Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Yahweh-Rophe

Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Yahweh-Rophe

Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Yahweh-Rophe.

“If you will listen carefully to the voice of Yahweh your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am Yahweh who heals you, Yahweh-rophe.”  (Exodus 15:26).

After walking through the divided Red Sea, the escaping Hebrews were led by God into an Egyptian desert. They walked for three full days without water, which is close to the maximum a body can survive without water. The Hebrews were desperately thirsty, and they complained instead of prayed. Here they are, they  just experienced an amazing miracle at the Red Sea, but they began to complain to Moses instead of pray to God. Isn’t that just like us humans, when the flesh is weak and we complain right after a blessing from God? We have such a short memory. So as he often did during the wandering years, Moses went straight to God and asked for His help. Moses took the mantle of leadership and represented them in their concerns. God answered Moses’ cry for help, His mercy was demonstrated once again. God asked Moses to pick up a stick and throw it into the bitter stream of undrinkable water in a nearby oasis. Immediately the water became drinkable and all the people drank to their heart’s content. This is when God revealed Himself as Yahweh-rophe… the LORD who heals. In the restoration of the oasis stream, God wanted to provide a visual aid, an object lesson, to teach the Hebrews about His desire to heal. The thirsty Hebrews had a teachable moment, and God provided the lesson. Yahweh can heal the stream, He can heal their thirst, He can heal their murmuring spirit.

Yahweh-rophe is a compound name, and it occurs only this once in Scripture. Rophe means to heal, restore, return to health, and that word occurs more than 60 times when referring to God’s ability and desire to heal. The LORD is a healer, and He is not limited to physical healing. In Isaiah 61:1, God talked about “binding up the broken hearted.” In Jeremiah 3:22, God desires to heal their wayward hearts, their backsliding, which seems more of a spiritual healing. In Jeremiah 30:17, God refers to all kinds of healing, “I will restore (rophe) you to health, and heal (rophe) your words, declares Yahweh.”

One important sign of the Messiah’s arrival was that of healing. Isaiah 35:5-7 spells it out clearly, “And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind, and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!” And Isaiah continues with how God will heal nature as well, “Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.” We have to wait for the full healing of nature till heaven, of course, but Jesus certainly brought to earth God’s healing power regarding the people.

Gospel Fulfillment. “News about Jesus spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed – he healed them all.”  (Matthew 4:24).

We know that Jesus healed people, all the time, but here’s the question… why? Why did Jesus heal people? Was it some moral obligation He felt? Did He compel Himself to heal because the people expected Him to do so? It’s clear that, from the start of His public ministry, Jesus was a healer far beyond what the people had ever seen. But why did He heal? Here are some thoughts on why…

  1. Love. “And Jesus went around doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil…” (Acts 10:38). It seems that Jesus couldn’t help Himself. He heals because He is the very embodiment of love and goodness. He is love. Mercy is in His DNA, His spiritual genes. His inner character just naturally resulted in His healing of people. His healing was a spilling over of who He is. His inherent nature is pure compassion, so He gravitates toward love-in-action… a tangible, observable fleshing out of His character, a strong desire to go beyond merely speaking the truth about love. His incarnation means that He isn’t content with the abstract, the theoretical, the mere idea of wholeness and love. This was instinctual for Jesus, to live out His character in a way that people could literally see that He is good. If He sees someone broken, He jumps at the chance to bring wholeness. Healing was as natural to Jesus as walking down the road. He didn’t heal to merely make some spiritual point. He healed because He is a natural-born healer. Healing people was Jesus’ impulse, His natural form of self-expression.
  2. Personal. “Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and preaching the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness.” (Matthew 4:23). Jesus proved that God is not distant, He is not content with long-distance interaction. God is personal. And His personal ministry was mainly speakinghealing, and befriending. Jesus taught everywhere He went. He wanted the people to understand God’s ways, to gain insight and wisdom from Scripture, to start acquiring the very mind of Christ. He preached everywhere as well, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom, announcing its arrival, so that the people would be challenged to commit themselves to God. Then, Jesus healed because it was the most kindhearted, the most personally helpful thing He could do. And finally, Jesus went about making friends of sinners, of disciples, of Gentiles, of enemies, of anyone who wanted His friendship. And the people who were receptive learned from His speaking, were made whole from His healing, and were fulfilled through His friendship. Jesus made divine things personal.
  3. Proof. “John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, ‘John the Baptist sent us to ask. Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’ At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. Then he told John’s disciples, ‘Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard – the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:20-22). As Jesus says here to the Baptist’s disciples, the Jewish Bible stated that miraculous healings would be a sign of the Messianic Age, vivid pictures of the New Kingdom… Isaiah 26:19‘Those who die will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!”  Isaiah 29:18-19: “In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness. The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord. The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 35:5-6: “And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!” Isaiah 61:1-2a: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”  So through His healings, Jesus confirms that He indeed is the long awaited Messiah. The healings authenticate His role as the anointed Servant of God. Jesus claims to be the Messiah. His healings prove it.

Jesus the healer. We can’t put Him in a box with this part of His ministry. Consider this… there is no can’t-miss formula; no magic words; no consistent style; no lack of variety of people and occasion and brokenness. His mercy is deep and sometimes mysterious. Sometimes faith seems to be needed. Other times faith didn’t seem to be a part of the action at all. Sometimes he touched, sometimes He was touched, sometimes He spit, sometimes He just spoke the healing into existence. Sometimes He forgave sins during the healing, and sometimes He didn’t. Sometimes He was thanked. Often enough He was forgotten soon after the healing. Sometimes He told everyone not to say a word about the healing, and sometimes He told them to spread the word. Most of the healings were immediate, but there was a time when there seemed to be more of a gradual process (Mark 8:22-26). Jesus was an equal opportunity healer, confidently healing unexpected people in unpredictable ways. He loved to heal, to bring wholeness, whenever He had the opportunity. After all, Jesus is love.

And God is still a healer. Jesus reminded us in His Word that we need to humbly be aware of our need for inner healing because of sin, for the Spirit of God to mend us and restore us to health. Be aware of your brokenness, He says, for when you know you are sick, you’ll seek out the doctor. Without this awareness, we would unfortunately live under the delusion that we don’t need His attention. The  Spirit of Jesus will continue His ministry of healing as we open ourselves to Him. Any healing we experience now is a gracious and wonderful foretaste of what all believers will experience in the New Jerusalem. In heaven, we will all be healed, inside and out. In the Kingdom, we will all be restored to wholeness, which will gladden God’s heart, and ours. And then we can say in full voice, “Let all that I am praise Yahweh; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise Yahweh; may I never forget all his benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:1-4).

A Prayer to Yahweh-rophe (ya’-way ro’phay) that honors Jesus, Yahweh with flesh:

We gratefully offer ourselves to you, Yahweh-rophe, LORD-healer, the Great Physician. For only you can make the bitter sweet, and bring the dead back to life. Your Spirit of love yearns to open the eyes of the blind, and strengthen the legs of the weak. You are poised to bind up the broken hearted, release the oppressed, and proclaim freedom for the captives living in darkness. You are the sun of righteousness who will rise with healing in your wings.  You alone, Almighty Yahweh, are the balm for the sorrows and suffering of your people. Thank you for sending your Son to heal and restore so many. And we thank you that He continues His ministry of healing to this day. We bow before you, Yahweh-rophe, and exalt your holy Name. Amen.