WORD STUDY – STRIPES חבר
Isaiah 53:5: “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
The last phrase in this verse has become very popular among faith healers, “…with his stripes we are healed.” What they are saying is that when Jesus was whipped that somehow brings about a physical healing. That never really made sense to me. Does that mean that if he was not whipped there would be no healing taking place? Jesus healed a lot of people before the whipping.
The word heal is rapha’ which means to heal, medicine, delivery from affliction. I searched this out in extra Biblical literature and found that it is associated with a divine decree which is averted through repentance. It is also used to speak of the preparation for a remedy before the wound actually happens. It is a word used of the preparation made to treat the wounds of a soldier before going into battle. Sort of like the physicians, nurses and surgeons who train and prepare to treat the wounded and then set up their tents with beds and all the supplies to treat the wounded before the battle ever takes place. So by His stripes God has either prepared a means to deliver us from the penalty of sin or a means to bring healing to us before we are even afflicted. I say both.
This, however, opens the door to the question what are his stripes. The word for stripes in Hebrew is chavar which means blue, or bluish as in bruising. The whipping Jesus took did more than just bruising. Besides that how does that deliver us form the penalty of sin or even heal us. I went to extra Biblical Literature, the Targums, Mishanah etc. to see how chavar is used in both Hebrew and Aramaic. I discovered in its Semitic root it has idea of association and was used in the sense of charming someone or to be spellbound. To charm someone or to spellbound someone means to divert their attention from other things so that their full attention and focus is on you.
Let’s stop to consider, just what was on Jesus’s mind during the entire time of his beatings and execution? I think Isaiah is telling us what the thoughts of Jesus were during this time. They were on us and our sinful state and how His suffering would redeem us. He was focusing His entire attention on us because His whole purpose was to redeem us.
But that word chavar means more than just to spell bind us. He wants to spell bind us to create a relationship with us. It is like that teenage jock who is so in love with a little teenage girl that he hopes to so spell bind her with his heroics on the playing field that she would take notice of him and fall in love with him. The first step to getting someone to fall in love with you is to get their notice. Why does the young woman spend hours in the salon and before a mirror before going out on a date. She wants that poor kid to notice her and by noticing her and focusing his attention on her the poor slob will really awaken to what a great catch she is.
Jesus just loved us so much he suffered tortures and the death on a cross just for us. When you think and meditate on all He endured for you just because of that great love He has for you, doesn’t that kind of encourage you to love Him in return? But more than that, to experience that great love has a healing of its own. How many records are there of people who were seriously injured or suffering a serious illness who would have died had it not been for someone by their side begging them to life because they love that person so much. Many a man or woman will not hesitate to turn to their partner and say: “If it were not for the love of this person I would not be alive today.”
It has been discovered that if you take two babies and meet all their physical needs, food, diaper change, bathing etc. but only show love and affection to one baby and the other receiving no love or affection that one receiving the love will thrive and the one without it will die. They have even started to do research on the elderly in nursing homes discovering that those who had family visit them regularly live longer than those who are forgotten.
If the love of a human being can have such a powerful healing effect on us, how much more can the love of the God of the Universe for us personally have a healing effect on us. I believe this verse should read: “By the Messiah focusing his love and attention on us to endure suffering and death for us we are healed.” Or to put it simply, “By His great love for us we are healed.”