I’m excited to welcome Karen Smith back for this week’s edition of Word Nerd Wednesday as she discusses what it means for God to be our Jehovah Rapha.
Would you want to be an Israelite?
To witness the power of God demonstrated through the plagues on the Egyptians must have been scary and amazing all at the same time. Not only did the Israelites see God’s power displayed, they saw His protection as well. From lamb’s blood on their door frames to the parting of the Red Sea, His protection was evident.
In the first part of Exodus 15, we see the Israelites singing praise to the Lord. They praised with phrases such as:
“The Lord is my strength and my song,”
“This is my God, I will praise Him,”
“You’re right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power,” and
“Glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders.”
They had one amazing praise song they sang to the Lord.
It is right after this praise song that we encounter for the first time Jehovah Rapha, “The Lord Who Heals.” Rapha means to heal or restore. We only see this title of the Lord used in the Old Testament, but it is used over 60 times throughout the Old Testament.
When I think of healing, I immediately think of physical healing. I think of the report of cancer one day and no cancer evident the next day. What is interesting, when the word Rapha is used in Exodus 15, it isn’t even centered on physical healing, rather the protection from experiencing the same plagues that the Egyptians suffered.
The Israelites had just sung their mighty praise song to the Lord. And following this praise song, Moses leads the Israelites away from the Red Sea and they moved out into the desert. They had been in this desert of Shur for three days without water. Now I know those Israelites must have been hot and exhausted from traveling through the desert with no water. Imagine how they felt when they came to the Oasis of Marah. Relief, finally Lord, thank you! And then they take a drink of the water. As fast as they took a drink, I imagine they spit it right back out. The water was too bitter to drink.
God Rebukes Bitter Hearts
How disappointed they must have been! The very next thing they did was not proclaim His faithfulness to protect and provide, nope. The very next thing they did was grumble and complain. Then their anger rang loudly in the ears of Moses. Instead of gratefulness, angry words flew from their mouths to Moses. Moses did what he knew to do–pray. I imagine he asked God for a little bit of intervention! And God did what God does, He provided. God had Moses throw a piece of wood into the water and immediately, the water was healed! It was good to drink.
This time there wasn’t a praise song, instead, the Israelites received a speech from God.
“He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.'”Exodus 15:26
Jehovah Rapha Heals Bitter Hearts
I think it may be no coincidence that right here at the bitter water, God introduces himself as Jehovah Rapha–the Lord who heals. You see when freedom wasn’t easy, the Israelites hearts began to fill with bitterness and resentment. I believe that right here Jehovah Rapha saw a bigger problem than bitter water, I think He saw bitter hearts. What was more important than God healing water was the desire He had to heal the hearts of the Israelites.
It doesn’t take long before we see this theory of God desiring to heal the hearts of bitterness demonstrated fully.
“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”Isaiah 53:5
Jehovah Rapha – Spiritual Healer
This is spiritual healing. Healing of our hearts for eternity. Jehovah Rapha embodied as Jesus to die on a cross for our sins so that we can have eternal life. I would like to call this complete healing. Healing of all types wrapped up in one package called salvation.
Have you experienced this complete healing in your life by committing your life to Him? If so, what’s your response when God does not work in the ways that you think He should? Does your heart become bitter? Do you need Jehovah Rapha to bring healing into your heart?
Karen lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband and three children.
What started out as communicating medical facts, has become a place where Karen uses life experiences to encourage others in their life journey. Follow her journey through her blog and become part of the community.