Did I cause my brother-in-law to get ill?

Some years ago a woman wrote to Ann Landers with this story: “My brother-in-law never treated me with respect. He always gave me trouble too about everything from my hair-style to my choice in fashion. At first, I thought he was just teasing, but after years of this kind of behaviour I finally got so tired of this that I found myself wishing something terrible on him. I started to fantasize about my brother-in-law getting cancer. And as he would continue giving me such a hard time, I found myself actively wishing that he would get cancer. And then I was so surprised to hear the news last week that my brother-in-law had actually been diagnosed with cancer. Ann, do you think that I caused his cancer? Could God be punishing him because of all the hard time he has given me? If God is punishing him, now I wish that my brother-in-law didn’t have cancer because I feel so guilty and sad.”

Ann Landers answered in this way: “No, please be assured that God doesn’t work that way. ‘God is love’, the Bible says and it also says that ‘the goodness of God leads us to repentance…..’While the good Lord may sometimes use sickness to lead someone to trust in Him, you’re wishing your brother-in-law sick had nothing to do with him getting sick. Rather, what was his family background? How much cancer ran in his family? Did he obey the laws of health in getting enough rest and exercise, eat the proper foods and drink enough water, etc.? Did he smoke, drink or use recreational drugs?”

Does Man Destroy Himself?

“The Bible also says, ‘What a man sows, that shall he also reap.’ Yes, it is true that you needn’t burden yourself down with all these horrible psychological wishes. Just one hour of hate produces substances in the body that could kill 5 people – and it would kill you if your body didn’t have the way to eliminate that poison. To forgive and forget is actually very practical psychological advice no matter what someone else has done to you. So please don’t think that you were the cause of your brother-in-law getting sick – but rather pray that he will get better.”

To extend this illustration and add another pearl of wisdom from the Bible…The nation of Israel were called out of Egypt to glorify God and to obey His voice. And what were they promised for their obedience? Exodus 15:26 says: “..If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and will give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon you, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that heals you.” God gave health laws to the nation of Israel for their physical, mental and spiritual well-being. He wanted them to show the surrounding nations that following Him would bring health to body, soul and spirit. Unfortunately, the simple directions God gave His people were not always appreciated and taught; and instead of practicing the healing art as directed by the great Creator, many chose witch doctors and quacks. In every age, there have been such who have preyed upon the ignorant and unsuspecting.

Two hundred years ago, there were two opposing schools of medicine. (Both denied in one way or another the natural school of health which is becoming recognized as so important today.) One school subscribed to the theory that disease is caused by inflammation, and thus bleeding and drugs like opium, quinine and belladonna were used to artificially slow the disease’s spread. The other school believed that the body’s defense mechanisms should be stimulated with minute amounts of poisons, such as strychnine and arsenic.

In this same era of medicine the first President of the United States, George Washington, became ill with a bad case of influenza. Since he was running a high fever, the doctors (being from the first school mentioned above) decided to bleed him – copiously. They drew about 32 ounces of blood, but this didn’t seem to help. So they drew another 14 ounces of blood. The fever raged on. The President was very weak; and as he tried to speak to the doctors assembled in the room, they had to bend close to hear what he said. “Let me die in peace”, he said torturously and then passed away.

The practitioners of our day recognize the futility of bleeding to cure infection or fever. Instead, they use drugs. There seems to be a drug for every purpose, but the corresponding list of harmful side effects is as long as your arm. How many of these things can truly promote health when they carry with them so many residual problems?

According to some estimates, 50% of disease today is caused by drugs and/or medical practices themselves. A recent strike by medical doctors in a Middle Eastern country underscored this, as the mortality rate went down more than 200% while the doctors were out on strike.

Some Health Laws from the Bible

It behoves us, then, to study some of the health practices that God gave to ancient Israel, for these came directly from the Source of all health and wisdom.

