a study through Exodus on how God shapes His leaders
The Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. They were delivered after 430 years of slavery. They were headed to the Promised Land. They saw firsthand the mighty acts of God and followed His cloud and fire each day and night. Naturally, their first reaction after crossing the Red Sea was worship.
They worshipped with Moses and then Miriam picked up the tambourine and led the people in more singing and praising of God. However, this didn’t last too long. As will become the typical reaction for this ungrateful people, the moment things got tough the Israelites forgot all the things God had done. They whined and complained and blamed Moses and God for their troubles. Look at what happens immediately after the Israelites walk away from the shores of the Red Sea.
“Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.”
As we’ll see throughout the rest of Exodus, the Israelites’ first response to any hardship is complaining. So when they met with their first real trial in the wilderness, they stick to their knee-jerk response and start grumbling against Moses. But note that grumbling never helps a situation—if anything, it makes it worse. The complainer becomes more unhappy and everyone else becomes miserable listening to the grumbling.
But what was Moses’ response? When they came to the bitter waters of Marah and the Israelites started giving him an earful, what did he do?
He called out to the LORD. Moses knew that he couldn’t do anything to fix the problem, but God could. So he called on the LORD and, thereby, opened the door for a miracle. And God did not disappoint.
Both Moses and the people of Israel were faced with the same problem: the water was too bitter to drink. However, they had two different responses. Which one brought about the miracle?
By calling out to God, Moses made room for the LORD to work. He acknowledged the desperate nature of the situation and realized that only God could help. So he called and God answered. And through it all, God revealed His character and nature to His stubborn people. He provided for their every need. When the waters were too bitter to drink, God made it sweet. And then God gave the Israelites a promise.
“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.”
Jehovah-Rapha. The LORD who heals. The first of many descriptive names of God that the LORD will reveal to His people. At the burning bush, God told Moses His personal, eternal name of I AM or YHWH. Now, He begins to reveal more of Himself through the name Jehovah-Rapha. He is telling the Israelites that He is their healer, their Great Physician. This is part of the very nature and character of God. He is all about bringing healing and restoration to the broken.
The Hebrew word rapha literally means “to mend (by stitching), to cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair thoroughly, make whole.” I love that last definition, “to make whole.” The LORD’s healing doesn’t just fix the problem, it makes us whole again. It’s complete and transformational.
And the God who declared His name of Jehovah-Rapha to the Israelites at the bitter waters of Marah is the same God who is reaching out to bring restoration and healing to us today. This promise wasn’t just for the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. It’s for us too. God is our Jehovah-Rapha, our Great Physician, our Healer.
Have you had a Marah experience where you lost all hope? Are you facing a situation in your life that needs healing and restoration?
Your Jehovah-Rapha is waiting for you to cry out to Him. He is ready to transform the situation. But we need to call on Him. Just as the Israelites’ grumbling and complaining didn’t do anything, so also our worry and anxiety over the tough seasons of our lives will not accomplish much. But when Moses called on God everything changed.
So let us take heed and remember to cry out to our Jehovah-Rapha when times get difficult. And then let us stand back and see the salvation and mighty work of the LORD! He will make our Marah into a life-giving spring of sweet water. Therefore, let’s let Him work and call on Him in our distress.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”