Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do Doctors Really Heal?

Do Doctors Really Heal?

As a blogger, I run across many other folks who try to share wisdom and other pertinent material with which I agree with. Brian Shilhavy is just such an individual. His area of expertise is in the biblical understanding of health issues, an area few ministers rarely deal with. Health is an important issue to believers which, unfortunately, rather than trusting in God for healing, many Christians turn to fad diets, holistic medicine, vitamins and other regimen to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Those things are not bad for you; however, I personally believe that much of what ails us has more to do with our spiritual lives rather than the things we consume. I also believe that there is a place for physicians to deal with severe damage to the body, such as reattaching a severed arm or tending to bullet wounds. Yet, I believe that way too many people trust man-made and conceived modalities to heal much of the physical (and emotional) suffering most folks experience.

I have been impressed with Brian’s work and asked him if he would be willing to be a “guest” writer on this blog in order to share with my audience his biblical wisdom regarding health. Obviously much wiser than me in this area, I excitedly present to you Brian Shilhavy:

Do Doctors Really Heal?
By Brian Shilhavy

     She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. (Mark 5:26)
      To answer the question “Do doctors really heal?” one must first define the term “health.”  As we saw in the article last week, the concept of “health” was understood very different among the ancients in biblical times. Among the people of faith, health was defined in terms of a proper understanding of truth, and a restored relationship with God through the sacrifice of Jesus. So if we understand health the way ancient people in the Bible understood the term, the answer would be that most modern day doctors who are licensed physicians and practice medicine generally are not healers in terms of helping people to understand the truth of God, and come into a restored relationship with him through Jesus Christ.
      As we saw in the last article when we compared how modern English understands the word “health” with how people in biblical times would understand the same concept, so too the word “doctor” or “physician” in modern English takes on a completely different meaning from what people in biblical times would understand when using words that are today translated into “doctor” or “physician.”
      Starting with the verse above from the Gospel of Mark, we see that the term “doctors” is used negatively in terms of being able to heal someone, while faith in Jesus brought about healing:

     A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, "Who touched me?'" But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." (Mark 5:24-34)
      What the “doctors” could not do for 12 years while taking all of her money for their services, Jesus accomplished in a moment through the faith of the woman - free of charge.
      So who were these “doctors?” How was this title used in biblical times? When we use this word today in English, we automatically imagine someone in a white coat at a clinic or hospital who examines people and prescribes medicine or other medical procedures designed to deal with physical sicknesses. We would not think of a “doctor” as someone who looks at spiritual issues in addition to physical issues, and tries to find remedies through invoking certain spirits, through incantations, spells, or magic. We would not imagine someone working in a temple offering up sacrifices to “gods” as bearing the title “doctor.” No, we would not imagine “doctors” like this today in the “modern” world. Since the days of “enlightenment” and since the time of Darwin and the new age of evolutionary science, such practices have for the most part ceased to be a part of popular western culture.
      When you see the English word “doctor” or “physician” in the biblical literature, however, this is just how the word was understood in those days. They bore some resemblance to the doctors people pay to see today, in that they accepted money in exchange for “health” services or products. But the types of services and products were vastly different in the ancient world. Dealing only with the physical realm is a recent development in human history, particularly post Darwin and the theory of evolution. In the ancient world, if you went to see a doctor you would most likely be going to some pagan temple where sacrifices were made to appease the spirits or gods that were causing the illness, and trying to get on the good side of the spirits or gods that supposedly had the power to heal you. There were also physical remedies that were used in the physical realm, as the Greeks were strong in empiricism and rationalism and used empirical examinations to find causes and effects to problems. But they combined this with their belief system in their gods, especially Apollo who for a period of Greek history was considered the mediator of healing between men and Zeus, one of the highest Greek gods. When Paul and Barnabas conducted a healing in the name of Jesus in the Roman town of Lystra on one of their missionary excursions, the people were so impressed with the healing that they concluded the Greek gods themselves, whom they associated with healing, had come down to visit them, and they called out the town priest to offer the appropriate sacrifices.

