In S.I. McMillen’s book None of These Diseases he makes the claim that the laws of God were more than just regulation but that they had tremendous health benefits looking back on them with what we know about medicine and health today. He attempts to make a link between the diseases of Egypt as listed in the Ebers Papyrus, Moses’ familiarity with Egyptian wisdom and culture (Acts 7:22) and the Lord’s promise in Exodus 15:26 that if they obey God He will put on them, “none of these diseases…which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”
I think McMillen makes some interesting points in the book however, I think God’s involvement was more than just the physical effects of what they ate or how God taught them to treat lepers. I think God’s promise probably included divine protection that no physical remedy could guarantee. Many studies have shown that doing things God’s way has a physical benefit.
There have also been studies on the elderly and church attendance as a positive factor improving their health.
Before I go any further, I need to toss out a warning. Sometimes we have looked at people like Job’s friends did. We think if they are depressed or suffer from anxiety that they must be spiritually deficient. That is not always the case and we need to be careful in how we view Christians with mental disorders and not think less of them as if it was due to a weakness in their faith.
When I was studying psychology at the University of Florida (go gators!) we had guest lecturers come in every Friday. One week a fairly well known researcher spoke on her recent study on a large geriatic population and what factors lead to improved health. The number one factor found in the study was church attendance. Not being a spiritual or relgious person, as far as I could tell, she said this was probably due to the effects of social support. Then what she said shocked me. She said that even though this was the number one contributor to their patient’s social support, leading to better health and well being that no health professional should ever encourage anyone to go to church. I was floored. If you are an atheist and think God does not exist but practicing religion improves your patients’ health (which is their job to do as a health professional) why not encourage them to attend church? What is it going to hurt? She couldn’t get past her own presuppositions and give her patients the very best care they could possibly receive.
Study after study has shown that the gospel is good for your health. Obeying God is a healthy thing to do. But never did God tell the Israelites, “worship me because I make you healthy.” Even though Jesus healed many he labeled the sick, those who were spiritually sick. We don’t seek God for physical health. We don’t chase God to strengthen our bones or make our blood pressure go down. We want God because He loves us and He is ready to resurrect our sin sick souls. The gospel is good for you but not because it will help you live to 120. The gospel is good for you because it is the story of how God is transforming our lives into who He wants us to be – whole people.