The “Helper” from God – Father’s Day-3

When Jehovah creates man and woman, He declares that in their unity is “the Image of God” as the representatives or emissaries through whom creation will recognize Him.  The task rests not upon only one or the other, nor on both separately, but rather on both together.  This high privilege is divided between them, making them require each other in order to accomplish the fullness of the remarkable commission in which they share.  There is no competition: the unity is real, yet the roles are different.

So on the one hand the man is to demonstrate the dominion of the Lord over creation, but what is the role that the woman has in order to complete this “Image of God”?

In Genesis 2:18, Jehovah declares that the woman would be a “helper suitable” for the man.  “Helper” is an unfortunate choice for an English translation.  In our modern culture, often that word indicates “an expendable assistant.”  In contrast, someone who has fallen down a cliff needs “a helper,” but not some nonessential underling, rather a savior – and likely a very well-trained one – is required.

Looking at the word “Helper,” except for one instance in each of Isaiah and Ezekiel, everywhere else in the Old Testament the word is used in reference to Jehovah, and He is indeed by no means some inferior Servant:

As to the source of the help, this word is generally used to designate divine aid, particularly in Psalms {Cf. Ps 121:1,2} where it includes both material and spiritual assistance. [Laird Harris, et al., ed, Theological Workbook of the Old Testament  (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), Vol II, 661]

In Exodus 18:4 and Deuteronomy 33:7,26,29, Jehovah is a help against enemies; a help during times of trouble [Psalm 20:2], of stress [Psalm 33:20] and of anxiety [Psalm 70:5]; His help is reassurance [Psalm 89:19] – a real support  [Psalm 115:9,10,11] and an effective one [Psalms 121:1,2; 124:8] –; and it is a source of confidence [Psalm 146:5] and restoration [Hosea 13:9].

So for her part of “the Image,” the woman is to represent the very “help/saving” of God Himself to creation (which includes her husband as part of that creation), just as much as he demonstrates God’s dominion in his management of creation (which also includes her).

Sadly, this high office is perverted when instead of being God’s “help,” she tempts Adam with the forbidden fruit [Genesis 3:6].  Yet Jehovah does not back away from His design: in the prophecy to the serpent [v 15], it is “the woman’s Seed” Who will bring about the serpent (Satan)’s destruction.  Martin Luther (the 16th century reformer) once pointed out that since everywhere else in the Bible a child is “the man’s seed,” this wording indicates a virgin birth would produce the promised Champion for the human race – he would come solely from the woman.

Whether it be coincidence or not:

[The Hebrew] ISHSHAH (woman [Strong’s number 802]; feminine of ISH – man) is the same pronunciation (although supposedly from a different root) for the Whole Burnt Offering  [Strong’s number 801] (jokes aside!!).  In the woman, through whom comes temptation and through whom would come the Savior, perhaps like oath/seven, the ear hears a word directly connected with broken, restored and recommitted Covenant. [from my book Covenant: The Blood is the Life]

Despite the sin that has crashed in on the world and the discipline pronounced by the Lord, possibly in response to the hope of God’s promise, “Adam called his wife’s name Eve [Life], because she was the mother of all living” [v 20]. What is surprising is that she is not “the mother of all humanity or mankind” but rather “of all living” – that is the identical word in the Hebrew used in surrounding texts in the term “the living soul,” which is applied more frequently for animals (eleven out of twelve instances) than for humans, as noted in previous posts.

Why “living” rather than “mankind”?  Perhaps her articulation of “the Image of God” before all creation is to be found in her “motherhood.”  Indeed the epitome of her “helping/saving” will be the bearing of that Seed Who will destroy Satan, thereby bringing Life to all creation [Romans 8:19-23], that is, “all living.”

It must be remembered that “the dominion of God” is a pass-through authority – it is Jehovah’s authority which comes through the man but is not “owned” by him –, and so also is the woman’s “helper/savior” role a pass-through status not owned by her.  Just as a picture does not possess its subject, but only reveals it, so also those who have “the Image” cannot claim their privilege as if it is their own ability and power, but rather can only direct attention to “the Image”’s true Subject.  So, for example, we can be thrilled with the truly awesome honor that Mary has in bearing Jesus, however, she is still only an “Image,” a reflection, of Him Who saves: “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun [“the upright one”], Who rides the heavens to help you, on the clouds in His majesty” [Deuteronomy 33:26].
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The “mother of all living” may be behind St Paul’s statement to Timothy: “Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with self–control” [I, 2:15].  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines the Greek word for “childbearing” as “childbirth (parentage), i.e. (by implication) maternity (the performance of maternal duties)” [word number 5042; “Kittel”’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament has nothing].  The word does not necessarily mean “childbirth” but may also be understood as “motherhood,” so that the statement may well read, “Nevertheless she will be saved in her motherhood if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with self–control.”

