Healing Comes from God

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If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed. — Exodus 21:18-19

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Mishpatim, which means “laws,” from Exodus 21:1–24:18.

My youngest son once swallowed a toxic substance while at a friend’s house. We whisked him to the hospital, where doctors made sure that he emerged from the incident just fine. It was one more time in my life that I was overwhelmingly thankful to God for the wonders of modern medicine.

According to Jewish tradition, there once existed a “Book of Healing” contained cures for every illness. However, King Hezekiah decided to hide it around 600 BCE. Hezekiah noticed that when people got sick, they turned to the book instead of toward God, and he wanted to ensure that people would rely on God for their healing.

This anecdote opens up a host of theological questions including, can we seek medical help without breaching our faith in God?

Judaism relies on a verse in this week’s Torah portion for the answer. In the context of discussing personal injury laws, we read, “the guilty party must pay the injuredand see that the victim is completely healed.” This means that the person who caused harm must pay the injured person’s medical bills until he is healed.

The last two Hebrew words of this verse, rapoh yirapeh, literally mean “heal and be healed.” The Jewish sages explain that this verse teaches that doctors are permitted to heal, and that people have a responsibility to seek out medical help in order to be healed.

Healing Comes from God

Yet, while Judaism encourages going to doctors and taking medicine, we are required to recognize that God is the source of all healing, as we read in Exodus, “I am the LORD, who heals you” (15:26). The problem in Hezekiah’s time was that people relied on medicine alone. In our times, God has blessed us with incredible medical technology. He wants us to make use of it—so long as we recognize that all healing, in any form, ultimately comes from Him.

When it comes to our health and healing, we must make use of modern medicine, even as we rely on God. Go ahead and make that doctor’s appointment, but also make an appointment to talk to God in prayer. Take your daily vitamins, but also get a daily dose of Scripture.

God works through doctors and medicine, but He alone is our Healer.

Your turn: Can you think of a time when you or a loved one experienced great healing with the help of modern medicine? Praise God and give thanks to “the LORD, who heals you.” 

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