The Lord Who Heals

Yahweh-Rophe: "The Lord Who Heals" Exodus 15:22-26. From rophe ("to heal");

implies spiritual, emotional as well as physical healing. (Jeremiah 30:17, 3:22; Isaiah 61:1)

God heals body, soul and spirit--all levels of man's being.

When the people of Israel left Egypt under the leadership of Moses, they first crossed the Red Sea where they were "baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" --1 Cor. 10. For the first time in their history, the twelve tribes of Israel were united into one nation, " shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.") After three days they came to springs of bitter water at Marah. (Traditionally about 40 miles south of the modern town of Suez--bitter springs are there to this day). The people complained to Moses. Moses cried out to the Lord, and Yahweh showed Moses a tree, which when cast into the springs, made the waters sweet. It was at the time that God said to His people, 

"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)

This promise from God was to prove key to the wandering of the Jews in the wilderness for forty years and God's amazing care for them--and for His special hand of healing love upon them--down through their subsequent history.

Anyone who has read the five books of Moses will know that for 40 years God provided an amazing totally nourishing, all-purpose, fully-nutritious daily food called "manna" (Exodus 16).

After the forty years in the Sinai had ended Moses reminded them "Yahweh has led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet." (Deuteronomy 29:5)

In Leviticus we encounter the strange dietary standards God gave Israel under the terms of the Old Covenant. Many of these food requirements (to be observed after they entered the land, were teaching aids to illustrate spiritual truths. These dietary laws were set aside under the New Covenant, (Matthew 26:17-30, Colossians 2, Mark 7:19, Acts 10).

The Levitical priests were also instructed to take special care about skin lesions and contagious diseases, and to watch for evidences of internal illnesses, especially those that were contagious. Many Bible translations call a host of skin conditions using the word "leprosy" though it is clear from the context that scrapes, burns, bruises, allergic reactions, superficial skin infections, cancers, and a host of other skin conditions were in view in Leviticus 13-14. {See Background of Leprosy in the Bible, by R. K. Harrison, ISBE,

Leprosy as it is known today refers to Hansen's disease, a bacterial infection, serious in its effects, but only mildly contagious, and treatable since 1960 with modern drugs. One can not be certain that the lepers who commonly lived in the ancient Middle East were afflicted with Hansen's' disease or something worse, but if leprosy was diagnosed by the Levitical priests, the disease was contagious and the victims suffered greatly by being totally excluded from society.

"...he is a leprous man. He is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean; his sore is on his head. Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean' He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp." (Leviticus 13:44-46)

The Levitical priests were also taught to be alert for internal illnesses affecting normal and abnormal discharges from the body (chapter 15). But the priests were not healers, nor were they physicians! Reading between the lines of Leviticus, Yahweh was the one who healed every disease! The priests diagnosed, isolated, and carefully studied a variety of symptoms and, when appropriate, isolated the affected person so as to prevent the spread of infectious agents.

Today we take for granted our marvelous modern medical services. Our doctors start a physical exam with an interview and an examination of the externals of skin, ears, eyes, nose, throat. Then, at the doctor's disposal are a battery of lab tests: blood analysis, urinalysis, x-rays, CAT scans, MRI scans, endoscopes (and various insertable television probes), angiograms, EKGs, EEGs, and surgical intervention when indicated. A thousand new drugs control blood pressure, anxiety and depression, cholesterol levels, and make up for the dysfunction of almost any internal organ--and on and on.

The Levitical priests had no medical training, and apparently they stocked no herbs, ointments, or chicken soup when people came to them for help. Neither was there homeopathic medicine among the Jews or a separate class of doctors or healers, as far as we know. Naturally the priests prayed and interceded for the people at each step of their involvement in their lives.

We are blessed today to have good living conditions, fine foods and outstanding medical care. As a result many of us will live 70 or 80 years. But only the spirit and soul is redeemed by God in this life. Only the inner man that survives this present brief life--our new body waits for us at the resurrection. (2 Cor. 5:1-5) The bodies we live in now are mortal and not yet redeemed.

