Pronounced ay’-zer, it is a loaded word. If you have spent any time around the fringes of feminist theology then you may have come across it. It is often used as an argument for equalitarians because God uses ‘Ezer’ to describe Eve. However, that isn’t the focus of today. Sorry but that is the last you will hear about everyone’s favourite first woman for this post.
Help or Succour
The word ‘ezer’ is Hebrew for help or succour (to give assistance or aid/assistance and support in times of hardship and distress). It is also a word that is used 21 times in the Bible. According to Marg Mowczko, it is used 16 times to describe God. In other words, 76% of the time that we hear about someone being referred to as a helper or offering help it is God.
I think we can agree that there is a good case for one of God’s characteristics being to help or provide succour. If these 16 mentions of God as ‘ezer’ don’t convince you, how about a quick tour through the Old Testament?
Moses in Exodus
and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help [ezer], and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”).Exodus 18v4
God helped the Hebrews to escape slavery in Egypt. Considering Pharaoh’s response when Moses first requested the Hebrews’ release, this would not have been possible without God’s help and intervention.
David in Psalms
May He [God] send you help [ezer] from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!Psalm 20v2
The majority of references to God as ezer come from the Psalms. David and the other psalmists understood that God could and did provide help in times of need. David, for example, grew up protecting sheep from local bears and lions; killed a giant; went on the run from an angry king and had to put down attempts by his own sons to take the crown. Definitely a man who understood what it was to need help and who provided it.
Hosea in Hosea
He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper [ezer].Hosea 13v9
The Bible’s only prostitute-marrying prophet wasn’t exactly known for good news. Here, he is pointing out that Israel has turned against the very person who provides them with help. They have rejected God, their source of aid in times of distress.
Ezer in a time of crisis
Those are just three examples of where Bible authors refer to God as ezer. I think this is a characteristic of God that we need to dig into. Right now we are in a global pandemic. I don’t think we are even at the halfway point. If there was ever a moment to remember that God is our helper, it is now!
How do we understand this characteristic of God and truly start to believe in it? Spiritual elbow grease and hard work! Something I’m not very good at if that’s any consolation. But if we take the time to meditate on, study the surrounding context, memorise the relevant verses, and pray over Scripture, we will not only come to know God as our help and shield (Psalm 115). We will begin to rely on God as not just our helper but as the ultimate source of help.
To make the hard but rewarding work of scripture a bit easier, I’ve compiled all 16 references of God as/offering ezer into a handy two-sided printout. In fact, you can download it here for absolutely free. As in, I’m not even going to ask for your email address or make you subscribe to my newsletter. Just please download it and get these scriptures into your mind, heart and soul in whatever way works best for you.
Ezer means help. This isn’t just something fanciful idea of God being there to offer a hand when we’re stuck in a problem. This is the Almighty God who created the universe saying that He is our helper. It’s not a one-off or just for certain circumstances. God is our help right now in a time of crisis AND He is our help in all the days before and all the days still to come! God is the ultimate ezer.