ARE THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT FOR TODAY?
God's Greatness, Murmuring In The Wilderness, Serpent Of Brass, Elisha And Shunammite Woman, Naaman The Syrian And Elisha, Healing And Signs And Wonders, Immediate Healing
From the first page of the Old Testament, to the last page of the New Testament, we find many miraculous events, signs and wonders which testify of the awesome Might and Power of the Spirit of El Shaddai, the Almighty God. Most of us are familiar with some of the major stories and events of the Old Testament such as the Creation, Noah's Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Plagues in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, Mount Sinai, the miracles in the wilderness, the crossing of the Jordan River, Joshua's victory at Jericho, Samson and Delilah, Gideon's victory over the Midianites, David and Goliath, Isaiah, King Hezekiah, the sundial of Ahaz and the defeat of Sennacherib, and the visions of Daniel and Ezekiel. The New Testament is just as impressive with the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ, the miracle of the water turned to wine, Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee, the raising from the dead of Lazarus and others, the story of the fishes and the loaves, the Resurrection of Christ, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Book of Revelation, etc. In short, as King David said many times, the Holy Scriptures are a clear record of the Omnipotency of our God:
"I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works."
Psalms 26:6-7, KJV
"O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works."
Psalms 71:17, KJV
"Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works."
Psalms 105:2, KJV
"I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works."
Psalms 145:5, KJV
In Psalm one hundred and seven, we find David proclaiming four times, "Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" In the Book of Revelation, we also find the great multitude proclaiming in a thunderous voice before the Throne of God:
"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
Revelation 19:6, KJV
While I have mentioned some of the major and better known miraculous events of the Bible, there are many more stories sandwiched in between these of which some people are not aware. It isn't that these stories are less important or that they lack the greatness of the others; after all, they all proceed from His Divine Hand; but rather it is due in part to the fact that most cinematographic efforts concentrate on the more popular themes of the Bible. One example of these other miracles concerns the Lord's Power to heal His children of their afflictions. The first example which comes to my mind revolves around the story of Moses and the Children of Israel in the wilderness. Despite the Lord's miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage by many signs and great wonders, once the Children of Israel entered the hot desert expanse of the Sinai, some of them began to complain and longed for a return to the land of their captivity. Consider this first example:
"And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me."
Exodus 17:1-4, KJV
Later, after Joshua, Caleb and the other tribal Elders had returned from spying on the inhabitants of the land of Canaan for forty days; when the Children of Israel heard their reports concerning the Anakim, the giants which dwelt in the land, they again complained and regretted having ever left Egypt:
"And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt."
Numbers 14:1-4, KJV
As I have explained before, it was because of their constant murmuring and their lack of faith, that the Lord finally grew weary of their complaining, and cursed them to wonder in the wilderness for forty years, each day for a year, until the older unbelieving generation had died off:
"And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die."
Numbers 14:26-35, KJV
Only seven chapters later, we find the story of the serpent of brass. Once again, the Children of Israel angered the Lord by their lack of faith and their constant complaining. They had gone so far astray in their walk with the Lord that they even had the audacity to complain about the Manna which the Lord provided for them during the full forty years that they wandered in the wilderness. On this occasion, the Lord chastised them by sending poisonous vipers into the camp so that many died:
"And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died."
Numbers 21:5-6, KJV
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."
Numbers 21:8-9, KJV
While the Lord used the brass serpent to heal the Children of Israel, it wasn't before long that they began to idolize it just like the many other molten images of the pagan gods they had borrowed from the heathen nations around them. Hundred of years later, good King Hezekiah grew so sick and tired of their idol worship, that not only did he destroy the many altars dedicated to the pagan gods, but he also destroyed the serpent of brass made by Moses. We find the story in the Second Book of the Kings:
"He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan."
2 Kings 18:4, KJV
Another story of Divine Healing is found thirteen chapters before the previous incident in the fifth chapter of the Second Book of the Kings. It involves the Shunammite woman and the Prophet Elisha. In fact, rather than just involving a miracle of Divine Healing, this incident culminated in the actual resurrection from the dead of the woman's son. In the first part of the story, as a kindness to the woman for treating him well, Elisha causes her to become pregnant, even though she is barren, and her husband is old:
"And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old. And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door. And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid. And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life."
2 Kings 4:14-17, KJV
Later, after the child has grown, it appears that he either suffers an accident while working in the fields, or else he is possibly the victim of a brain tumor, or of a brain clot:
"And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out."
2 Kings 4:18-21, KJV
In desperation, the woman seeks out Elisha who, after sending ahead his servant Gehazi to check on the boy, returns with the woman to her house, where he then raises the boy back to life:
"And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son."
2 Kings 4:32-36, KJV
It is interesting to note that some of the miracles which were performed by the Prophet Elisha, were some of the very same miracles performed by Jesus hundreds of years later, except that the Lord performed them in larger numbers and to a greater degree. Another example of an Old Testament story of Divine Healing concerns Naaman, the captain of the host, or army, of the Syrian king. This story occurs in the very next chapter following the raising from the dead of the Shunammite's son. The story opens by informing us that despite his greatness in the Syrian army, Naaman suffers from leprosy:
"Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper."