In America we know all about healthy bodies but we do next to nothing to help assure that the inner man is cleansed and holy -- functioning according to the designer's expectations. Our priorities in living, as usual, are out of kilter. We put our physical well-being and pleasure first, and God last. 

When Jesus had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!"  When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable.  So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." (Luke 7:14-23)

The Levitical priests of the Old Covenant knew the Torah well. They were required to live exceptionally holy and godly lives so as to be sensitive to the voice of the Lord and discerning regarding the needs of the people.

"Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses." (10:9-11)

The work of a priest in any age is to listen to the needs of their people and intercede for them before the Lord. Priests are charged with conveying the truth and wisdom of God to the people. If a person was sick--whether minor or serious--whether in the body or in the soul--Yahweh was the Healer.

The priest had a full daily schedule presenting the numerous daily offerings of the people in the Tabernacle. These sacrifices assisted the people in claiming the forgiveness of God and restoration of fellowship with God as appropriate. When God healed--and He must have done this often--the priests could restore even a grossly unclean person--such as a leper--to full standing in the community. When a leper was found to have been healed  by the Lord he could be brought back into good standing with his family and with the rest of Israel.

According to Leviticus Chapters 1-7, the usual order of Israel's five offerings was (1) the whole burnt offering, (2) the meal offering, (3) the peace offering, (4) the sin offering, and (5) the trespass offering. However, when a leper was to be restored to good standing in the community the trespass offering came first, then the whole burnt offering, then the sin offering, and lastly the meal offering.

These days, God's concern for integrating into His family new Christians who previously may have been treated as "socially outcast" may help explain the reversed order of 1 Corinthians 6:11 (the usual NT order is spiritual rebirth [washing], justification, then sanctification). Paul says: "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." The people on Paul's list in the previous verse had lived obviously sinful life styles that often caused them to be marginalized and shunned by mainstream believers. Immediately preceding the strong reassurance of verse 11 Paul had said, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals (active or passive), nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." (6:8-10) Paul's list could be considered a kind of rogue's gallery of today's moral lepers as much of the church looks at society.

Leviticus is full of types, shadows and symbols. We need to read Leviticus through New Testament eyes where it is immediately evident that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God's Son, is once-and-for all, inclusive.

"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 1:16-20)

Regarding the symbolic meaning of the cleansing of lepers, Ray Stedman says the following:

The Cleansing of Lepers: In Leviticus 14, God continues to speak to Moses--and to us--about the issue of contamination. Once again, there is a deeper truth to be discerned here than mere physical infection.

The LORD said to Moses, "These are the regulations for the diseased person at the time of his ceremonial cleansing, when he is brought to the priest: The priest is to go outside the camp and examine him. If the person has been healed of his infectious skin disease, the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop he brought for the one to be cleansed. Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to he cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields" (Leviticus 14:1-7).

Here, God begins by addressing the issue of people who have apparently been healed of leprosy. He lays out a beautifully symbolic ritual that is not intended to heal a person but to cleanse a person who has already been healed. Only God can heal. The act of healing is a sovereign act of God that takes place in the inner life of a human being. Cleansing is a symbolic act that enables us to understand that God's basis for healing is nothing less than a blood sacrifice. That is the picture which is drawn for us here.

We need to understand that all of us, as human beings, have hearts that are infected with spiritual leprosy. We are full of sin, envy, covetousness, lust, resentment, hatred, and malice. We have a hard time seeing the true sickness of our hearts unless God draws it out for its with symbols such as these. When we truly see the sinfulness and leprosy of our hearts, we can do nothing but fall before God and plead, "Lord, heal me!"

And God does! The moment we let down our defenses and admit our sickness and sinfulness, He reaches into our hearts with His touch of grace and heals our inner leprosy. The leprosy is arrested, and we are healed.

But after we are healed, we still need cleansing. We need to understand the basis on which our inward healing occurred so that our outward behavior can be adjusted to a new pattern. That is what is brought out here in this symbolic cleansing of the leper. The ceremony is not ritual for ritual's sake. It is a vivid and visual representation of what God does in the life of a sinner who is cleansed from sin. It is clear that God has thought through every detail in order to teach us profound truths.

The first thing we learn is that the basis for our healing is always the shedding of blood. God never heals, never blesses, never arrests the action of evil apart from the shedding of blood. The meaning of the symbols is obvious for anyone to see.

