Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
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April 29, 2023
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April 29, 2023
Ten Plagues In Egypt, The First Passover In Egypt, Prophet Elisha and Naaman, Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?, Jesus Heals A Blind Man, Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus, Jesus Heals A Man With A Withered Hand, Jesus Heals Woman With An Issue Of Blood, Flee Into The Mountains, First Jewish-Roman War, Remnant Spared, Self-Righteous Endeavors Of Unbelieving Jews, When We Were Yet Without Strength, Legalistic Load Of Mosaic Law, Give Your Burdens To Jesus, Accept Jesus Today, God Helps Those Who Help Themselves And Also Those Who Cannot Help Themselves, Closing Remarks, BBB Suggested Reading List
Continuing our discussion from part one, and before leaving behind the story of Moses, Joshua and the Israelites, allow me to share with you another related incident from that same time period which likewise clearly reveals how God sometimes requires us to do something for ourselves, to help ourselves, before He will do that which we are unable to do. In this case, let's backtrack a little in time to just prior to the Israelites' liberation from Egyptian bondage.
As you will recall, getting Pharaoh of Egypt to release the Hebrews from their yoke of bondage was no easy task. After all, they were his primary work force it seems. Thus, God informed Moses that He would send a series of Ten Plagues to the land of Egypt. Each time, Pharaoh would harden his evil heart -- by God's design -- and God would send yet another plague upon his land, in order that His great power might be revealed. These ten plagues of Egypt were the following:
Plague #01 - Water Turned to Blood
Plague #02 - Frogs
Plague #03 - Lice
Plague #04 - Swarms of Flies
Plague #05 - Pestilence on the Cattle
Plague #06 - Boils/Blisters
Plague #07 - Hail and Fire
Plague #08 - Locusts
Plague #09 - Three Days of Darkness
Plague #10 - Death of the Firstborn
With each new plague, while the Egyptians were smitten, the children of Israel who dwelled in the region of Goshen were untouched because God gave them special protection. However, with regards to the final plague -- Death of the Firstborn -- God required that the Israelites do something special so that they would be protected from it. In other words, as we have seen throughout this article, they would have to do something to help themselves, and to protect themselves. As you probably already know, I am referring to the fact that in order to be protected from death when the LORD passed over the land of Egypt on that dreadful night, the children of Israel were required to place lamb's blood on the lintel and door posts of their dwellings, as we see by this group of verses"
"And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it . . . And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt . . . And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you . . . And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle."
Exodus 12:7, 13, 22-23, 29, KJV
As I explain in other articles, the act of doing this was very significant, because it served as a foreshadow of what Jesus -- the Lamb of God -- would do for us during the New Testament period, when He shed His Blood on a Roman cross.
So to reiterate a key point here, contrary to what certain Christians seem to believe, God does in fact help those who help themselves. This story concerning the Passover is clear proof of that. The simple truth of the matter is that if the Israelites had refused to obey Moses' instructions, and had not helped themselves by painting blood on their door frames as Moses had instructed them to do, they would have all been very dead men, just like the Egyptians. So it pays to obey.
Another example which we find in the Old Testament is in the story found in 2 Kings chapter five. It concerns the Prophet Elisha and Naaman, who was a great captain of the army of the king of Syria. As you may recall, Naaman had leprosy; and his wife's servant girl -- who was an Israelite -- informed his wife of the miracles which were being wrought by Elisha down in Samaria. Word of these miracles being performed by Elisha then reached the ears of the king of Syria. Thus, he gave a letter of request -- along with some silver, gold and changes of clothing -- to his captain, so that Naaman could present himself before the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Samaria being its capital. Consider the following group of verses:
"Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment."
2 Kings 5:1-5, KJV
Well, as it turns out, that was not such a bright plan; the reason being that when the king of Israel read the letter, and realized that the king of Syria actually expected him to heal Naaman's leprosy, he -- meaning the king of Israel -- freaked out. In fact, knowing that he could not possibly do as the king of Syria had requested of him, he suspected that it was actually a trap, and that the king of Syria wanted to start a quarrel with him, as a pretext to go to war, as we can determine by the following two verses:
"And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me."
