and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’ — Acts 28:27 NLT
The Greek word “sozo” that is translated as “whole” here in this verse appears over one hundred and ten times in the KJV. It is sometimes translated as heal, save, or rescue. If translated properly, it means to deliver out of danger and into safety. The biblical meaning is that God is rescuing us from the power of sin and into His divine safety. When Jesus healed people, the crowd saw the external effects of that healing, but Jesus was actually saying to each of those He healed: “You are made whole”. It was more than a physical healing, it was a complete healing of soul, mind and body. Notice that the word has two aspects. First, it moves you out of danger. This would be the physical healing. But the people still died at a later date, so they were not freed from physical death. Secondly, it moved you to a place of divine safety. The recipients of sozo were not left in limbo. The divine safety was forever. God doesn’t always heal the physically sick. Ask Paul. Those that are truly repentant and call upon the name of Jesus are always delivered from sin and into divine safety. In the resurrection, we will all be made completely whole.
When the children of Israel kept complaining about their food situation in the desert, God gave them meat in the evenings and bread in the mornings (Exodus 16:8) . The manna fell from the heavens and an east wind blew in the quail. After Elijah had told Ahab that there would be no rain or dew in the land of Israel for a few years, Ahab became angry and desired to kill Elijah. God instructed Elijah to go hide by the Kerith Brook. Even though there was famine in the land, God had commanded the ravens to bring Elijah bread in the morning and meat in the evening. Elijah had food twice a day and water from the brook. God had created the ravens as scavengers. They are able to find food and survive when others are dying from hunger. It probably doesn’t sound too tasty but God provided all that Elijah needed to survive. We may not be happy in our present position but God has provided that position to us so that we can survive. Be thankful until the brook dries up and the ravens quit bringing the food. If we are thankful and obedient, then God will open up another way to feed us just as He did for Elijah by sending him to the widow of Zarephath. The widow fed Elijah a little bread made from her last flour and oil. That little turned into an abundance. God blessed the widow for her obedience and her jars of flour and oil never ran out. Provision and abundance follows obedience.
After the work on the walls of Jerusalem had been completed and the gates were hung in place, Ezra gathered all the people together and took a census. Then he sent them all home. They reassembled in Jerusalem and asked Ezra to read to them all of the Book of the Laws of Moses. As Ezra and the scribes read the laws, the people wept remembering their disobedience. They realized how much God had forgiven them and how he had brought them safely back to Jerusalem. They had seen how God had provided everything they needed to rebuild the walls. Though the enemy came close shouting insults and discouragement, God had protected them while they finished the work. Ezra and the priests explained to the people that this was not a day for weeping but a day for rejoicing and celebration. There are times in our lives, when some things need to be rebuilt. When some unexpected event has shaken our faith, we need time to rest and heal. Perhaps a close friend has broken our trust or one of our spiritual leaders has fallen from grace. The enemy will come close whispering discouraging words in our hear. God will protect us through the storm and when the skies are clear, it will be a time for rejoicing and celebration for us just as it was for the Israelis in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.
David was chosen by God to rule over His people Israel. God had brought him from the lowly position of shepherd to the highest position in the land. He had watched over and protected David from all of the enemies of Israel and had given him victory after victory. Springtime was when all of the kings went out to war. Whatever David’s reasons were for staying home in the spring we will never know. Instead of going out to lead his army as he should have, he sent the army out to fight while he stayed home living a life of leisure and idleness. As the trite old saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. David got caught in that trap and fell into sin. His sin led him to adultery and finally to murder. As we are told in the book of James, sin brings death. It brought the death of a marriage, a husband and finally, the death of David’s son. When Nathan confronted David about his sins, David became humble and repentant. God forgave him but there were still the consequences of his sin that he had to face. We must be careful to stay on course and not deviate from what God has called us to do. If we stop and stay idle before the job is finished, we put ourselves in jeopardy. When God shows us our sins, we need to have the same heart David had and react the same way. God is not looking for ways to punish us but to forgive us and restore us.
Israel was the smallest of all nations (Deut. 7:7). Had they been left to themselves, they would not have been able to leave Egypt and safely cross the desert to get to the Promised Land. But God chose them and fought their battles for them. He gave them manna from heaven and water from rocks to sustain them in their journey. When they complained about the food, God gave them manna and quail to eat. God gave them victories over every enemy that attacked them on their journey using miracle after miracle to defeat the attackers. He parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River bringing them into the Promised Land at harvest time. God gave them a great victory over the ancient, walled city of Jericho and they ate crops that they had not planted and drank from wells that they had not dug. Why? Because He chose them and loved them. Why does He give us spiritual food and water in a spiritually dry and barren land? For the same reason. He has chosen us and He loves us. They were to bear His standard and carry His name throughout the known world. Just as God called them out of Egypt, He has called us to come out and be a special people and a royal priesthood. Just as He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land, so He will bring us safely out of this world and to the new heaven and new earth. Not because of who we are but because of who He is and His promises to do so.
This Psalm was written by the descendants of Korah. Korah, a cousin of Moses, was the one who led the rebellion against Moses during the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. He was the leader of the group that was killed when the earth opened up and swallowed all of the rebels. Not all of the sons of Korah rebelled. There was a remnant left to carry on the family name. This family had experienced both the wrath of God and His loving kindness. From these experiences, we can deduce that they understood that it is okay to complain to God as long as it is done in a respectful way. Just as this Psalm begins with how much they long for the goodness of God, then it proceeds to alternately complain and remember the blessings of God.