The priest takes two live birds, some cedar wood, some blood-colored scarlet yarn, and hyssop (a tiny, moss-like plant that grows in nooks and crannies of the rocks). The priest has one of the birds killed over fresh water in a clay pot. Then the other bird is dipped into the bloody water, along with the wood, yarn, and hyssop. Then the healed leper is sprinkled seven times, and the living bird is released and allowed to go free.

The blood, of course, pictures for us the blood of the Lord Jesus. Throughout Leviticus, the sacrifices continually picture for us the sacrificial death of Christ, which puts the old nature to death and brings its new life. God never puts a bandage on cancer; He strikes at the root of the cancer, destroys it, and gives us a whole new life. He doesn't just salve our symptoms; He heals our disease. The shed blood of this innocent bird is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus and His death for us.

The clay pot is a picture of the humanity of Jesus. Paul spoke of our humanity this way: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7). Fresh water, newly drawn from a spring or stream, always pictures the Holy Spirit in His refreshing, life-giving quality. Jesus spoke of the Spirit in these words: "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." In other words, the Spirit of God flows from the hearts of those who believe in Jesus.

The cedar tree was regarded in Israel as the acme of beauty and symbolized the glory of God. The moss-like hyssop, by contrast, was regarded as a symbol of the lowliness of humanity. So here we have a picture of the two extreme opposites that were embodied in Jesus Christ--His divine glory and His lowly humanity. The scarlet yarn symbolized His kingliness. All of these items were dipped in the shed blood, baptized in death. The living bird, too, was dipped in the shed blood and released--a picture of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and of our identification with Him in His death and resurrection. By our identification with Him, we are set free from death and sin and released to the heavens, just like that bird. Through His sacrifice, Jesus sets us free to be new creatures in Him.

It is amazing how meaningful these Old Testament symbols are. They demonstrate that the Old and New Testaments tell us one consistent story, from Genesis to Revelation. As Jesus told the Pharisees, "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me" (John 5:38). Clearly, the rich symbolism of Leviticus speaks volumes about Jesus.

The next step in the ritual involved the personal cleansing of the healed leper, followed by a seven-day waiting period to make sure that the leper's healing and cleansing was genuine.

The person to be cleansed must wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and bathe with water; then he will be ceremonially clean. After this he may come into the camp, but he must stay outside his tent for seven days. On the seventh day he must shave off all his hair; he must shave his head, his beard, his eyebrows, and the rest of his hair. He must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water, and he will be clean" (Leviticus 14:8-9).

After this, the leper was to bring four offerings. The importance of the exact order of the four offerings should not be overlooked.

On the eighth day he must bring two male lambs and one ewe lamb a year old, each without defect, along with three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil. The priest who pronounces him clean shall present both the one to be cleansed and his offerings before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

Then the priest is to take one of the male lambs and offer it as a guilt [trespass] offering, along with the log of oil; he shall wave them before the LORD as a wave offering. He is to slaughter the lamb in the holy place where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered. Like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy.

The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand, dip his right forefinger into the oil in his palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of it before the LORD seven times. The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to he cleansed and make atonement for him before the LORD.

Then the priest is to sacrifice the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. After that, the priest shall slaughter the burnt offering and offer it on the altar, together with the grain offering, and make atonement for him, and he will be clean" (Leviticus 14:10-20).

"The trespass offering was first. Leprosy in a garment symbolizes the harm and injury that our sin causes to others or that they cause to us. A trespass has occurred, a relationship has been hurt or broken, and that needs to be dealt with first. So the trespass offering (or, in the NIV, guilt offering) comes first. Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice for our trespasses.

Next came the sin offering. This offering goes deeper, to our fallen sin nature. This offering teaches us that through the death of Christ, God has dealt with the source of evil within us--the sinfulness that is woven into our fallen flesh. Because Jesus dealt with our sin nature, we don't have to follow the urges to sin anymore. We still feel them, but we are not bound to them as we once were. We are freed from the dominion of sin.

Next was the burnt offering, which recognized the devotion of a heart that has been cleansed and is now open, accepting, and dedicated to God.

