Root: אמן -aman
The dictionary tells us that faith is the complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Faith in the Bible is having complete trust in YHWH God.
Even the word “Amen” comes out of the Hebrew root word for faith– aman– meaning “to believe”, “to confirm” or “to support”. So saying “Amen” is saying, “I believe it!”
But what’s the difference between having faith and being faithful?
In the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) Thomas, “the doubter” could not believe that Yeshua was alive until he saw the wounds in Yeshua’s (Jesus’) hands and side. At that moment he believed… he saw the proof. Yeshua, however, was quick to point out, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Faith has never been about proof. Faith is holding onto the hope that there is truth in what seems unbelievable.
Hebrews 11:1-3, 6
Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen. For by it the people of old gained approval.
By faith we understand that the world has been created by the word of God so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible…
…And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.
In the Tanakh (Old Testament) we don’t find much about faith as a noun, but there is plenty about the action of being faithful.
What does being faithful mean? It is staying true to one another, regardless of who they are or how they behave. YHWH is faithful to us regardless of how horrible we are to Him.
Really, faith is a trust issue… and trust is reliant upon relationship. Faith can be one way, but being faithFUL needs a relationship to make it work.
David understood this relationship. He knew that God was faithful to him, so he would be faithful to YHWH… and he would tell the world about it:
Psalm 40:9-11 (see also Psalm 89)
I have proclaimed good news of righteousness in the great congregation;
behold, I will not restrain my lips, YHWH, You know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Your faithfulness [emunat’ka] and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your mercy and Your truth from the great congregation.
You, YHWH, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your mercy and Your truth will continually watch over me.
A Faithful Marriage
Being faithful is committing to the promises you have with each other. It is a two-way relationship. Being faithful to a spouse or a friend means never turning your back on the promises you have made with each other. In this way God is spouse/friend to us; a God of pure faithfulness. He never gives up on us… even when we turn our back on Him.
The Bible presents God as a Creator who loves, and is faithful to, every single human He created. It’s the story of a faithful Husband who would give up His life for His bride.
Hosea 2:19-20, 23b
[YHWH:] “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favour and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness [bey-emunah]. Then you will know YHWH.”
…I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”
YHWH has a marriage Covenant with His people… and a marriage is a relationship between two parties: if we love YHWH and are faithful to Him, He will never turn away from us. But if we are seduced by idols and break our covenant with Him He will honour our choices and let us go. However, from His end, He will never break His covenant with us:
Deuteronomy 7:9 (see also Deuteronomy 32:4)
“Know therefore that YHWH your God, He is God, the faithful God [ha-El ha-ney’eman], who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
YHWH’s acts of mercy indeed do not end, for His compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness [Rabbah emunah’teka].
Lamentations was a cry out to God as the people were dragged away from Jerusalem and forcibly marched towards Babylon. To survive such devastation they would remind each other daily of God’s compassion and faithfulness. With every rising of the sun God would renew His love and mercy for us without fail. He is unceasingly faithful to us, even in our darkest moments.
Be a Faithful People
God knows the faithful! He sees those who are sincerely righteousness as His people of faith:
Isaiah 26:2-4 “Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that remains faithful [emunim]. Those of steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace because he trusts in You. Trust in YHWH forever, for in GOD YHWH we have an everlasting Rock.”
Although the Old Testament focuses on the faithful relationship between God and His followers, the New Testament often puts emphasis on having faith in what we cannot see. It also highlights individuals of pure faith. Yeshua (Jesus), in particular, carefully sought out and rewarded those of great faith. He consistently told people that their faith had made them well. (See Matthew 9:22, Mark 10:52, Luke 7:50, Luke 8:48, Luke 17:19, Luke 18:42):
A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she had been saying to herself, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”
And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that power from Him had gone out, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?”
And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman, fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be cured of your disease.”
This was a woman of great faith! Her encounter with Yeshua established her faithful relationship. He would be faithful to her and she would be faithful to Him.
