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Names of God #6

Jehovah-Rophe


THE NAMES OF GOD #6

by Nathan Stone


JEHOVAH-ROPHE

     THE NAME Jehovah-rophe means Jehovah heals. It is the second
of the compound names of Jehovah. The name Jehovah-jireh arose
out of the incident of Jehovah's provision of a substitute in
place of Isaac whom He had commanded Abraham to sacrifice upon
the altar. We learned that it stands for Jehovah's great
provision for man's redemption in the sacrifice of His only
begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Lamb of God who
taketh away the sin of the world, and who was offered up on the
very spot where Abraham had predicted-"In the mount of the Lord
it shall be seen" - that is, Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, the scene
of Calvary.
     There is a wonderful and significant order in these compound
names of Jehovah as they appear in the Scriptures (in contrast to
the waste and desolation which certain critics have wrought upon
the Scriptures; whose "assured results" have only obscured the
light for those who accept them). In these names there is a
progressive revelation of Jehovah meeting every need as it arises
in the experience of His redeemed people-saving, sustaining,
strengthening, sanctifying, and so on; and not only for the
redeemed of that day but for God's saints in all ages. The things
that happened to Israel, the apostle Paul tells us, were our
examples (I Cor. 10:6).

"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they
are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world
are come," he again remarks in I Corinthians 10:11.

     For this name of God, Jehovah-rophe, arises out of one of
Israel's earliest experiences in the wilderness as told in Exodus
15:22-26. Indeed it was their first experience after the crossing
of the Red Sea and the singing of the great song of triumph. But
the same chapter which records Israel's triumphant song also
records the first murmurings of discontent and bitterness. In
Exodus 15:22 we read: "So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea,
and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went
three days in the wilderness, and found no water." In the first
flush of victory they went along joyfully the first day, and
perhaps even the second day. But the way was hot and weary, and
their water was giving out. The third day was well along and
still there was no water. Their throats were parched. They felt
their plight bcoming desperate. They forgot the might and mercy
of the God who had so marvelously delivered them. In their
anxiety and anger they murmured against Moses in bitter
complaint. Then in verse 23: "And when they came to Marah, they
could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter:
therefore the name of it was called Marah" (which means bitter).
We can imagine their feelings of relief and joy as they first
came in sight of this well, but what angry disillusionment when
they find the waters bitter - an aggravation and a mockery of
their thirst. They were maddened by this setback to their hope
and expectation. What were they to do? Were they and their
children to die there of thirst? Then God showed Moses a certain
tree, which, when cast into the waters, turned them from
bitterness to sweetness so that the people drank. They were
refreshed and strengthened and heartened for the journey ahead.
Their murmuring was turned to praise as their confidence in
Jehovah and His servant Moses was renewed.
     But it was not God who was there on trial. It was the
people. He was proving them, and saying to them (v.26): "If thou
wilt diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and wilt
do that which is right in his sight ... I will put none of these
diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for
I am Jehovah that healeth thee" - that is, Jehovah-rophecha. The
word "rophe" appears some sixty or seventy times in the Old
Testament, always meaning to restore, to heal, to cure, or a
physician, not only in the physical sense but in the moral and
spiritual sense also. As out of Abraham's trying experience in
the mount there came a new and comforting name of God,
Jehovah-jireh, so out of Israel's bitter experience in the
wilderness there comes another new and comforting name of God,
Jehovahrophe, Jehovah heals. And Jehovah here pledged Himself on
condition of their obedience to be always their Healer.

MAN'S NEED OF HEALING

     Perhaps the first lesson we may draw from this story, since
these events are all examples to us, is humanity's need of
healing, of a physician-even in a physical sense. The Old
Testament reveals a number of instances in which God's power is
manifested, even though sometimes by natural means, to heal the
bodies of men. A notable instance is that of King Hezekiah who
was not only healed but granted a definite additional span of
years to live.
     Nothing is more obvious and tragic and costly than the toll
which sickness has exacted from human life and happiness. Disease
is rife and often rampant the world over and has wrought untold
havoc. It is no respecter of persons and stretches out its
tentacles into all classes and communities and climes. It is a
grim fact of human existence with which mankind has always had to
cope and which has called for the exercise of its best brains,
and effort, and resourcefulness. Terrible plagues and scourges
have at times threatened the existence of an entire continent and
have actually destroyed large portions of populations. Yes,
mankind is physically sick and is in constant need of a
physician, of healing. According to the Old Testament, God,
Himself the one who heals, has used sickness and disease present
in the earth as an instrument of judgment upon sin. For David's
sin against Him, God offers him the choice of one of three
punishments. The responsibility of the terrible choice involved
is so great that David simply places it in the hands of God who
chooses to bring pestilence (I Chron. 21:1214). The many
hospitals and asylums and institutions everywhere, built and
maintained at great cost, bear witness to the prevalence and
tragedy of sickness in the world. What a mass of disease and
sickness upon the earth when the Great Physician walked upon it
in the flesh. Healing is certainly a great and noble and
effective part of the missionary enterprise of the Church. How
appropriate to the physical need of men is the name
Jehovah-rophe!
     But man's need of healing is even greater in the moral and
spiritual realm. For here the ravages of sin are even more grim
and obvious. The tragedy and sorrow and pain and woe are even
greater. In a figure of the physical the prophet Isaiah describes
the moral and spiritual condition of his own people: "The whole
head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the
foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds,
and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed,
neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment" (Isa. 1:5,6).
The moral and spiritual sickness of mankind is an open, running
sore. The heart of man is desperately sick, says Jeremiah (17:9).
Herein is its fundamental disease-the sin which alienates it from
God-the sin which manifests itself in open and secret evil of
every sort, in high places and in low, which brought the judgment
of Jehovah in times of old, and ever since, and must yet. How
sorely mankind is in need of a healer, a physician! The world
lies in the bitterness and bond of iniquity.
     It is like the waters of Marah to which the children of
Israel came in the wilderness. It is not sweetness and life but
bitterness and death. Yet the antidote to its poison, the remedy
for its sickness, is ever near-even at hand, as it was near the
waters of Marah. For there God performed His miracle of healing
by means of a tree growing nearby. It was the tree of God cast
into the waters there that healed and sweetened them.

