Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Special Insights No. 9; Second Quarter 2007 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

The Bible and Health

The much talked about observational study funded in part by the U. S. National Institute on Aging looked at several regions where people live significantly longer than average, in fact 4 to 10 years longer. Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa; and Adventists in Loma Linda, California, were three groups that have been a focus of much of the reporting. What I found particularly interesting was not what these three groups have in common, but what they did not have in common. The diet across all three groups utilized lots of fruits and vegetables, however the Adventists were the only group in which observation of the Sabbath and “have faith” were felt to be significant contributors to longevity. Recently there was a review of this data by CNN’s health analyst, a neurosurgeon who remarked that “the Adventists don’t smoke, don’t drink and observe the Sabbath day.” As if to emphasize this point he exclaimed, “yes, they actually observe the Sabbath and rest for 24 hours.”

The authors of the Sabbath School quarterly, who did an outstanding job covering the comprehensive concept of health, state that “Scripture shows that God cares also about our physical being and that our spiritual side is linked with the physical.” In Genesis 2 we are told that on the seventh day God ended His work and rested. Then He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. Sabbath became to Adam symbolic of rest with God, of perfect communion, of oneness with God. It was the one commandment that God chose to honor by inviting man to join Him in its observance.

In Deuteronomy 5, as Moses recounts the ten commandments to Israel, he connects the fourth commandment with God’s relentless pursuit of mankind, His deliverance from bondage, and redemption of the human race. Verse15 says, “And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” The last verse of Genesis 1 and the first verse of Genesis 2 bear the signature of our covenant keeping God YHWH. The Sabbath is the sign of the Everlasting Covenant, which is such powerful good news that Adventists, says the study, live longer. The Everlasting Covenant tells us of a God in pursuit of mankind.

The good news of the gospel, God in pursuit of mankind, came to us very profoundly in 1888, and the Quarterly authors, recognizing the connection between the gospel and health, give us several texts to contemplate. Rom. 6:4, Rom. 9-11, and Col. 3:8-10 are just a few. Let us look at some and let Scripture speak. Col. 1:19-21: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself ... and you who once were alienated and enemies in your mind, by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” 2 Cor. 5:18, 19: “Now all things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” This good news is for every person on planet earth. However, the good news of God’s agape taking the initiative demands a response. 2 Cor. 5:14, 15: “For the love of Christ constrains us because we judge thus; that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all that those who live should live no longer for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again.” The following texts make sense in the light of this good news. Rom. 12:1: “ I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service.” 1 Cor 6:19, 20: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body…”1 John 3:3: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.” This is part of the New Covenant concept. Gal. 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

E. J. Waggoner commenting on this says in The Glad Tidings, p. 47: “It is not we that live but Christ that lives in us and uses His own faith to deliver us from the power of Satan. What have we to do? Let Him live in us in His own way. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ.”

We cannot close this Insight without reflecting on how Jesus viewed health. His earthly ministry was consumed with teaching, preaching, and healing. He was the heavenly physician, but His healing model differed from ours today. The healing model of modern day medicine focuses on disease and cure, but Jesus demonstrated a superior model. In Luke chapter 8 we have the incredible story of a woman “having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any.” Not only did this disease cause her tremendous physical discomfort, but worst of all it made her an outcast of society. One day when Jesus was in town she, by some miracle, managed to “touch the border of His garment,” and “immediately the flow of blood stopped.” Jesus with His unparalleled heart for broken humanity said, “Who touched Me?” The disciples being just like us thought, and said essentially, what does it matter? But Jesus, moved with compassion, insisted and said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” The woman came forward and for the first time in 12 years she was ushered back into society by the Savior Himself. He said to her, “daughter your faith has made you well ...”

The word for “made you well” is an interesting one in the Greek. It is, soterion. In Jesus’ other miracles He generally uses the Greek word therapeuo from which we get the medical word “therapy.” But Jesus uses the word soterion, thus announcing that this is a complete healing, salvation, restoration of everything that was lost mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially. Christ’s healing model is not disease to cure but alienation to restoration.

In 1888 God gave us a “most precious message” embodying Christ’s healing model: “But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). “And you who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight” (Col. 1:21, 22). “The Bible and Health” has more to it than what we eat and drink, etc. It has a lot to do with how the good news changes our response to God and to our fellow man. The good news allows us to love one another with agape, serve one another, bear with one another be kind to one another, admonish one another, be tenderhearted and forgiving to one another, comfort one another, show compassion to one another, be hospitable to one another, and to pray for one another. These commands are outlined in Scripture and are the fruit of receiving the gospel. May God give us grace to live according to our holy calling because the world is watching. The U.S. National Institute on Aging reminds us of this fact.

—Lyndi Schwartz


(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

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