Finally came the grain offering, which represents the presentation of our humanity to God. All of this renders the leper clean from his leprous disease, and even his relationships are cleansed, and so he is free to enter normal life once again.

What do these offerings mean? They are all symbolically significant, and all of them except the grain offering involve the shedding of blood. The blood in these sacrifices is always a picture of guilt removed, of evil ended. The blood is applied to remove the offense of the ear, the hand, and the foot. Those who are infected with the leprosy within have listened to false philosophies, so the ear must be cleansed. They have manipulated and maneuvered and committed other evil deeds, so the hand must be cleansed. Their feet have gone down sinful paths, so their walk must be cleansed.

The great teaching of this passage is that the blood of the guilt offering cleanses the sinner. When there is a spot of sin in your life and you confess it and its action has been halted by the repentance of your heart, then God applies the blood of His Son to you so that your sin is cleansed away. All of the members of your flesh that have engaged in sin are cleansed--your ear, your hand, your walk. You are forgiven.

Notice, next, that in addition to the blood, oil is also applied to those same members of the body--the eye, hand, and toe. Oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The blood is only the first step--the step that leads to our salvation from sin. The next step is that we must apply the oil; we must yield ourselves to the Spirit of God. The oil is placed on the ear and the thumb and the foot in order that the mind may now be devoted to hearing the things of the Spirit, that the hand may be offered to the service of God, and that the walk may follow the leading of the Spirit.

Once the blood has cleansed and the oil has been applied, symbolizing yieldedness to the Spirit, the leper is ready to return to society. These symbols are beautiful and instructive for our lives.

A young woman, a college student, once approached me for help with a personal problem. "My roommate has the most annoying habits," she said. "She does these irritating things, and I feel resentful toward her. But I know it's wrong to feel that way, so I keep confessing my feelings to God. Yet those feelings of resentment keep coming back. How can I he freed from this?"

I said, "The problem is that you are doing only part of what the Lord tells us to do in situations like this. Yes, we are to confess our sin and ask forgiveness; you are doing the first step. But God also wants us to turn around and make the members of our bodies available to God for His work. We are to offer them to Him for righteous purposes. You are confessing your sinful resentment, but you are not turning around and actively loving your roommate in the power of God. The negative is not enough; we must also do what God requires of us in a positive and proactive way."

In other words, we need not only the blood of Christ to cleanse the sin of the ear, hand, and foot, but we also need the oil of the Holy Spirit to lead the ear, hand, and foot in a new and positive direction. We need to yield ourselves to the Spirit so that He can take over and enable us to reach out to others in love.

The next section shows that God is concerned with the meaning of the sacrifice, not how expensive the sacrifice is. God wants the message and rich symbolism of the cleansing ritual to be available to all, including the poor.

If, however, he is poor and cannot afford these, he must take one male lamb as a guilt offering to be waved to make atonement for him, together with a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, a log of oil, and two doves or two young pigeons, which he can afford, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.

On the eighth day he must bring them for his cleansing to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, before the LORD. The priest is to take the lamb for the guilt offering, together with the log of oil, and wave them before the LORI) as a wave offering. He shall slaughter the lamb for the guilt offering and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big roe of his right foot. The priest is to pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand, and with his right forefinger sprinkle some of the oil from his palm seven times before the LORD. Some of the oil in his palm he is to put on the same places he put the blood of the guilt offering--on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before the LORD. Then he shall sacrifice the doves or the young pigeons, which the person can afford, one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, together with the grain offering. In this way the priest will make atonement before the LORD on behalf of the one to be cleansed.

These are the regulations for anyone who has an infectious skin disease and who cannot afford the regular offerings for his cleansing (Leviticus 14:21-32).

The symbolism in this section yields the same rich Christ-centered message as the previous section--but it does so in a way that is within reach of even the poorest people of Israel. (FromLeviticus: The Way to Wholeness by Ray C. Stedman

Marvelous truths about our great God are hidden in plain sight right in the Word of God. Probably every home in America has at least one copy of this Book. Reading it superficially is better than not reading it at all, but to those who want to know the deep things of God, our God is ready to reveal Himself to those who wish to know Him more fully. As Ray Stedman once said, "God has no favorites, but He does have many intimates. Anyone can become an intimate of God."

