On the cross, Jesus became our substitute, bearing our wounds. Deuteronomy 28 contains the definitive list of blessings and curses-both of which come upon us and overtake us based on one principle: If we listen to and obey the voice of God. Many physical benefits are included.
It’s good to be with you again, as we continue to study together our rich and exciting theme for this week, “Claiming our Inheritance.”
Yesterday we looked at the spiritual area. Today we are going to look at the physical area. What are the physical benefits that Jesus has purchased for us?
We’ll go back again to Deuteronomy 28, that great chapter that lists both the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. Let me begin by saying that we have to bear in mind always the basic causes for blessings and for curses. It is in listening to the Lord’s voice that brings the blessing, not listening to the Lord’s voice that brings the curses. This is the principle that runs all through Scripture. Our whole destiny is ultimately determined by whether we listen to the voice of the Lord and then do what He says. And if we do not listen to His voice, we cannot do what He says. We have to have that living, ongoing personal relationship with the Lord that enables us to hear His voice. Do you remember what Jesus said in John 10:27? “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.” That’s the mark of true believers in all ages, they hear the voice of Jesus, they follow Him. Hearing brings blessing; not hearing bring curses.
Now we are going to look in Deuteronomy 28 at all the physical curses that result from not hearing and not obeying the voice of the Lord. They are indeed many. I will just briefly recapitulate them. It’s important as you listen that you bear in mind that all these things that I’m listing now are stated as curses, as things that do not belong to the redeemed people of God.
Verse 21, the Lord says, “The LORD will make the pestilence cling to you...” Pestilence is a curse.
Verse 22, “The LORD will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation...” So consumption, fever and inflammation are curses.
Verse 27 lists the following: boils, hemorrhoids, scabs, and itch. All these thing are curses. They should not belong to the redeemed people of God.
Verse 28 lists blindness.
Verse 35 speaks of sore boils...on the knees and the legs, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head...
Verse 59 is really amazing in its explicit statement of all the physical disasters that result from disobedience. It says, “then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses.” I think I ought to just read that verse again. You know, so many of us as Christians, we are enduring curses when we should be enjoying blessings. And we are enduring the curses probably for two main reasons, either because we don’t know that they are curses or because we don’t realize that Jesus delivered us from the curses that we might inherit the blessings. So listen to verse 59 again and check and see whether you’re living in the curses or the blessings. “The LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants (notice that they go from generation to generation), even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses.”
And then in verse 60, it speaks about all the diseases in Egypt. Now it was my lot to spend two years in Egypt as a soldier in the British Army in World War II, and I will tell you the diseases of Egypt are past all counting. I don’t think there are many diseases that aren’t found in Egypt. But if there are, they are also included in the curses because the next verse says (vs. 61), “Also every sickness and every plague which is not written in the book of this law...” So logically, every kind of sickness, every kind of plague is a curse. Somehow or other its ultimate cause is disobedience against God.
The prophet Isaiah gives us a very, very vivid picture of the results of disobedience and rebellion. He’s speaking to the nation of Israel and he compares their condition as the result of their disobedience to that of a body that’s completely sick. This is what he says in Isaiah 1:5-6:
“Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness, only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.” (NIV)
That’s a vivid metaphorical picture of the results of disobedience. But as I was reading it one day, the Holy Spirit showed me something wonderful and beautiful. I realized already that Jesus had taken all the curses upon Himself because He became our substitute. He redeemed us from the curse being made a curse for us, but as I was reading that passage in Isaiah 1:5-6, I saw that not merely is it a metaphorical picture of the condition of Israel as a result of their disobedience, but it’s also a literal picture of Jesus as He hung on the cross. Listen to it again. “Why should you be beaten anymore...” He was beaten with the Roman scourge, with its fearful nine thongs, each one studded with bone or metal. “You whose head is injured...” Remember the thorns had been pressed down upon His head. “... Your whole heart afflicted...” I believe Jesus died from a broken heart. “From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness, only wounds and welts and open sores not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.” Do you realize that’s an exact description of Jesus as He hung upon the cross? And do you realize why He was in that condition? Because He redeemed us from the curse, being made a curse for us. All those physical curses that are a result of our disobedience against God, came upon Jesus as He hung there on the cross.
Now let’s look at the physical blessings that were purchased for us by Jesus. We’ll turn again to Isaiah 53:4-5:
“Surely he [that’s Jesus] took our infirmities and carried our sorrows [pain], yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he [that’s Jesus] 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.” (NIV)
Notice, He took the physical consequences of disobedience that we might in turn have healing. That phrase at the end of verse 5, “by his wounds we are healed,” more literally in Hebrews it says, “by his wounds it was healed for us.” I think we could perhaps say, “by his wounds healing was obtained for us.” Healing was made our inheritance through the wounds that Jesus bore on His body.
Now this passage is quoted in the New Testament by Matthew in his Gospel, chapter 8:16-17, describing the ministry of Jesus in healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. This is what it says:
“And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demonpossessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. In order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled saying, ‘HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.’” (NAS)
Notice that Matthew has no doubt who is the person referred to in Isaiah 53, for he applies it to Jesus. Notice also that Matthew, who was a Jew and understood Hebrew, had no doubt that the application of those verses in Isaiah 53 is physical. It was the physical healing of the sick that was the fulfillment of the prophecy given in Isaiah. Why was Jesus able to heal all who were sick? Because in the eternal purposes of God, He was to bear our infirmities and carry away our diseases. And because the cross, in a certain sense, is eternal, although it had not yet been fulfilled, in God’s sight it was already accomplished. From the foundation of the world Jesus was the Lamb that was slain. And so God identified with the ministry of Jesus, identified with His sacrifice, gave His seal of blessing upon it in the healing of the sick.
And then notice what Jesus says in John 7:23, answering His critics for healing a man on the Sabbath. He says:
“If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath that the Law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?” (NAS)
Notice, Jesus makes the entire man well. Every area of human being and human personality can be healed through Jesus.
And notice again what Peter said after the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3:16. This is how he explained the healing:
“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” (NIV)
Notice, the result is complete healing. Jesus said, “I’ve made an entire man well...” That’s the physical outworking of the redemption provided for us by Jesus. We are grateful for the work of physicians, psychiatrists and others, but there’s only one person in the universe who can say, “I make an entire man well! I can deal with all his problems: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical.” And that’s the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me close with a beautiful verse from Hebrews 13:8:
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.” (NAS)
So as we contact Jesus by faith on the basis of His redemption, the same results that took place and are recorded in the New Testament are available to you and me today through faith in Jesus.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing about the third main area of our redemption through Christ, the material benefits that have been made available to us through His death.