“God calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more abhorrent to the Lord, until He will refuse to acknowledge them as His children.” Selected Messages Vol. 1, 127.3

“As the light of truth is received and followed out, it will work an entire reformation in the life and character of all those who are sanctified through it.” Testimonies for the Church Vol. 2, 60.2

“We need to have our souls humbled before God, that every heart may drink in the truth and let it work in the life a reformation that will convince the world that this is indeed the truth of God. Let the life be hid with Christ in God. Only when we seek the Lord as little children… can he use us to the glory of his name.” General Conference Bulletin, June 6, 1909 par. 14
 
 

Introduction

On His way to the ruler’s home Christ had an encounter with a woman who had been sick with an issue of blood for twelve years. Christ’s dealings with this woman are a type of true reformation — the foundation of which is God’s law. This account will be the subject of the second part of this two-part series on revival and reformation in Matthew 9.
 
 

Woman with the Issue of Blood

“While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” Matthew 9:18-22

A woman represents a church as stated in part 1. This woman was diseased for 12 years; the number 12 symbolizing a connection with God’s kingdom and His people.1 The illness that had afflicted this woman for so long is a symbol of sin (Isaiah 1:1-6). Sickness, be it physical or spiritual, is a result of walking contrary to God’s law (Romans 6:23, Galatians 6:7-8).2 The laws governing our physical being are just as sacred as the spiritual laws that God has given to govern our morality:

“The same power that upholds nature is working also in man. The same great laws that guide alike the star and the atom control human life. The laws that govern the heart’s action, regulating the flow of the current of life to the body, are the laws of the mighty Intelligence that has the jurisdiction of the soul. From Him all life proceeds. Only in harmony with Him can be found its true sphere of action. For all the objects of His creation the condition is the same–a life sustained by receiving the life of God, a life exercised in harmony with the Creator’s will. To transgress His law–physical, mental, or moral–is to place one’s self out of harmony with the universe, to introduce discord, anarchy, ruin.” Child Guidance, 55.2

Understanding her condition to symbolize the sin-sick state of God’s church at the end of the world (1 Corinthians 10:11, Romans 15:4), the question to be answered is, “Wherein did she find healing?”
 
 

Healing in His Wings

It is interesting that the Bible specifically states that it was the hem of Christ’s garment that this woman touched in order to be healed. Every detail given in scripture is significant. As stated by Solomon – “every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5).3 The hem of Christ’s garment is mentioned because there are significant truths in connection with it that will be opened to diligent and sincere seeker of truth.

The hem or fringe of a Jewish garment was bordered by a blue stripe. The color blue is a symbol of God’s law. And when a Jew saw the blue stripe on his or her garment, God purposed that it would remind them of His law and their responsibility to be obedient to it.

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 15:38-41

Christ being a Jew would undoubtedly have had a ribband of blue on the hem of His garment, and it would have been this ribband of blue that the woman would have touched. Consider Malachi 4 in light of this fact:

“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” Malachi 4:1, 2

The word translated as “wings” in Malachi 4:2 also means “fringe;” or as stated in Strong’s concordance, “[the] edge or extremity” “of a garment”.4 Connecting this with the woman touching the hem or fringe of Christ’s garment, God’s people are to understand that it is by taking hold of God’s law, as symbolized by the ribband of blue, that they will find healing from both physical sickness and the spiritual sickness of sin.
 
 

God’s Law is the Foundation of true Reformation

Obedience to God’s law requires a reformation of the life. Revival furnishes the motive, impetus, or “holy unction;” and reformation is the out-flowing of a living spirituality in the actions, words, habits, and manners. Revival and reformation are to blend to recreate fallen human beings in the lovely image of Jesus — mirroring Him in thought, action, and life.

This transformation is well illustrated in the following passage from inspiration:

“The work [of reform] must begin in the heart and then the spirit, the words, the expression of the countenance, and the actions of the life, will make manifest that a change has taken place. In knowing Christ through the grace that he has shed forth abundantly, we become changed, and the character is sanctified through belief of the truth. The inward life grows strong, and the entire conduct will be in conformity to the will of God. Humility will be cultivated, because we shall feel our nothingness, and realize our dependence upon God. We shall remember that we have been bought with the price of the blood of the Son of God, and that every faculty of our being must be brought into captivity to Christ, that we may glorify him. In humility we shall correct every fault and defect of character; because Christ is abiding in the heart, we shall be fitted up for the heavenly family above. “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed…” Youths Instructor, August 31, 1893 par. 7

In considering the work of developing a character after Christ’s own likeness, attention must be paid to the reforms He has given to assist in this work. Reformation calls for a change in “ideas and theories, habits and practices” (Christian Service pg. 42.2). The health reform, if rightly accepted, constitutes a part of such a work. Inspiration states that diet and spirituality are closely linked.

“With our first parents, intemperate desire resulted in the loss of Eden. Temperance in all things has more to do with our restoration to Eden than men realize.” Counsels of Diet and Foods, 43.2

Therefore health reform must form a part of true reformation:

“All are bound by the most sacred obligations to God to heed the sound philosophy and genuine experience which he is now giving them in reference to health reform. He designs that the great subject of health reform shall be agitated, and the public mind deeply stirred to investigate; for it is impossible for men and women, with all their sinful, health-destroying, brain-enervating habits, to discern sacred truth, through which they are to be sanctified, refined, elevated, and made fit for the society of heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory.” –Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 162. A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, 33.2

God has given dress reform to support good health and to promote decency and modesty; all of which affect our morality, and ultimately, our ability to keep God’s law:

“To protect the people of God from the corrupting influence of the world, as well as to promote physical and moral health, the dress reform was introduced among us. It was not intended to be a yoke of bondage, but a blessing, not to increase labor, but to save labor, not to add to the expense of dress, but to save expense. It would distinguish God’s people from the world and thus serve as a barrier against its fashions and follies. He who knows the end from the beginning, who understands our nature and our needs,–our compassionate Redeemer,–saw our dangers and difficulties, and condescended to give us timely warning and instruction concerning our habits of life, even in the proper selection of food and clothing.” Counsels on Health, 598.3

He has also given us country living which is calculated to support our physical and moral development:

“The physical surroundings in the cities are often a peril to health. The constant liability to contact with disease, the prevalence of foul air, impure water, impure food, the crowded, dark, unhealthful dwellings, are some of the many evils to be met.

