I Lift Up My Eyes To the Hills
If I were to introduce you to a colleague and say, “This is my helper,” would you think the colleague was my superior or my subordinate? Or if a quadriplegic friend introduced you to his companion and said, “This is my helper,” what would you picture as this helper’s roll in the life of the quadriplegic? Questions like these are important to consider when we think of the term helper. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated for helper is Ezer, and Scriptures abound with references to God as our helper, our Ezer. Therefore, what comes to mind when we think of this term is important in our understanding of what it means that God is our helper.
Of the two examples above, I think God as a helper comes closest to the latter—the helper of the quadriplegic. While we see God throughout Scriptures acting and declaring His willingness to humbly take on the role of servant, we certainly must not think that this means He is subordinate in any way to anyone or anything. We may not think we would fall into that grievous an error, but if we ever react with indignation or entrenched disappointment when He does not answer our prayers as we want, or work our lives out as we think they should go, then we’ve slipped a bit in our understanding of who serves whom, and who is sovereign in the universe. Our sometimes demanding prayers are signs we think of God as our helper in a subordinate way, something like a genie in a bottle to do our bidding. That kind of pride is more likely to foster His resistance to answering our prayers as we desire.
Back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the old saints would talk about “pleading the promises of God.” By this they meant praying out the promises in God’s word with humble passion. This was a far different attitude from what arose in the latter half of the 20th Century and lingers today, where it is advocated that we “claim the promises.” While couched in terms of displaying bold faith, this approach sounds much more like presenting demands, and dictating to God in what ways He is to answer the prayers and keep the promises. It can be quite arrogant and presumptive.
I think the old saints had it right. They believed the promises of God, but they also knew His sovereignty, and how He would choose His method and timing in keeping His word. They came to Him more like a helpless invalid saying, “I need Your help, because I am incapable of accomplishing anything on my own. I am fully dependent on You.” It is very much in keeping with the prayer of Asa, found in 2 Chronicles 14:11, “O Lord, there is none like You to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You.” What a beautiful prayer of one who realized his helplessness apart from the help of his mighty, loving God. He was crying out in need and faith. This should be our attitude.
Jehoshaphat’s prayer in battle was even simpler, “Help me!” Sometimes that’s all we have time for, but our helper is not someone we have to cajole or conjure with the right words. He is glad to be our helper, because He loves us, and He loves to see the faith of His children who look to Him as helper. However, we tend to have two errors here. First, we forget or omit to ask Him, choosing to do things on our own. And second, we forget to thank Him, and to keep in mind all the times He has been our helper in the past. In Deuteronomy, God warns the Israelites that when they are living off the bounty of the land of Canaan, they would be tempted to forget who provided for them, and think they were self-made. Samuel wanted to help Israel combat this very human problem by raising a memorial, a standing stone, a stone of remembrance, and calling it Ebenezer—Stone of Help. He told them, we have come this far by God’s help. Can’t we all say that? Wouldn’t that be our testimony? Wherever we are in life, whatever we have been through, haven’t we come this far by God’s help? It is something we need to consider regularly.
Jesus didn’t come right out and call the Father His helper, but He did regularly express how dependent He was on His Father and did nothing apart from Him. He went on to say that in like manner we were depend on Him. Like that invalid, apart from Him, we can do nothing. Jesus did call the Holy Spirit “the Helper” (John 14 and 15), and spoke of how, through this Helper we would be enabled to understand Scriptures and empowered to serve. We are never more Christ-like than when we are fully dependent on God as our helper. And we are never more humble children of God than when we realize just what a helper He is, and how much we need Him every day.
We would do well to follow Samuel’s example and have some stones of remembrance to remind us we have come this far through God’s help. In the past I have advised people going through tough times to keep a list of God’s provisions and evidences of His care for them. Not only would it be an encouragement for them in their difficult season, but would be a testimony and heritage for those coming behind of God’s active work in their lives. These Ebenezers remind us to be grateful, to continue to call out to Him in faith for help, and to encourage others when they need to see God as their helper.
Let’s end with a few of the many verses to consider which will draw us into grateful worship for our faithful, mighty God, our helper:
• So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear, what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6
• There is no one like the God of Jeshurun who rides across the heavens to help you…The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper.” Deuteronomy 33:26-29 (excerpts)
• The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him. Psalm 37:40
• …and the other [son of Moses] was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.” Exodus 18:4
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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