The Names of God 4 – YHWH Rapha: He will be healing you
For this devotional, we will look at a name for God from the Old Testament that has a profound New Testament impact. The first time this name appears is in Exodus 15. Moses and Israel crossed the Reed Sea and escaped Pharoah’s army. They are now headed to Canaan, but to get here, they need to go through the wilderness, which is the desert. The problem is that the people, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, need a water supply – something the desert has precious little of.
The people come to a place called Marah. Here they found water, but the water was polluted – or bitter. The people threw a fit because they were dying of thirst. It is vs. 26 that God provides this promise:
“If you will carefully obey the LORD your God, do what is right in his sight, pay attention to his commands, and keep all his statutes, I will not inflict any illnesses on you that I inflicted on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26 (emphasis mine)
This promise is conditional. The condition is that the people need to be obedient. If they were, the Lord would not bring any diseases that fell upon the Egyptians. God seals this promise by calling himself רָפָא יהוה yhwh Rāpā. If you remember from our discussion on YHWH, this Hebrew word is the holiest name of God, and it means “He will be.” Now most translations, like the CSB, translate the name as the Lord who heals you. But translated more closely, it means, “He will be healing you.” Both ways of translating this word reflect a God who actively wants our physical and spiritual healing.
Let’s look at another passage where this name is used:
My soul, bless the LORD,
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
My soul, bless the LORD,
and do not forget all his benefits.
He forgives all your iniquity;
he heals all your diseases.
He redeems your life from the Pit;
he crowns you with faithful love and compassion.
He satisfies you with good things;
your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalms 103:1-5
This Psalm is a song that is a praise declaration. Notice the progression within these verses:
- The Psalmist praises the name of God – YHWH
- The Psalmist then declares what the Lord will do or has done
- Forgives sins
- Heals diseases
- Redeems life
- Provides faithful love and compassion (hesed)
- Provides life satisfaction that restores the soul
Notice how salvation and redemption are intricately tied with healing, love, compassion, and a restored life. They are not separate but the same. YHWH Rapha is the God who will heal the souls and bodies of those who come to Him.
We see YHWH Rapha displayed in the ministry model Jesus gives us. Jesus never called people into repentance the right way. He consistently demonstrated healing, love, and compassion before he called one to repentance. Take, for example, the woman at the well in John 4. He offered her living water – his salvation – before exposing her sin. Sitting and talking with her, he poured out love and compassion before saying anything about sin.
Another example is the leper at the end of Mark 1. The man stated: “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Mark 1:40 Jesus was willing, and the man was healed. No call for repentance or telling the man he had to get right with God before he was relieved of suffering. No, Jesus just healed him. After he was healed, he was told to go to the priests and make the right sacrifices to testify to the healing. Jesus, time and again through the Gospels, demonstrates his love through his Raph before calling people to “go and sin no more.” John 5:14-15.
YHWH Rapha is a God who will heal the soul and the body of anyone who comes to him. Jesus healed all who came to him, seeking healing and his presence. How we can demonstrate this act of love and compassion is how we interact with those folks who make us feel uncomfortable. We can lead with God’s love and pray for healing before mentioning sin or repentance. Don’t get me wrong, repentance of sin is essential for salvation. But it is the Holy Spirit that leads a person to Jesus. That leading is done with love and compassion, not with immediate condemnation.
God will heal, deliver, and restore anyone when we are in his presence. His very presence, his holiness, is what convicts us of our sinfulness. Because YHWH Rapha shows us, such extravagant love, we then want to be right with him. When we are with people, we are uncomfortable with – maybe with a hardcore 1%er biker, someone with a different sexual lifestyle than our own, or someone who is homeless and has mental health issues – leading with love instead of condemnation will break every stereotype they have of Christians. Leading with love is what God and the Holy Spirit do through us when we make ourselves available to him. God will heal you and anyone who will hear his call and step into his presence.