El Elyon – Most High God

We know from our previous studies that El means God. This repeat of El here is like saying as high as you think God is, only higher. At least that’s how my little simple mind describes it. God that is higher than anything and/or anyone else. The Most High God is who we are talking about. In everything we do and study it should point to the Most High God. 

We first see this name of God used in Genesis chapter 14. Remember Abram, Abraham only before God changed his name to Abraham. Abram had just gone to war with Chedorlaomer and rescued his nephew Lot and defeated Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. As he returned he met up with the king of Sodom and the king of Salem, Melchizedek. 

“After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was the priest of God Most High.) Genesis 14:17-18

Melchizedek is unusual for many reasons, one being here it points out he was a king and a priest. The name Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness”. Many times in the Bible, names of people point them out to be who they really are. You can identify what kind of person, what their values were just by their name. Melchizedek was one of the good guys. Also in Hebrews it gives us a further explanation of who Melchizedek was 

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham, returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Hebrews 7:1-3

This guy Melchizedek, had no beginning of days nor end of life, in other words he wasn’t born and he didn’t die. His priesthood stands forever and ever. His priesthood is forever. I know this is stuff I can’t understand, so I am not really sure how to explain it, except this way. No matter how high you think of God, He is even greater and Melchizedek’s priesthood is of the God Most High, El Elyon points to that. Melchizedek’s purpose was to rule and to reign and point to God. As I read commentary on him it said that some scholars try to make him a pre-incarnate Jesus, others try to make him Shem, Noah’s son, or Job, or an angel. One thing we know for sure is we don’t really know where he came from or exactly who he was but we do know that his name and his very presence pointed to God. And when he encountered Abram he blessed him. 

“And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis 14:19-20

It was almost like Melchizedek and Abram were going to try to outdo each other giving gifts in the name of God Most High! This passage goes on to point out that the king of Sodom who was also present at this encounter was almost standing by jealous of what was taking place between Abram and Melchizedek. He was an outsider looking in. 

The way Abram and Melchizedek wanted to bless each other could be a lesson for all believers. Melchizedek gave Abram a blessing of the Most High God. Abram in turn blessed Melchizedek with a tithe from the plunder he had received in the battle that he had won because of the God Most High. Think of how much better our churches and communities could be if we were trying to outdo each other’s blessings in God’s name. Unfortunately, our human nature gets the best of us sometime and we let jealousy creep in and get upset because one person “seems” exalted above the other. But if our goal was always to bless each other and to build each other up and to give in the name of the Most High God. Well, I think then the blessing our churches could be to our communities would be the light that we were meant to shine in our world, don’t you? 

So today, let’s see if we can bless one another in the name of the Most High God, our El Elyon! 

Jealous – Consuming Fire 

“For the Lord your god is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 4:24 

God used fire to demonstrate His character, His power, His presence and His jealousy over and over again in scripture. He led the Israelites by a cloud by day, but by a pillar of fire by night. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal, he built the altar, prepared the sacrifice and even poured water on it, scripture says that the “fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38) When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, fire fell from heaven and rested on men. (Acts 2:2-4) God is our consuming fire, a jealous God. 

Truthfully there is a part of me that can be so overwhelmed by the thought of God as a consuming fire that I could close my laptop right now and say lesson over and just worship Him. But I want to show God’s consuming fire to you in scripture. 

I ran across this passage in my study about Moses in Exodus chapter 24. The chapter starts with a command from the Lord. 

“Then he said to Moses, ‘Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar, Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.’” Exodus 24:1-2

So the Lord summoned Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy elders to come to the mountain to worship Him. Moses told the Israelites all that the Lord had said and he gave them the rules that the Lord had set down for them and he built an altar and they sacrificed and the people pledged their allegiance to God. Then ~ 

“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There under his feet as it were a pavement of Sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.” Exodus 24:9-11

These men, these leaders and elders of Israel saw God! Now we know from other places in scripture that this could not have been a face to face as it says over and over that no one could see God face to face. Then ~

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’” Exodus 24:12

This is just getting better and better, first all of these men have looked up and seen some vision of God. They may not have seen His face, but they had seen enough that they knew His presence was there, they had seen the beauty and seen the presence of God and now Moses was being invited further up the mountain. And he goes with his assistant Joshua and he instructs the elders to wait until they return. And then this next passage is what I want you to see. Then ~ 

“Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:15-18

Can you just see it? Moses climbing this mountain where the glory of the Lord is visible as a cloud but also a devouring fire and Moses goes right up to it and he enters the cloud, the glory of the Lord and he stays there with Him for forty days and forty nights. Can you just imagine the glory of the all consuming fire of God and being in His presence like that? I know my human experiences can’t come close to it. The closest I have ever come is being at a conference with thousands of people who are all praising and worshiping God. If you have never gone to one of those, I implore you to do so if you ever get the opportunity. For several years I would travel with our church to the Passion conferences with our high school seniors and college students. My favorite times of those were when the conference would meet in the Georgia Dome. There would be 30,000 plus college students, high school seniors and their leaders. When the praise and worship times of the conference would happen and everyone in that place would be there to worship God, it was an overwhelming sight and experience. Many times I opened my eyes expecting to see a cloud covering the dome. Because I knew His glory was right there with us. It was incredible and I would think to myself this was the closest experience to heaven I would ever have on earth. 

Friends, He is still that to us today. This is not just an experience for the Old Testament. Oh I am not sure you can just manufacture an experience like this with God, but you can ask Him to show you His all consuming fire. Because it is who He is. You ask Him to show you His glory. It may not be in an arena right now. It may be in the birth of a new born baby. It may be in the belly laugh of a baby or looking in the eyes of your chiIdren or grandchildren. It may be in a sunrise or in a sunset. But His glory is all around us. His consuming fire is Him and His unshakable kingdom. Even when our world around us seems to be shaking apart, we belong to the unshakable kingdom. 

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29

The Lord, whose name is Jealous

“for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

I must admit to you that when I turned the page in my little book I have been studying and saw that this was the next name of God we would study I was a bit surprised. In fact as many times as I am sure I have read this passage I had never noticed this verse that says “the Lord, whose name is Jealous.” It never crossed my mind that the Lord actually referred to Himself as Jealous, as in it being His name! 

I think to us as humans here on this earth the term jealous or jealousy has negative connotations may be part of the reason. And yes, jealousy can tear apart relationships and it can consume. I have never been a particularly jealous person, at least I don’t think I am. I am sure that I have exhibited jealousy before but I don’t think it is something I struggle with to the point of it consuming me. I know I have had jealous thoughts of other people. Not so much in my relationship with my husband and I am sure that says more about him than about me. I am so secure in who he is and I think he is in who I am to worry about other people coming between us. (Don’t get me wrong, we are human and can sure let other issues bring us down if we aren’t careful, but jealousy is not one of them.) I am much more likely to be jealous of friendships and other outward relationships. I have to say that when I do feel jealousy rising up inside of me, I truly try to talk myself off the ledge quickly because I have lived long enough now to know that I don’t like who I become on those occasions that I do let that ugly green eyed monster in. Human jealousy can be so consuming that it destroys and tears down any relationships in your path. 

But God’s jealousy is different. God’s name is Jealous because He wants all consuming devotion from us. Unlike human consuming devotion, when we have an all consuming devotion to Him it makes us better. When you make this time and this devotion for God a priority in your life it is amazing how your other relationships and commitments and obligations in your life will fall into place in a good and perfect order. God wants our devotion to Him for our good. 

My reading this morning came out of the book of Exodus. I read passages from Exodus 20 to about 34 (not inclusive but selective passages). 

In Exodus 20 when God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, the second one is listed in verse 4 and it goes into detail in verses 5-6. 

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” Exodus 20:4-5

God is very explicit about us worshiping other gods. Now you and I may say well I don’t worship carved images so I’m good with that one. But our carved images could be many things. What might you be putting in front of or before your relationship with the Lord? I can think because I get up early and have a quiet time with Him every day that I am putting Him first but I can promise you that as soon as I walk out my front door and begin to see other people that I am sure there are other things going in front of me that will get my perspective out of whack in a heartbeat. God wants us and our devotion and He wants us to not put anything above our relationship with Him. There are also things I have to guard against when I first get up. Do I start with study or do I start by scrolling Facebook first and/or looking at my email first? I can be guilty of that way more times than I wish I were. Am I putting my relationships with humans first? What is getting in the way? God wants all of me, not just the parts I think I want to submit to Him and then hold other parts back. He is Jealous for me and He is Jealous for you! 

