts. They will give way to death in their faithfulness, in vindication of God, and their death will not mean their extinction forever, but it will allow for a resurrection in the new world that follows Armageddon. But if it pleases God, he can strengthen even the weakest of his faithful people in an abnormal way to undergo all the hardships of that time of unparalleled trouble and survive. The surviving of any of his people will be because he has preserved them amid the destruction which he executes against all his enemies.
24. What, then, should be our course as to health and security?
24 While we are active in God’s service we should try to take the best care of our health and physical vitality and to guard against overindulgence, hazards and accidents as far as possible. The same as when we lock the doors, shut and bolt the windows, fasten the cellar door, and do other things, to safeguard our homes against entry by thieves. And then we may trust our heavenly Father and Caretaker for the rest. If, though, we come into dangers because of faithfulness in his service, we must accept whatever he lets come according to his will, and we may thank him for his deliverance of us from recognized dangers. Take no needless chances. Do not put Jehovah to the test in an unwarranted way. “Therefore, whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.”—1 Cor. 10:31 and Col. 3:23, NW.