JEHOVAH THE HEALER IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

     This brings us to the second point, that Jehovah is the
great Healer of men. He alone has the remedy that can heal the
spirits of men. He is the remedy for the healing of man. And the
Gospel is concerned primarily and chiefly with the moral and
spiritual sickness and healing of mankind, for behind all the
evils and physical sickness is sin. The importance of Marah in
Israel's and human experience is attested by the fact that God
gave Himself this new name here-Jehovah, who heals. The
significance of the name Jehovah must be recalled here as "used
in connection with beings who can apprehend and appreciate the
Infinite." Therefore this name first appears in connection with
His dealings with men. We learned that the title Jehovah and its
use suggest moral and spiritual attributes in God-righteousness,
holiness, love; that He holds man, created in the image of God,
responsible for such moral and spiritual qualities. Man's sin and
fall therefore called forth the judgment of Jehovah. But the love
of Jehovah triumphs over judgment in providing a redemption, as
we saw in the name Jehovahjireh. So, too, the One who heals from
the sin which mars and corrupts mankind is again Jehovah, as
distinguished from His other names.
     Now Marah may stand for disappointment and bitter
experiences in the life of God's children, who have been
redeemed, as was Israel in Egypt through the Passover Lamb, and
snatched by divine power from the terrible pursuing enemy; who
meet, like Israel at Marah, with severe testing and trial, and in
their disappointment and discouragement sometimes murmur with a
bitter and faithless complaint, forgetting the great salvation
and power of God. Certainly Marah stands for the sweetening of
those bitternesses, the curing of the ills to which both flesh
and spirit are heir. True, God has implanted healing properties
in waters and drugs even to the present day for the healing of
bodily ills. He has made man capable of wresting secrets from
nature which have marvelously advanced the art of healing. It is
true that His is the healing hand behind it all. But this
incident is intended chiefly as a lesson and warning against that
sin and disobedience which lie at the root of all sorrow,
suffering, and sickness in the world. The tree there cast into
the waters is obviously a figure of the tree on which hung the
Jehovah of the New Testament-even Jesus, the only remedy for the
cure of mankind's ills-and which alone can sweeten the bitterness
of human experience through that forgiveness of sin and
sanctifying of life which it accomplished.
     Certainly God could and did heal physical maladies in the
Old Testament whenever it pleased Him. Moses cried out to Jehovah
in behalf of Miriam smitten with leprosy: "Heal her now, O God, I
beseech thee" (Num. 12:13). The Old Testament clearly reveals
God's anxious desire and purpose to heal the hurt of His people,
and the wounds and sorrows of all mankind. Certainly God removed
plagues and pestilences. But the fact that He visited such
plagues and pestilences as punishment is evidence of the
underlying root of it allsin. The psalmist acknowledges this when
he says: "Bless the Lord, O my soul ... who [first] forgiveth all
thine iniquities and [then] healeth all thy diseases" (Ps. 103:2,
3).
     Other Scriptures state this even more strongly. "Why criest
thou for thine affliction? Thy sorrow is incurable for the
multitude of thine iniquity; because thy sins were increased, I
have done these things unto thee" (Jer. 30:15). "Hast thou
utterly rejected Judah? Hath thy soul loathed Zion? Why hast thou
smitten us, and there is no healing for us? We looked for peace,
and there is no good; and for the time oÇ healing, and behold
trouble!