Jehovah-Shalom – Peace that makes me Whole! 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

According to this verse in Isaiah, these are names of Jesus. Jesus is our Prince of Peace. I have shared that circumstances over the last few years have caused me to deal with anxiety when I didn’t really think of myself before now as being someone who did. However, the more I learn about myself I know that I probably always dealt with it on some level. Anxiety is something that you hear a lot more of than we used to. There are children as well as adults taking medication for anxiety these days, which is no wonder with the world we live in. We seem to have so much more to worry about, with viruses and tensions and politics, and that is on the global and national scale. Much less in our own individual lives, where people are dealing with illnesses, and financial hardships, and addictions. But Jesus came to be our Prince of Peace. He came to help us to deal with these issues at hand. We are not meant to handle all of these things on our own and I think, at least for me, the anxiety level goes up when I am not putting things in their proper place. That doesn’t mean that the things that I worry about just vanish. But where am I placing them in perspective in my life. Am I worrying and talking about it more than I am praying about it. 

Ms. Wendy, the author of the little companion book I am reading pointed out to me four times in scripture that tell me that nothing is impossible for God. 

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

“Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17 

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

My friends no matter what you are facing today, we are not supposed to face it alone. And Jesus is the only source of lasting peace that you will ever find in the midst of your circumstances, whatever your circumstances may be. You may end each day when everything went your way and you may feel like you have had a peaceful day. But even Jesus told us that each day would have its own troubles. (Matthew 6:34) But in that passage where Jesus was teaching his disciples about being anxious he also gave us the way to lay all of those things that cause us anxiety down. 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

That’s your key, the only way to truly know God as Jehovah-Shalom is to spend time with Him and to get to know His word. I know for me, when I have gone through seasons where the anxiety level was heightened I have taken on a few practices that will also help me. 

One of these is trying to memorize scripture. Now I will be the first to tell you I am horrible at that. I know a lot of scripture internally but I can’t always tell you it’s address. What I have done many times and seasons of my life when I was dealing with a particular issue and praying during certain seasons is I will get one of those spiral bound index card booklets and I will keep it by my side during my quiet time. When a verse jumps out at me I will write it in that little booklet. Then I will carry that with me in my purse or put it in my car and when I feel the anxiety level going up I will pull it out and read over the scriptures that I have written down. 

If you are dealing with worry and you find yourself fretting over a particular issue. Follow it with this verse. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request me made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Are you struggling with where you are in life or what you want out of life? Is God trying to get you to take one path and you, in your mind are holding on to a plan that is not God’s will for your life. 

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 

Do you find yourself doubting God and if He is for you and even listening to your prayers. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

I know that some of what I am saying here may sound like just a Sunday school answer. But I promise you that if you will lay your cares at His feet every day and you will flood your heart and your mind with scripture, no matter what is before you, God will give you the peace to see it through as He works it for your good. I believe that because I have lived it. Even in the midst of some things that I worried some days would take me down, He has always come through for me. Even in the midst of my hurts, my sorrows, my anxiety, my worries and my hopes and my dreams, He is my peace, my Jehovah-Shalom, He makes me whole! 

Jehovah-Shalom ~ Peace that is Complete

I have known for a long time that the Jewish word Shalom meant peace. But my studying on Jehovah-Shalom took me just a little deeper into the meaning of this word. Shalom doesn’t just mean absence of conflict, strife or cessation of war which is what I always thought of it as. The noun Shalom means “peace, completeness” and the verb shalom means to be “whole, complete, perfect and full.” I don’t know about you but that says so so much more to me than just absence of conflict. I have never thought of this as being complete, perfect, WHOLE. I have felt it before I just didn’t realize that was what I was feeling at the time. 

Have you ever been in the middle of some circumstances that should be rocking your world and all you could feel was peace? I had an incident like that just last year. I really can’t go into details of the incident but I can tell you that when I received the phone call of things that were happening, I should have been angry, hurt and worried. I usually have a tendency to overthink and over worry about things anyway so circumstances that are beyond my control like that will usually send me into a tailspin of anxiety. But truly all I could feel at the moment was peace. It was so surreal to me. I knew that my personality was to take these outward circumstances and fret, worry, cry and overreact. But this particular day all I could feel was peace. I knew that God was directing my every step. Now I had spent a lot of time with the Lord over the last few months before this happened so that is all I can contribute to the peace that I was feeling. 

