Monday, August 31, 2015

Isaiah 35:4-7 God Will Come and Save You

KEY TEXT: Isa 35:4-7 He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

KEY THOT: Isaiah prophesies Jesus’ coming, proclaiming that “he will come and save you”. He then goes on to elaborate what salvation is: “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy”, a reference to Jesus’ saving/healing ministry. Furthermore, God’s salvation will also means environmental transformation—“waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert… the grass shall become reeds and rushes.” We tend to spiritual all these saving acts of God or push them into the future when Christ returns. But Jesus was already doing it when he came: “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt 12:28). 

We are called to proclaim the kingdom of God by demonstrating it, not just talking about it wishfully in futuristic terms. Unfortunately, instead of a Hebrew understanding of salvation, theologians from the medieval period in Europe were mostly speaking in terms of the Greek understanding of salvation as “saving souls” instead of saving persons (body, soul and spirit). When John the Baptist wanted to know if Jesus was the expected Messiah and sent his disciples to find out (because he was in prison), this is what Jesus told John’s disciples: "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." (Matt 11:4-6).

The Gospel needs to be proclaimed in words and deeds. Not everyone can understand theology, but everyone can understand healing. And it is when they experience healing of their bodies, souls and spirits that they will understand the theology of salvation. Theology without actions is just empty rhetoric to most pre-believers. To convince them that Jesus has come to save them, we have to give visible demonstration of that truth. The healing ministry should be a normal part of the process of proclaiming the Gospel. That is why in Alpha, there is a healing session on week 9, “Does God heal today?”

I should always pray for the sick (believers and non-believers) when they are open to prayer. As far as I know, when people are sick, they are often open to anything that would help them out of their predicament. And when I pray for the sick, I am actually proclaiming the Gospel with deeds, not just words. 

Father, grant us boldness to step out in faith when faced with sicknesses and demonic oppression around us. Amen.

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