     We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of
our fathers: for we have sinned against thee" (Jer. 14:19,20).
Then many references to sickness and wounds are simply figurative
expressions of moral and spiritual ills, so that it is rather in
this sense that God is known as Jehovah-rophe-Jehovah who heals.
This is what Jeremiah means when he says: "For I will restore
health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith
Jehovah" (30:17); and again: "Return, ye backsliding children and
I will heal your backslidings" (3:22). So Isaiah speaks of the
day in which "Jehovah bindeth up the breach of his people, and
healeth the stroke of their wound" (30:26). He predicts the
coming of One upon whom the Spirit of Jehovah God will rest in
order, among other things, to bind up the brokenhearted (61:1).
The will, and the power, and the longing are present in Jebovah
to heal. The only obstacle in the way is man himself. The remedy
is there-near at hand-as near as the tree at Marah's waters. "The
word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart,"
says Moses (Dent. 30:14). There is salvation for every sin,
healing for every evil. The remedy only awaits acknowledgment or
application. This, man has often been unwilling to do. A king of
Judah smitten with a disease, evidently and appropriately because
of a certain evil act, sought not to the Lord, but to the
physicians (2 Chron. 16:12). It was because of sin that the
remedy lay for him in Jehovah's hand alone, even though
physicians may have been sufficient for the cure otherwise. For
the hurt of his people, brought about by sin, Jeremiah asks: "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.
8:21,22). The remedy was there-in Jehovah Himself-but they went
on and on refusing it "till there was no remedy" (or healing) (II
Chron. 36:16). And centuries later the word of the Lord Jesus to
His people was, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life"
(John 5:40).

JESUS THE HEALER 1N THE NEW TESTAMENT

     The Jehovah who heals in the Old Testament is the Jesus who
heals in the New.
     The ministry of the Lord Jesus began with healing. In the
synagogue at Nazareth, having returned in the power of the Spirit
from His great temptation, He opened His public ministry by
quoting Isaiah 61:1: "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 brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty
them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18). In Luke 4:23 we find Him
saying to them: "Ye will surely say unto me this proverb,
Physician, heal thyself: Whatsoever we have heard done in
Capernaum, do also here in thy country." The reference was to
acts of healing which the Lord Jesus had performed there. In the
same chapter various acts of healing are recorded-the healing of
fevers, the cleansing of leprosy, the casting out of demons. So
He continued all through His ministry. They brought to Him all
that were diseased. And He went about "teaching in their
synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing
all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the
people" (Matt. 4:23). These miracles of healing constantly amazed
the people and He cited them as proofs of His identity and
mission. When John in prison doubts His identity, He sends back
word: "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, and the
poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matt. 11:4,5). "The same
works that I do bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent
me," He said (John 5:36).
     But as with Jehovah of the Old, so with Jesus of the New
Testament, physical healing was only incidental to His chief
object, which was the healing of the souls of men. His opening
words in the synagogue at Nazareth declared His mission to be to
preach the Gospel, to preach deliverance, to set at liberty. His
miracles of healing were proof of His identity and mission-His
credentials. Healing men's bodies was a great and blessed work,
indeed. Yet many of the sicknesses He healed were striking
symptoms of that dark, dread disease which has its roots in the
soul of men and not in the body-the disease of sin. How often He
cast out demons! And what does demon-possession stand for but
sin-possession? How often He healed the leper! And what is
leprosy but a type of sin in its foulness and vileness. The Old
Testament is clearest in its teaching of this truth. How often He
said to those He healed, "Sin no more!" or "Thy sins be forgiven
thee!" And He silences His carping critics and accusers with the
words: "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that
are sick" (Matt. 9:12); and connecting the idea of sickness and
healing with sin, He continues: "for I am not come to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matt. 9:13). True, He went
about healing bodies and doing good, but His invitation ever was:
"Come unto me and I will give you rest"-"rest [or cure] unto your
souls."
     Then the Lord Jesus consummated His ministry by becoming
that tree which made the bitter pools of human existence waters
of life and healing and sweetness. The teaching of Marah is
wonderfully fulfilled in Him. There they were taught the
corruption and the bitterness of the purely natural waters which
are only an aggravation of the soul's sickness and need. Only the
tree of God's provision and choice could purify and sweeten and
satisfy. To the woman at the well the Lord Jesus said: "Whosoever
drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh
of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the
water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water
springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:13,14). On a great
feast day in the Temple at Jerusalem He cried: "If any man
thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me,
as the scripture bath said, from within him shall flow rivers of
living water" (John 7:37,38, A.S.V.). The Lord Jesus is both the
tree and the waters. "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." He is the Well
of salvation (Isa. 12:3), the Water of life, sweet, saving and
satisfying.
     In Him the tree of life and the river of life in Eden's
garden are free and accessible once more to Adam's sons. This is
the picture presented to us in the closing scene of the Book of
Revelation: "And he showed me a pure river of water of life,
clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the
Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the
river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of
fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the
tree were for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:1,2).
     The Word of Jehovah which He spoke by His messenger, the
prophet Malachi, has found glorious fulfillment and awaits a yet
more glorious fulfillment. "But unto you that fear my name shall
the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings" (Mal.
4:2). What Jehovah was to Israel at Marah, so the Lord Jesus is
to all who will receive and obey Him, the Great Physician. How
sad, that, like Israel of old who refused Jehovah till there was
no remedy, multitudes today have refused the healing sacrifice
and ministry of Jehovah-Jesus! And along with many who call
themselves by His name, they prefer other physicians and remedies
to Him-culture, science, philosophy, social improvement-forgers
of lies and physicians of no value, as Job calls them (13:4). But
praise God for the multitudes who have received Him, and applied
His remedy, and have been made whole, and "take the water of life
freely" (Rev. 22:17).

                          .......................


To be continued


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