THE NAMES OF GOD Lesson #3
Jehovah-Rapha - “The Lord That Healeth Thee” Exodus 15:25-26
After God graciously delivered the children of Israel across the Red Sea, miraculously opening a path for them in the sea, and drowned Pharaoh and the armies of Egypt in the depths of the sea, he brought Israel into the wilderness of Shur, where for three days they wandered without water. The scorching sun beat down upon them. The desert sands scalded their feet. Their cattle were perishing. Their children’s tongues were swollen. And their lips were parched. Then, at last, they came to the plentiful fountains of Marah. When they saw the waters of Marah, how their hearts must have rejoiced in hope and expectation. As they approached Marah, they could almost taste the water. They could almost feel the cool, refreshing water in their mouths. But when they got there, the waters were bitter. They could not drink the water. Can you imagine the frustration and disappointment they must have felt?
Immediately, they turned upon Moses, and began to murmur and complain. Actually, they turned upon the Lord God who had brought them to this place. Though the Lord led them by the fiery and cloudy pillar, though he was with them, though he miraculously and graciously delivered them from the bondage of Egypt and promised to do them good, they did not trust him. All they could see, all they could think about were the bitter waters before them and the thirst within them. Because they saw nothing good in God’s providence, they despised it. When they should have remembered God’s goodness, they thought only of their troubles. When they should have looked to their merciful Deliverer, they looked only upon Marah’s bitter waters. When they should have prayed, they murmured. When they should have believed, they grumbled. “But God, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not. For he remembered that they were but flesh” (Ps. 78:38-39).
It was God who brought Israel to Marah. He brought them here to teach them and to make himself known to them, and to teach us and make himself known to us (I Cor. 10:11) as Jehovah-Rapha - “the Lord that healeth thee” (Ex. 15:25-26).
JEHOVAH-RAPHA IS THE HEALER OF ALL OUR TROUBLES. Though our days on this earth are few, they are full of trouble. But our troubles have a reason. One reason why God brings trouble into the lives of his saints is that we may come to know him as Jehovah-Rapha, “the Lord that healeth thee” (Ps. 34:6; 3:1-8; II Sam. 22:1-7, 17-20, 31). When the children of Israel came to Marah, they found themselves in great trouble. The waters were bitter. They were dying of thirst. And they had nothing to drink. They seemed to be mocked. There was plenty of water, but not an ounce to drink. Then God intervened. He delivered them from their trouble by healing Marah’s bitter waters. The Lord our God has many ways by which he makes our bitter waters of trouble sweet. Sometimes he simply changes our circumstances. How often have you been in such great sorrow and trouble that you thought you could not endure another day of it? But, just when it looked as though you would be overcome, the Lord removed the trouble. Many times I have been in a strait, not knowing what to do, or how to order my steps. I have come to the point where some decision must be made, but I knew not what to do. Then the Lord stepped in and completely altered the whole affair. He opened the way before me. He took me by the hand and said, “This is the way, walk in it.” At other times the Lord turns our sorrow to joy and makes our bitter waters sweet interjecting something unexpected, which changes everything. He showed Moses a tree and commanded him to cast it into the waters. And “when he cast (it) into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” The waters, which Israel could not endure before, became sweet to them because of the tree. That tree, of course, refers to the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ps. 1:3; Song 2:3; Rev. 22:2). No doubt this tree had always been at Marah. But God had to show it to Moses. And our Lord Jesus Christ is always present with us in our troubles. He is the One who brings them. They come to us because of his gracious work as our Mediator. Yet, until he reveals himself, interjects himself, we cannot see him. But once we see Christ’s hand, the hand of our Redeemer in our bitter waters, those very waters become sweet (Gen. 50:20; Job 1:20-21; I Thess. 5:16-18). Frequently, the Lord makes our waters of bitter trouble sweet by simply giving us satisfaction with his will. Nothing removes trouble from our hearts like submission to the will of God in the trouble he brings. Acquiescence in the will of God brings peace to the troubled heart quicker and more effectually than anything else (John 12:28). How often we cry out with Jacob, “All these things are against me.” Then, the Lord takes us down to the land of plenty and shows us our beloved Joseph upon his throne; and we are ashamed that we ever questioned his goodness. Then, with weeping eyes, amazed that we could ever doubt him, we sing, “Oh, how merciful, how merciful, Blessed Lord, how merciful Thou art to me!” All that we have experienced should teach us that our God is able to make the most bitter things sweet. Past grace is his pledge of future grace. The name of God our Savior is Jehovah-Rapha - “the Lord that healeth thee.” (John 14:1-3).
