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Is there no balm in Gilead?


Chidi Okoroafor

Text: Jeremiah 8:20–22; Mark 6:1-6

Key Verse: Mark 6:5, “And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them” (NIV).

Prophet Jeremiah is evidently worried and weeping over the spiritual condition of Israel and epically the godless state of Judah. Through Jeremiah, the Lord laments for Jerusalem, the city that has a special place in His heart. God affectionately called Jerusalem “the daughter of my people.” The city of Jerusalem was characterised by falsehood, covetousness, immorality, and idolatry.


In Jeremiah 8:22, the prophet asks three questions – “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?”

After the captivity, when Israel took the Promised Land, Gilead, on the west side of the Jordan, became part of their land. In Gilead grew a tree from which a healing ointment, known as the balm of Gilead was extracted. This balm possessed marvelous curative properties and was prescribed for the healing of different ailments. The balm trade then became an Israeli one.

So, Jeremiah’s question is, “How can a people who traded in balm be so sick?” The real question is, how can the people of God, with the Law in their midst, be so sinful?” What was the solution for Israel? It was simply to use the balm that they already had.

Jeremiah’s worry, of course, was neither because there was no balm in Gilead nor because there was no physician. The problem was that the people utterly refused to avail themselves of the provisions of the balm and the care of the physician. They knew about the balm of Gilead: its medicinal and cosmetic values. They knew about the physician Jehovah Rapha, but they preferred something else. This is the bug of familiarity.

Jeremiah pleaded with the leaders of the land and with the people to turn to God for guidance and help, but they refused to listen to him. He warned them of pending destruction, so they accused him of false prophecy and threw him in the dungeon to die. He continued to proclaim the help and assistance that was available through God.

Jeremiah was rejected by the people of Israel to whom he brought salvation – the way out of their problems. Jesus was rejected the most by those He came to help (John 1:11). Rejection is a devastating action against a person. How often we are tempted to neglect the things that are freely given to us. We look down on our Pentecostal heritage. We despise the ministry of our pastors, perhaps because they are not the flamboyant types.

In Mark 6, the people of Nazareth did not receive miracles of healing and deliverance because they despised the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. It is not God’s fault. It is ours. If you reject the ministry of a Pastor, you can’t be blessed through that Pastor. Whatever you despise, you cannot attract. Jeremiah found himself caught in time when God’s power was set aside and there was no healing for the people.

Why are you still living in sin, poverty, and sickness? Are you not aware that the price for your redemption and healing has been paid by Jesus on the cross of Calvary? Are you not aware that there is a balm in Gilead? Why are you still rejecting the message of salvation that was freely given to you for the salvation of your soul? Today is the acceptable day of salvation, tomorrow may be too late for you; there is still balm in Gilead.

Today’s Nugget: What you do not value will not benefit your life.
Prayer: Lord, help me not to neglect spiritual riches in Christ in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Prayer lines: 09078154261.
Dr. Chidi Okoroafor, General Superintendent
Assemblies of God Nigeria

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