Yahweh Ropheka -- The Lord Who Heals
The Hebrew word rophe means “heal, “cure,” “restore,” or “make whole.” Shortly after his people left Egypt for the Promised Land, God revealed himself as Yahweh Ropheka, “the LORD who heals.” The Hebrew Scriptures indicate that God is the source of all healing.
The verb from which Rophe is derived occurs sixty-seven times in the Old Testament. Though it often refers to physical healing, it usually has a larger meaning as well, involving the entire person. Rather than merely healing the body, Yahweh Ropheka (yah-WEH ro-FEH-ka) heals the mind and soul as well. This Hebrew verb is also used in other ways—for example, God “heals” water, land, and nations, and he “repairs” an altar. Significantly, God also heals sin and apostasy. The Hebrew Scriptures, in fact, link sickness and sin by presenting sin as the cause of illness just as it is the cause of death. In the New Testament, the corresponding Greek word is iaomai and it can refer to deliverance from death, demons, sickness, and sin.
The New Testament reveals Jesus as the Great Physician, the healer of body and soul, whose miracles point to the kingdom of God. According to Jesus, sickness is not necessarily caused by sin on the part of the person who is ill. Rather, it can result from living in a sinful, fallen world.
Praying to Yahweh Ropheka
The most startling answer to prayer I ever received happened several years ago. I heard the tragic news from a friend. A young man she knew had just committed suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning. She heard the news from his mother, shortly after he’d been pronounced brain dead at the hospital. He was being kept alive on machines. Now my friend was emailing me and a few others to ask for prayers for his family.
I had an unaccountable urge to pray—not just for the family, but for the young man. I asked God to raise him from the dead. The prayer startled me since I often apply Jesus’ rebuke to his disciples, “Oh ye of little faith,” to myself, paraphrasing it as “Oh me of little faith.” I don’t know how I mustered the faith to pray for a resurrection, but I did. And I wasn’t the only one. My friend and a few other friends began praying in earnest.
Then the news…. He was alive! Unaccountably. But the news was grim. There would be major brain damage.
We kept praying. More news came trickling in. He was conscious, still in his hospital bed but conscious. Finally, we heard that he was talking. And then more news—he could walk!
I had prayed for a resurrection, but when I heard the news that God had answered our prayers, I could barely believe it. Now, you would never know that anything had ever happened to him aside for some short term memory issues that still seem to be improving. When he and his mother went back to visit the intensive care staff after his recovery, the staff was overwhelmed with emotion. They could hardly believe that someone in his condition would ever recover.
Why God answered our audacious prayer when so many other prayers for healing go unanswered, I cannot say. Perhaps he has something special in mind for this young man and his family. I can only attest to the fact that God still heals people and sometimes he does it miraculously. More often he uses doctors and medicine and the body’s healing powers, but always he uses prayer.
As you pray to Yahweh Ropheka, ask him to increase your faith in his healing power. Then put that faith to work by praying for others, asking God to heal souls as well as bodies. As you do, pray that the name of Yahweh Ropheka will be lifted up throughout the world as people come to know his love and healing power.