A couple of weeks ago, Jehovah Rapha took center spot at Faith~Driven Fiction. The Exodus 15:26 verse is an instruction to God’s people that if they listen and obey His instructions, they’ll never have to worry about the diseases that the Egyptians had to deal with. Just like God healed the bitter water in Exodus 15, He declared Himself as the “Healer.”
So I started looking into that word; how and where it’s used in scripture.
God is Israel’s Healer
In Jeremiah 3 and 30, God is the healer of the country of Israel. Specifically, He promised to restore their land in chapter 30, verse 17, and would heal them of their evil ways in chapter 3, verse 22. In Isaiah, He speaks of the same situation, healing the wounds of His people in chapter 30, verse 26. In all of these examples, his prophets had proclaimed the devastation that Israel would bring on itself through disobedience and ignoring God’s word. But as the Healer, God assures them that their injury would not be permanent.
In Psalm 103:3, David sings his praise to the Lord who forgives sins and heals diseases. And Isaiah 61:1 says that He will bind up the brokenhearted. This is the same verse that Christ read at the beginning of his ministry in Luke 4:18. Jesus responded to His reading by stating that the people had witnessed the fulfilling of that prophecy. He Himself was Jehovah Rapha. What a shame that so many of them didn’t understand.
Going back to the original story, there are a couple of pieces that stand out.
The waters of Marah (which means bitter – see Ruth 1:20) were undrinkable. Bitter. Useless. And just like the way God worked in most of the Old Testament, Lake Marah indicates as much a spiritual need as a physical one.
What bitterness do you hold onto? Jehovah Rapha is ready to heal it. The remedy won’t come from you, just like this remedy for the undrinkable water didn’t come from Moses, and it will necessitate submission on your part. Just like a patient has to submit to the dentist tools in order to have a painful tooth extracted.
Is it just me, or does anyone else see the connection across the centuries. The branch that God told Moses to use healed the water of its bitterness. Just like the cross, and Christ’s sacrifice there, heals the bitterness in our hearts, the pain of our guilt.
If God didn’t make that connection on purpose, I’m purple. Why else would he choose a piece of wood? There had to be ample rocks and sand in the desert. Surely Moses’ sandal would be more powerful than a piece of drift wood.
There was nothing magical about that branch. It was the power of our Jehovah Rapha together with the faith that Moses showed when he obeyed God. In the same way, there’s nothing magical about the cross. The power was in Christ’s act of love. The Father’s redemption coupled with the faith that we show when we accept His free gift and allow Him to be in charge of us.
The Israelites were granted clean water because of the faith Moses showed. Their physical need was met, though the larger need, the spiritual one, still required some work.
But Jesus completed that healing for them, too. And for anyone who comes to Him, He offers living water. (John 4:10) Eternal hope.
Makes me think of an hymn from my youth. “And the old rugged cross made the difference.” I understand the sentiment of the song, but the cross itself was merely the tree branch. The permanent healing for my sin came from the sacrifice made on it. Our Jehovah Rapha doesn’t forget his promises to heal.
Your Turn: Healing doesn’t always come the way we expect it to. In what way have you experienced healing, or maybe you need healing? I’d love to add you to my prayer list.