Last week we began a blog series on the names of God found in Scripture and learned about the name El Roi, the God who sees. As we continue this week, it is important to note the “why" of this series. Why study the names of God? Psalm 9:10a says, “Those who know your name trust in you … .” The more we know about the names of God and their meanings, the better we trust Him. The more we trust Him, the greater our faith grows and, along with it, our willingness to step into the uncomfortableness of wherever He may lead. Missionaries traveling to the ends of the Earth to reach the unreached must have such abiding trust, such steadfast understanding of the character of God, that they are willing to forgo the comforts of home in order to boldly share the gospel, even in the face of persecution and danger. A thriving missions movement stems not from a focus on the world and the unreached within, but flows out of a deep understanding of the character of God and His heart for His children.
Jehovah-Rapha (The Lord Who Heals)
The Hebrew verb rapha means “to heal,” “to repair,” and “to make whole,” and is seen 67 times throughout the Old Testament. It’s not until Exodus 15, however, that we see God introduce the name Healer as part of His identity. In this chapter, the Israelites have made their exodus out of Egypt and are wandering in the Desert of Shur. Tired and thirsty after three days with no water in sight, they come upon a river. To their dismay, the water in the river is bitter and unfit for drinking. They name the river Marah (meaning “bitter”), and one can assume their hearts felt similarly. Why had God led them out of slavery only to die of thirst in the desert? Moses cries out to God, and God hears, providing a solution for this crisis of thirst. The Lord leads Moses to a piece of wood, Moses throws the wood into the river, and the river’s water miraculously becomes sweet. Then the Lord speaks to His people:
“‘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 the Lord, who heals you.’” -Exodus 15:26, emphasis added
In this moment, God was making a poignant point to His people. Not only is He the Healer of what ails the body, He is the Healer of our very souls. He reminds the Israelites that He protected them from the 10 plagues in Egypt, and by “healing” the waters of Marah, He reveals what plagued His people even more deeply—the bitterness and weariness of their spirits.
God the Father as Jehovah-Rapha also points to God the Son, who has been called the Great Physician. This term stems from Mark 2:17, where Jesus tells the Pharisees, “‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” In His earthly ministry, Jesus revealed Himself as Jehovah-Rapha in the flesh—traveling from city to city, healing people’s physical ailments and forgiving sins, the ailment of the soul.
What Jehovah-Rapha Means for Us
Throughout Scripture, we see the Lord acting as Jehovah-Rapha on behalf of His people, and this aspect of God’s identity is still true for believers today. In particular, there are three ways Jehovah-Rapha provides healing for His children:
1. Physical Healing
Time and time again throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see evidence of God’s care for people’s physical well-being. The Lord heals Hannah’s barren womb (1 Samuel 1:9-20), Naaman’s leprosy (2 Kings 5:10), King Jeroboam's shriveled hand (1 Kings 13:4-6), and the Shunamite’s son (2 Kings 4:18-37). In Jesus’ earthly ministry, there are dozens of examples of Him healing the multitudes from leprosy, blindness, deafness, paralysis, and even death. Jesus’ tender mercy for the chronically ill demonstrates God’s care for our physical bodies. While we aren’t promised physical healing for whatever ails us on Earth, we know Jehovah-Rapha hears our prayers when we cry out to Him, and He offers us lasting healing in eternity.
2. Mental/Emotional Healing
Though physical healing may be the focus of many prayers, Scripture demonstrates God’s desire to heal our minds and hearts as well. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” He heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3), He restores our soul in times of weariness (Psalm 23:3), He offers rest for the burdened (Matthew 11:28), and He gives us peace in times of anxiety (John 14:27).
3. Spiritual Healing
While Jehovah-Rapha has the power to heal physically, emotionally, and mentally, perhaps the most important healing of all is spiritual healing. Jehovah-Rapha in the flesh, Jesus, came to Earth to heal the divide between humanity and the Father created by sin. On the cross, He bore the sickness and pain sin brought into our lives, and “by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV).” More than any physical ailment, our sinful hearts desperately need the healing provided by the cross.
While our prayers can often revolve around asking for freedom from physical pain, Scripture reminds us that God’s healing in our lives is more than skin-deep. Jehovah-Rapha longs to heal us from the head down, our whole being—mind, body, spirit.
Marlena is a mom, wife, and freelance writer in Texas. She has a desire to use her skills to glorify God and encourage others.