The first place to begin is with cleanliness. Strict hygiene was to be observed by the entire nation, and the instructions for dealing with the sick and the dying isolated infectious diseases. In addition, instructions regarding cleanliness and food preparation stopped the formation and spread of mildew and mold.

The diet God gave them is also a lesson for us. It was simple and very nourishing. They were to shun blood, fat, fermentation and all kinds of spoiled food. Leavening, a type of fermentation, was to be put out of their homes on Passover as symbolic of the putting away of sin. In the Old Testament Scriptures, there is much practical advice given by the Lord about the right, “clean” foods to eat, as compared to wrong or “unclean” foods. In Acts 15, we see that this principle still remained in New Testament times as guidelines on health for the early Christian church.

Examining the subject of cleanliness in the light of the New Testament scripture has caused questions in the minds of many. In Mark 7:1-5, N.I.V., the Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law came to ask Jesus why some of His disciples ate food with “unclean” – that is, ceremonially unwashed hands. “(The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)”

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?”

Jesus, in bringing the people back to the original will of God, spoke against the Talmud – the traditions of the elders or, in other words, all the burdensome collection of men’s wisdom which often made void the law of God. Actually, the disciples were not violating what God had given as guidelines at all but, understanding correctly, went around man’s tradition.

Here we see the true nature of the kingdom of God. The commandments of God, the foundation of God’s government, were being set aside by the Pharisees for the sake of human tradition. They tried to accuse the disciples to Christ by saying that they were ceremonially unclean because they didn’t go through the prescribed number of ritual washings before they ate. He turned their own accusation against them by saying they were neglecting much more important matters. Mark 7:6-13, N.I.V. “He replied, Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teaching are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commandments of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

And He said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commandments of God in order to observe your own traditions. For Moses said, ‘Honour your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban

[that is, a gift devoted to God], then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” Ibid. (See also Matthew 23:23)

Faith is a matter of perspective or balance, and here the Pharisees chose to see all the superficial things rather than what really counted. All their ceremonies amounted to nothing, for Christ said: “What comes out of the heart, sin, is the only thing that defiles a man.” In fact, in verse 19, the marginal reading declares that Jesus meant the body naturally cleanses all food by the process of evacuation. Food does not enter the heart but the stomach and thus passes out of the body in the natural process of elimination.

A parallel verse that we should also look at that we often hear quoted is Peter’s vision in Acts 10. Starting in verse 9, we see that Peter has a vision of a large sheet, let down to the earth by four corners. In it were all kinds of unclean animals, and a voice came to Peter telling him “to arise kill and eat.” But Peter responded, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” Peter, at this point, did not understand what God really meant in this vision. He thought it was merely a matter of food; but Peter later understood and explained in verse 28 what God was really getting at: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.”

“Clean” as Compared to “Unclean”

Now, since this study is about obedience and healing, what we want to emphasize is that for something to be ceremonially clean for the Jew didn’t necessarily mean it was good for you. They had weighed down the original requirements of God with many difficult and harsh ceremonies in the Talmud, and these were almost impossible to keep. Yes, the health laws given to Israel by the Lord were connected with the ceremonial laws so the proper enforcement of the law could be made. God wanted to keep the people healthy, but to do it he had to take the people by the hand like children and lead them. Remember, they had learned many unhealthful practices in their several hundred year sojourn among the Egyptians. The Lord had to take them step by step away from those things – so He underlined the health laws with the ceremonial laws.

We know that once Jesus died upon the cross of Calvary the ceremonial laws were done away with, and the enforcement structure of the health laws was done away with as well. But since mankind’s physical needs and make-up are exactly the same now as before, we can also say that the health laws are just as much in effect today as before. Christ desires us to be in good health and prosper physically just as much now as He did when He led the nation of Israel by the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. 3 John 2

Jesus has taken away from us all the burden of sin spiritually, and He wants to take our physical burdens as well. When He was upon this earth, He actually spent more time healing than preaching the gospel. When he performed a miracle to heal some sin-sick soul and body, He usually said, “Go and sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”

Faith Healers that Don’t Encourage Faith

What is it like with the sensational type of healings we see in the popular churches? Many of the people indulge their tobacco, alcohol and sinful practices just as much after their so-called healing as before. The Lord would never work in such a way.

