Where Does My Help Come From?

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Photo credit to Brittany Cunningham.

 

“O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; but in Me is your help.” Hosea 13:9

 
Sometimes it’s so easy to forget where we came from. We live in a world of the “self-made” and the “self-proclaimed.” Somehow we think we got ourselves where ever we are. If we stop to think about it, how did we even get to be born and exist? Did we determine it? Did we choose the country we were born in, or our culture, or our parents, or our circumstances? But somehow we find ourselves thinking that I am in control of my own destiny. And in so doing, we are like Israel and destroy ourselves, because we miss out on the reality of life, that life is in God and that God alone is our help.

 
Funny thing is that even the name or word Israel means “he will rule as God.” Now that is not implying that Israel will make himself a god. That’s implying that Israel will rule just like God, that Israel will think like God, and love like God, and act like God, and have the mind and heart of God in what he does. It means that Israel was created to bear Your image before the world.

 
But here we have this image bearer who has destroyed himself and his image because he stopped trusting in the One who was every help he would ever need. What does God mean when He says “but in Me is your help”? How is He a help? Is a helper that important? So do we mainly do it on our own and then get a little “help” from God? Is that the idea here?

 
This word for help in Hebrew is ezer. Let’s look at how it is used in Scripture. Actually, the first two uses of this word for help are in Genesis 2:18 and 20. “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.’” And in verse 20, “And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a help meet for him.” Why was it so important to God that Adam have a helper corresponding to him? Why was this so important from the start? Why did the very first “perfect” man in the beginning still need help? Why was it not good for him to be alone? Alone how? Help from who? What kind of help? Why would God design Eve from the stuff of man to give the help he needed and to keep him from being alone? And why would God use a masculine word to describe Eve?

 
But those aren’t my only questions. Where did help really originate. I mean, Eve’s not masculine so maybe the origin is not in Eve. Maybe it’s origin, the origin of help itself, is in and from God and His alone to impart. What if ezer, that kind of help, is a “divine characteristic”? What if it has to do with God and Your relationship with Israel? How does that work? What does that look like? How are You a “help”?

 
It’s interesting. Hosea shares God’s words to Israel, “Yet I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; and you know no God but Me, and beside Me there is no savior.” This takes us back to Exodus 18:4 where we see ezer again. Moses named one of his sons Eliezer as a declaration “for the God of my father was my help [ezer], and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.” The ezer delivers from oppressors and rescues from danger. We have something similar in the next occurrence in Deuteronomy 33:7: “And this he said of Judah, “Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him in to his people. With your hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries.” What does this tell us of the ezer? “God assists, supports, and reinforces Israel against her enemies.” (Skip Moen)
The ezer doesn’t stop there. Psalm 33:20 declares, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.” What kind of help is that? He is the deliverer and the one who showers with loving kindnesses (hesed). He blesses and watches over. Armies don’t save kings, strength doesn’t deliver warriors, war horses don’t save or rescue but this God, this Help does! This ezer can deliver even our souls from death and fill us with gladness.
We hear an honest cry in Psalm 70:5, “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!” Are we afflicted and in need? God provides. Why do we look elsewhere?

 
Why trust? Because only God is our help and our shield. “O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.” (Psalm 115:9) The kind of help we need, the kind of shielding cannot come from anywhere else. Only God is mighty enough to save the way we need to be saved.

 
Why rely on God’s help? “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God…” (Psalm 146:5) This is where all blessing, all true blessing and hope comes from. This is where it exists in reality. This is its origin and creator.

 
This, all of this, is help. This, all of this, is ezer. This, all of this, is God and God alone. If I am to be a help, then I can only be a true help if it is in the image of the One who IS HELP. Israel is not the creator of help and neither am I. The truth is that “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2) I didn’t make heaven and earth. I didn’t create life. Even when I gave birth to my daughters, the stuff that conception occurred from, someone else created it because there it was in my body without me putting it there. I mean, I didn’t even have a hand in forming myself. And it was the same story for my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother and on and on. How easily we exalt ourselves and give ourselves credit for things we have no power over.

