Editor's Note: This post originally published in April 2017 was revised July 30, 2018 to add an excerpt from Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler, Understanding the Name.
This is the third post in the series "Who Is God?'
Exodus 3:15 (ASV)15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
My proper name is Donald, but I’m also called dad, father, grandpa, son, uncle, brother, nephew, and pastor along with others. Each of these is a name for me which describes certain attributes. God’s proper name is Jehovah, but as with you and me His is known by other names that describe Him.
Exodus 15:22-26 (NKJV)22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them,26 and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you." (Bold mine)
After the miraculous deliverance of Israel through the Red Sea the people complained about the water at Marah. After the issue with the bitterness of the water was taken care of Jehovah told the people that if they obeyed Him He would not allow the diseases that He brought on the Egyptians to happen to them. However there was a condition. The condition was that they be obedient. His words were that they “give ear to His commandment and keep all His statutes”. For us that would mean that we take heed to His Word, the Bible.
Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
Meaning and Derivation: Jehovah is translated as "The Existing One" or "Lord." The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning "to be" or "to exist." It also suggests "to become" or specifically "to become known" - this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. Rapha(râpâ') means "to restore", "to heal" or "to make healthful" in Hebrew. When the two words are combined - Jehovah Rapha - it can be translated as "Jehovah Who Heals."
Jeremiah 30:17 (ASV)17 For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith Jehovah; because they have called thee an outcast, saying, It is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.
Jeremiah 3:22 (ASV)22 Return, ye backsliding children, I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we are come unto thee; for thou art Jehovah our God.
Psalm 103:3 (ASV) Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases;
Jehovah is the Great Physician who heals the physical and emotional needs of His people. The world rapha occurs 67 times in 62 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV - From Blue Letter Bible, The Names of God in the Old Testament
Rapha conveys the idea of restoring something to its intended state.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (Bold mine)
In this instance Jehovah will hear the prayer of a repentant people and heal and restore their land.
2 Chronicles 30:18-20 (NKJV)18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone19 who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary."20 And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people. (Bold mine)
Hezekiah prayed and Jehovah healed the people who had not followed the required regulations in celebrating the Passover Festival. The context of both instances was Jehovah’s spiritual healing.
The name Jehovah-Rapha reveals God as one who not only heals and restores physical needs but spiritual and emotional ones too.
We see this Truth echoed in the New Testament every time Jesus says to a person, "Be made whole."
John 5:6, 8, 14 (ASV)6 When Jesus saw him lying, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wouldest thou be made whole? 8 Jesus saith unto him, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. 14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee.
Physical healing at Jesus' hands may be supposed to include forgiveness of sins - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Luke 17:19 (ASV) And he said unto him, Arise, and go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
This is what Jesus said to the one leper, who returned to thank and praise Jesus, out of the 10 who were healed, He had to be talking about more than just his physical healing. He now received his spiritual healing. This former leper was a restored to his intended purpose, which was his salvation.
Jehovah-Rapha is the only one who can heal us of sin and restore our relationship with Him.
Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.
God does not promise to heal us only in an isolated instance of illness or need. By calling Himself Jehovah-Rapha, He is saying, "Healing is what I am."
The Old Testament recounts many instances of God providing healing and restoration. And, of course, the New Testament is filled with accounts of people being healed by Jesus, and later through the apostles. What Jehovah did at Marah, what Jesus did throughout the New Testament, he will do today for those who trust and obey him.
He is Jehovah-Rapha the Lord who heals.
The Lord Who Heals
excerpted from Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler
Understanding the Name
The verb from which Rophe is derived occurs sixty-seven times in the Old Testament. Though it often refers to physical healing, it usually has a larger meaning as well, involving the entire person. Rather than merely healing the body, Yahweh Rophe (yah-WEH ro-FEH) heals the mind and soul as well. This Hebrew verb is also used in other ways — for example, God “heals” water, land, and nations, and he “repairs” an altar. Significantly, God also heals sin and apostasy. The Hebrew Scriptures, in fact, link sickness and sin by presenting sin as the cause of illness just as it is the cause of death. In the New Testament, the corresponding Greek word is iaomai and it can refer to deliverance from death, demons, sickness, and sin.
Jesus, the great healer, clearly indicated that sickness is not necessarily caused by sin on the part of the person who is ill. Rather, it can result from living in a sinful, fallen world.
Ask God: To help you see the link between obedience and health, physical and spiritual.
Ancient medical knowledge was limited not only by the lack of scientific method but also by the widespread worship of idols and the belief in magic. Disease was often blamed on the presence of evil spirits, who could only be vanquished by magical potions and powerful incantations. Egyptian papyri dating to 1552 b.c. list medical remedies containing a strange array of ingredients, including “lizards’ blood, swine’s teeth, putrid meat, stinking fat, moisture from pigs’ ears, milk, goose grease, asses’ hoofs, animal fats from various sources, excreta from animals, including human beings, donkeys, antelopes, dogs, cats, and even flies.” Clearly this was a case of the cure being worse than the cold.
Rather than relying on a witches’ brew of potions to heal them, the Israelites were to obey God’s commandments and statutes, some of which contained instructions that foreshadow modern medical discoveries. For instance, people were to wash their bodies and their clothes if they came into contact with a disease, a bodily discharge, or a corpse. This hardly sounds like rocket science unless you realize that as recently as 150 years ago, it was considered ridiculous for a surgeon to have to wash his hands prior to operating on a patient. The Israelites also practiced isolation and quarantine and followed dietary laws that prevented the spread of disease.
One of the ways God lived up to the self-disclosed name Yahweh Rophe was in providing His people with instructions that prevented them from becoming ill in the first place. Some scholars suggest that it was their obedience to dietary and sanitary laws that enabled the Jews to survive the various diseases that wiped out many other ancient peoples.
Likewise the moral law, as embodied in the Ten Commandments, offered similar protection. Those who disregarded it would suffer from spiritual diseases that could in turn result in physical illnesses.
Despite the sophistication of modern medical knowledge, many cures still elude us. If you or someone you love is suffering from a spiritual or physical malady, seek the Lord today for grace and wisdom, remembering always that he is “the Lord who heals you.”
Excerpted with permission from Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler, copyright Ann Spangler.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.