Ninety percent or more of all natural healing is really done in the prevention stage. Jesus, knowing this, admonished the souls to stay away from sin – physically, morally and spiritually.

Christ sent missionaries to teach, heal and baptize. Matthew 10:7,8. Medical missionary work is an essential part of the heart-to-heart work that will close Christ’s work on the face of this earth.

Everyone wants to be healthy, don’t they? When we’re healthy, sometimes we don’t tend to worry so much about our health and eating habits. But the minute we’re sick our whole attitude changes. Ask any sick person if he wants better health, and I’m sure he will tell you exactly how important good health is.

We understand God to be a loving Father who wants to give us health and happiness. Then why is there all this sickness, pain and sorrow on this earth? Does God love to see pain and sorrow? Does He delight to see a sick and suffering person?

Definitely not! It was not God’s plan that man would be sick – that’s why He set before us a health message. The world we’re living in is a sick world. Wherever the children of men dwell, suffering abounds. On every hand there are people seeking for relief…

“One of the strongest temptations that man has to meet is upon the point of appetite. Between the mind and the body there is a mysterious and wonderful relation. They react upon each other. To keep the body in a healthy condition, to develop its strength, that every part of the living machinery may act harmoniously, should be the first study of our life. To neglect the body is to neglect the mind. It cannot be to the glory of God for His children to have sickly bodies and dwarfed minds. To indulge the taste at the expense of health is a wicked abuse of the senses. Those who engage in any species of intemperance, either in eating or drinking, waste their physical energies and weaken moral power. They will feel the retribution which follows the transgression of physical law.” (1)

“Blessed are you, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” Ecclesiastes 10:17. How then should we eat? Should we “live to eat, or eat to live”?

Now let’s take a look at some of the inspiring things from the pen of Ellen G. White. She was a prominent writer on health topics from the 19th century. Many feel that she was inspired to write in the last century things which modern science in the last few years has finally got around to confirming. These things include the harmfulness of drugs, tobacco, alcohol and the benefit of a vegetarian diet. This lesson will explain more of what she had to say concerning nutrition which modern research has also confirmed.

Ellen G. White said that we should read the latest books on health so we can help others in an effective and natural way. “Health is an inestimable blessing, and one which is more closely related to conscience and religion than many realize. It has a great deal to do with one’s capability…Our workers should use their knowledge of the laws of life and health. They should study from cause to effect. Read the best authors on these subjects, and obey religiously that which your reason tells you is truth.” (2)

What Inspiration Says About Animal Products

Sometimes we hear disputes on milk products, eggs and how they should be used. First, let’s look briefly at what the Pen of Inspiration has to say on this question. In 1902 Ellen G. White wrote: “Let the people be taught how to prepare food without the use of milk or butter. Tell them that the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men. The time is near when, because of the iniquity of the fallen race, the whole animal creation will groan under the diseases that curse our earth. (3) Now, has the wickedness of man increased very much since 1902? Most of us were not around at that time, but I think we can safely say that iniquity has multiplied by leaps and bounds since that time. Remember that Ellen G. White said that the sickness of animals is increasing at the same rate as man’s sin.

Have you ever seen a large chicken farm where hens are being raised just for the sake of laying eggs? They live in a cage about 18 in. by 12 in., they have no fresh air and these chickens are not very clean. These birds live in such an artificial environment that they must have many antibiotics to keep them “healthy” but they are not healthy, yet we eat the eggs that come from them.

In heaven there will be no eggs, no cheese, no cream nor milk. The time has not quite come yet when we totally have to give them up; but if we are indulging ourselves with them today, will we be able to give them up suddenly when the time comes? Should we not be slowly trying to change and reform our appetites daily and slowly cut down on these foods that we will not have in heaven? Heaven is a lot closer than we may realize.