“Friend, whenever God calls us to a task that we think is beyond us, the key is to keep our eyes on God, not our circumstances.” ~ Wendy Blight

I read this statement in the book and it is so true it bears repeating word for word. When you are going through those type of circumstances that rock your world, whether it be a diagnosis, or a job loss, or a rocky marriage or a wayward child, the only thing that will keep you sane and keep you in His perfect peace is to keep your eyes on the one who is our peace. 

One of the best friends that God ever gifted me with was rocked with a diagnosis several years ago. She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers just as her youngest child was in the last couple of years of high school. Her oldest child was on the brink of getting married and starting her life with the man of her dreams and her middle child was thriving in college and getting ready to start her career. Just at the time that many of us, (me included) are getting all worked up over the empty nest, she received a diagnosis that she knew would not only take her life eventually, it would rob her of memories and her mind as this disease took over her brain. 

She would amaze me, however when we would spend time together and she would start telling me how blessed she was. She had such complete peace and joy on her all the time that we spent together that I know could only come because she was a Godly woman who spent her time with Jesus. I’m not sure that the knowledge of her disease didn’t rock my world more than it did hers. She still would smile and laugh and she squeezed every bit of joy that she could out of every day. And she still is, even though this disease is robbing her of deep conversations with her people, she still has a smile on her face and she is still dancing and singing. I know that this deep rooted joy only comes from the years that she has spent knowing her Savior. I am sure that she had many a time that she spent in tears with Jesus over the knowledge of what was going to happen to her. But the outside world didn’t know it. Maybe her family did, I am sure her precious husband held her many times when she cried but their goal, her husband and her children’s goal became helping her find joy in every day. And Jesus held their hands as they did. 

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

My friend has the peace that passes all understanding because she has held on to the only one who could give her that peace in the midst of such a diagnosis. Her peace was complete and it was whole. She still had the war going on. This horrible disease was still robbing her of her mind and her memories, her future and her past. But she had Shalom because she knows her Jehovah-Shalom. 

Jehovah-Shalom ~ The Lord is My Peace 

In the sixth chapter of Judges we meet a fellow named Gideon. When I read the story of Gideon I picture a man, small in stature. The reason is because of the description that Gideon gives himself. He says I am from the least clan of Israel, and I am the weakest in my family. But Gideon ends up doing mighty things for God. We are going to look at when Gideon was introduced to us up until he builds an altar to the Lord. 

The sixth chapter starts with explaining how Israel was doing as a nation. 

“The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian for seven years.” Judges 6:1

This was not one of the best times of Israel’s history. Israel as a whole had been delivered over to the Midianites and were being oppressed by them. The Israelites would harvest the land and the Midianites would come in and take the harvest from them. It appears they were not occupying the land but they would come in and steal their produce and their livestock. They would come in and steal, and ravage and leave Israel as a wasteland. 

“And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.” Judges 6:6

Israel was at a low point, they seemed to have forgotten God in the way they were living but when they got to the lowest point they knew the only way out and up was to look to God and to cry out to Him for help. 

“When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.’” Judges 6:7-10

God points out to the Israelites what the problem was. The reason for the oppression from the Midianites was their own disobedience to God. Don’t miss this, God may have handed Israel over to be oppressed but He really never left them. He was still watching over Israel. I have said before to people and have had to say it to myself, “sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.” Sometimes when we tend to continually want to go our own way God will allow us the freedom to do so just to show us how life without Him would be. God allowed Israel to be oppressed by Midian because of their disobedience. But the oppression was the very thing it was going to take to cause Israel to cry out to the Lord. 

And this is where we find Gideon.

“Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belong to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.” Judges 7:11

Gideon was hiding out in a winepress, beating out the wheat to get grain because he was trying to hide this part of the harvest from the Midianites. This angel fo the Lord comes and sits down near him while he is hiding out doing his work. 

