Root: רָפָא (resh, pey, aleph)
Sounds like: rafah
We have attributed many names to God: the Almighty, the Provider, Lord of Hosts, the Shepherd. However, one of the names He gave Himself is often forgotten. YHWH called Himself “Healer”:
And He [YHWH] said, “If you will listen diligently to the voice of YHWH your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, then all of these diseases that I put on the Egyptians, NONE will I put on you; for I am YHWH your healer [roph’eka].“
YHWH the Great Physician
YHWH was the primary healer. Through Him all life existed. He could give life, stop life and heal life:
YHWH: See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal [e’re’pa], and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.
When the Hebrew people were sent into exile to Babylon, YHWH promised that He would one day free them from their captivity, and along with that freedom He would restore their health physically and mentally:
For this is what YHWH says:
‘Your broken limb is irreparable, and your wound is incurable.
There is no one to plead your cause;
No healing [r’phu’oht] for your sore, no recovery for you.
All your lovers have forgotten you, they do not seek you;
For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy,
with the punishment of a cruel one, because your wrongdoing is great, and your sins are numerous.
Why do you cry out over your injury? Your pain is incurable.
Because your wrongdoing is great and your sins are numerous, I have done these things to you.
Therefore all who devour you will be devoured;
and all your adversaries, every one of them, will go into captivity;
and those who plunder you will become plunder, and all who plunder you I will turn into plunder.
For I will restore you to health [e’rukah] and I will heal [er’pa’ek] you of your wounds,’ declares YHWH…
Everything broken, every sore, every wound, every pain YHWH would reverse:
YHWH: Behold, I will bring to it health and healing [u’ma’rapeh], and I will heal [u’rapha’tim] them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.
Before the Babylonian invasion, the prophet Hosea lived in a time when the Hebrew people were threatened by the Assyrian nation. He reflected the same hope as Jeremiah. God would allow them to be wounded by the enemy, but He would not abandon them. Instead He would heal them:
“Come, let us return to YHWH. For He has torn us, but He will heal us [w’yirepa’enu]; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.”
Healing and The Word
Hosea made a prophetic statement talking about God’s healing, a revival, and being raised up on the third day. About fifty in the future, when King Hezekiah of Judah became gravely ill, the Word of YHWH came to the prophet Isaiah with a message and specific instructions:
2 Kings 20:1-5
In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says YHWH, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’”
Then he turned his face to the wall and prayed to YHWH, saying, “Remember now, O YHWH, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of YHWH came to him, saying, “Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says YHWH, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you [ropheh lak]. On the third day you shall go up to the house of YHWH.”
Interesting that both Hosea and Isaiah announced that the healing would occur on the third day. It emphasized the importance of the future Messiah returning from the ultimate wound… death… on the third day.
In the Tanakh the Word of YHWH was frequently tied in with the concept of healing:
Then they cried out to YHWH in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses.
He sent His Word and healed them [w’yirap’em], and delivered them from their destructions.
Let them give thanks to YHWH for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!
This idea of the Word of YHWH was flushed out with the idea of Spirit/Breath… which is one word in Hebrew: ruakh. When we speak we emit breath. When YHWH spoke He breathed life into every Word. In the Genesis account of creation YHWH spoke and breathed life into the planet. When we are wounded He sends His Word/His Breath/His Spirit and we are healed.
Yeshua as Healer
Yeshua (Jesus) was, of course, known as a miraculous healer who died and rose on the third day. He was also referred to as the Word. The Tanakh (Old Testament) associated the Word of God with His future Anointed (Messiah) Presence. They anxiously waited for the Word of YHWH to come to them:
Heal me [rapha’eni], O YHWH, and I will be healed [w’erapheh]; save me and I will be saved.
For You are my praise. Look, they keep saying to me, “Where is the Word of YHWH? Let it come now!”
When Yeshua came to the scene He embodied the Spirit of YHWH and He became the Word of God for the people. The Gospel writer John started off his writings saying this:
John 1:1-3, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
It was the promised Messiah that took on the role of the Word. The Word became flesh and made His dwells among us. The writings of the prophet Isaiah strongly focused on the Messiah and in the following passage He was referred to as healer by way of His own suffering:
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed [ni-r’pa lanu].