2 Kings 5:6-7, KJV
Word then came to the Prophet Elisha that the king of Israel was freaked out regarding this matter. Thus, Elisha sent a message to the king in which he instructed him to tell Naaman to visit him -- meaning Elisha -- at his home, so that Elisha could heal him of his leprosy. It seemed like a rather simple request. However, when Naaman arrived at the door of Elisha's house, rather than go out and greet him, Elisha sent one of his messengers instead, with a message to tell Naaman to go and dip himself seven times in the Jordan River. Consider the following three verses:
"And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."
2 Kings 5:8-10, KJV
Well, this greatly offended Naaman, because he had expected that Elisha would come out and heal him on the spot. Not so. To make matters worse, the Jordan River was known for being a rather muddy river, the reason being that as the various source streams of the northern portion of the river -- which originated at the base of Mount Hermon on the Lebanon/Syria border -- flowed down towards the Sea of Galilee -- Kinneret in Hebrew -- the river picked up a lot of silt. The silt was then dumped into the Sea of Galilee at its northern edge.
Today, the Jordan River is in even worse condition from an environmental perspective. Except for certain areas -- such as below the Sea of Galilee -- which are kept clean for the sake of Israel's tourism industry, the rest of it is heavily polluted due to mining operations, and even raw sewage being dumped into the river. But to continue our story, the fact that the Prophet Elisha did not instruct Naaman to go and bathe in one of the more pristine rivers of Syria, offended the captain. So, Naaman went off in a fit of rage, as we see by the following two verses:
"But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage."
2 Kings 5:11-12, KJV
However, after some prodding from his servants, and perhaps out of desperation, proud Naaman went to the Jordan River. Then, following Elisha's instructions, the captain dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River, and he was healed of his leprosy, as we see by the following two verses:
"And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean."
2 Kings 5:13-14, KJV
Now, I imagine that Elisha probably could have healed Naaman the minute that the captain arrived at his home. Why he did not do so, I cannot honestly say. Perhaps God simply wanted to humble the proud captain first. But one thing we can say for certain is that it was faith in, as well as obedience to, the words of the Prophet, which saved Naaman, and not the water. Just as we have seen in the previous two stories concerning Noah's Ark and the Israelites' conquest of the land of Canaan, God required that Naaman do something first. Naaman had to do what he could to help himself first. That meant obeying the words of the Prophet and dipping himself in the Jordan River. Then God performed the miracle for him and Naaman was completely cleansed of his leprosy.
So these are three easy-to-understand examples which we find in the Old Testament, which clearly prove that God expects us to help ourselves by doing what we can, and then He will do what we are unable to do for ourselves. I am sure you can probably think of other Old Testament stories where the same principle is taught: help yourself, and then wait and expect for God to do what you can't do.
Turning to the New Testament, we likewise find stories where people had to do something for themselves, before God would bestow His blessing on them. For instance, one example which immediately comes to mind concerns the blind man who we find mentioned in the Gospel of John. This man had in fact been blind from birth. Just think about that. Everyone knew that this man was blind. Perhaps that is why Jesus chose to heal him. In other words, because He knew that it would have the greatest impact. In fact, Jesus even says that this miracle was being performed so "that the works of God should be made manifest in him."
Anyway, Jesus had just escaped from a crowd of angry Jews who did not believe in Him in the temple compound, when He encountered this blind man along the way. The Scriptures do not make clear exactly where Jesus met this man. While the temple compound is believed to have been located somewhere on the summit of the temple mount -- which is presumed to be Mount Moriah -- the Pool of Siloam was located almost four hundred feet below it on the floor of the Kidron Valley, and was fed by the Gihon Spring. This pool -- and others similar to it -- is believed by some scholars to have been used for the purpose of ritual purification before one could ascend and enter the inner court of the temple complex. Consider the following group of verses:
"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,"
John 9:1-6, KJV
While the Lord anointed the man's eyes with clay and healed him, for the miracle to actually occur, this man had to do something for himself first. He had to help himself. He had to demonstrate his faith by going and washing in the Pool of Siloam. As I said earlier, we don't know exactly where Jesus encountered this man along the way after leaving the temple compound. However, according to Wikipedia, the distance from the Pool of Siloam to the temple mount was 2,080 feet, which implies a rather steep ascent or descent, depending on which direction a person is going. So this could have been a very arduous journey for a blind man, depending on where Jesus first encountered him. But because the man obeyed Jesus and did as he was told, because he helped himself, his sight was restored, as we see by the following group of verses.