2 Kings 5:1, KJV
We are next told that a young Jewish girl, who was brought as a captive to Syria, and who now serves as a slave to Naaman and his wife, informs Naaman's wife that the Prophet Elisha is in Samaria, and that he could very easily heal Naaman of his affliction:
"And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy."
2 Kings 5:2-3, KJV
With the blessing of the Syrian king, and a handsome reward for Elisha the Prophet, Naaman sets out for Israel. Upon hearing Naaman's request, the king of Israel suspects that it is a trap in order to give the Syrian king a good reason to once again wage war against Israel:
"And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me."
2 Kings 5:5-7, KJV
Eventually, Elisha the Prophet receives word of Naaman's request and sends a messenger to the Syrian captain of war with the following unusual instructions:
"And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."
2 Kings 5:10, KJV
Upon hearing Elisha's message, Naaman is both disappointed and angry, as he had expected Elisha to come in person and perform a great miracle for him. He is also upset because Elisha tells him to wash in the Jordan River, instead of in the cleaner rivers of Syria:
"But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage."
2 Kings 5:11-12, KJV
After receiving some wise counsel from his servants, Naaman finally humbles himself and follows Elisha's instructions by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan River. Upon coming up out of the water the seventh time, he is completely healed of his leprosy:
"And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean."
2 Kings 5:13-14, KJV
From these three examples, it is clear to see then that, in addition to many other marvellous signs and wonders, the Lord was actively healing people in the Old Testament via His servants the Prophets. In the New Testament, we also know that healing was a major part of the Lord's Earthly ministry as well; and that He passed on this wonderful Gift, and other Gifts of the Spirit, to His Disciples. Here are some examples for your consideration:
"But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;"
Matthew 12:15, KJV
"And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all."
Luke 6:19, KJV
"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: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."
Matthew 10:5-8, KJV
"And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 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 passing by might overshadow some of them."
Acts 5:14-15, KJV
"Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed."
Acts 8:5-7, KJV
At this point, I think it is important that I remind you that we must all be on our guard against Satan's lies and deceptions through his human agents; that is, through the many false prophets, healers, psychics and messiahs who have already begun to manifest themselves in our current time. I discuss this topic more in-depth in such articles as "Lying Wonders Of The Endtime". We all must really try, or test, the spirits to see if they are truly of God:
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1, KJV
While this may shock some of you, I don't doubt that Satan can give his agents the power to heal others, just like the servants of God are able to do. Furthermore, I don't doubt that Satan can purposely afflict people with some disease or malady, and then send one of his deceptive agents to perform a bona fide healing; all for the purpose of capturing the ignorant in his web of deceit through physical signs; so that he can then lead them astray through false doctrine. Remember, Satan's signs and wonders are going to be so powerfully deceptive, that if it were possible, he would deceive the very Elect! That means even me and you! You will also recall that the Apostle Paul tells us that the Jewish Antichrist will in fact show that he is "God" by such things. He will appear as an "angel of light":
"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Matthew 24:24, KJV
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, KJV
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, KJV
A close reading of the Scriptures will quickly reveal that the miracles of healing performed by Jesus and the Early Disciples were immediate and on the spot. Likewise today, they should be instantaneous, within the hour or even sooner. The Lord does not need hours, or days, or weeks, or months, or several years to heal someone. Nowhere in the Bible, either in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, do we find such "prolonged" processes of healing where a person is told to go home and wait for a few days or a week for their healing to occur. Such an event would totally negate the Power of God; because the unbelievers could then attribute it to the medicine a certain person is taking, or to the time factor, or to the body's natural healing process, etc. However, when God truly works through His children to heal others, it is on the spot deliverance from the affliction. In this way, absolutely no one except the most hard-hearted individuals can then deny the Power of God. It happens so quickly, that there is no other plausible reason, be it medical or otherwise, to explain it; and therefore, God must be given the glory. Consider the following examples from the New Testament, where the Lord revealed His Power by immediately healing these people in every single instance; and in some cases, they had been lifelong afflictions from birth:
"And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed."
Matthew 8:3, KJV
"And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour."
Matthew 8:13, KJV
"So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him."
Matthew 20:34, KJV
"And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them."
Mark 1:31, KJV
"And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed."
Mark 1:42, KJV
"And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion."
Mark 2:12, KJV
"And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment."
Mark 5:42, KJV
"And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain."
Mark 7:35, KJV
"And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."
Mark 10:52, KJV
"Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched . . . And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately."
Luke 8:44, 47, KJV
"And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength."
Acts 3:7, KJV
"And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately."
Acts 9:34, KJV
"And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand."
Acts 13:11, KJV
The previous examples are clear confirmations of Jesus' own words when He said that the word and work of the true Disciples and Prophets would be confirmed by great signs which would follow, or accompany, them. This would be solid proof that they had been sent by God, and that they were not charlatans:
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
Mark 16:15-20, KJV
Here are a few additional verses which confirm the many signs and wonders which accompanied the First Disciples as they carried out their ministry for the Lord:
"And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."
Luke 10:17-20, KJV
"And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles."
Acts 2:43, KJV
"And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch."
Acts 5:12, KJV
"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people."
Acts 6:8, KJV
"Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."
Acts 8:13, KJV
"And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing."
Acts 8:39, KJV
"Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands."
Acts 14:3, KJV
"Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them."
Acts 15:12, KJV