We are living in the time of the end. Many people around the world are realizing that things are changing rapidly and that the future is uncertain. As we prepare for the soon coming of Jesus,
God’s Mighty Right Arm
Saving Body and Soul
By Ted N. C. Wilson
We are living in the time of the end. Many people around the world are realizing that things are changing rapidly and that the future is uncertain. As we prepare for the soon coming of Jesus, it is more important than ever that we refocus on our unique, heaven-born mandate of medical missionary work, or as we are now calling it: “comprehensive health ministry”—utilizing the health message in every way possible to bring people to the cross of the Master Physician.
Health reform and comprehensive health ministry are not the gospel—the gospel is the message of a Savior who lived a perfect life, died and rose for us, intercedes for us in the Most Holy Place of the real heavenly sanctuary, and will soon return to take us home to be with Him. We are saved by His grace and righteousness, as the sanctuary service portrays in all its aspects.
We are told, however, that comprehensive health ministry, or medical missionary work, is the right arm of the gospel—God’s mighty right arm. The right arm symbolizes active involvement and power. It is direct and involved. The right arm of the body (or, for left-handed people, the left arm) is so important to the accomplishments of the entire body, and it illustrates well how important comprehensive health ministry is for the Seventh-day Adventist Church today in its outreach to the world!
The beautiful balance between the gospel work and health ministry is articulated by Ellen White: “The medical missionary work must be as closely connected with the work of the gospel ministry as the hand and arm are connected with the body. You need the gospel ministry to give prominence and stability to the medical missionary work; and the ministry needs the medical missionary work to demonstrate the practical working of the gospel. The Lord would have His work carried forward symmetrically and harmoniously. His message must be carried to all parts of the world.”1
Our Faithfulness Based on His Faithfulness
The Lord’s expectation of our future faithfulness to Him is always based on His past faithfulness to us. In Exodus 20:2, when giving His law at Mount Sinai, the Lord personally admonished His chosen people to remember that “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
Today, as it was for ancient Israel, God expects our faithfulness to be built on confidence in His past leading and teaching, especially when it comes to arming ourselves with the great opportunities of comprehensive health ministry.
How can we learn from the past to let God lead, to trust in Him and His prophets, and to expand the influence of our church’s health ministries in helping people practically as the three angels’ messages are proclaimed?
Let’s remember how God led the children of Israel out of Egypt.
The Experience of Israel
Exodus 14 and 15 record the amazing events surrounding the Red Sea deliverance from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. God’s people were jubilant. In Exodus 14:31 we read, “Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses” (KJV).
Analyzing this verse, we notice that: (1) a great work was visually confirmed; (2) the Lord did this work; (3) the Israelites respected and believed the Lord (an important component in this sequence, which is critical for us in God’s church today); and (4) they believed His servant Moses.
The Israelites had trust in God’s prophet—another important component for us as God’s church today.
After the wonderful Red Sea experience everyone was excited, until they came to a big challenge—the desert, where there was no water. They went three days without finding water. Finally they came to Marah, but the water there was bitter.
Three days earlier they had seen God’s awesome power with water in the Red Sea, and they believed in God and His prophet. In just three days, however, they moved from triumph to despair. They didn’t believe in God, or in Moses, or in the protective cloud that led them there and protected them at night as a pillar of fire.
That cloud and pillar of fire is similar to comprehensive health ministry in its overall blessing in that it leads us to the ultimate objective and goal: to understand the gospel message and have a close relationship with our Redeemer.
Highs and Lows
Sometimes we as Seventh-day Adventists seem to parallel the Israelites’ experiences of forgetting and hesitation. Israel had constant highs of triumph and then lows of complaining; aren’t we tempted that way ourselves? Let’s remember that God has called us to be part of a mighty Advent movement with comprehensive health ministry as an integral part of the proclamation of the gospel message to the world—and a vital part, according to the Spirit of Prophecy, of the final loud cry.
In Exodus 15:24 the people murmured against the prophet and asked, “What shall we drink?” You would think coming from the Red Sea triumph they would have just said, “Let’s see what God will provide.”
Then Moses cried to the Lord. Whenever we face a challenge or problem, let’s follow Moses’ example and cry to the Lord. It is only in God that we have any power. Verse 25 indicates that “the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (KJV). The message here is clear: when you are asked by the Lord to point people to a better way of life and you run into problems, cry to the Lord and He will show you the solution. He will show you His power.
This truth is underscored by verse 26, one of the most powerful health-related verses in the Bible. The Lord proclaims through Moses, “If thou wilt diligently harken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (KJV).
What a powerful text to claim! In your interaction with others, in your health promotion, in your witness, in your preaching, claim the heavenly power of this verse.
A Great Opportunity
Today, all around us, people are asking what they should eat and what they ought to drink and how they should live. It is the greatest opportunity as we go from one international crisis to the next for Seventh-day Adventists to say with Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 and 10:31: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (KJV).
Combine that with the powerful instruction given through the apostle John in 3 John 2—“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (KJV)—and you have the formula for Seventh-day Adventists to launch a mighty movement that will help society in unprecedented ways to find complete health—physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.
Part of the Three Angels’ Messages
You and I can proclaim the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-12 through the power of the Holy Spirit. The health message and work of Seventh-day Adventists are intimately bound up in the three angels’ messages. God has a plan for people, and it involves every aspect of their lives, beginning with health—so that God’s mighty right arm can help them further understand Christ’s special ministry to them mentally, socially, and most of all, spiritually.
Let’s reflect on the Spirit of Prophecy counsel found in Testimonies for the Church: “As we near the close of time we must rise higher and still higher upon the question of health reform and Christian temperance, presenting it in a more positive and decided manner. We must strive continually to educate the people, not only by our words, but by our practice.”2
Like Moses, let’s cry to the Lord to use us in these last days of earth’s history as society crumbles, as moral belief disappears, and the social fabric disintegrates. By God’s grace, let’s be part of a new revival and reformation of what healthy lifestyle and health reform and comprehensive health ministry is all about. God is eager that this life-giving message be heard all around the world. n
1 Letter 135, 1899.
2 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 6, p. 112.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.