It was the Messiah who brought true healing. His actions redeemed us. We were forgiven and therefore, healed! By His painful sacrifice on the cross we were healed physically, mentally, and spiritually!
Physically Afflicted: Faith and Healing
Although His ultimate goal was to be our eternal Salvation, Yeshua also was a healer to individual people, while on earth. At one point Yeshua even unintentionally healed a woman:
And a woman was there who had been afflicted for twelve years by an issue of bleeding. She had suffered greatly under the care of many physicians and had spent all she had, but to no avail. Instead, her condition had only grown worse.
When the woman heard about Jesus, she came up through the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she kept saying, “If I only touch His clothes, I will be healed.” At that instant, her bleeding stopped, and she sensed in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
At once Jesus was aware that power had gone out from Him. Turning to the crowd, He asked, “Who touched My clothes?”
His disciples answered, “You can see the crowd pressing in on You, and yet You ask, ‘Who touched Me?’”
But He kept looking around to see who had done this. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him trembling in fear, and she told Him the whole truth.
“Daughter,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you; go in peace and be free of your affliction.”
Yeshua often healed people without even being asked:
Once again Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man with a withered hand was there. In order to accuse Him, they [the religious elite] were watching to see if He would heal on the Sabbath.
Then Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Stand up among us.” And He asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
But they were silent. Jesus looked around at them with anger and sorrow at their hardness of heart. Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and it was restored.
At this, the Pharisees went out and plotted with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Yeshua healed people to help them, but He also healed people to make a point. It is ALWAYS good to heal. Physically, mentally, spiritually… health is good. We should always choose to heal life rather than let it be destroyed by our own unwillingness to take action. If traditions and laws get in the way of that mandate, then they should be overturned. The Pharisees would not look past their religious observances and strict codes of custom in order to save someone. Yeshua was more than happy to point out their gross injustice… and they hated Him for it.
Spiritually Afflicted: Healing and Faith
Yeshua often told people that it was their faith or belief that had healed them (see Matthew 8:13, Matthew 9:22, Matthew 15:28, Mark 5:34, Mark 10:52, Luke 8:48, Luke 17:19, Luke 18:42). So then, how can we be healed when we lack faith? The good news is, God can heal that too:
YHWH: “Return, O faithless sons, I will heal [erpah] your faithlessness.”
God heals us and He loves us:
YHWH: I will heal [erpah] their faithlessness, I will love them freely. For My anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; It will blossom like the lily, and it will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.
If you are suffering from a lack of faith God can heal you… if you are willing to let Him. He is faithful to those who love Him. Any lack of faith you struggle with is covered by His complete faithfulness to you:
“And know that YHWH your God, He is God, God the faithful, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
Mentally Afflicted: Comfort and Healing
God heals the spiritually afflicted, and He binds up the wounds of the physically afflicted… but He also has great compassion on the mentally afflicted.
If you’ve experienced that profound feeling of losing someone you love, know that God will comfort the mourners:
YHWH: “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him [w’erpa’ehu]; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners, creating the praise of the lips. “Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,” says YHWH, “and I will heal him [u’repha’tiw].”
Our God is Healer; He is also our Comforter.
YHWH: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you will be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Healing may not mean what we think it does. Healing, in God’s eyes, might be making someone complete, and bringing them home to Heaven. Is that a failure, on God’s part, to heal? No… it’s a blessing. But we have a hard time seeing it that way. When we pray for healing we want someone to be fixed; we want their body to be fixed and patched up so we can continue to love them here on earth. Maybe we should be open to the fact that the greatest healing comes when we get to go to our heavenly home and face our Creator.
Yes, we will all die. Our bodies will break down and we will face an end on this earth. God won’t heal our bodies forever because our bodies are just shells, but if you let Him, He will forever heal your soul. In eternity you will be the complete, strong, and vibrant one you were meant to be!
Praise YHWH! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant and praise is becoming.
YHWH builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals [ha-ropheh] the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.
Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.
Pray for healing. Pray for physical, mental and spiritual healing for yourself and those you love. But also be open to the fact that what we want is not always what the Creator has planned for us… Sometimes the best healing means going home.
Next week: Heaven