 
Like Israel we sin more and more because we started giving credit to ourselves where it wasn’t due. We start seeing ourselves as our own helpers, even though it’s been You God all along. We design our own way, our own help, our own worthless idols. We think according to our own measly understanding. We become fickle and think of nothing past the here and now. We lose the eternal perspective. We create little minds grasping after air instead of great minds molded by a great God grasping after Your gloriousness and seeing and declaring greatness that is You.

 
Instead of bearing Your great image and helping like You help us, we hurt and destroy ourselves and others. We’re like morning clouds instead, that are here and then gone and leave no effect behind of any value. We’re like the worthless chaff blown away by the wind or smoke from a chimney that no one is benefitted by.

 
But the truth is that God is God. God delivered Israel from Egypt by His help. Israel was helpless on his own. Only God saves. Only God. Only God walked with Israel in the wilderness keeping the shoes and clothes whole over all those years and providing food and water. Only God fills. But the danger is in our filling and in our wanting to be filled when we want to be filled with anything other than You, God. When we hunger for other things, we help ourselves, and that’s trouble. Actually, that’s worse than trouble; that’s sin.

 
Israel isn’t the only one who has destroyed herself. You and I could be in the middle of destroying ourselves right now. Who is my help? Is it You alone, Lord? I want to be like the Canaanite woman who had the daughter who was troubled by a demon and she came to Jesus worshipping Him and said, “Lord, help me!” (Matthew 15:25) Or like the father whose son was tormented by demons who came to Jesus saying, “And often it has cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us!” (Mark 9:22) I want to be like that father who then cried out to the Lord, “Lord, help my unbelief!” Yes, I want to come to where help originates and true help is found and given. I want to go to where Paul invited us with God. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Paul knew and I know that our help, every help we need, is only found in You and that is where I want to be found- in You, all the days of my life, for in You is my help.

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A Lofty Perspective

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Photo credit to http://www.birdingisfun.com

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

This morning I woke up to a dream, only, my dream was more like a scene than what you think of as a dream.  I was standing in the grass.  At first all you could see were my feet and the grass and the dirt I was standing in.  But then it was as though I stood back from myself and looked and I saw not only the grass around my feet, but behind me was a corn field that had been harvested.  And I stepped back further from myself and looked again and now I could see me standing in the grass and dirt, and the cornfield all harvested and beyond, all the way to the mountains and the sky in the distance.  And I knew that today, I would be looking at things through a broader perspective.

So this is the image I woke up to this morning and this verse rang out in my mind, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from where my help comes from.”  (Psalm 121:1)  So, why is it a good thing to lift up my eyes to the hills?  And why does my help come from the hills?  And why does my perspective matter?  And what does that have to do with all things working together for my good?  And why is it true only for those who love God?  And why is it true only for those who have been called by God and answered that call according to His purpose?

The Psalmist in Psalm 25:1 declares, “To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.”  “To You, God, I “nasa” my soul.”  What does that mean?  Can I lift up my soul separate from who I am?  Or when I lift up my soul to the Lord as the Psalmist, am I giving all of me?  Is this an offering back to the Lord all He has created in me?  Let’s take in a perspective that Skip Moen shares here.  “In Hebrew thought, you are nephesh, the whole homogenized uniqueness that makes you the person you are.  You are who you are because you are animated by divine breath and there is no separating you and this power of vitalization while you live.  Considering this, the psalmist makes a startling declaration.  To lift up one’s nephesh is essentially to offer one’s very life.  But how unusual.  The offer is made to the very One who provides that life.  It is an offer to return something borrowed.  This is sacrificial suicide.”  O.K.  So I am giving back to You, Lord, what You have already given me.  You made me and gave me life and I give it back to You.  I suppose the only actual thing I own is sin.  But when I give You back what I borrowed, You even lift up that sin with it, cancel the debt, and continue my life in Your grace.

Now, I need to take that into perspective with the Psalm about lifting my eyes up unto the hills.  That’s where my help comes from.  Who is my help?  You are, Lord.  And I look unto the hills because I look unto You.  But this is the thing about mountains and hills, sometimes we become distracted by them because of our perspective.  In all truth, You alone are to be the High and Lifted Up One.  But often, we set other things up on the mountain tops and worship them.  But what was lifted up before the Israelites when the snake bites came?  What did Moses lift up?  What were the people to lift their eyes unto?  Wasn’t that serpent on the rod a symbol of You, Jesus?  Weren’t they being called to focus on Your promise, to focus their trust on You?  Is it any different for me today?

