English blog

Bears our illnesses – who & when?

29-03-2017 - Posted by Andre Piet

A visitor of the GoedBericht site sent a question about curing and a text in Isaiah 53. In the mail the following was raised:

In the parish I visit the focus lies on proclaiming the healing of those who are ill. Sometimes Isaiah 53: 4 is referred to, which says that He (Jesus) Himself bears our illnesses. Matthew 8: 16 and 17 refers to this. Also in the parish I visit several people can witness of healing by God in their lives. Of course it is beautiful, but others remain ill, in spite of (many) prayers and they are not cured. I see it more often, miraculous healings in the name of Jesus, but by far not for everyone who prays for it. What is your opinion from the Scripture and do you view the text in Isaiah? How do you interpret it? I am curious about that.

First, let’s pay attention to the text in Isaiah 53:

3 He is despised and shunned of men, A Man of pains and knowing illness, and, as a concealing of faces from Him, He is despised, and we judge Him of no account. 4 Surely He Himself bears our illnesses, and our pains, He is burdened with them; as for us, we account Him assaulted, Smitten of Elohim and humbled.

Isaiah 53 is a prophesy about the Messiah who would be despised and shunned of men, but later He will be recognized by them. Isaiah 53 are the words which will be spoken by the people of Israel in the future. ‘We judged Him of no account… He Himself bore our illnesses… we accounted Him assaulted…’ The ‘we’ and ‘our’ in this chapter are the countrymen of the ‘man of sorrows’. The people of Israel! We don’t need to explain the words ‘He Himself bears our illnesses’ ourselves, for it is directly explained in Matthew 8:

16 Now, evening coming on, they bring to Him many demoniacs, and He cast out the spirits with a word, and all those who have an illness He cures, 17 so that may be fulfilled which is declared through Isaiah the prophet, saying, He our infirmities got, and the diseases He bears.

While, during his walk in Israel, Jesus cured everyone who came to Him, according to Matthew, Isaiah’s prophesy had been fulfilled. The bearing of our illnesses doesn’t speak of the present time, but of Jesus’ ministry when he was in de midst of his people. There he bore their illnesses and cured all. Those who, relying on Isaiah 53, defend that Jesus is wanting to cure everyone who is ill, makes a double fallacy. Isaiah 53 speaks (a) only of Jesus’ ministry to the ill people of Israel and (b) in the past tense that he was on earth.

Sometimes one objects with the words of Peter (1 Peter 2: 24):

Who Himself carries up our sins in His body on to the pole, that, coming away from sins, we should be living for righteousness; by Whose welt you were healed.

Does the welt with which Jesus was beaten, guarantee healing for us? No, we have to realize that Peter being ‘apostle of the circumcision’ (Galatians 2: 7), just as Jesus during his walk on earth, was dedicated to the people of Israel. As confirmed in the opening sentences of his letter (‘to the chosen expatriates of the dispersion’; 1 Peter 1: 1). It is not a general letter, though it has that reputation. But even more important is, that in this verse Peter doesn’t point to the healing of illnesses, but to the healing of deviation. That is the explanation of Peter himself:

For you were as straying sheep, but now you turned back to the Shepherd and Supervisor of your souls
-1 Peter 2: 25-

The use of Isaiah 53 to claim curing of illnesses today, ignoring the house of Israel, is completely inappropriate. And that brings me to the second part of the question: How is it possible that some are cured and some are not?

Let us remember that healings do happen everywhere. With or without medical treatment or medication. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches cannot take a patent on it. Also miraculous healings, without any medical explanation, can be found everywhere. In my view, especially for believers it is a natural attitude to take (miraculous) cures into account. Is anything too difficult for Yahweh? But the ‘Pentecostal doctrine’ that cure would be promised and therefore can be claimed, is a serious misconception. The way they conclude it from the Scriptures is inappropriate and careless (such as for example Isaiah 53) and many are hit with utter disillusion.

And worse, alienated from GOD. They aren’t cured and lose their faith in prayer. Therefore, how important is it to be healthy in understanding the Scriptures and to discern what really matters.