“And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:12

This angel of the Lord is referred to in commentary as a theophany. A pre-incarnate of Jesus showing himself to Gideon. So the angel comes in and talks to Gideon and calls him a “mighty man of valor”. Some translations say “mighty warrior”. Now here is this man, who may have been slight in stature beating out wheat in a winepress, hiding out and the angel of the Lord, Jesus calls him a mighty warrior and says “The Lord is with you”. Gideon is a little taken aback. He asks Him, if the Lord is with us, why is all this happening, why am I having to hide out, just to get something to eat, why am I having to work so hard? If God is with us, where are the miracles of deliverance that the Lord has done in the past. Oh haven’t we all felt that way before? Where we are having trouble seeing the hand of the Lord on our lives and our circumstances. That’s where Gideon is. But don’t miss this part. Even though Gideon was discouraged, he was still going about the day to day tasks of living. 

“And the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Judges 6:14

What does “this might of yours” mean to this small man, the least of his family, from the weakest clan? I think it’s because Gideon was found doing something, yes, he may have been hiding out while doing it, and he seems to have even been grumbling. But he was grumbling to the one who could save him. He knew where his help would come from if there was any help to be had at all. Sometimes coming to the end of our rope, to the end of ourselves is just what we need to realize that we need to reach out to the one who can help. I think Gideon caught God’s eyes because he was doing something. 

Now of course, Gideon has a few minutes there of arguing with the Lord, about being the one to save Israel. He isn’t sure he is the one to do it. I love this next verse. 

“And the Lord said to him, ‘But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’” Judges 6:16

The Lord was calling Gideon to fight a battle and to save Israel and bring them back to him. But He wasn’t sending him out alone. Just like when the Lord gives us a battle to fight, He doesn’t send us out alone. He is always with us when we are fighting the battles that are His. It’s when we try to go it alone, that he allows us to be oppressed. What happens next is where our lesson lies today. Gideon goes on to ask for a sign. So he asks the Angel of the Lord to stay while he goes in and prepares food for him. When he comes out and lays the food out before the Angel of the Lord, He takes His staff and touches the food and fire comes up from the rock and consumes the food. And then the Angel of the Lord vanishes. Gideon is afraid because he realizes He has just seen the Lord face to face. But then peace. 

“Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord is Peace (Jehovah-Shalom). To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.” Judges 6:24

Even in the midst of hardship and uncertainty, Gideon knew He had just seen God and that God was with Him and it brought Him peace. The Lord was his peace not his circumstances. Gideon was still going to have a battle in front of him. But he recognized that he would be fighting it with the Lord and that it what brought him peace. Because he knew Jehovah-Shalom!

Jehovah-Rapha ~ Faith that heals 

I want to conclude this week with a couple of stories of faith. The kind of faith in the Healer that brought healing. In Luke 7 there is a story of a Centurion who had that kind of faith. Now this Centurion was not like the others. The Centurion was a Roman soldier and history tells us they were not always likable guys. But this man was different. We can look at the language in Luke’s story and gather that. 

“Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.” Luke 7:2

When you look into the story you can see first of all this man’s servant was sick but the statement “highly valued by him” gives you the detail. The Roman soldiers were not especially known for valuing others much less their servants. But the fact that it was stated shows you that this centurion looked on his servant not only as a valuable asset to his home, but possibly as a friend. The centurion heard about Jesus so he requested from the elders of the Jews that they would ask Jesus for him to come heal his servant. The Jews also spoke highly of this centurion which was unusual. 

“And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.’” Luke 7:4-5

Here we have seen that the centurion was a good guy, he treated his servants well, and he apparently had some type of friendship with the Jewish elders. Otherwise he would not have been able to appeal to them to get their help for Jesus to come to his house, nor would they have done it. Friendship across cultures was not a common practice back in those days. Then the centurion has second thoughts about Jesus coming to his house. 

“And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go’ and he goes and to another, ‘Come’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this’ and he does it.” Luke 7:6-8

As Jesus neared the centurions home, the centurion was humbled to think that He would enter it. So he sends word to Jesus, look I have a lot of people who do what I say, but I am nothing like You so You just say the word and heal my servant from afar. No need for You to come to my home. He was showing humility, he knew his place, even though he was a very important man. Or actually he knew Jesus place! He believed Jesus had the power to heal by a word. 

