How God Healed People in the Old Testament

We are focusing on how God healed people in the Old Testament. The Old Testament lays the foundation for what God will do through Jesus’s ministry and the ministry of the apostles in the New Testament.

In my last post, I talked about how to pray Bible promises for your healing. We took a deeper look at God’s promises in that post. Now, we want to turn our attention to how God healed people in the Old Testament.

Some people have trouble finding God’s healing power in the Old Testament. If they talk about healing, they want to talk about it in the New Testament. But to get to the New Testament, you must see the foundation laid in the Old Testament for healing.

God is not different between the Old and New Testaments. As we look at healing in this post, you will see the same God of healing in the Old Testament as you do in the New. He works however He wills, and we can understand that as we zoom in on healing in the Old Testament.

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God Has His Ways

God is a mysterious God. But not all His ways are so mysterious that we cannot follow what He’s doing. In fact, it’s a matter of worship to study the Bible, and specifically for us in this study, to study healing in both Testaments.

We don’t understand everything God does. The Bible says His ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). I think this means that God is greater than us in that we can’t understand His ways. When we look at how God heals, we see His power. But first, we see His heart and desire for His creation to live without the afflictions sin has placed on us.

I’m not saying you have afflictions because you have sinned. That could be the case, but once sin was introduced into the world, it is the enemy that does not go away outside of God’s presence and promise. God has His ways, but we learn about Him, and most importantly, we know Him by experience as we see how He works and what He does.

God Healed People in the Old Testament through Faith

At no time when we study healing is faith not required. We see this clearly in Jesus’s ministry in the New Testament, but we can observe it in the Old Testament too. The prophet Jeremiah says what seems to be a simple sentence until you slow down to see its significance.

“Heal me, and I will be healed” (Jeremiah 17:14). Sounds simple enough until you realize the great faith that lies behind such a statement. People seek God and ask Him to heal them. We will see this repeatedly throughout the Old Testament.

Faith doesn’t have to come from the afflicted person. It can come from the people who pray for that person. Sometimes you see a lack of faith in Old Testament examples of God’s healing.

We will touch on these accounts in our study later, but look at the Shunammite woman who is thankful Elisha prophesied she would bear a son, only to see her son die (2 Kings 4:16-34). She approaches the prophet with little faith, as she feels more hopeless now than before she had a son. Elisha displays faith as he prays for the sun to live again.

Healing through Prayer

I am struck by the testimony of prayer to heal people in the Old Testament as it gives power for healing. Rebecca is barren like Sarah before her. Abraham and Sarah waited years for Isaac to be born. But you get one verse in the whole story of Isaac’s life that proves the power of prayer Genesis 25:21). The simplicity of this could easily pass us by as we are reading. Look at the faith of Isaac to simply pray for his wife to be healed and bear a son.

A prophet speaks from God to Hezekiah declaring he would die. Hezekiah reacts like any of us would with tears, and then turns to the wall and prays. God adds 15 years to his life because of his prayer and humility. These are just a couple of examples of the power of prayer in the Old Testament counts of healing.

Healing through Obedience

Maybe it has surprised you how much I have talked about the connection between healing and obedience, but the text of the Bible bears it out time and time again. It all starts with the Israelites in the wilderness. When they were obedient, God blessed them with good health.

But when the Israelites disobeyed God, grumbled against Him, or decided to go the wrong way, sicknesses of some sort entered the camp. We’ve already seen Israel’s disobedience and how it brought fiery serpents to kill many Israelites (Numbers 21:4-9).

When you see the Israelites suffering sicknesses, it is linked to disobedience and rebellion against God. God even says He will bring sicknesses among them for their disobedience (). The blessings and curses of the old covenant specifically talk about the sicknesses of the Egyptians and how they will affect the Israelites (Deuteronomy 28:4, 9, 18, 21-22, 27-28, 35, 59-61).

Naaman is another great example of obedience (2 Kings 5:8-14). He comes to the man of God and expects the prophet to give him personal attention. His pride keeps him from obeying what the prophet instruct him to do. Only after he humbles himself and his obedient to dip in the Jordan River seven times does God heal him. God heals people in the Old Testament because of their obedience.

Healing People in the Old Testament through the Balm

Sometimes God uses objects and substances for healing. When Moses threw a certain log into the waters at Mara, it made the bitter water sweet (Exodus 15:25). We don’t know if that’s a chemical reaction or just something God does. God gave him the wisdom to know what to do.

God also uses a certain halm found and manufactured in Gilead to bring healing. Jeremiah refers to the balm of Gilead as a healing substance (Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11). Balm was an ointment used for medicinal healing (Genesis 37:25; 43:10; Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11; 51:8; Ezekiel 27:37). It seems to have been a plant that grew in the Transjordan area. It was a salve applied to skin that was not healing naturally. Other words for it could be resin or gum.

Healing through the Prophets

God sometimes healed people in the Old Testament through prophets in their ministry to heal diseases. Elijah experienced raising a widow’s son (1 Kings 17:22). Elisha healed the waters (2 Kings 2:21). He also prophesied that the Shunammite woman would have a son (2 Kings 4:16) and then took part in his resurrection ( (2 Kings 4:34).

Elijah also took part in the healing of the gourds (2 Kings 4:41). He was involved in the healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5:14). He cursed his servant Gehazi with leprosy for his deception and disobedience (2 Kings 5:27).

He smote the Syrian army with blindness and then restored their sight (2 Kings 6:18-20). Even his bones raised a dead man to life (2 Kings 13:21)! We will talk more about resurrection in the Old Testament in a later post.

We know about these miracles from Elijah’s and Elisha’s time because their lives more than they are prophecies were recorded in Scripture. We can only guess of the healings the prophets who wrote more prophecy than we hear about their lives had experienced.

God also used the prophets to prophesy about the illnesses of people. Elijah prophesied that Ahaziah would die of his illness (2 Kings 1:4). Isaiah prophesied King Hezekiah would die from his illness and then prophesied his healing for 15 years (Isaiah 38:1, 4-6).

Praying for Your Healing

God can heal any way He wishes. We must let God be God and do things His way. He may give us visions of our healing, or we may think we know how He will heal, but only God knows what He will and how He will heal.

Jesus, I’m thankful you are our great Physician. Thank You for giving faith for healing to my brother and sister in You. I ask You to heal them in Your time and season. I ask You to heal in the way You wish to heal. May You receive all the glory, honor, and praise for their healing. In Your mighty name, amen.

Up Next

We have observed how God healed people in the Old Testament. Next, I want to talk about the most extraordinary healings in the Old Testament.

Image by 李磊瑜伽 from Pixabay

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