Her plague was uncleanness before God’s law. She was therefore unclean before God. God’s law required that she bring a sin offering and a burnt offering for atonement to God (Leviticus 15). Therefore, her plague was a picture of our sin against God. The plague of our sin can only be taken away by blood atonement (Lev. 17:11). Christ made atonement to God for His elect (Lev. 16:30; Rom. 5:9-10; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1:5).
Faith makes sinners violently desperate to get to Christ. All that God requires of us makes His sovereign grace our absolute necessity. This desperation prepares us to see Christ. As the jeweler’s black velvet cloth prepares the eye for the beauty of the diamond, so God’s holy law prepares us in our guilt and corruption and helplessness to see Christ. The law reveals the dark cloud of God’s judgment against us! But God’s grace in the Gospel shines the light of His holiness on the diamond of Christ’s obedience and blood. Persuasion of salvation by Christ’s righteousness makes sinners press to be found in Christ alone. The Apostle Paul was like this woman. Under the law he suffered much for a long time. But when he saw Christ, he forsook all that he formerly trusted, and pressed to lay hold on Christ alone. Paul said, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Php. 3:8-9). Faith sees and is persuaded and lays hold on Christ’s doing and dying as the one and only way in which I may live and receive all blessings from God. This is what is meant by that scripture, “The kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12). Believing sinners violently press to have Christ, abandoning all that may be called theirs to be healed of the plague of their heart through faith in Christ and all that He is to God for sinners.
Here is the amazing thing: God is well-pleased when sinners press to get to Christ that they might draw all virtue from Him through His righteousness! Christ is pleased when desperate, guilty sinners, plagued in heart, are drawn to Him by the operations of God’s grace!
Am I afflicted under God’s requirements because of the plague of sin in my heart (1 Kings 8:38)? Am I violently drawn to have Him and find Him to be my all? Do I press to get to Him, knowing that He alone can save me? Have I learned something about desperation under the requirements of God, because I cannot do one thing of all that God requires, because I am foul and completely dependent on Christ to answer and honor God in my place? Am I desperate to know that God receives me for Christ’s sake alone? Then God has afflicted me. He has drawn me to Christ. He taught me to lay hold on Christ’s righteousness! He will finish the work in me that He started (Genesis 49:18; 2 Cor. 1:10; Php. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 1 John 3:1-3). When my soul longs to know Christ, to know that He saved me by His grace, that is the result of His work in me. My violent pressing to lay hold on Him pleases Him because He saved me and drew me to Himself for His glory (Heb. 11:6; Luke 15; 1 Cor. 1:30-31)!
This woman was plagued in heart (1 Kings 8:38). God’s law condemned her as unclean. And she was plagued a long time: twelve years. As Israel was under the law for some 1400 years until Christ came, this woman was plagued for a long time until she heard of Jesus (Mark 5:27; Gal. 3:22-24). God’s law held her under that plague, as in a prison, until with God-given faith she heard of Jesus and pressed to get to Him. This is the experience of every believer. Her God-given faith moved her to Christ. Pressing to get to Christ pleases the Lord. A sinner with nothing comes to Christ for everything. This glorifies God. God’s work in our heart points us to Christ’s work on the cross.
The law of God pronounces a plague upon us (Rom. 3:19-20; Gal. 3:13). But Christ speaks peace by His blood. “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back” (Isa. 38:17). Christ took away Hezekiah’s sins. God therefore spoke peace to him. In love to his soul, God cast Hezekiah’s sins behind His back.