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  • The Nature of God

    2 posts, 2 voices, 374 views, started Jan 4, 2011

    Posted on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 by Denise Richardson

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    • Diamond
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      Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name;" Psalm 79:9

      Help Us – I'm just guessing but I suspect that each of us has vocalized a prayer just like this one. No matter what your circumstances in life, there will always be a time when you ask for God's help. Why do you do that? The only reasonable answer is this: we believe that God wants to help us; otherwise there would be no sense in asking. We believe that God is the kind of being who desires to help and that helping is part of His nature. We might not think too much about this when we are in the midst of trouble, but a little reflection on this attribute of God is very important. So, while we're not under pressure, let's take a look at this Hebrew word azrenu.

      The root verb here is 'azar. It stands behind words like this one ("help us") as well as names like Ezra and special nouns like 'ezer. The noun 'azara means "enclosure," a particularly interesting nuance of the Semitic idea of help. The umbrella of associated derivatives and meanings helps us (no pun intended) to see just what is involved in this concept. The various expressions from the root word include military aid, social and moral support, deliverance, salvation, enclosure (protection) and general assistance. What is most revealing is this: God is always the assumed source of true help. For this reason, the noun 'ezer is often used to describe the character of God. He is the helper par excellence.

      So, you say, "Well, what's so intriguing about that? Of course God is a helper." Not so fast. In contrast to the false gods of idolatry, including many false gods that masquerade as acceptable religions today, it is God's nature to help. You don't have to convince Him, appease Him, placate Him or prove your worthiness in order for Him to act on your behalf. In fact, the distinctive difference between YHWH and all the other idols is that God helps in spite of our unworthiness. The biblical point of view is this: God showered His love on us when we were still acting as His enemies. He helps when we least deserve it.

      Now this little fact tells us something else about the biblical idea of help. The foundation of help is forgiveness. It is simply impossible that God should help those who stand in opposition to His sovereignty, holiness and majesty unless He forgives. Help comes because God has already forgiven. Those who avail themselves of His generosity are the ones who recognize that He has already forgiven. It is only on that basis that we, the unworthy, can cry out, "Azrenu!"

      Now you are ready for the punch line. One of the etymological roots of 'azar is Sabaic, a language of Old South Arabia. In this language, our root consonants mean "to ask forgiveness." This comes from an etymological root that means "to cause oneself to be helped." Let's connect the dots. God desires to help. To ask for His help is, at the same time, to ask for forgiveness. And in that moment, we are causing help to come upon us. Why? Because when we take even the tiniest step toward the Father, He rushes to our aid. You can use that little background to understand Yeshua's famous parable.

      Oh, yes. There's one more thing to think about here. 'Ezer, the helper, is also the one who brings forgiveness. And 'ezer is the word that God uses to describe Adam's created partner. Do you wonder what that might imply?



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