Seven Redemptive Names: 3. Yahweh Rapha (יהוה רפא) (The LORD Who Heals)
For those of a certain sporting persuasion, this does not refer to the Lord providing all our upmarket cycling clothing – although I can confidently say that God loves cyclists.
We find reference to Yahweh-Rapha – the LORD who heals – in the Book of Exodus, just after the LORD (continuing to provide for His people) enables the bitter waters of Marah to be drinkable after three days without water.
He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am Yahweh-Rapha.” (Exodus 15:26)
There is healing in that – this was straight after the Red Sea had parted to allow the people to cross, escaping from the pursuing Egyptian army. The people had been slaves for some 400 years. Moses, assisted by his brother Aaron and their sister Miriam, had followed the LORD’s commands and gained freedom for the Israelites. But it did not end there. Generations had known only slavery and an entire people and culture cannot simply come into their freedom, be wished a happy life and be left to get on with it. They needed to learn how to live in freedom, and they needed to heal. There were many things the LORD did for then in their ensuring 40 years in the wilderness, and healing was but one of them.
Again, Psalm 23 maps this out for us:
He refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23:3)
Ultimate healing is soul healing, leading to true wellbeing. Being healed like this involves doing what is right – you cannot embrace healing whilst still embracing and actively carrying out the harmful behaviour. And the LORD does this not for some personal gain, but because of who He is – He is love. He loves us, has compassion on us, and will take the time and effort to teach us the right ways (discipline, justice) but to refresh our souls (forgiveness, mercy) because of His love for us. All that is true healing, but it is not healing that we have done or earned – He refreshes us; He guides us.
Rapha is not simply ‘healing’ though – it is restoration.
If we have grief, trouble, injury, sin and harm, we give that to Jesus (I have had a picture in my prayers of Jesus on the cross and each sin given, each nail driven further into Him, is met by Him lifting His head, smiling in love at us and saying, simply, “Thank you.”). And having given Jesus our sin, we receive the healing; we are restored and made whole with God. It’s the most one-sided, unfair and yet compassionate and brilliant trade-off ever, and leaves us wanting this complete healing, this encounter with Yahweh-Rapha, for everyone else:
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. (3 John 2)
[from Timothy Pitt]