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Don Stewart :: Are There Old Testament Examples of Believers Being Sick Which Was Not a Result of Personal Sin?

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Are There Old Testament Examples of Believers Being Sick Which Was Not a Result of Personal Sin?

Divine Healing – Question 4

We find that the Old Testament records a number of examples of people being afflicted with sickness as judgment for sin. However, this was not always the case. Indeed, there are also examples of Old Testament believers who suffered with illnesses which had nothing to do with person sin in their lives. As we will note, some of them were healed while others were not. The evidence is as follows.

1. Isaac Lost His Eyesight

We are told that the patriarch Isaac lost his eyesight when he was old. The Bible says.

Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.” And he answered him, “Here I am” (Genesis 27:1 NKJV).

Though this old man Isaac was almost blind, the Bible never attributes his fading vision to sin in his life. Furthermore, he was never cured of his blindness.

2. Jacob Had Multiple Ailments

The Bible provides two examples of the patriarch Jacob suffering ailments. In one instance, we read of Jacob receiving an injury when wrestling with a man sent from the Lord. The Bible says.

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man (Genesis 32:25 TNIV).

Jacob seemingly walked with a limp the rest of his life. However, there is nothing in the context to suggest that this was some sort of punishment.

We also find that at the end of his life Jacob lost his eyesight. We read the following.

Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see (Genesis 48:10 NKJV).

At this point in his life, Jacob, or Israel, could not see.

Yet in neither of these instances are his ailments attributed to personal sin.

3. Moses Was Temporarily Given Leprosy

There is an episode of the lawgiver Moses putting his hand to his chest and discovering it to be leprous. The Bible says.

Again, the LORD said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh (Exodus 4:6-7 ESV).

This temporary leprosy is not attributed to any sin of Moses. Instead it was an illustration of the power of the Lord.

4. Ahijah the Prophet Lost His Eyesight

There was an Old Testament prophet named Ahijah whose eyesight became dim. The Scripture describes him in this manner.

Jeroboam’s wife did so. She arose and went to Shiloh and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age (1 Kings 14:4 ESV).

Again, his lack of perfect vision is never attributed to sin. Instead it was the natural result of him growing old.

5. Elisha Died from an Illness

The Bible speaks of an illness which eventually took the life of the prophet Elisha. We read the following in Second Kings.

Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” (2 Kings 13:14 TNIV).

His death was attributed to natural causes, not sin.

6. Job Was Given an Illness by Satan

The patriarch Job was struck with an illness which was not related to his own personal sin. In fact, the Bible says that Satan was behind his ailments. Scripture says.

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7 NKJV).

His sickness had nothing to do with his own sin.

Job was eventually restored to health. The Bible says.

After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10 TNIV)

Job was further rewarded with twice as much as he had before. Thus, his physical afflictions were not a direct result of personal sin.

7. Daniel the Prophet Was Physically Worn Out

There is the account of the prophet Daniel being physically exhausted. Scripture records him testifying to the following.

I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding (Daniel 8:27 TNIV).

In this instance, the prophet Daniel was exhausted because of his work for the king. There is no indication that his exhaustion was due to some particular sin in his life.

These examples reveal that sickness or infirmities are not always a result of personal sin in the lives of those who are ill. While the Lord, at times, does send illness as a judgment for sin, this is not always the case. This is made clear by these Old Testament illustrations.

Summary – Question 4
Are There Old Testament Examples of Believers Being Sick Which Was Not a Result of Personal Sin?

An examination of what the Old Testament has to say about the subject of sickness and divine healing reveals a number of important truths. While in certain cases the Lord sent physical ailments to those who were committing some type of sin we also find that godly people also contracted illnesses which had nothing to do with sin in their lives. Some of them were cured while others were not. We can list the following examples.

Isaac the patriarch lost his eyesight when he was an old man. Yet the Bible never attributes this to some particular sin in his life. Indeed, it was merely the natural result of growing old.

Jacob seemingly walked with a limp for the rest of his life after he was engaged in a wrestling match with the angel of the Lord. However, his limp was not attributed to sin in his life. In addition, in his later years he became blind. Yet the blindness is never said to be a result of wrongdoing.

The Lord struck Moses with leprosy and then immediately healed him. Again, we find that this ailment was not a judgment for sin but rather it was an illustration of God’s power. In fact, Moses was immediately healed of his leprous condition.

A prophet of God named Ahijah was said to have failing eyesight but this was not attributed to some particular sin which he had committed. Instead it merely described the fact that he had grown old.

The prophet Elisha died from some undisclosed illness. However, this illness was not characterized as a judgment from the Lord.

The patriarch Job was struck with boils. Though Job suffered terribly from this ailment we find that it was Satan, not his own sin, which caused this disease. Job was eventually cured of this painful infirmity.

The prophet Daniel testified that he was physically exhausted because of the work for the king. His ailment had nothing whatsoever to do with God’s judgment upon him.

These examples make it clear that physical illness was not always related to sin in the life of a person. Neither was it said to be a judgment of God. In fact, sickness, dying, and death are the natural result of who we are as human beings.

Therefore, from these Old Testament examples, we find it is not always proper to always attribute sickness to some personal sin or disobedience to the will of the Lord. Indeed, there are many other factors which are involved.

Did the Lord Ever Send Sickness as Judgment during the Old Testament Period? ← Prior Section
Did Jesus Christ Miraculously Heal the Sick? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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