“When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.” Luke 7:9-10

Don’t miss this, this centurion marveled Jesus with his faith. Oh how I want my faith to be so deep that it could marvel Jesus! This centurion knew who he was dealing with. He had humility, even though he was an important man. But he knew Jesus! He knew that Jesus could just say the word and heal his servant. He didn’t have to lay hands on him. All he had to do was speak it and it “marveled” Jesus. 

One more story of healing that is probably my favorite of all healing stories is just one chapter over. This is a story within a story in Luke 8:40-56. Jesus was on his way to a man named Jairus’ house to heal Jairus daughter. Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue and when his daughter fell ill he came and fell at Jesus feet and begged him to come and heal her. While Jesus was on his way there, he was walking in a crowd and this woman, who had been ill for 12 years saw him. She had been to doctor after doctor trying to find answers to her illness but no one had been able to help her. She sees Jesus in the crowd and she thinks if I can just touch the hem of his garment I will be healed. And that is what she does. 

“She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, ‘Who was it that touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.’” Luke 8:44-46

This woman’s faith was such that she knew that all she had to do was touch his garment and she reached out. Friends I have had many times in my life I felt I was hanging on by the threads of his garments. But that was enough to hold me together at the time. 

“And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’” Luke 8:47-48

I have wondered about this woman many times. I feel like she came trembling and fell down before Jesus because she would have been considered unclean and she was afraid. She could have gotten in serious trouble for being in the crowd much less reaching out and touching Jesus. But Jesus in his love and compassion, heals her by her faith. This time, all she had to do was reach out and touch Him, and she received His healing power. Oh my friends, if you have something you know that needs healing today, whether physical, emotional, or mental, please please reach out and touch the one who can heal you! Our Jehovah-Rapha! 

Jehovah-Rapha ~ Jesus’ Healing Power 

Jesus began His earthly ministry right after He had been baptized and spent 40 days in the wilderness. Satan had tempted Him in the wilderness and He had passed all the tests of course. He returned to Galillee different than before. 

“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” Luke 4:14-15

When Jesus had gone into the wilderness the Spirit of the Lord had descended on Him as a dove at His baptism. When He came out of that wilderness experience He was full of the Spirit. Now mind you, I know that Jesus did not have to spend time in the wilderness to be full of the Spirit. But in my little mind, I think Jesus did that to give us an example. Any kind of ministry that any of us embark on should be born out of time spent with just you and God. Just a thought from me. 

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up and he went to the synagogue to teach there. When He stood up to read, he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 

“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” Luke 4:18-19

Now those present would have heard this scripture before. But this time hearing this scripture was different. This time it meant something more. And they could feel it. Have you ever heard a scripture that you know you have heard over and over but it felt like the very first time. It was just different somehow. It suddenly connected with your Spirit. After reading, Jesus told them. 

“‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 14:21

Jesus had just given them His job description. He had come to set people free and to heal them, to recover their sight, whether figuratively or in reality. He was going to shake things up. 

Now Jesus went about in His ministry healing many. Let’s talk about one.  

“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 begged him, ‘Lord if you will you can make me clean.’” Luke 5:12

Leprosy was a horrible disease and it was highly contagious. When someone was diagnosed with leprosy they would then have to socially isolate themself from everyone and even when they walked down the street they would have to shout “unclean” so that people would know not to come near them. One of the things that struck me when I read this verse is the man approached Jesus, knowing he could get into big trouble doing so, then he fell on his face and begged. He was in a place of desperation. He had nothing to lose so he took a chance. He was truly at the end of His rope, or rather his hope. Have you or someone you have known ever gotten to that place whether it was physical healing or healing of the soul they needed that they got to that place? This beggar knew that it would be totally socially acceptable for Jesus to walk away from Him. He knew that as far as the world was concerned it would be ok to reject him. But that’s not what Jesus came to do. That’s not who Jesus is. And what He did next is amazing. 

“And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:13

Don’t miss this, Jesus didn’t just heal the man, Jesus touched the man. This man was untouchable by society. He would have been lonely, probably had not had physical touch for some time. He may have been smelly and dirty. Jesus could have spoken a word and the man would have been healed. But that is not what He did. He healed Him physically and He touched him to show He was accepted, He healed this man’s heartbreak by His touch. 