Prevention – Our Best Medicine

Let us remember that prevention is our best medicine. But how many people resort to vitamins and natural remedies today? How many have blind faith in a doctor who will prescribe drugs for any small illness? Do you know what Ellen G. White had to say on the subject of drugs? “Drug medication, as it is generally practiced, is a curse. Educate away from drugs. Use them less and less, and depend more upon hygienic agencies; then nature will respond to God’s physicians…” (4)

“By the use of poisonous drugs, many bring upon themselves lifelong illness, and many lives are lost that might be saved by the use of natural methods of healing.” (5)

And remarkably enough, world famous nutritionists are catching up with what Ellen G. White was saying 100 years ago. Dr. Paavo Airola states: “All chemical drugs are toxic, more or less. All drugs can cause harmful side effects. It is estimated (very conservatively) that at least 10 percent of all patients suffer from drug-caused diseases. Even such an “innocent” drug as aspirin, consumed in the U.S. at the rate of 30 tons a day, has caused many deaths and millions of serious injuries. Most drugs also interfere with normal enzyme and vitamin action in the body, causing derangement in metabolism and vital body processes. Drugs destroy vital vitamins and minerals and/or prevent their absorption. Many drugs damage the liver, kidneys and cause serious diseases, including birth defects and cancer. Of course, there are situations in which drugs are necessary and can be life-saving. But drugs should be used only in absolute emergencies, and only if ordered by a competent doctor.” (6)

There are many types of natural remedies, such as fasting, massage, reflexology or acupressure, medicinal use of herbs, and water used for external and internal cleanliness. Due to lack of space in this lesson we will not go into great detail concerning many of these effective and natural alternative forms of healing, so just a couple will suffice.

“Why use herbs? They are Nature’s remedies, and have been put here by an all-wise Creator. There is an herb for every disease that a human body can be afflicted with. The use of herbs is the oldest medical science. Herbs were mentioned in the Bible from the beginning of creation. Much has been written about herbs all down through history, to the present day.” (7)

“Even modern 20th century medical science, after being contemptuous of herbal medicine for decades (probably since George Washington’s time at least – editor), is now turning ‘back to nature’ and is engaged in world-wide research of old-time herbal remedies….There is not a single disease in man that does not have a corresponding remedy or cure in some herb, root, or bark or other botanical medicine.” (8)

There are so many good, healing virtues in the natural realm if we would only search a little deeper. Natural remedies sometimes take longer to work, but the effects are permanent, whereas with chemical drugs you get quick relief but only the symptoms have been allayed and the disease is left unchecked to re-surface somewhere else in the body.

May we all remember that health reform is progressive; that means constantly growing. The growth didn’t stop when we gave up caffeine, sugar and meat, but daily we should be coming closer to the heavenly diet.

In the beautiful light that has reached you so far in the Makeover Course there is much encouragement to take a higher road than the one marked out before the sensual and unbelieving. If we truly believe that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit as the New Testament says that they are, how great should be our care to guard our health and “eat and drink for the glory of God”. Doesn’t this mean in its widest sense, having strength from above to abstain from all unhealthful substances and practices while actively seeking healing through obedience to God’s natural laws? Christ is not pleased to see anyone sick or infirm, and He waits to bless us as we follow intelligently and faithfully the course He has outlined in His Word. If we study doctrine “to show ourselves approved unto God”, how much more should we study the things of health to help ourselves and our loved ones, friends and brethren on the pathway to eternal life? May God help us to study and follow more closely the full, wondrous light He has given, and thus we may arrive in His eternal kingdom ready to partake of the Great Supper He has prepared for us there.

(1) Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 485. (6) Paavo Airola, How to Get Well, p.205

(2) Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health, p. 566 (7) Jethro Kloss, Back to Eden p. 168

(3) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 135 (8) How to Get Well p. 234

(4) Counsels on Health, p. 261, by Ellen G. White

(5) Ministry of Healing p. 126, by Ellen G. White