May 15, 2014

Yahweh Rapha: "the Lord Who Heals"

Exodus 15:22-27

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.
—Psalm 103:2-3


In the desert at Marah, we have another story of God’s provision and testing. With empty water sacks, standing before a pool of bitter water, the people of Israel begin to grumble. Although they complain bitterly against Moses, they are really complaining against God.

Their grumbling seems very shortsighted. Only a few days earlier God had parted the Red Sea and saved them from Pharaoh’s army! (See Exodus 14-15.) But again, as we see in this story, God delivers his people, making the water fit to drink.

At Marah, the Israelites learn that God is Yahweh Rapha, “the LORD who heals.” This name comes from the Hebrew word raphe, meaning “to heal, to make healthy.” The people also learn that God expects his people to trust him in all things, and he expects them to be holy, as he is holy. Indeed, a few chapters later at Sinai, he lays out a code for holy living.

In the New Testament we discover an irony about Yahweh Rapha. There we learn that “the LORD who heals” suffers to heal us and to forgive our sins. In the words of Isaiah 53:5, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities.” These words refer to Jesus, the Son of God. “By his wounds we are healed.”

May you have peace today, knowing that all your sins have been forgiven.

O God, you are the one who heals. Through your Son, Jesus, we have been healed and forgiven. Help us to live fully with this assurance. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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