But those of us today have never seen God face to face, or touched His garment. How can we have faith in what we cannot see? This brings us back to the story of Thomas, and Yeshua’s response to him: “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Nevertheless, Yeshua recognized how hard that would be for us, so He commissioned a Helper/Advocate to foster our faith:
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you.
I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. After a little while, the world no longer is going to see Me, but you are going to see Me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I in you.”
This Helper, the Spirit of Truth, would live in every believer. Each believer has to take that first step out in faith. That step invites the Spirit of Truth to reside within each person, and then the Spirit of Truth helps the person grow, nurture and strengthen their faith.
While He was on earth Yeshua was the Spirit of Truth. Paul described Yeshua as the living Faith who walked among us:
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the Law, being confined for the faith that was destined to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our guardian to lead us to the Messiah, so that we may be justified by faith.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Messiah Jesus.
Before the Messiah arrived, the people lived in hope under the Law. Their faith was tied into hope. The Law (the Torah) was filled with promises that a Messiah (God’s Anointed) would come and save us. When Yeshua fulfilled that promise, the Law no longer acted as a guardian to lead us, but it remained as a reminder of who Yeshua was, and would become.
God’s Faithfulness leads to Salvation
All along God has had a plan for us… a plan to bring us back home to Him:
YHWH, You are my God;
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
For You have worked wonders,
plans formed long ago, with perfect [true] faithfulness [emunah ohmen].
From the moment humans messed up in the Garden, YHWH put a plan in place to save us. He would send His Son to be the faithful servant; whose sacrifice would bring salvation and lead us home. God made a covenant promise that this Son of Salvation would be from the line of David, and YHWH would be faithful to that lineage:
I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him.
The enemy will not deceive him, nor will the son of wickedness afflict him. But I will crush his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him. My faithfulness [wey-emunati] and My favour will be with him, and in My name his horn will be exalted.
I will also place his hand on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers. He will call to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’
I will also make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. I will maintain My favour for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him. So I will establish his descendants forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
If his sons abandon My Law and do not walk in My judgments, if they violate My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will punish their wrongdoing with the rod, and their guilt with afflictions. But I will not withhold My favour from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness [bey-emunati]. I will not violate My covenant, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
Once I have sworn by My holiness, I will not lie David. His descendants shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and a witness in the sky is faithful [ney-eman].” Selah
This was the beautiful covenant God made with David. His throne would endure forever and it would be the kingly line that would usher forth the Messiah, the king of Salvation:
Sing a new song to YHWH for He has done wonderful things,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.
YHWH has made His Salvation known;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His graciousness and His faithfulness [wey-emunatow] to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the Salvation of our God.
YHWH made a promise to save us from death and annihilation… the products of the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. We will not be wiped out when our day on this earth is done.
And how did YHWH do this? He sent His perfect Son to be the sacrificial death, to swallow up our sins and send them to the grave, so that we would not have to forfeit our souls. He took our sins upon Himself so that we could be blameless in God’s sight:
Mark 8:31, 34-37
And He [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise from the dead…
…And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what could a person give in exchange for his soul?”
Those who put their faith in YHWH have been redeemed and will be welcomed back into the Garden to face YHWH and His eternal lovingkindness:
And although you were previously alienated and hostile in attitude, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His body of flesh through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven…
Life is sometimes a struggle, but for many of us, it is our faith that keeps us moving along. There is a great sigh of relief knowing that YHWH is faithful to us, even when we are not faithful to Him. But when we are faithful to Him, how beautiful and strong the relationship becomes!
Love YHWH, all His Godly ones!
YHWH watches over the faithful [emunim] but fully repays the one who acts arrogantly.
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for YHWH.
Remember, being faithful is a relationship word, so for those who have a relationship with God…
…we should be faithful to YHWH because YHWH is always faithful to us.
Next week’s word: Mercy