“It was not God’s purpose that people should be crowded into cities, huddled together in terraces and tenements. In the beginning He placed our first parents amidst the beautiful sights and sounds He desires us to rejoice in today. The more nearly we come into harmony with God’s original plan, the more favorable will be our position to secure health of body and mind and soul.” Adventist Home, 135.2-135.3

God has given these and all other Biblical reforms not to be a burden, but to support His people in the work of character development — to assist them in understanding and keeping His law which is a transcript of His character. Whether the soul is finally crowned with immortality in paradise, or consigned to the blackness of eternal death, hinges upon the character developed in this life. And as God’s people at the end of the world we should seek to take advantage of every facility He has provided to assist us in this work.
 
 

The Touch of Faith

A crucial factor when considering revival and reformation, is the role of faith. It was not any power in Christ’s garment that wrought the cure, but the woman’s concerted action driven by a living faith in Christ as the Great Physician:

“The golden opportunity had come. She was in the presence of the Great Physician! But amid the confusion she could not speak to Him, nor catch more than a passing glimpse of His figure. Fearful of losing her one chance of relief, she pressed forward, saying to herself, “If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole.” As He was passing, she reached forward, and succeeded in barely touching the border of His garment. But in that moment she knew that she was healed. In that one touch was concentrated the faith of her life, and instantly her pain and feebleness gave place to the vigor of perfect health.

“With a grateful heart she then tried to withdraw from the crowd; but suddenly Jesus stopped, and the people halted with Him. He turned, and looking about asked in a voice distinctly heard above the confusion of the multitude, “Who touched Me?”…Looking toward the woman, Jesus insisted on knowing who had touched Him. Finding concealment vain, she came forward tremblingly, and cast herself at His feet. With grateful tears she told the story of her suffering, and how she had found relief. Jesus gently said, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” He gave no opportunity for superstition to claim healing virtue for the mere act of touching His garments. It was not through the outward contact with Him, but through the faith which took hold on His divine power, that the cure was wrought.

“The wondering crowd that pressed close about Christ realized no accession of vital power. But when the suffering woman put forth her hand to touch Him, believing that she would be made whole, she felt the healing virtue. So in spiritual things. To talk of religion in a casual way, to pray without soul hunger and living faith, avails nothing. A nominal faith in Christ, which accepts Him merely as the Saviour of the world, can never bring healing to the soul. The faith that is unto salvation is not a mere intellectual assent to the truth. He who waits for entire knowledge before he will exercise faith, cannot receive blessing from God. It is not enough to believe about Christ; we must believe in Him. The only faith that will benefit us is that which embraces Him as a personal Saviour; which appropriates His merits to ourselves. Many hold faith as an opinion. Saving faith is a transaction by which those who receive Christ join themselves in covenant relation with God. Genuine faith is life. A living faith means an increase of vigor, a confiding trust, by which the soul becomes a conquering power.” The Desire of Ages, 343-347

Relating the preceding account to God’s church in the last days, it can be seen that faith is what makes true reformation effectual. It is the vital current that energizes every effort to bring ones ideas, theories, habits’ and practices in conformity to the divine Pattern. Thus exercised it will work a transformation of the soul — a restoration of the image of God in man.
 
 

In Closing

The messages that constitute present truth bring revival. They are calculated to awaken God’s people and brace them to prosecute the work of personal preparation, and the proclamation of the Third Angel’s message with an urgency and vigor befitting the magnitude of the closing scenes. If accepted in faith, these truths will lead to a reformation of the life. The foundation of this reformation is God’s law; and its outcome is the fulfillment of the new covenant promise — the sealing of God’s law upon the hearts and minds of His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
 
 
1See Part 1 for further discussion on the number 12
 
2Health, strength, and happiness, depend upon immutable laws; but these laws cannot be obeyed where there is no anxiety to become acquainted with them. The Creator has given us natural life, and physical laws, which relate to the preservation of the life he has given; and we are under most sacred obligations to become intelligent in regard to the laws of our being, lest we be found unwittingly transgressors, and be obliged to pay the penalty of our lawless course by disease and suffering.

“All who transgress physical law must sooner or later suffer the penalty of physical suffering. God has not changed, neither does he propose to change, our physical organism, in order that we may violate a single law, without feeling the effects of its violation. {HR, September 1, 1871 par. 11 & 12}
 
3See rules 1 and 2 of William Miller’s Rules of Interpretation:

“1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible. Matthew 5:18.”

“2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by diligent application and study. 2 Timothy 3:15-17.” – William Miller, Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology, 20
 
4Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: H3671 kaw-nawf’ From H3670; an edge or extremity; specifically (of a bird or army) a wing, (of a garment or bed clothing) a flap, (of the earth) a quarter, (of a building) a pinnacle: –  + bird, border, corner, end, feather [-ed], X flying, + (one an-) other, overspreading, X quarters, skirt, X sort, uttermost part, wing ([-ed]).

 

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