We have already referred to that great chapter which is the cornerstone of the Gospel, the fifty-third of Isaiah. And we have seen in it what abundant reason there is to appropriate and apply the great atonement therein set forth to our physical needs. But there are many other passages in this great evangelical prophecy that may be equally applied to the needs of our body and the quickening life of God in our mortal flesh.
THE PROMISE OF STRENGTH
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isa. 40:31).
In the previous verses we are reminded of the fallibility of human strength and the divine sufficiency for them that have no might. Here we learn that they may exchange their weakness for the strength of God by waiting on the Lord. This brings us at once to the heart of the subject. The very essence of the Lord's healing is the imparting of the life of Christ to the human frame by the Holy Spirit. This is obtained by waiting on the Lord, not the habit of passively waiting until our prayers are answered, but the attitude of receiving from Him in living communion the imparted strength of His own life. Just as the branch draws its life from the vine, just as the graft attached to the trunk of the tree becomes adjusted to its new sources of supply and draws from the sap its nutriment and life; just as the dew gathers round the plant and fills the flower cup and refreshes the whole vegetable creation, so the heart can learn to receive from Him who is the Fountain of life, breath by breath, vital energy and physical renewing. This is an exchange of strength. We lay down our strength and receive His instead.
The effect is a great uplift. "They shall mount up with wings as eagles." This is the first effect of a great blessing. We need not these hours of elevation and even if the high altitude is not always maintained, yet it prepares us for the reactions that follow and the quieter plane of daily life. For next we are brought back to the earth again and called to run the race of some supreme exertion, some difficult undertaking, something that requires the putting forth of our utmost energy. And God does give strength for these emergencies, the nights of watching, the days of unremitting toil, the pressure of extreme labor or suffering. But this is not the normal attitude of life. And so we come to the next stage, "They shall walk and not faint." This is the plod of life. This is the plane of the commonplace. This is where the hardest strain really comes and where the grace and strength of God are most manifest. But it is the long pull that tells and wears. And for this the strength of God is adequate. "They that wait upon the Lord shall walk and not faint."
Yes, there is in Christ physical help for the daily, hourly steppings of duty and toil, that will put zest into our labor, spring into our steps and freshness into our spirit. Happy they who have learned the secret of waiting on the Lord.
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HEALING
"I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will restore comforts unto him and to his mourners."
"I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him" (Isaiah 57: 18, 19).
Here we have the picture of a soul that has gone astray and been suffering under the chastening of the Lord. "For the iniquity of his covetousness I was wroth and smote him." And the chastening for a time seemed to be in vain. "I hid me and was wroth. And he went on frowardly in the way of his heart." But at last the stubborn will broke and instantly the heart of God flew to meet His returning child. "I have seen his ways and will heal him." Here we have healing as the result of repentance and returning to God. But this is not all. "I will lead him also and will restore comforts unto him and to his mourners."
But there is another healing a little farther on. After the soul has been led into the fulness of Christ and the "peace, peace," of the Spirit's inbreathing, then, for the second time the Lord says, "I will heal him." This is different from the first healing. When first we come to God for physical help He meets us on the ground of faith and promise, not waiting for a deep spiritual experience, but blessing us immediately. Our first experience of healing is usually easy and free from the tests and conflicts of our maturer life. But later, after we have entered into all the experiences of these verses, we reach a deeper physical life, one that draws its strength from Christ by the Holy Spirit and finds in Him a new source of health and life. This becomes the habit of faith. It is not mere deliverance from some sudden and special attack of disease, but a normal strength that draws its support continually from Jesus as the Head of our body and the life of all our being.
THE LIFE OF LOVE AND THE EXPERIENCE OF HEALING
"Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward."
"And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isaiah 58:8-11).
Here we have a still deeper experience of life and healing. It is not mere righteousness now, but love. The soul has been taught the true fast which the Lord loves, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke, to deal out bread to the hungry, clothe the naked and bring the poor and outcast home. Then shall our light break forth as the morning and our health shall spring forth speedily. Then shall the Lord satisfy our soul in drought and make fat our bones, and we shall be like a watered garden and a spring of waters whose waters fail not. Here is the rich and overflowing life of God springing from a heart full of love and benevolence. Watering others we become watered ourselves. Our health springs. It is not pumped up from a dry well, but the overflow of a great artesian fountain. Our very bones are made fat. There is something fine in this figure. It reaches to the marrow. This is not necessarily the fat that is on our bones, but in our bones. Some people are made of dry bones. They are parched and pinched and always seem to be at starvation point. There is no unction, freshness or heartiness about them. Their lives are hard and hidebound, like Baizac's dreadful hero whose skin was too tight for him and at last squeezed him to death. Others seem to be always mellow, whole hearted, fresh and overflowing with sympathy, cheer and help for others. Their bones have been made fat. They have got some marrow in them. This is the life that God gives. It is a higher kind of health and imparts exhilaration and spring to every movement and impulse.
So we have found in the book of Isaiah three kinds of health. There is that which comes from waiting on the Lord (Isaiah 40: 31). There is that which comes from getting right with God (Isaiah 57: 18). And there is that which springs from the overflow of the life of love. How very significant it is that all these physical blessings spring from spiritual conditions and seem to belong to the very nature of things. A man's health, therefore, is largely a matter of higher conditions. The more we ascend in the spiritual plane the more directly are we in touch with all the sources of divine and supernatural life which center in Christ the Living One and the Fountain of Life to all who abide in Him.