What does it mean that God is Jehovah-Rapha?Jehovah-Rapha means "the LORD who heals." God uses this name for Himself in Exodus 15:26 saying, "If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer." The words "LORD your healer" in the original Hebrew are Yahweh (or Jehovah) Rapha. Throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, we see God being a healer in many ways.
Rapha in Hebrew means not only "healer," but also "to mend, cure, repair thoroughly, make whole." So this title can be used when God not only cures diseases and physical ailments, but also when He repairs creation or restores a right relationship with His people. Jehovah-Rapha is used in all these contexts.
When Miriam was inflicted with leprosy, Moses prayed, "O God, please heal her—please" (Numbers 12:13). Seven days later, Miriam was free of leprosy (Numbers 12:15). King Hezekiah also asked the Lord for physical healing when he "became sick, and was at the point of death" (2 Kings 20:1). God responded, "I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you" (2 Kings 20:5). Hezekiah's life was then extended fifteen more years. Another king, Asa, also got sick, but the Bible records, "Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians" (2 Chronicles 16:12). Two years later, Asa died. God was able to heal Asa, but because he refused to come before the Lord, Asa died without receiving healing. In contrast, David called out to God for healing in Psalm 6:2: "Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me O LORD (rapha Jehovah), for my bones are troubled." And in Psalm 30:2 David says, "O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me."
Of course Jesus brought God's healing powers to bear on many physical ailments. He healed leprosy (Luke 17:11–19), blindness (Luke 18:35–43), bleeding (Luke 8:43–48), paralysis (Luke 5:17–26), wounds (Luke 22:50–51), sickness (Luke 7:1–10), and even death (John 11:38–44). These examples show that our God, Jehovah-Rapha, can and does heal physical human bodies.
When God revealed Himself as healer in Exodus 15:26, He had just turned the bitter water the Israelites had found in the desert into fresh, drinkable water (Exodus 15:22–25). God repeats this miracle for the town of Jericho with the prophet Elisha. "Now the men of the city said to Elisha, 'Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful'" (2 Kings 2:19). God had Elisha throw salt into the water, "so the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke" (2 Kings 2:22). In this context, God acts as Jehovah-Rapha to "heal," or restore, the town's water supply. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God promises, "if my people who are called by my name 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." God being Jehovah-Rapha means He can and will restore creation too (Isaiah 35:6–8, Revelation 22:2).
Most importantly, God, as Jehovah-Rapha, mends our broken relationship with Him. In Hosea, He promises that when His people return to Him, "I will heal their apostasy" (Hosea 14:4). In Jeremiah, He says, "Return, O faithless sons; I will heal your faithlessness" (Jeremiah 3:22). This healing of our relationship with God is accomplished through Jesus' work on the cross. Isaiah 53:5 explains, "he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed (rapha)." Jehovah-Rapha has made a way for our right standing before Him to be restored with Jesus fulfilling the requirements of God's wrath. We need only turn to Him and repent of our sins.
What a comfort to know that God is Jehovah-Rapha who can heal our bodies, restore creation, and repair our relationship with Him! Revelation 21:4–5 promises, "'He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.' And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'" God's identity as Jehovah-Rapha makes this future healing and restoration a trustworthy promise.
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