Of course, the most immediate expression of “motherhood” springs from “childbearing,” and indeed “the Image of God” has a crucial role to be played therein:

However, this is not just about of the privilege in having a pivotal role in another human’s life, but also about a mother’s remarkable honor of giving a child a taste of what God is like…
A godly mother is right in the middle of all this.  The very first experiences of love, mercy and grace will not be found in a church service, but rather right at the cradle, with the hands that clothe, feed, and rock a child.  Here are lessons where words just are not enough.  In the smile and the joy that the baby first recognizes, that is where the child learns about God’s attitude toward him.  In the plans and the promises of daily life he learns about God’s intentions for him and his hope for the future.  Again and again the mother’s hands are a powerful tool to forge the child’s coming relationship with God. [from my earlier post, He Chose Christiana – Ascension and Mother’s Day]

Yet motherhood is also used in broader concepts as well; in fact, one might wonder if “Mother Nature” and “Mother Earth” are not a corruption and diversion from the one who is to express the “motherhood,” the “helper/savior” aspect of “the Image of God,” to “all living.”  Might  “motherhood” cover the range from nursing a baby bird to risking one’s life by aiding the wounded on a battlefield; from feeding the hungry to promoting a local arts program; from concern about the rainforest to concern about heritage and culture?  Motherhood suggests a sympathizing with those unable to speak clearly for themselves; an emotional synchronization with those who struggle with life; an educating of the fledgling.

Expanding the concept of motherhood to also encompass this more generalized aspect would then allow those who cannot have children, as well as those who choose to be celibate as Paul elsewhere encourages [I Corinthians 7:8,34], to not find themselves in an apparent condemnation from the Timothy passage.

Of course, men are involved in these things as well.  Yet as we consider God’s distinction between the man and the woman, a re there not differences in the hearing of the ears, the seeing with the eyes, and, especially, the understandings of the heart?

Fourth, traditional ethics overrates culturally masculine traits like “independence, autonomy, intellect, will, wariness, hierarchy, domination, culture, transcendence, product, asceticism, war, and death,” while it underrates culturally feminine traits like “interdependence, community, connection, sharing, emotion, body, trust, absence of hierarchy, nature, immanence, process, joy, peace, and life.”  Fifth, and finally, it favors “male” ways of moral reasoning that emphasize rules, rights, universality, and impartiality over “female” ways of moral reasoning that emphasize relationships, responsibilities, particularity, and partiality (Jaggar, “Feminist Ethics,” 1992). [“Feminist Ethics,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,, retrieved 2012-07-11]

Her “help” then is to bring to the table a different view of the world, a holistic, subjective view that more strongly relies on the heart or emotions – the source, that is, the rib close to the heart, from which she sprang.  Truly, man’s expression of Jehovah’s governance can indeed become focused on mechanical process, and it is important to have present the balance of the other aspects of being human.

Yet in such things is also her vulnerability.  St Paul speaks of the woman as being deceived [I Timothy 2:14] and in the Genesis account, so she is [Genesis 3:1-6] – quite probably in regard to her very role as “helper/savior.”  After all, Satan essentially suggests that she could improve the status of her family: they could become like God; they would not need to follow the restrictions that held them back from a supposed “better life,” they would have a world of totally new experiences.  She is convinced, with all the best of intentions, that she could “help” or “be a savior” for her family, that is, that she could “fix” the problem (or perceived “problem”).  Hence her sharing of the forbidden fruit with Adam.

“There is only one Savior of this world and I am not Him!” – just as a picture is to draw attention to its subject rather than to itself, the woman as “God’s Image” is to be dependent upon and draw attention to Jehovah, “helping” her husband and creation to see His will and His activity in their midst.  But this she does not do during the Fall into sin.  She totally disregards her awesome connect to the Lord, and, as she promotes rebellion, rather than being the “mother of all living,” she becomes the harbinger of death.

The “helper/savior” has failed in her mission.  Of course, the man is not some innocent dupe, either – Paul declares that the man is not deceived [I Timothy 2:14] – he offers no protest, he does not stop the progression of sin, he knows exactly what is going on.  Both are equally and accountably responsible for the cataclysm of sin, suffering, and death that has since rained upon creation.  Another Savior is desperately needed.

“All flesh shall know that I, Jehovah, am your Savior and your Redeemer” [Isaiah 49:26]; “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord” [Luke 2:11]; “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church, His Body, and is Himself its Savior” [Ephesians 5:23] – in the Seed of the woman has come the perfect “Image of God,” the only “Helper/Savior” that can actually rescue all of humanity, in fact, “all living,” all of creation, in their need.

His call to turn away from rebellion, and turn to Him Who brings the full vision of God back into our world and into our lives.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, in a renewed submission to the Lord and His will, both man and woman will begin to recapture the awesome honor that Jehovah had planned from the beginning: that as “Image of God” becomes more visible in their lives, they discover their true place as representatives of Jehovah the Creator to His Creation.

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