In The New Testament:  The New Testament records two encounters Jesus had with lepers. Jesus did not hesitate to heal lepers and other social outcasts.

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one; but "go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people." (Luke 5:12-15)

In order for the cleansed leper to be restored to the community, Jesus sent this man to the priests for the ceremonial cleansing the Law of Moses required.

On a second occasion Jesus compassionately healed ten lepers with no strings attached. Only one, who happened to also have been a despised Samaritan, received Jesus into His life and came back to offer Jesus thanks and worship. 

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well [i.e., in body, soul, and spirit]." (Luke 17:11-19)

(SeeOn Lepers and Virgins).

Under the New Covenant God does not always heal us physically, but He is always willing to heal us emotionally and spiritually. If we have received eternal life from Him, we will arrive totally healed and whole in the resurrection, complete with a new sinless body. The NT spiritual gift of healings uses a plural word, (iama), in Greek to remind us that God heals at all levels of our lives. [In the New Testament all believers are priests under Jesus our Great High Priest, and all of us have one or more spiritual gifts of which healings is one. (SeeBody Life by Ray Stedman).

Jesus said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Luke 5:32) It is soon evident as one reads the gospels that Jesus was ready to heal lepers, prostitutes, a woman with a long-term issue-of-blood, tax-collectors, and sinners. For this He was severely criticized by the religious establishment.

The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! "But wisdom is justified by all her children."

 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisees house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."

And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." So he said, "Teacher, say it." "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?" Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."

 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." (Luke 7:34-50)

Excellent Resource on Healing by Jack Kelley (Five Parts)

Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.

14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.

17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him,

And His righteousness to children's children,

18 To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word,

Heeding the voice of His word.

21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

22 Bless the LORD, all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!


GOD, MY HEALER – Jehovah-rophe

By Oneta Hayes

Exodus 15:26 "…for I am the Lord that healeth thee. "

Jehovah-rophe can be translated two ways – “I am the Lord thy Physician,” or “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” The setting in which the name Jehovah-rophe first appears is the wilderness. The Lord had been leading Israel in the wilderness for three days without water. Since the Lord God was not lost, He must deliberately have been keeping them from water. He will use this occasion to prove Himself in a new way. He had appeared to Abraham as the Provider; now He is ready to show Himself as the Healer. Phil. 4:19 says, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Any sick person will quickly acknowledge that he needs his body to be healed.

The people must have been excited when they came to the river, Marah. What disappointment when they found the waters were bitter! They might have wondered why God would trifle with them in their time of need. They knew they were in desperate need of water; God knew they were in desperate need of a new revelation of Himself! He had revealed himself as Jehovah-jireh (the Provider); now it is time to reveal Himself as Jehovah-rophe (the Healer).God would show the people that he had a provision for them that they had not previously known. There God “proved them” and made a “statute and ordinance” – a promise for health to those who were obedient. He told Moses to cut down a tree and cast it into the water. When it fell into the waters, they became sweet. Ex. 15:25, 26 tells the incident in this way:

…He cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently harken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Although this is the occasion on which the name Jehovah-rophe was first used, God had healed previously; he had removed barrenness in Rachel (Gen. 30:11) and also in Abimelech’s household (Gen. 20:17). This incident, however, was the one by which God showed himself in covenant to heal. The word rophe appears numerous times in the Old Testament. It was used to mean to restore, heal, cure or as a noun meaning physician in both a physical and spiritual sense.

There is no record of God healing Moses, but it seems that Moses lived in health. Deut. 34:7 records, “And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” Moses was used by God to perform a healing miracle for his sister, Miriam (Deut. 24:8,9). Another Old Testament miracle of healing was performed by Elisha in the healing of Naaman (2 Ki. 5:1-19). The nature of Jehovah-rophe is also shown by His adding fifteen years to the life of Hezekiah (2 Ki. 15:1-8), and by Elijah raising the widow’s son (1 Ki. 17:17-24). David recognized God as Jehovah-rophe when he wrote in Ps. 103:1-3, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." Although it is not stated explicitly, healing would seem to be a function of the Shepherd in Ps. 23. A shepherd is certainly interested in keeping his sheep healthy and in curing wounds

Definitely Jesus, the Good Shepherd, often performed physical healings as well as emotional healings. He said that was one of the reasons he came. He quoted Isaiah 61:1, 2: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised . . .

