and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
The subject of healing is one of great conflict, controversy, and contradictory opinions within the church. It has somehow been elevated to being some kind of ‘measure’ – of our spiritual condition, of God’s faithfulness, of His love, of our obedience… There are so many ways in which we misinterpret this sensitive issue, applying our own perceptions and expectations and, more often than not, ending up with inadequate or incorrect explanations that never satisfy. What we think we understand today seems hopelessly incorrect tomorrow. We read the Word and take hold of it in faith, pray it in faith, declare it in faith, remind Him of it in faith…yet healing does not come. Why?
As with many of the things of God, this is a why that does not seem to have an answer – at least, not one that satisfies us. I have journeyed through the reality of healing on many occassions in my life, and have come to see that there is no simple or easy answer. In this journey I have seen dramatic healings – a serious hot water burn completely healed, broken bones healed to the point that doctors could not find any evidence of injury at all, to name only two. But I have also walked the long, hard road of crying out for healing for my husband and also my closest friend. Neither were healed and both passed away, leaving me with more questions and confusion than I had ever experienced. Of all the names of God, Jehovah Rapha was the hardest to understand.
We need to take hold of the truth that God is Jehovah Rapha, our healer, at all times, even when circumstances suggest otherwise.
Today’s verse says very clearly: ‘I am the Lord who heals you.’ That is what Jehovah Rapha (or Rophe, or Rophi) really means. He identifies Himself completely with healing. We cannot dispute that. There are countless other verses in the Bible that back this up, but we don’t have time in this devotional to examine them all. While God does desire that we come to Him in faith when asking for healing – as He does for everything – His instrinsic nature as healer is not affected by our faith. He is our healer, whether we believe it or not. That is an eternal, spiritual truth which can never be changed or removed.
I realised, at some point in my journey, that we seem to limit God’s healing to those instances of the miraculous or dramatic and leave out the daily, ongoing, small instances of healing that surround us. Recovering from a cold is healing, because God has placed within our bodies the ability to heal itself naturally. Successful surgery or medical treatment is another simple example, because the intellect and ability of doctors and nurses is given them by God, who also has provided the knowledge to heal. That pill we take for a headache is the result of God enabling research based on the knowledge and wisdom He gives. Even unbelievers contain the ‘breath of God’ that brings life – this includes Jehovah Rapha living in us, the continual process of restoration that He has placed in every living thing.
All of God’s names are reflected in the simple, daily things that surround us. Jehovah Rapha is no exception. Consider how a plant that has been damaged will push our cells to ‘heal’ the ‘wound.’ Think about that stubbed toe, that nasty bruise, or that cut finger. These are healed through the power of restoration that God has placed in everything. It’s so important that we understand that healing is more than ‘being fixed physically.’ It means being fully restored, and that opens the door to another dimension – healing is not and never will be tied to, dependent on, or limited to the physical. It is, first and foremost, an entirely spiritual concept.
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24) This is an interesting verse, because it implies the spiritual context. While it may be difficult for us, sometimes, to understand and accept, God’s first priority is not our physical lives. This world is a temporary dwelling, our bodies a ‘tent’ as Paul describes it, and we’re destined for a spiritual eternity. God’s desire and purpose, first and foremost, are to ensure our complete restoration, and if He has to ‘sacrifice’ physical health to do so, then that is what He will do. The principle is exactly the same as a parent consenting to a child’s amputation in order to save the life of a child. It’s a heartbreakingly difficult decision, but Jehovah Rapha will always – just as we will – make the decision that results in life and restoration.
The verse from Peter places the parallel verse from Isaiah very firmly in the spiritual context. He talks of sin and its consequences, and of us being restored to righteousness as being healed. If we look in the New Testament, the Greek word often used for healing is ‘sozo,’ which actually is ‘saved.’ The relationship between spiritual and physical healing is clear, as is the fact that spiritual restoration will always be the primary purpose behind everything God does, and that includes whether we are physically healed or not. The ‘diseases of Egypt’ were, in fact, the ‘curses’ or plagues, the physical manifestation of God’s displeasure and punishment and not actual diseases per se. Jehovah Rapha accomplishes spiritual healing – freedom from slavery and any curse – without necessarily healing physically. Jehovah Rapha is concerned with our spiritual eternity in His presence.
