A few weeks ago, both my family of six and my fifth-grade homeroom were hit with a stomach bug. As I washed sheets, held buckets, and disinfected desktops, I couldn’t help but beg the Lord for healing from this common, modern-day plague. In my prayers, I called on Yahweh Rapha, the Hebrew name for God which means, The Lord Who Heals You.
In The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I find the statement to be heart-wrenchingly true. When our knowledge of who God is limited, our faith is limited, and our prayers become limited. Discovering the multi-faced character of God through the study of His names has invited me to know Him more deeply, come to Him more boldly, and wait for His answers to my prayers more expectantly. As I prayed for my family and my students during our mini-plague, I could pray with confidence and surety because I know God is The Lord Who Heals.
Knowing Israel’s Context
Yahweh is God’s personal name (Ex. 3:13-15). Just before God delivered His people from Egypt, He revealed His personal name to Moses alongside His covenant promise to redeem, deliver, and adopt His people from slavery. God’s personal name, Yahweh, reveals His relationship with His people is not just formal and contractual; it is also deeply personal. Just as God knows His people by their personal names, God invites His people to know Him by name.
Both God’s personal name and the Hebrew word for healing, rapha, come together in Exodus 15. Israel had been in the wilderness for three days without water when they came to Marah—in Marah, Israel found the water to be too bitter to drink. In their affliction, Israel began to grumble. They forgot who Yahweh was; they forgot His faithfulness to them as a people.
In context, God’s people were just delivered from Egypt. They witnessed Yahweh part the Red Sea, They saw the plagues God inflicted on Pharoah and the Egyptians. As Israel grumbled from thirst, God invited them to remember who He is by revealing His name and His character, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer” (Ex. 15:26). After God revealed He is The Lord Who Heals, He acted according to His character. He led Israel to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water (Ex. 15:27).
Knowing the Christ Connection
In the New Testament, we see the character of God the Father displayed in the life of The Son, Jesus. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus healed the sick, brought the dead back to life, restored eyes to see, made deaf ears hear, and mobilized the paralyzed. In John 11, Jesus arrived at Lazarus’s tomb four days after he had died, and Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha had an earthly understanding of Jesus’s words. She said her brother Lazarus would rise again from the dead “in the resurrection on the last day” (v. 24). However, Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life,” a claim He then proved by raising Lazarus from the dead (vv. 38-44). Martha was confident in the eternal timing of God’s ultimate healing, while Jesus chose to give her (and us) a foretaste of this resurrection healing to come by raising Lazarus from the dead, something Jesus didn’t always do.
Knowing Our Identity as Yahweh Rapha’s People
Today, we can’t witness the plagues inflicted upon Pharoah and his people, nor will we follow Jesus around Galilee to observe His healing ministry with our own eyes. However, we do have the promised Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enlightens our hearts to see the things God sees and care about the things God cares about. It is only by the Spirit that God transforms hearts to become more Christlike. While we may not see the things ransomed Israel or the disciples saw with their own eyes, the Spirit tethers our souls to these heavenly realities.
Throughout Scripture, Israel’s wandering and forgetful ways both devastates and encourages my heart. It devastates me because as a Christ-follower, my tethered Spirit is grieved to think that though Israel experienced God’s deliverance, they quickly forgot what He had done. At the same time, what grieves me also encourages me. I too am human, and my heart is prone to wander from God’s promises and forget who He is—every day, all the time. Even when I know God is a Healer, I sometimes fail to live as if He is the God of the universe who acts according to His character.
We all need healing. Just like my family and my students needed healing from the stomach bug, on this side of heaven we all will experience illness in our lives. The last three years have made the word “plague” more real to each of us. While these earthly plagues afflict us, ultimately, we all need spiritual healing from our sinful nature. God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt, Jesus rescued Lazarus from death by bringing him back to life, and in Jesus’s death and resurrection fallen sinners are healed from the plague of sin and given the glorious, grace-filled crown of Christ’s righteousness.
Our God is great; He is The Lord Who Heals Us. As we all spring-forward to Easter, may we see Jesus as a Healer on the cross. God the Father is Yahweh Rapha and Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In his death and resurrection, every fallen heart can find hope, healing, and rest.
Editor’s Note: Knowing His Great Name is a twelve-week Bible Study on the names of God and is available for purchase in the PCA Bookstore. His Name is Great is a children’s book written to complement the Bible study so parents and children can learn God’s names together. His Name is Great will be available for purchase at the end of March.
 A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, New York: HarperCollins, 1978), 1.
Photo by Amin Hasani on Unsplash
Rachel is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and God has knitted her together to be a teacher in her inmost being. Rachel has served on the Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM) National Women’s Ministry team as a Regional Advisor. She is the author of Slowly Unraveled (CDM, January 2019), a contributor to Hinged: Vitally Connected to Christ and His Church (CDM, January 2020), is a co-author of Knowing His Great Name (CDM, 2022) and the author of His Name Is Great (CDM, 2023). Rachel enjoys speaking and teaching—her heart is to encourage and equip leaders while weaving in the importance of the gospel in everyday life. Rachel is married to Michael, the Community Life Pastor at Hilton Head Presbyterian Church. Currently, Rachel is a fifth-grade teacher at Hilton Head Christian Academy. Together, Michael and Rachel have four children: Ezra (13), Asher (12), Caleb (10), and Lydia Jane (8).