"And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight."
John 9:7-11, KJV
We find a similar story regarding a blind man in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. As you can see by the following group of verses, this man -- whose name was Bartimaeus -- was in fact quite determined to be healed by Jesus. He simply would not accept "no" for an answer. People in the crowd who followed the Lord tried to shut him up, but he would have nothing of it. Thus, he kept making a ruckus and shouting for dear life until Jesus finally called for him. As a result, his faith and persistence were rewarded when his sight was restored by the Lord. So again we see another example where someone did everything they possibly could to help themselves, and then God stepped in and did what seemed impossible. Consider this group of verses. This very same story is likewise repeated in Luke 18:35-43:
"And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."
Mark 10:46-52, KJV
Another New Testament example which also demonstrates how God helps those who help themselves is found in Mark chapter three. It concerns a man who had a withered hand. While this incident may not be quite as dramatic as the story of blind Bartimaeus, nevertheless, it demonstrates again a personal act of faith, and the fact that this individual too had to help himself by being willing to stretch forth his hand when Jesus commanded him to do so. Keep in mind that because it was the Sabbath, the wolves -- the legalistic, unbelieving Jews -- were just waiting to pounce on Jesus, if He dared to perform a miracle. This same story is likewise found in Luke 6:6-10:
"And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other."
Mark 3:1-5, KJV
So consider now this man who had the withered hand. No doubt he realized that the Jews were just waiting to attack Jesus. The atmosphere in that synagogue must have been electrifying and perhaps filled with anticipation regarding what the Lord would say and do. As I explain in other articles, the common people feared the harsh religious hierarchy who ruled over them. Yet here, in their very own synagogue, was Jesus, the great healer everyone had been talking about.
So exactly what was this man supposed to do? After the Lord commanded him to stretch forth his hand, perhaps for a very brief moment, this man thought to himself, "If I do as Jesus commands me to do, I am surely going to get in trouble with the rabbis. On the other hand, this may very well be the one opportunity I ever get to have my hand restored." Of course, as we know, he made the right choice, stretched forth his hand, and was immediately and miraculously healed. So again, he helped himself and did his part through that simple act of faith. Then, Jesus did what that man could not do for himself.
Another well-known Bible story which again confirms that God helps those who help themselves concerns a certain woman who for many years had suffered from an issue of blood. In fact, we are informed that this poor woman was so desperate to be healed, that she had spent all of her money on doctors, none of whom were able to help her with her problem. Furthermore, her health only continued to grow worse. Clearly, she needed a miracle, and right quick, because she had been plagued by her disease for twelve long years.
Well, similar to blind Bartimaeus, this woman also was on a mission, and was quite determined to reach out to her last hope. Jesus was in town, and she was not going to let this opportunity pass her by. Thus, as we all know, she reached out from the crowd of people and touched the hem of Jesus' garment, and her issue of blood was immediately stanched. This story of Divine Healing is found in all three of the synoptic Gospels. That is to say, in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Following is the account, as found in the Gospel of Luke:
"And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
Luke 8:43-48, KJV
Please notice what Jesus said to the woman: "Thy faith hath made thee whole." You see, while it was the healing power of God's Spirit which resided in Jesus -- referred to here as "virtue" -- which healed the woman, the Lord makes it clear that it was a combination of God's Spirit and this woman's faith. She had to do her part. She had to help herself. She had to have the faith to reach out from that crowd of people and touch Jesus' garment. So she did what she could do, and then God did the rest through His Son, Jesus.
We have now examined eight different Scriptural examples in which people were required to do something, where they had to do their part to help themselves, before God performed the required miracle. This lesson is very clear in all eight of them. There should be no doubt then that God helps those who help themselves. Let me conclude these examples with one more. This next example is found in Jesus' Olivet Discourse in the three Synoptic Gospels -- Matthew, Mark and Luke -- where the Lord specifically warns His followers to "flee to the mountains" when they see the Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place. Consider the following verses:
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:"
Matthew 24:15-16, KJV
"But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:"
Mark 13:14, KJV
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto."