     In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. (Acts 14:8-13)
      Understanding then how “doctors” performed their healing arts in ancient times, it is easy to see why the nation of Israel was forbidden to participate in the healing arts of magic and witchcraft which called upon the spirit world. They were to only worship the one true God and depend solely on him. So when we read about what King Asa did when he was crippled in his feet and how he went to the physicians instead of to the LORD, we may be tempted to think “What was so bad about that?” given modern day Christians' acceptance and high regard of the current medical profession. But what was more than likely happening was that the King of Israel was running away from God and was seeking a pagan priest with his magic, spells, and potions instead of seeking the one true God of Israel through the Levitical priests:
      In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians. (2 Chronicles 16:12)
      This was considered idolatry, and something that God hated. Israel’s belief and service to the one true God was what separated them from all the other pagan nations around them.
      These sins of idolatry are also prohibited in New Testament in the Christian writings. One of the more interesting Greek words that is usually translated as “witchcraft” or “sorcery” in English is pharmakeia, from which we get the English word “pharmacy.” Outside of the biblical texts, it would probably most often be translated into English as “medicine.” It is used in Galatians 5:20:
      The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
      Can you imagine using the English word “medicines” in place of “witchcraft” in the list of sins in the verses above? Obviously the modern translators of the English Bible could not, and yet that was the word the ancients would have used for our modern day word “medicine.” It is also used in the book of Revelations in a couple of places:

     The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)
      In this verse the word pharmakeia is translated “magic arts.” It is used below in referring to Babylon:
      The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world's great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. (Revelation 18:23)
      Here the word pharmakeia is translated “magic spell.” Again, “medicine” did not seem appropriate to the translators in these verses, because of the current acceptance and understanding we have in the word and concept of “medicine.”
      When we look at the word group for “physician” in the New Testament, we see the verb form of that word was used quite a bit for the activity of Jesus, such as:
      And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. (Luke 6:19)
      The verb “healing” here comes from the same root word used in the noun “physician” in Mark 5:26 above. Interestingly, it is in Luke’s writings where this verb form of the word was used most often to describe the healing ministry of Jesus. Could this be because Luke was at one time numbered among the pagan physicians, but now had turned to the true healer and had become like Jesus in looking after men’s souls? When Paul referred to Luke as a “physician” he qualified it with the word “beloved,” no doubt to distinguish him from the commonly understood meaning of that word among the pagans who practiced magic and witchcraft: “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings…”(Colossians 4:14) I think Luke chose this particular word to describe Jesus' healing ministry to distinguish him from the professional physicians of his day who could not accomplish true healing.

     Who are you trusting in today for your healing? Do you hold on to a belief system based on evolution that sees “health” as purely a physical condition? Or have you come to understand the biblical definition of health which defines health in terms of our relationship to our Creator? There is only one physician who brings true health, and that is Jesus. Physical health may have some value in the short term during this life time, but by itself it holds no value for the future when you enter eternity through physical death and meet your Creator. All the lies of evolution and modern-day science will prove worthless then.

     He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
     But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Brian W. Shilhavy, BA, MA, is the host of the web site Created4Health.Org.
Brian earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible/Greek from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and his Master of Arts degree in linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. He has previously taught English at the high school and university levels in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. He worked in northern Iraq after the first Gulf War (1991) helping Kurds return to their homes from the mountains of southern Turkey. He lived with his wife, Marianita, and their children in the Philippines for several years studying rural Philippine culture, including traditional diet and nutrition. He is the founder and current president of Tropical Traditions, Inc.  Read his story here.
Brian and Marianita Shilhavy were the first ones to export Virgin Coconut Oil from the Philippines to the US back in 2001, and were instrumental in publishing the truth about coconut oil in the 21st century.
If you want to contact Brian you can reach him through the Google Group, or comment via the blog. To reduce SPAM email addresses are not posted on this site.

 For more information, contact Joe Ortiz

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