Does this mean that God won’t or doesn’t want to heal us physically? Absolutely not. Spiritual healing may often manifest in physical healing. Jesus Himself healed countless people, as did His disciples and Paul and the apostles. But there is a fundamental difference between ‘healings’ and ‘miracle healings.’ Every single day, in the smallest or greatest situations, Jehovah Rapha is working in us to effect healing, whether we are aware of it or not. Those are all ‘healings’ and through them, Jehovah Rapha is entirely faithful to His name. ‘Miracle healings,’ on the other hand, fall within the sphere of ‘signs and wonders’ and they have only one purpose – to testify to the truth, the power, and the glory of God and the message of salvation. They are there to testify to the Gospel. We may benefit from the healing, but this is the Jehovah Rapha of eternity – of I AM – who is at work for the ‘healing’ or salvation of mankind.
Our verse for today essentially says ‘if you love Me and obey Me,’ an interesting truth that is often the basis for confusion and even condemnation. The perception we often settle on is that we aren’t physically healed because we aren’t obedient enough. This is the same confusion as that of lack of faith, and works hand in hand with it, both bringing condemnation. It’s our fault, we failed, and God didn’t heal us because of what we did or didn’t do. Human pride is, perversely, the reason for our skewing of what Jehovah Rapha really means.
While this may sound harsh, it is, unfortunately, the truth. Pride is the foundation of every human problem. It is the thing that drives ‘me,’ our focus on the flesh and on self. There is perhaps no area in our lives that seeks self-gratification more than that of healing, and that is because we value life so highly. Of course, this is perfectly ‘natural’ and even understandable. Life is a wonderful gift. We want to live to see our children grow and have children of their own. We want to cram as much pleasure and satisfaction as we can to this short time on Earth. From that perspective, it’s so easy to slide into a place where we regard Jehovah Rapha as the means to provide a long and happy life before we reach eternity.
The real truth is that physical healing is simply a tool in God’s purposes. A statement like this may immediately conjure images of a harsh and selfish God who is concerned only for His own glory. This is the place where resentment is born, the place where we begin to believe that God doesn’t really care. Essentially, God is only concerned with His own glory. He is God, the great I AM, and it’s utterly true that nothing and no one in this universe even comes close. He’s jealous for His glory and will never share it. But He does invite us to partake of it. 1 Peter 4:13 is one verse that confirms this. God’s plan is that we partake of His glory – are part of it. What an astonishing truth. We are created for the glory of God, to be part of it for eternity. This is the ultimate purpose of Jehovah Rapha – to heal us eternally and restore us to the place for which He intended us in His glory.
Whenever Scripture seems contradictory, I always look at Christ. He is the fulfillment and the manifestation of the Word and the ‘final say in any matter.’ It’s remarkable that the man who healed so many was never healed Himself – at least not physically. Our human minds may easily believe that healing Him of those terrible stripes would have been a powerful statement. Yet that did not happen. 1 Peter 4 adds clarity to this – if we are to be partakers in God’s glory, we must also be partakers in His suffering. Jesus is in no way contradictory to God’s Word. Jehovah Rapha functioned powerfully in His life, not by healing Him but by restoring Him spiritually through the resurrection.
The key to acceptance lies in Matthew 10:39. Jesus tells us unequivocally that this physical life is of no eternal signifance unless we lay it down for Him. We like to think that this is only in ‘spiritual surrender’ – giving up sin or desires for His sake. But what Jesus is actually saying is that we need to put this life in perspective, to accept that we may have to physically die for His sake. Our misconceptions raise up the image of martyrdom, like Stephen. But what is the difference between submitting to stoning or execution and submitting to a fatal disease? They both end in death. And, if we are a believer, they both end in resurrection to eternal life and a place in His glory. This is the truth that brings peace and acceptance – Jehovah Rapha is always fulfilled in our lives, whether we are healed physically or raised after death – the perfect eternal healing.
Having lived through the death of so many whom I loved, I have come to treasure life and every moment that I have. Yet, having struggled for many years with an auto-immune disease and cried out to God for healing, I have personally learned the truth of ‘there shall be no feeble one among you.’ I am assured that Jehovah Rapha remains active in my life, releasing daily ‘healings’ in the grace to live for Him. I know that, in every situation where He calls me to work on His behalf, He provides the strength and the health to do so. And I also know, now, that this life is not the ‘be all and end all.’ I’m learning, like Paul, that I would much rather be in His eternal presence. I choose Jesus and I choose to live only for Him, secure in the knowledge that, though I may never be healed here in this world, I will see Jehovah Rapha face to face and know the fulfillment of His promise.
Whether it be before death or after death, He remains Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals me.
Help us, today, Lord to choose You, to come to a place where we begin to see this life that You have given as being only for Your glory. Comfort us with sure and certain truth that You are Jehovah Rapha in everything, that You heal hearts, spirits, minds, and bodies according to Your purpose, and that in all things we can be assured of Your eternal love and purpose worked in us to our good and Your glory.