Luke 21:20-21, KJV
Now just imagine if they had thought to themselves, "We don't need to flee. God is all-powerful. He can protect us, even if we remain right here in Jerusalem." It would have been very foolish of them indeed, because Jesus had warned them to flee when these events began to occur. So once again we see that they had to help themselves first. They had to do what they could do, and then rely on God for His protection. This is in fact a lesson which we have now discussed several times in this article. Noah had to build the Ark in order to protect himself and his family from the Flood waters. The Israelites had to paint their door frames with lamb's blood in order to be protected from death. And now we see the First Century disciples being warned to flee to the hills in order to be protected from the wrath to come.
As you may already know, and as I discuss more at length in a number of my other articles, that Divine Wrath came in the form of the seven-year First Jewish-Roman War, which lasted from 66 AD to 73 AD. In the middle of that war, in 70 AD, the Jews were once again soundly defeated. Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, and the temple compound was burned to the ground by General Titus and his Roman legions. As a result of that great war, historical sources state that somewhere between six hundred thousand and one million Jews perished, either as a direct result of the war, or due to famine, pestilence and Roman crucifixion. Furthermore, as had occurred with both the Assyrian and the Babylonian invasions, many thousands of Jews were once again carried off as slaves to other parts of the Roman Empire.
But guess what? A remnant was spared. Who were these people? They were the ones who wisely paid heed to Jesus' advice by fleeing to the mountains. That's who. I was just reminded of the following two verses:
"A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished."
Proverbs 22:3, KJV
"A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished."
Proverbs 27:12, KJV
Now that we have clearly established through multiple Bible stories that God does indeed help those who help themselves, we are going to take a 180-degree turn and look at the other end of the spectrum. You see, while God helps those who help themselves, He also helps those who cannot help themselves. While I could spend time discussing multiple examples where we find such occurring in the Scriptures, instead, I'm going to concentrate on just one example; not only because it is the most important example, but because it is also the most convincing example. In fact, we already discussed it in the first part of this article.
As we discussed in part one, the self-righteous Jews of the First Century were convinced that they could save themselves simply by observing the many mandates -- or commandments -- of the Laws of Moses. They thought that they could establish their own righteousness, and thus merit Salvation. However, as we already learned, it is totally impossible for anyone to keep all 613 mitzvoth of the Mosaic Law. No one has the strength or the will power to do so. In short, we can't help ourselves with regards to this matter. That also means that we cannot possibly save ourselves either. That is why God provided a better way through Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul so beautifully wrote in his Epistle to the Romans:
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
Romans 5:6, KJV
We were without strength. We could not bear the legalistic load of the Mosaic Law. It was weighing us down with all of its dos and don'ts, and harsh restrictions. It was in fact crushing us and killing us; because as we learned in part one, "the letter killeth". That is why in the Gospels, the Lord said the following among many other things:
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30, KJV
"And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
Luke 4:17-19, KJV
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
John 8:31-32, 36, KJV
So without Jesus Christ, it is a totally hopeless situation. We cannot help ourselves, and we cannot save ourselves; but Jesus most certainly can! Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior yet? If not, please do so today!
In conclusion, what we have learned through this article is that God helps those who help themselves, and He also helps those who cannot help themselves. He has got all the bases covered, and we should each be very thankful for that!
With these thoughts I will bring this article to a close. I trust that you have enjoyed it, learned something from it, and I pray that it has been a blessing in your life. If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or with any other social network, I would really appreciate if you would take the time to click or tap on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thank you so very much! May God bless you abundantly!
For additional information, you may want to refer to the list of reading resources below which were also mentioned in this article, or which contain topics which are related to this article. All of these articles are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics website:
A Biblical Cafeteria, or the Whole Course?
Abomination of Desolation: Explained!
Are Personal Tragedies Due to Sin?
Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia, Terminal Sedation
Dead to the Law: God's Laws Written on Our Hearts
Death: Final Battle, Final Victory!
Demonic Possession and Sickness: A Biblical Perspective
Divine Healing or Medical Healing?
Free From the Fear of Death: Law and Works vs Grace
Genesis Flood: The Urantia Book Exposed Again!
Humility in Our Understanding of God's Word
Is Science Better Than the Bible?
Is the Modern Medical Symbol Evil?
Noah's Ark and the Genesis Flood
Organ Transplants and Blood Transfusions
Science and Technology: The Forbidden Knowledge?
Welcome to Greater Israel, USA!
Why Doesn't God Heal Me?