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The Nearness of God

“Go up to Gilead and obtain balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt! In vain have you multiplied remedies; There is no healing for you.” Jeremiah 46:11

How far will the person be wanting to go for salvation? Pretty far. Jeremiah uses the metaphor of the balm of Gilead, which was renowned for it’s healing properties. Many people think that it was made from this plant-

If so this plant is commiphora gileadensis and modern science confirms it’s many medicinal properties. If someone had an infection it would be perfectly logical for them to travel as far as was necessary to have it healed, Jeremiah likens Egypt’s spiritual sickness to a deadly wound that if it’s at all possible they should get healed at any cost. We see in Jeremiah it wasn’t only Egypt that needed this balm but Israel as well. Jeremiah 8:18-22 says- “When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me. Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” He was talking about their spiritual need for healing, not the actual physical need for balm. And we know who the physician is for spiritual problems! An old spiritual was written about this verse comparing the balm to Jesus.

But unfortunately Israel and Egypt were not healing, or even acknowledging, their wounds. They were not going to the great physician; they were letting them fester and become worse. The prophet Isaiah also lamented a people that were unaware of their condition. – “And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.” (Isaiah 22:12-13) People will go to great lengths to heal a physical illness. For instance Naaman, who traveled all the way from Syria, hoping to have his leprosy cured by Elisha. And he would have been more content if either Elisha stretched out his hand and instantly healed him, or if the prophet asked him to go on some great quest. He was actually disappointed that Elisha gave him a simple cure. Elisha told Naaman too dip himself in the Jordan 7 times. And isn’t that like man’s religion, they either want a spectacular display like Benny Hinn, or they want to do some great thing to achieve salvation! But the gospel says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Many reject this simple cure and would be more content with a more difficult one. Look at this man named Amar Bharati, for 50 years his arm was raised to his god. And the arm raised has withered and atrophied. His arm become more like the god it’s been raised to. I wish God would open this man’s eyes, I think he must have went through a lot of pain.

People have given all there money, crawled on glass, walked on fire, even had themselves voluntarily nailed to crosses to win the favor of heaven. We can only hope to reach these people with the true message; that God is a near God and not a far one. It is not necessary for us to travel far to the west like the wise men did to see Jesus. Because now we know that God is all around us.

We don’t have to do some impossible task to win his favor. He says to us like Elisha said too Naaman “wash and be clean.” Micah 6:6-8 says “Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” And Jesus himself said “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” There is a balm in Gilead, but more importantly there is a God who is much closer then that!
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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