Does God Put Sicknesses On People?

Exodus 15:26 (b)

…I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.

Yahweh speaks here of diseases which were brought upon the Egyptians. He is referring to the plague of boils in Exodus 9:8-12, in which they were diseased.

Exodus 9:8-10 (NKJV)

8 So the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” 10 Then they took ashes from the furnace and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses scattered them toward heaven. And they caused boils that break out in sores on man and beast.

The “diseases” here (Exo 15:26) contextually refers to physical/bodily illness. The word “diseases” translates the Hebrew word “machaleh” (מַחֲלֶה) which refers to sickness and infirmities.

Now, this statement in Exodus 15:26 (b) might prove a bit problematic (“I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians“). Does this imply that God actually puts diseases on people?

This issue is clarified upon understanding the Jewish idiomatic expression known as the permissive voice.

God did not create human languages (read more about this here: The Tower of Babel). However, He respects how humans have chosen to communicate. This is obvious throughout Scripture—God often used expressions known to His audience (primarily the Jewish people). For instance, God does not swear (make oaths), only men do. But to show that His promise is true and trustworthy, He condescends to the level of man and swears by Himself (see Heb 6:13-18). This is God respecting how men talk.

Now, the Hebrew grammar does not distinguish between causation and permission. That is, what someone does and what he permits to be done are said to be done by him. This is quite similar to the principle of vicarious liability in Law, whereby the actions of an agent are attributed to his principal.

God did not put sicknesses on Egypt, that was a result of their REBELLION and UNBELIEF. Unbelief binds God’s hands together because unbelief rejects God’s help—He can do NOTHING to help the unbelieving one. Then his sin destroys him (Rom 6:23). That destruction is caused by the absence of God’s saving power.

Evil occurs in this world and God can do nothing about it (most of the time) because man has a freewill. Man has to “allow” God’s hands in his situations and circumstances (by faith). A man in unbelief disallows the same.

In this case, whereby evil occurs and God can do nothing to stop it (because man rejects Him), the Jew will say God “permitted” or “allowed” it (the permissive voice). But what the Jew is simply trying to say is this, “God’s protection was withdrawn from this situation.” That is, He could do nothing to help. The absence of His saving power “permits” evil to happen.

Lamentations 2:3 serves to illustrate this point.

Lamentations 2:3 (NKJV)

3 HE has CUT OFF in FIERCE ANGER every horn of Israel; He has DRAWN BACK HIS RIGHT HAND from BEFORE THE ENEMY. HE has BLAZED AGAINST Jacob like a flaming fire devouring all around.

Now, how did God “cut off in every horn of Israel” and “blaze against Jacob like a flaming fire, devouring all around“? Simple. By “DRAWING BACK HIS RIGHT HAND FROM BEFORE THE ENEMY.” That is, His saving presence and power (symbolized by His right hand) was absent to save the people. That is ALL He did in that situation.

Since His power was no longer present to protect the people, they were destroyed. But the Jew would say, “HE has cut off,” “HE has blazed against Jacob” (as though He ACTUALLY did those things ACTIVELY). But ALL He did was withdraw His saving power from the situation, because men, in exercise of their freewill, rejected that power.

The wrath of God, therefore, happens when man chooses not to believe God, and man’s unbelief stops God from acting in His power. He draws back His hand. He cannot help. Man then perishes in his sin and unbelief. But the Jew would say this (by way of idiom) as, “THE LORD destroyed him.” But all the Lord did was simply to withdraw His power from saving him. Why? Because HE chose not to be saved. Now, this is what happened in Egypt.

God simply gave Israel protection because they believed but Egypt rejected this protection (in rebellious pride and unyieldingness). So God’s hand was withdrawn from them, and the plagues destroyed them. Exodus 15:26 may therefore be better read this way: “I will not PERMIT any of the diseases on you which were PERMITTED to come upon the Egyptians (because of their unbelief and rejection of my saving power).” God is speaking in the Jewish permissive voice.

So God does not send plagues. What does He do instead? Exodus 15:26 tells us, “…For I am the Lord who heals you.” The word “heal” translates the Hebrew word “rapha” (רָפָא) which means to mend what is broken. Literally, He is saying, “I am the Lord, your Physician” or “your Doctor,” “It is I who mends your bodies, and makes you whole!”

So there and then, God gives us a revelation of Himself. He is MANY THINGS in the Bible.

He is Creator.

Genesis 1:1 (NKJV)

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Nehemiah 9:6 (NKJV)

6 You alone are the Lord; You HAVE MADE HEAVEN, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the EARTH and EVERYTHING on it, the SEAS and ALL that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.

Psalm 96:5 (NKJV)

5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord MADE the heavens.

It is the Lord who made ALL that exists today. Not only is He Creator, He is also Father.

Deuteronomy 32:6 (NKJV)

6 Do you thus deal with the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not YOUR FATHER, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?

Isaiah 64:8 (NKJV)

8 But now, O Lord, You are OUR FATHER; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.

The father in the Jewish thought refers to one who cares for and provides for another.

He is also King.

Psalm 103:19 (NKJV)

19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

Psalm 47:6 (NKJV)

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding.

He has dominion in ALL of the Earth!

So God is many things in the Bible (Creator, Father, King etc), but He is ALSO a Healer! God is a Doctor. Jehova Rapha means the Lord our Healer! So God is in the healing business—He mends sick bodies.

And we see Him THROUGHOUT the Bible live up to this reputation. He healed Naaman of leprosy in 2 Kings 5:14. In 1 Samuel 1:26, He healed Hannah of barrenness. THIS IS WHAT HE DOES! He heals broken, sick bodies. He does not inflict with diseases.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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