Matt. 4:23 says of Jesus, “(he went about) . . . and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Jesus sent John’s disciples with a message to John, “Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up . . .” (Matt. 11:4)

Jesus showed the Jehovah-rophe role of the Father in his ministry. In fact, he bore witness that he was doing what the Father had done. “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).

When Jesus was crucified, the atonement was made; God provided the Lamb. In that act, Jesus was Jehovah-jireh. And by the stripes that He suffered, He was Jehovah-rophe. As was prophesied in Is. 53:5, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Peter confirms both Christ’s atonement and his healing, “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 Pe. 2:24).

God says in Ex. 15:26 “I am the God that healeth thee.” Jesus suffered the stripes that we might be healed. John tells us “Beloved, I wish above all things that you would prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). James gives the “formula” and promise for healing, “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up . . .” (Ja. 5:14, 15).

It is the opinion of this writer, that it must hurt the loving heart of God to have his children so ready to seek other remedies for their healing rather than trust in Him for the remedy He has provided. In our culture where medical help is generally readily available, it is easy to turn to “man” rather than to turn to God. Science has made great strides in perfecting methods from both natural sources (herbs, for example), drugs, vaccinations, even surgery to help the body heal itself. Although it is not a focus of this paper to discuss the role of physicians for Christians, this writer is often asked about that issue. This writer chooses to look to Ps. 118:8, 9, “Ít is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man; It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” for her own healing. And for many years, I walked in the healing power of Jesus; however, in the last three years, I have been under the doctor’s care for serious issues. Jesus made no judgment against the woman with an issue of blood even though the scriptures note that she had spent all on physicians. Jesus healed her without rebuke, when she came to him (Lu. 8:43-48). There are two scriptures which are an encouragement as prayers are made for those who are under the care of the medical community. They are Ps. 54:4, ”Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul,” and Ps. 118:7, “The Lord taketh my part with them that help me…”. Also there is an incident in the Old Testament in which one might interpret that the use of medicine was signified. It is in this scripture, “And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs . . . and they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered” (2 Ki. 20:7). This incident is also related in Isaiah 38:12.

God said, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered” (Jer. 8.22). It is a delight to trust in the Lord, live in accordance with His will, and lean on Him for the benefits He wants to give to His people.

Prov. 3:5-10 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase; So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." (

Healing in the New Testament

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, (hamartia) he will be forgiven. Confess (exomologeo) your trespasses (paraptoma) to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent (energeo) prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:13-18)

There are about twenty distinct spiritual gifts listed in the New Testament. These supernatural endowments are not the same as natural talents and they are best experienced by stepping out in faith when various opportunities to serve God appear.

Ron Ritchie has a good list and summary of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. My list is here.

God sometimes heals miraculously and suddenly. More often our Lord Jesus heals us gradually over time. The most important aspects of healing are spiritual wholeness (holiness) and emotional inner healing. Healing at all three levels (body, soil, and spirit) should go hand in hand with life-style changes which we have the power to make. A whole range of alterations in what we eat and drink, the company we keep, what we feed upon through eyes and ears, our fantasy life and imagination—should be made.

Cutting out unneeded meds, avoiding the pharmakeia drugs, eating right, rest, exercise, sleep, obviously are factors. The human bodies we inhabit are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” but they are mortal temporary houses for the soul and spirit. (If you know Jesus Christ your new body is already assembled and ready for occupancy).

I have copied Ray Stedman’s teaching on several of the least known gifts here—but please find your gift(s) and your service to God will be greatly enhanced.

Healing at every Level

“...the apostle mentions "gifts of healing" given by the same Spirit. That word in the original Greek is in the plural form: "healings." I take that to mean healing at every level of human need--physical, emotional, and spiritual.

