Shabbat Shalom everyone! My name is Peter. Today is the 25th day of the 12th month, year 5782; February 26th, 2022, and welcome to the Our Heavenly Father podcast.
In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about Faith, Belief, and Trust.
In prior episodes, we talked about how having free will reveals a loving Heavenly Father and how He Himself gave instructions for all of humankind, and how those instructions have been preserved for us over the past three thousand years.
In this episode, we’re going to talk about Faith, Belief, and Trust and their importance in following the Instructions God has kept for us through the Israelite people.
We have shown how God gave humankind His Instructions and preserved them through the Israelite people; but, how do we know that they’re still relevant and important to us today? How could they still be relevant after thousands of years? How could God know how things would turn out in order to provide us with Instructions that are truly eternal; Instructions that would continue to be relevant today?
Well, if God didn’t know everything; if God didn’t know the end from the beginning, then He would not fully understand the creation He broughtwas bringing into existence, He would not know its outcome, and His Instructions would not be relevant through all of time. If He didn’t know everything, some of His Instructions might not have purpose — they would just be empty words. And if God were not all-powerful and ever-present, then He could not protect us when we obediently follow His Instructions; He could not be our refuge in times of trouble, or salvation in the face of disaster.
In Genesis 1:1, it says,
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”
As Samson Raphel Hirsch explains about the first Hebrew word in the Bible, “‘be-ray-sheeth’ proclaims that nothing existed prior to God’s act of creation and that heaven and earth were created only through God’s word. Scripture thus teaches us that the world was brought into existence from nonexistence.”
Why is this important?
If everything came into existence by God’s Word, then He truly is all-powerful, because the entire universe is under His control, down to the smallest particles in existence.
As Jeremiah 32:17 says,
“Ah Lord GOD! behold, You have made the heaven and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm; there is nothing too hard for You.”
He created a universe that also reveals to us the handiwork of an amazing designer; a reliable engineer in whose creation we see the perfect balance or Shalom in which all things are held — where even the slightest imbalance in those natural forces would cause our entire universe to collapse upon itself. It shows us a Heavenly Father who nurtures all life on earth through a continuous cycle of light and dark, wind and rain, heat and cold, which allow life to exist and be maintained.
A God that controls every atom in the Universe can truly do anything; He can protect us from any situation, save us from whatever befalls us, and even resurrect us from death.
He is also a God who truly knows all things.
As Isaiah 46:10 says,
“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done;”
A God who exists outside of time and space, would not be bound by though constraintswithin the constraints of time and space, and would truly know the end at the beginning. He would not be lacking in any knowledge whatsoever, just as He would not be lacking in any power. He who brought all things into existence for His purpose knows all things and has power and control over them. Our Heavenly Father who shows us how much He loves all of us, is most certainly one who can be trusted and relied upon — one who we can turn to in times of trouble, and the one who gave us His Instructions to follow so that we can all live together in Shalom.
Our Heavenly Father who created everything that exists has provided us with Instructions that are, and will remain, relevant into eternity., Which means that they are just as important in our lives and society today, as they were thousands of years ago. These are Instructions, which when obeyed, lead to life.,
As Deuteronomy 5:30 says,
“You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you”
Why do we need His Instructions? Why do we need to believe and trust in Him and His Instructions? Well, as we study His Word, and as we learn more about our Heavenly Father, as we learn about His character, His reliability, and His love for us, then we will begin to see that His Instructions are all about Shalom, which is translated as peace, but means something so much more; such as harmony, balance, wholeness, completeness.. Perfection.
We must follow our Creator’s Instructions if we are to remain in balance with His creation and have peace., and Ttherefore, we must believe in our Heavenly Father, trust in Him and be faithful to Him and Him alone. If not, then we are doomed to a life of misery, sorrow, unfulfillmentunfulfillment, unhappiness, and eventually, death.
The next logical question would be can we follow His Instructions? Is it even possible to follow His Instructions as human beings with inherent human weaknesses? As human beings with inherent human weaknesses, is it even possible to follow His Instructions?