I lift up my eyes unto the hills.  That’s where my help comes from.  I lift up my eyes, my eyes which direct where my body and my mind and thoughts go.  I lift up my eyes and my “nephesh,” my whole being and soul and person, and I look to You in expectation and in commitment.  I look to the cross upon which You were lifted up for my sake and the sake of every person ever.  I look on You upon that cross because I’ve been bitten by the lethal bite of Sin.  There is no other remedy for me.  Unless I look up to You, unless I turn to You with all of my being, unless I trust in You with all my philosophy, all my theology, all my lifeology, with every part of me, I will not and I cannot live.

Now, where does my help come from?  Well, sometimes we choose our own hills, with our own philosophies and theologies.  But what if I only let You, Lord, stand on the hill and look to You alone for my help?  What is help?  This is the Hebrew word “ezer.”  And the funny thing here is that it goes back and is used for the woman’s role in the family.  But it paints an even bigger picture.  Skip Moen shares, “Christ serves the Church by providing it with life and the Church serves Christ by enabling His purposes and goals to become a reality in this world and the next. “  Keep listening to hear how this “ezer” idea works.  Oh, and by the way,  isn’t that something how this ties in with Romans 8:28?

Now this may seem to be a jump, but we’re going to go back to Genesis and look at man and woman and their roles.  Just bear with me here.  “Apply that same logic to the Genesis account.  The man is the source of the woman (from ish comes ishshah).  But the man is not the authority over the woman (that doesn’t occur until the man makes it so after the Fall).  The man is mutually submitted to the woman in order that they may both fulfill the purposes of God.  But just like the Church, the woman exists because of the man and her role is to insure that the goals and purposes of the man become reality.  She serves him, not as slave or domestic attendant, but as the one who is committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in his life.  And as Hegg says, if this goal is eclipsed by anything else, no matter how important, the real purpose of her existence will be diminished.”  (Skip Moen)  I can’t help but think about that.  My husband’s goal is to help me fulfill the purposes of God.  My goal is to help my husband fulfill the purposes of God.  We are to be mutually committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in each other’s lives.  And this is the picture for every believer.  This is the picture for what we call the Church.  Our goal is to lift You, Lord, up over every hill and to do whatever is necessary to bring about Your will in our lives and the lives around us.  This is how the family of God works.  And if this is not our perspective, then it’s not working God’s way.

So, now that I know that, I can jump up to Romans 8:28.  When You, Lord, are lifted up in my life above everything, above every false idea or false theology or selfish desire, then I can know Your purposes and plan for me and those around me.  Then I can know that whether I am standing in the dirt or the flood or the grass or on parched land, that You are still working all things for my good in You.  I can take my eyes off of my situation and look up unto the hill where I have lifted You up to Your proper place.  And when I look at things Your way, through Your perspective, I can take the focus off of me and work towards enabling and building up those around me in You and Your purposes.  I can help lead them to see the bigger picture of You.  But I won’t look up beyond my immediate situation if I don’t really love You, because honest to goodness love requires a response.  It requires action.  You don’t really love if You don’t act upon that love.  Empathy and true compassion are two totally different creatures.  Remember, God SO LOVED the world, that He acted upon it.  He GAVE His ONLY SON.  What about me?  Do I really love You?   Do I really love others?  Am I answering Your call with the actions You require?  Am I fulfilling Your purpose in me and enabling them to fulfill Your purpose in them?

I can fill a shoebox, or give a volleyball, or share the Gospel through balloons, but am I really investing myself in the life of another?  Am I investing myself in You in them?  “We are to be mutually committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in each other’s lives.”  How deeply am I committed?  Do I SO LOVE God?  Do I SO LOVE anyone else?  Am I acting upon it?  What would I really give?  How much would I be willing for it to cost me?  And I wonder if what I’ve been calling love, is really love at all.  Because if it doesn’t match up to Your love, it’s not love at all.  I suppose it all boils down to perspective.  But it’s not my perspective that matters.  Unless my perspective lines up fully with Yours, I’m still stuck staring at my feet and I miss the greatest treasure of all– participating in Your purposes in the most beautifully and powerfully committed family ever—the TRUE FAMILY OF GOD.  Lord, give me a right perspective, YOURS!