In the early church there were a number of instances where this gift was exercised on the physical level. Throughout church history there have been others who had this gift of physical healing. There are some today who call themselves "healers," but it should be noted that none of the apostles ever made this claim for themselves. However, there is abundant evidence in the New Testament that the Spirit of God worked through the apostles and other believers in bringing physical healing to the sick, just as He does today.

Some claims to healing today are based on spectacular but temporary improvement as a result of strong psychological conditioning, and the healing fades away within a few days. But God does heal today, sometimes quickly and permanently; this fact is too well attested and documented to challenge. We only note here that such healing does not necessarily indicate that the gift of healing is being exercised.

If someone asks, "Why is this gift so infrequently manifested today?" the answer is given in 1 Corinthians 12:11--"All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit who apportions to each one individually as he wills." The spiritual gift of physical healing is not seen often today because it is not the will of the Spirit for it to be given in these days as widely as it was in the early church.

The gift of healing is, however, frequently bestowed today on the emotional and spiritual level. Many Christians, laymen and professional ministers alike, are equipped by the Spirit to help those with damaged emotions and with bruised spirits, who have become sick or disordered in these areas. They make excellent counsellors because they are able to exercise the patience and compassion necessary to help such wounded souls.

The Purpose of Miracles

Along this same line with the gift of healing is the gift of miracles. This is the ability to short-circuit the processes of nature by supernatural activity, as the Lord did when he turned water into wine or multiplied the loaves and fishes. Some may still have this gift today. I don't doubt that it can be given; but again, I have never met anyone who had the gift of miracles, though perhaps some have exercised this at times in the history of the church.

The gifts of physical healing, miracles and tongues are given for the initial building up of faith, as a bridge to move Christians from dependence upon things they can see to faith in a God who can work and accomplish much when nothing seems to be happening. The history of missions will substantiate this. So does the flow of the book of Acts: In the beginning of Acts, we see a number of miraculous events being worked by various apostles. But as the church grows and is established in the faith, the miraculous events of the book of Acts wane and taper off. The implications of this flow of events are clear: God wants us to walk by faith, not by sight. As faith grows, we have less need of visible demonstrations of God's power. He wants us to become mature enough that the "battery" of our faith no longer needs to be repeatedly "jump-started" by miracles.

The apostle goes on to mention the gift of prophecy. This is the greatest gift of all, as Paul makes clear by devoting an entire chapter--1 Corinthians 14--to this gift. We shall examine the gift of prophecy more fully when we return to Ephesians 4 and the ministry of the prophet. But here, in 1 Corinthians 14:3, the apostle says of this gift, "On the other hand, he who prophesies speaks to men for their up-building and encouragement and consolation." That is the effect of the gift of prophecy. When a man or woman has this gift it results in building, stimulating, and encouraging others. This is not a gift for preachers only. All the gifts are given without respect to a person's training. Many laymen and laywomen have the gift of prophecy and should be exercising it.

Then there is the gift of discernment of spirits. This is the ability to distinguish between the spirit of error and the spirit of truth before the difference is manifest to all by the results. It is the ability to see through a phony before his phoniness is clearly evident. When Ananias and Sapphira came to Peter, bringing what they claimed to be the full price of some land they had sold though they had actually kept back part of it for themselves, Peter exercised the gift of discernment when he said, "How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? You have not lied to men but to God" (Acts 5:4,9). Those who have this gift can read a book and sense the subtlety of error in it, or hear a message and put their finger on what may be wrong about it. It is a valuable gift to be exercised within the church...

The final gift mentioned in Romans 12 is that of doing acts of mercy. Its distinctiveness is indicated by the meaning of the word "mercy." Mercy is undeserved aid, aid given to those who most people find repugnant and offensive--the sick and deformed, the unwashed and foul, those with unpleasant personalities and vile habits. It differs from the gift of helps by being directed to those who are either undeserving or who (like a child with AIDS or a mentally disordered individual) is an innocent victim, treated as an outcast by much of our society. --From All God's Children Have Gifts by Ray Stedman.

Every follower of Jesus Christ will be made whole and well in the end as Jesus reverses the old law of sin and death work in us. This is the very best possible news!

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:8-10)

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.

I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!”

And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:16-17)

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Updated April 6, 2019, July 15, 2019. June 23, 2021.