JEHOVAH-RAPHA IS THE HEALER OF ALL OUR SICKNESSES. Certainly, sickness and disease are included in this promise of healing. They are specifically named. We recognize that no one today has the apostolic gifts of tongues, healing, or inspiration. Those who claim to possess them are either deceived or deceivers. However, we must not allow our awareness of the charismatic heresy to rob us of the blessedness of God’s promise, or diminish its fullness. The name of God our Savior is Jehovah-Rapha. He is “the Lord that healeth thee.” Exodus 15:23-26 tells us several things about sickness and divine healing. This passage certainly assures us that all sickness and disease is the result of sin. Read verse 26. It is plainly stated that if we had no sin, we would have no disease. If we were perfectly righteous, obedient, and sinless, we would never get sick. Though our bodies are redeemed by Christ, they are not yet changed. The change for our bodies will come later. The resurrection will do for our bodies what regeneration has done for our souls. But until these bodies are raised incorruptible, so long as we live in this world, we will have to suffer sickness and disease in one form or another. This body is yet under the sentence of death because of sin. It is left under the sentence of death by divine purpose, to remind us of the effects and consequences of sin. If Christ had not redeemed us from sin, we would have to suffer eternal death in hell. And he has wisely left bodily sickness in us, sickness that will eventually bring bodily death, to constantly remind us what he has done for us in redemption, to make us both grateful and humble. All men get sick and die, young and old, because all are sinners. But those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ and saved by his grace have nothing to fear of either sickness or death. Yet, the Lord our God, Jehovah-Rapha, does heal his people from bodily sickness and disease. Our Lord Jesus is so much concerned about his tried and afflicted saints that he makes our bed in times of sickness (Ps. 41:3). He “took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matt. 8:17). And he plainly tells us how to seek his healing power (James 5:14-15). Often the Lord heals us of sickness and disease by graciously preventing them (Ps. 91:4-16). We do not often think of it, but God’s prevention of disease ought to be as much a matter of praise as his curing us of it. But, with us, that which should inspire constant gratitude creates indifference. We see the healing hand of the Lord more conspicuously when we have been sick and graciously restored to health. Let us never attribute praise to the medicine we have taken, the doctors who have treated us, or to some ingenuity of our own. It is God alone who wounds and God alone who heals. Let God alone be praised. However, the Holy Spirit here shows us, very plainly, that God uses ordained means for the healing of his sick people. God could have simply spoken the word and made the waters of Marah sweet. But he chose to use a specific means. Had Moses not cast in the tree, the waters would not have been healed. The use of means does not hinder faith. It proves faith. Believing God, Moses took a worthless tree and cast it into the waters. And the waters were healed. This is the first reference of healing mentioned in the Bible. And it was accomplished by the use of means. The healing was done by God. That tree had no healing virtue; but God used the tree to accomplish the healing. In a similar way, the Lord healed the waters of Jericho when Elisha cast salt into them (II Kings 2:19-22). God told Isaiah to lay a lump of figs upon Hezikiah’s boils to heal him (II Kings 20:7). Paul told Timothy to use a little wine for his stomach disorders (II Tim. 5:23). And James told the sick to use both prayer and the anointing of oil for the healing of their sick bodies (James 5:14-15). In every healing we experience, we have a pledge of the resurrection of the body. Jehovah-Rapha, who brings us up from the gates of death, will, at the time appointed, bring us up from the very pit of corruption. He who restores health to our bodies will restore life to our bodies in the resurrection (I Cor. 15:51-56).
JEHOVAH-RAPHA IS THE HEALER OF OUR SOULS. The bitter waters of Marah were an emblem of the bitter curses of the law because of that bitter thing, sin, which makes for the bitter work of repentance. The law demands bitter plagues upon every sinner, even a bitter death in hell. It cannot give us peace. But Christ, the Tree of Life, was immersed under the curse of the law, and made a curse for us. He endured in our place the bitter wrath of God and suffered the bitter curses of the law to the full satisfaction of divine justice. Now, the law of God, once so bitter to our souls, is sweet, pleasant, lovely, and comforting because it is fully satisfied by Christ our Substitute. How is it that God heals the sin-sick soul? How does he remove the plague of our hearts? Look at Marah again, and you will see the answer. First, the Lord made the people know how bitter the water was. There was no healing for that water until they had tasted its bitterness. But once they knew how bitter it was by nature, the Lord miraculously made it sweet to them. That is exactly what happens in conversion. The Lord first makes sin bitter to us. He makes us see how corrupt and wretched we are by nature. He squeezes the cry from our hearts, “O wretched man that I am!” Then he heals us by his grace. This is God’s way with men. First he wounds. Then he heals. First he strips. Then he clothes. First he humbles. Then he exalts. First he kills. Then he makes alive. Second, before the waters were healed, prayer was made to God. The prayer of Moses did not heal the waters. But until he called upon the name of the Lord, the waters were not healed. And sinners are not healed of sin and the plague of their hearts by their prayers, but healing is not experienced until they call upon God for mercy through Christ Jesus (Luke 18:13-14). Still, something else was needed. Third, the waters were not healed until the tree was cast into them. That tree represents two things. It is a picture of Christ himself (Rev. 22:2) and a picture of the cross upon which our Savior put away our sins and brought in everlasting righteousness for us (I Pet. 1:24). We can only be saved, healed of our souls’ plague, when the work of Christ is imputed to us. We are saved when Christ himself comes into our hearts by the power of his Spirit. Fourth, once the tree was cast into the waters, they were completely healed. The waters of Marah, once so vile and bitter, were made to be the sweetest waters on the earth, once the tree was cast in. And God’s elect, so vile and bitter in themselves, are made whole once they have Christ and have his work put in them. When God heals a soul, it is healed forever and healed completely (Eccles. 3:14; Col. 1:12; 2:9-10). This is the name of God our Savior, JEHOVAH-RAPHA - “THE LORD THAT HEALETH THEE!” He heals all our troubles. He heals all our sicknesses. And he heals our souls.