Finding Help

Reflections on Numbers

I say, “Help comes from God.” I tell people, “You’re not alone.” Both are empty phrases if I don’t live like I believe them. The book of Numbers shows us that as the Israelites traveled through the wilderness, they, too, struggled to live out these words. After 40 years of wandering, they were likely wondering if God had fallen asleep on the job.

The author of Psalm 121 spotted this problem. The ancients believed the gods dwelt on the mountains, but the psalmist says otherwise: “I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (hcsb).

God doesn’t sleep. In contrast to the belief that gods drifted into the underworld, and consequently awful things happened, the psalmist explains that God is always present: “He will not allow your foot to slip … the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.” We think we are different than the ancients, but we, too, link terrible things to God’s supposed ineptitude, or his judgment. The psalmist says the opposite: God is a shelter from the elements.

God doesn’t get sunburned. Even though people believed the “sun” and “moon” gods brought unbearable weather, the psalmist says: “The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side. The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm.” Again, we think we are more advanced than the ancients, but we have the insurance clause for “other acts of God.” Rather than viewing the Lord, or the gods, as the cause of unexpected disaster, the psalmist views him as a Protector. But why would God protect us?

God doesn’t blush. It seems that any creator would look at what we have done to the world and either hate us, or be embarrassed. Instead of blushing, God turns his face towards us. God teaches the priests, via Moses, to request his presence. Psalm 121 echoes the priestly prayer: “The Lord bless you and protect you; the Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace.” God follows this by saying, “In this way [Aaron and his sons, the high priests] will put My name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (Num 6:24–27). God’s undaunted presence marks believers. Here’s how we can be enveloped in that presence.

Find help in Jesus. Just prior to his arrest and betrayal, Jesus prays, “I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, … protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one” (John 17:11). Our acceptance of Jesus makes us one with the Father. Consequently, we are protected. But help is not for hoarding. We are called to use God’s protection to create community.

Find help in community. Jesus prays for love, which is at the center of good community: “May [the believers] be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23). When believers unite in Christ’s love, the broken can be helped.

Bring help to the world. The fruits of our Bible study should not be private. We have to live what we believe. Jesus ends his prayer by saying, “I made Your name known to them and will make it known, so the love You have loved Me with may be in them and I may be in them” (John 17:26). We should show God and other people the love he has shown us.

Let’s take our needs to God, watch him act, and then make him known.

John Barry

Originally published in Bible Study Magazine July–Aug ‘10

Biblical references from HCSB


About Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book

We all have our “God moments” but the intimacy doesn’t always last. Each author in Moment with God captures this beautiful struggle, as they draw on their own stories and the Bible itself. This hand-curated collection of some of the richest devotionals from Bible Study Magazine celebrates God’s faithfulness, no matter what the moment looks like.


Copyright 2014 Lexham Press.

All rights reserved. You may use brief quotations from this resource in presentations, articles, and books. For all other uses, please write Lexham Press for permission. Email us at permissions@lexhampress.com.

Scripture quotations marked (niv) are taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of Biblica US, Inc.

Scripture quotations marked (esv) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (net) are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright 1996–2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (hcsb) are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Scripture quotations marked (nrsv) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (nlt) are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (leb) are from the Lexham English Bible (leb), copyright 2013 by Lexham Press. Lexham is a registered trademark of Faithlife Corporation.

Scripture quotations marked (nasb) are taken from the New American Standard Bible ®, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (nkjv) are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (ceb) are taken from the Common English Bible © 2011 Common English Bible.

Support Info


Table of Contents