Jesus had the power to heal with a word and He still has the power to heal all of our diseases to this day with a word. I still don’t understand why sometimes He does and sometimes He doesn’t and I don’t think I ever will this side of eternity. But I know what He will heal each and every time if we humble ourselves and ask Him and that is the heart. It is His desire that all should come to Him. As I study some of these times of healing I am seeing over and over that when Jesus healed someone physically, He was also forgiving sins. And in so doing He was healing hearts. He will still accept us where we are. I know too many people who think they have to get clean and straighten up before they come to Jesus. We should all be more like the leper and throw ourselves at His feet to ask for healing of our hearts. And we should also all be more like Jesus and no matter how messed up, broken, dirty or smelly someone is, be the hands of Jesus and reach out and touch them. Let’s be the light that leads them to the healing power of Jesus. 

Jehovah-Rapha ~ Healer of my soul

The Hebrew word that is used in the old testament for healer is Rapha. The true meaning of this word is “to mend, to cure, to heal, to thoroughly make whole.” When I read that in my little book I am studying, alongside my Bible, the words “to thoroughly make whole” jumped off the page to me. I have shared before that life has dealt me and my family a few hard blows over the past few years. I have always been a believer that you can let things make you bitter or you can let them make you better. As these life experiences seemed to come at us one right after the other for awhile. I had a choice, I could wallow in grief, hurt and despair or I could sit at the feet of Jesus and tell Him about how bad it hurt and see what He could do with it. 

In my study these verses in Proverbs were shown to me in a new way. 

“My son be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 

Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. 

For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. 

Proverbs 4:20-24

Now I have read through the Bible and especially through Proverbs many times and these words have never hit me like they did this time. I am sure it is because they were pointed out to me, and this is the first time I have specifically studied God as healer. But I can say that even though I have never studied God as healer I have sure experienced Him as healer. 

I have always been much more of a Mary than a Martha. I love to sit at Jesus feet and read the Word, or any other book for that matter. (My house is a testament to that fact. I do clean, but I don’t see it like other people I know do. I clean because well someone has got to knock the crust off. Not because I particularly find great joy in it.) But as I went through things that broke my heart, I became even more driven to the Word and time to just sit with Jesus. For a while there I devoured whatever I could put in front of me. My heart was hurting so I turned to the only thing that I knew could heal it. I took in podcasts of teachings and sermons, I listened to worship music, I read devotional books and teaching books, as well as my Bible. I knew that some of the things that were hurting me were not going to change. I know that God raised people from the dead back in Biblical times but I didn’t much think He was going to do that this side of eternity now. But even though I couldn’t put the words to what I was doing at the time, I was turning to the only One who could heal my soul. 

And I prayed! I prayed to find joy in my heart again! I prayed for God to help me understand, if not fully on some level, some of the things that were happening. I prayed for God to help me get out of bed and function some days. I would go to work and I would put music or podcasts in the background so that what was feeding my ears could penetrate to my soul. I can’t say I was always listening to every word but I can say that it got in. There are still things I don’t understand, but I truly feel like my soul is more at rest over events and that what I received from that time in relationship with my Savior is on a deeper level than I could have ever imagined or achieved had it not been for these hurts that I experienced. I am not saying I want to do them again, but what I can say is that when life deals hard blows, and it will if you live long enough, the only place to turn to receive healing for your soul is to the healer, Jehovah-Rapha himself. 

Let’s look at the steps set out in these verses in Proverbs. The first line is telling you to open your ears to hear the Word. This can be through reading, through worship music, through sermons or teaching. When going through hard times, guard what you are taking in. Some days I felt so on the edge of a flood of tears I had to be very careful what I was watching or putting in. Don’t get me wrong tears can be cleansing too, but you may have to be careful as to the timing of those tears. So don’t let yourself watch a sad movie if you are struggling with feeling sad all the time. Sometimes too during this time, I would feel so heavy that I would retreat to find something to watch that would just make me laugh. Not think, just laugh. When you are walking around with sadness brought on by grief or circumstances beyond your control I think it’s ok to check out of the thought processes and just sit down with something funny to make you laugh. But I go back to be sure you are hearing the Word every day too. 

