HEALING: the act or process of regaining health
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Exodus 4:11 NIV)
Seems like he had a point, doesn’t he? After all, this was God talking, and He clearly said there are those whom He will make deaf, mute or blind.
But before we start trembling in terror, let us ask ourselves this question: is the above applicable for believers or non-believers? I mean, if it is meant for believers, then it is futile for us to pray for healing or see a doctor, since there is really nothing much anyone can do if it is God who wills you to sickness.
At the beginning the chapter, God was briefing Moses on his mission to negotiate the release of the Israelite “hostages” with the Pharoah. Throughout the conversation, Moses was whining incessantly about his lack of credibility and ability, totally oblivious to the fact that the the Creator of the Heavens and Earth were on his side.
In the verse preceding Exodus 4:11 , Moses said to God,
“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10 NIV)
then in response to that, God said those words in Exodus 4:11 and added, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:12 NIV)
Quite clearly, the context of Exodus 4:11 was not about healing or sickness, but rather a reminder to Moses of His sovereignty. God was, in effect, telling Moses to stop looking at himself and start looking at the Lord Almighty, who is able to do whatever He wants (should He chooses to).
And how would one account for the fact that “there was none feeble (Psalm 105:37)” among the Israelites during the Exodus, and also Moses, who being “a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. (Deut 34:7 NIV)”?
A framed photo of Moses, formerly known as Prince of Egypt
The critic quoted another verse in supporting his view:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Now, if Paul, the greatest of all apostles, could be hit with a chronic ailment, what hope do the rest of us have? But, as explained over the years by many commentators, the “thorn in the flesh” was most certainly referring to an individual (or a group of people) who was persecuting him, not a physical condition.
Let’s look at the succeeding verses:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Throughout his ministry, Paul were constantly besieged with all kinds of problems, but at no point did he mention any illness, and this is not just an argument from silence.
In another look passage from the same epistle:
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. (2 Corinthians 11:24-26)
Paul was basically listing down some of the worst situations he had been through (mostly about people, if you noticed), and it stands to reason that if he was indeed suffering from a major physical problem, he would have mentioned it here, but it was significant that he did not.
Also, being well-versed in the Old Testament scriptures, it was highly probable that he would draw certain references from the OT to describe his “thorn-in-the-flesh” problem:
…then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you. (Joshua 23:13)
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. (Numbers 33:55)
Using the principle of “Bible- interpreting- Bible”, it is clear that “thorns” were used as a metaphor to refer to people who are troublemakers to the people of God.
Lastly, Paul, like the other apostles and disciples before him, was also endowed with the ability to heal:
His (Publius) father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. (Acts 28:8-9)
Wouldn’t it be an irony if he was able to heal others but not himself?
Apostle Paul healing a man.