The People of God--God's Patient--I
A fifth metaphor the Bible uses to describe the people of God is God's patient. This metaphor contains two basic assumptions: (1) Human beings are sick people who desperately need spiritual healing; and (2) God is the ONLY DOCTOR or PHYSICIAN that can heal those who are spiritually sick.
When God appeared to Isaiah at the Jerusalem temple in the year that king Uzziah died (742 B. C.)as a king sitting on his throne (Isaiah 6:1-4), Isaiah responded: "Woe is me! For I am lost! For I am A MAN OF UNCLEAN LIPS, and I live in the midst of A PEOPLE OF UNCLEAN LIPS, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5). "A person or people of unclean lips" is a leprous person or people (see Leviticus 13-14, for example, 13:45); in other words, a person or people who is spiritually sick and thus in need of healing or cleansing. A seraph came to Isaiah with a live coal in his hand, with which he touched Isaiah's unclean mouth and said: "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and yoursin atoned for" (Isaiah 6:6-7); demonstrating that the issue here was spiritual sickness, that is, sin. Then Isaiah said: "Here am I; send me" [to this sick people]; to which God responded:
"Go and tell this people:
'Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and BE HEALED."
God's people here are described as people who have a heart problem, an eye problem, and an ear problem. They need to go to a doctor who knows how to deal with these sicknesses and heal them. The ONLY DOCTOR who can do this is God. Therefore, they must come to him if they ever expect healing.
Martin Luther referred to the church as "a hospital for sinners." All who come to God knowing they are terminal spiritual cancer patients and believing that he alone can heal them receive his grace and become members of his people. There are no well people in the kingdom of God; only sick people; only sinners. And no one or nothing can heal their illnesses but God himself, the Great Physician.
[More to come]