Then you receive the word. Opening your heart and mind to hear what God is saying to you. Even if answers aren’t coming, just getting in His presence and pouring your heart out to Him and reading and hearing what He has to say. Let His words penetrate your heart. And as you do, you will be surprised at the healing that will come to your soul. As you do these steps and you spend time with your Savior, and you fall into a posture of prayer, you will begin to find that sometimes, really all the time, it’s not about the answers we get from God. It’s just about God. And spending time with Him and asking Him that even if we don’t always get the physical healing we long for, for ourselves or for someone else, that we will receive the spiritual, deep in our souls healing that only He can give. 

My friends, I am not trying to sound super spiritual here but I pray if you are going through a tough time, where the tears come too easy and the hurt feels raw and deep, I pray that you will turn to Jehovah-Rapha, the only one who can be healer of your soul! 

Jehovah Rappha ~ When God Heals

I want to tell you about a time recorded when God healed.  First let me give you a little background. 

“Hezekiah son of Ahaz began to rule over Judah in the third year of Hoshea’s reign in Israel. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles.” 2 Kings 18:1-4

Hezekiah followed his father Ahaz as king of Judah. Ahaz was not a good guy, he did detestable things in the Lord’s eyes, even sacrificing one of his own sons on the altar. But Hezekiah followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Jotham and his great-grandfather Uzziah. They did was was “pleasing in the Lord’s sight.” 

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did. He revolted against the king of Assyria and refused to pay him tribute.” 2 Kings 18:5-7

Hezekiah walked closely with God. He tried really hard to follow all of the rules and the law. He carefully obeyed the Lord and this brought him great success. However, even Hezekiah made mistakes. He was right in not paying tribute to the king of Assyria, however that king did not like it at all. The king of Assyria came to attack Judah. When that happened King Hezekiah first tried to negotiate with him. It never works to try to negotiate with the enemy. King Sennacherib of Assyria just brought on more and more oppression to Judah and in it all he not only threatened Jerusalem, he mocked God. Hezekiah may have made mistakes but he did not forget where his success had come from and he turns back to the Lord to seek His help. King Sennacherib had sent a letter to King Hezekiah mocking God and telling all that he was going to do to Jerusalem. 

“After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord.” 2 Kings 19:14

When Hezekiah turned back to the Lord, he was very intentional. He took the letter to the temple and he laid it out before the Lord. Then he prayed:

“O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God……Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” 2 Kings 19:15-19 

And God did just that. Because of Hezekiah’s repentance and returning to the Lord, God rescued Jerusalem from the King of Assyria and his Army. 

“That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.” 2 Kings 19:35-36

Talk about deliverance. However this brings us to the next chapter of this story about Hezekiah. All of this was to give you background into Hezekiah and who he was. He was not a perfect man by any means but he loved God and he walked with him. As soon as the Lord delivers Jerusalem from Assyria and you turn to the next chapter in 2 Kings you read this. 

“About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: ‘This is what the Lord says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’” 2 Kings 20:1

Hezekiah had received his death sentence. He was told that he would not recover from the illness that he had. I have known many people who have gotten that death sentence. A cancer diagnosis, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, or some other illness or disease that is ravaging and wasting them away. Hezekiah did what I have known many people to do. 

“When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, ‘Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.’ Then he broke down and wept bitterly.” 2 Kings 20:2-3

Hezekiah prayed and this time the Lord decided to heal. 

“But before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, this message came to him from the Lord: ‘Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life.” 2 Kings 20:4-6

And He did just that. Hezekiah did gain fifteen years. I wish I could tell you he did everything perfectly after that, but scripture does record some grave mistakes that Hezekiah made. I also wish I could tell you that this means that God will always heal when the prayers are fervent. I can’t I have known too many good, Godly people who prayed just as hard and God chose not to heal. But the fact is, God CAN heal. That is what gives me hope in this story.

Something I have learned as I have gotten older and dealt with the everyday aches and pains of getting older is this, getting older is a privilege not extended to all. I have seen miraculous prayers of healing and I have seen those who prayed hard and God still chose to heal in heaven. But life is a gift and I for one will choose to walk it out with Him by my side. My Jehovah-Rapha, my healer.