The Israelites are thirsty and in need of water for themselves and their animals. When they come to Marah they find only bitter water to drink. In what became second nature to them, they began complaining to Moses about the scarcity of drinkable water. Moses called to the Lord and asked for help. God intervened, working through Moses and a piece of wood to provide sweet, refreshing water for the people.
It is at this point that the Lord seems to change the subject. Suddenly He begins talking to the Israelites about the diseases and plagues that He brought upon the Egyptians because of their affliction of the Hebrews. God is very clear with the Hebrew people concerning the actions that they must take to prevent the same kind of diseases and plagues from visiting them. If they will be obedient to Him, He will heal them of disease and be their Jehovah Rapha.
I believe the bitter water at Marah was symbolic of what was taking place in the hearts of the Hebrews. They had suffered terribly in Egypt and had been more than happy to leave the bondage that Pharaoh had inflicted upon them. However, when freedom was not as easy or pretty as they had hoped; when they had to rely on God completely for everything and circumstances were not what they desired, their hearts began to be filled with the diseases of bitterness and resentfulness. God knew their need for healing from bitterness and He longed to bring that healing to them. Unfortunately, in the very next chapter of Exodus, we find the Israelites longing to forsake ultimate freedom and return to Egypt. What in the world were they thinking?
Let’s apply this lesson to our hearts today. I invite you to join me as we allow Jehovah Rapha to examine our hearts. Are you and I more like the Israelites than we care to admit? When God doesn’t work in our lives in the way that we think He should, do we grow bitter? Do we begin to plan ways that we can make things happen through our own efforts? When God’s timing is different than we had hoped, do we harbor resentment against Him? How often do we look at people in our lives who do not seem to have the same struggles that we have and pose the question, “What did I do to make God mad at me? I am as good as they are.”
He is Jehovah Rapha — the Lord who heals you — and He longs to heal us of resentfulness, bitterness, and pride if we will but trust Him and walk before Him in obedience. Let’s allow Him to examine our hearts and heal us of the diseases that sin inflicts upon us.