Exodus 15:22 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.

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.

24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Psalm 103:2-3 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

MEMORY VERSE: 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. —I Peter 2:24

CENTRAL THOUGHT: The Lord proved Himself to Israel at the waters of Marah, immediately after the triumph at the Red Sea, as Jehovah-rapha, “the Lord that healeth thee.”


Exodus 15:23 “Marah”: from a Hebrew root which means “bitter.” The root was also the source of words in the scripture like “grieved,” “vexed,” “enraged,” “moved with choler,” and “provoked.” Marah was a bitter spring in the Sinai Peninsula.

Exodus 15:25 “A tree”: “The Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem say that, when Moses prayed, ‘the Word of the Lord showed him the tree … on which he wrote the great and precious name of (Jehovah), and then threw it into the waters, and the waters thereby became sweet.’ But what the tree … was we are not informed” (Clarke’s Commentary). “Statute”: something prescribed or due; a specific decree. “Ordinance”: judgment. “Proved”: to try or test. (The same word as in Genesis 22:1 when God tested Abraham.)

Exodus 15:26 “None of these diseases”: Some scholars take this to mean the plagues which God visited upon the Egyptians prior to the Exodus of the Israelites. Other verses in Deuteronomy (7:15; 28:27) speak of specific diseases particular to the Egyptians: the botch, which was said by some to be an itch that came upon the skin because of a contaminant in the Nile river water at the time of its flooding (others describe it as “boils” or “elephantiasis,” a form of leprosy); tumors or inflammation which caused “burning” or hemorrhoids; scab, or scurvy; and the itch, of various kinds known in Egypt and Syria. Many of the diseases which the Jews suffered in later times did come upon them because they had not observed His laws, including the dietary laws and the laws of cleanliness and sanitation prescribed by God, just as he had warned them in verse 26. “I am the Lord that healeth thee”: Jehovah-Rapha/Rophe; to heal; to make whole; mend; repair; restore. Rophe is the Hebrew participle form and is used for the word physician, or one who heals.


Three days after the mighty miracle of the dry path through the Red Sea and the complete destruction of and deliverance from their Egyptian pursuers, the children of Israel were faced again with certain horrible death, this time from thirst. Babies were crying, livestock were bawling, young, strong men were fainting. Then the bubbling spring appeared and they fell upon it in frenzy, only to retch upon the sand in anguish. The scorching desert sun, the blowing sand stinging their faces and hopeless desperation drove them to bitter lashing out against Moses.

Again God manifested Himself, not just meeting their need but revealing precious truths about His character and prophetic lessons about redemption.

As was mentioned in Word Definitions, Israel had just come from Egypt where they had seen ten different plagues and afflictions visited upon the Egyptians. They were most likely very familiar with the local diseases which have been described. God was wanting to establish a new nation completely different from all the idol-worshipping nations. It’s interesting that He introduces His covenant in this place, early in their wilderness journey, before He ever gave the ten commandments and the rest of the civil and ceremonial laws to Moses for the people. The one thing that would guarantee their vitality and health was obedience to His voice. “For,” He says, “I am the Lord that healeth thee. I am the one, true Jehovah God Who heals you from the inside out. I heal your sinfulness, your stubbornness, your rebellion, your willfulness. I heal you from that which gives you ‘wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores’” (Isaiah 1:6).

Here again the lesson points to Christ and what He does for us. By the allegory of the tree cast into the bitter waters, we see what the atoning blood of Christ upon the tree does for us. In His atonement is healing for the soul and for the body. He heals bruised spirits, wounded emotions, broken hearts. He heals marriages. He heals nations.

“What changes bitter to sweet for us? The Cross is the true tree which, when ‘cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet.’ Recognition of and yielding to God’s will: that is the one thing which for us changes all. The one secret of peace and of getting sweetness out of bitterness is loving acceptance of the will of God” (MacLaren’s Commentary).

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Marah: Give the meaning of this word.
  2. Made Sweet: What healed the waters?
  3. Health Insurance: What would keep the Israelites from the diseases of the heathen?
  4. His Name: By what name did Jehovah manifest Himself at Marah?
  5. The Tree: What event did this typify?


Exploring the connection of obedience to God’s voice and the keeping of His statutes to the revelation of Jehovah as the Healer, the Great Physician, J. W. Byers wrote in The Grace of Healing: “He did not promise to bless everything they might desire to eat and drink. He did not bless the flesh they lusted after in the wilderness, although because of their continual murmurings he sent it to them. So it is in the gospel dispensation; there are many who profess to love God, whose appetites are depraved. They crave for food and drink such things as God will not bless. The instructions to Noah concerning things clean and unclean, were not to be ignored by Israel. No one could expect God to bless anything outside these limits, neither can we consistently expect Him to bless anything to us for food that is unclean or unhealthful. While we are not under the restrictions of the law in this matter, yet we have no license to indulge any depraved or abnormal appetite. Let all apply to the cleansing blood of Christ for the removal of all such appetites, and then only eat and drink such things as are nourishing and wholesome.

“This is well worth the thoughtful and prayerful consideration of all. We are not restricted to any special diet, perhaps, but if we want God’s blessings upon our food, and also want Him to take sickness away from the midst of us, we must carefully follow the directions of His counsel… There is nothing in God’s Word to sanction an indiscriminate eating of every kind of food that is prepared. The Word of God and prayer, as well as good judgment, should be our guide as to what we eat and drink.”

This was written during a time well marked in the history of the Church of God as a time of many miracles of healing. I believe this is a concept we should revisit in our age of eating and drinking.

My own personal “Jehovah-Rapha” testimony is that God healed me of an ectopic pregnancy in 1993, sparing my life when the midwife and the doctor who read the ultrasound both expected me to die if I did not have immediate surgery. I felt God wanted me to be anointed and prayed for, and praise God, none of their dire predictions ever took place. After several weeks of constant improvement, the Lord woke me up one morning with these words: “I am the Lord that healeth thee. I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another.” It is a wonderful privilege to know and serve the Great Physician!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


A large percentage of diabetes and coronary blockage can be helped or healed through diet! There are also many testimonials of how diet has helped or even healed cancer, one of the biggest killers in our society. There may be many other diseases that are helped through a good nutritional diet. I am not saying we should exclude God and live independently of Him, but that we should seek His help and guidance to help us know how to eat and to give us the discipline we need to follow. It seems to be irresponsible to know we have an affliction and that certain foods worsen the affliction, and continue to override and eat whatever we want. I heard an expression once—”I would rather die than give up my salt.” I certainly don’t agree with this sentiment.

We live in an age of fast foods, junk foods, and foods packed with white sugar and white flour which has little or no nutritional value. Sometimes food is leaned upon as a stress reliever. Many families in our nation have lost the value of sitting around the table together to a good, old fashioned, home-cooked nutritional meal.

If we have fallen into some bad eating habits, the Lord is our healer and can help us. One child-caregiver remarked that when she helped difficult children, the first thing she did was to get them off of sugar. She said the change was quickly observable.

Jesus also linked sickness and disease with sin and evil. He told one man “to go and sin no more lest a worse thing come upon thee.” Not all sickness and disease is the result of sin; however, some of it is. Some diseases come from promiscuous sexual behavior. The apostle Paul appears to be referring to these in Romans 1—”receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

Truly, the way of the Lord is right. When we live in harmony of His laws, the Lord helps us maximize this life. “Who but the Christian is happy and free, filled with the glory of God? None in creation so happy as he, washed and redeemed in the wonderful blood.”

—Bro. Bob Wilson