A loving Heavenly Father would not have given us Instructions that we could not follow, yet, the ability to follow His Instructions does requires trust. We truly have to trust the God who gave them to us; and to trust Him, we must know Him as a loving and forgiving Heavenly Father that only wants the best things for us,
As Jeremiah 29:11-13 says,
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. And you shall call on Me, and go, and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you shall seek Me, and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.”
Why is trust then so important in following His Instructions? One reason is that, as human beings, we don’t know everything; and that sometimes we just need to trust when we don’t know why, just as children have to trust their parents.
As Isaiah 55:8-9 says,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
So, while most of God’s Instructions are perfectly logical and understandable, there are always some (although not many) that are outside of our understanding as to why they are good for us — instructions that require trust in the loving Heavenly Father who gave them to us.
In the Garden of Eden, God said to Adam in Genesis 2:17,
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shalt not eat of it; for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.’”
This was truly a command for which humankind would never be able to understand. Why was the fruit of this particular tree was bad for them? — we had to trust in our Heavenly Father. This commandment showed us God’s love. Instead of simply stating not to eat from the tree, He explains that we would surely die as a result of eating it. in that He did explain that we would surely die from eating it, as He could have only told us not to eat it. It also shows, that although God created everything for us; not everything is good for us. Sometimes the reason is clear, but other times, it is not so clear, and we have to trust in God. We have to trust that He loves us and that His commands are not arbitrary, but that they exists to protect us from harm.
When God allowed us to eat the flesh of animals after the Flood, did He say that they were all good for us to eat? We could certainly look at the dietary rules in Leviticus 11 as arbitrary. rules that Jjust keeping us from eating all kinds of animals, even some that might seem quite delicious; or we could see them as God’s Instructions meant to keep us healthy, by eating animals that are appropriate for us. Many of the things listed in Leviticus are quite obvious, and things that we would never consider eating, yet many others appear perfectly acceptable to us; however, our Creator providesis providing us with Instructions, through the priestly code in Leviticus, as to what is good for us to eat and what is not.
The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was as Genesis 3:6 says,
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.”
There are some things that appear to be good for us, and if it wasn’t for our Heavenly Father who let us know that they were not good, we might indulge in many things that actually harm us in the long run.
We must trust that His instructions are good for us.
Another reason trust is required in being able to follow God’s Instructions is fear.
Fear causes us to seek self-preservation. As a result, it causes us to become even more self-focused than we normally are, and even cause harm to others. It prevents us from obeying God’s Instructions because His Instructions are about bringing peace into the world, which requires selfless actions.
We must trust that God will protect us in our obedience to Him.
Loving our neighbor, caring for those in need, standing up for the rights of others are all difficult things and can be scary; yet God tells us to do just that. We have to trust that God will protect us when we follow His Instructions, as Isaiah 41:13 says,
“For I the LORD your God holds your right hand, who says to you: ‘Fear not, I help you.’”
And in Psalms 27:1,
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
We truly cannot be faithful to God and His Instructions, unless we trust that He will be faithful to us and to keep us safe from harm.
FAITH OR FAITHFUL?
We hear the word “faith” in the Bible frequently, but what does it mean? Does the Bible tell us to have faith in God or to be faithful to God? This is a very important question that requires some discussion.
Faith is an important foundational word in the Bible, yet itsa word whose meaning had changed significantly in the 14th century. However,Yet the words faithful and unfaithful, which are rooted in the word “faith”, have still retained their original meaning; so, if “unfaithful” means “not adhering to vows, allegiance, or duty.”; then faithful would imply the opposite, or adherence to vows, allegiance, or duty.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the word Faith. Faith is derived from the Latin word “fides”, from which we get the word fidelity; and to better understand the meaning of fides, we have to look at it from a Roman perspective. John Paul Adams, Professor of Modern and Classical Languages at California State University, writes,
“For the Romans, FIDES was an essential element in the character of a man of public affairs, and a necessary constituent element of all social and political transactions. FIDES meant ‘reliability’, a sense of trust between two parties if a relationship between them was to exist. FIDES was always reciprocal and mutual, and implied both privileges and responsibilities on both sides.”
Therefore, faith or fidelity, therefore, is required to have a relationship with someone — in the ancient context in which the Bible was written, in any case. It was reciprocal and mutual, which meant privileges and responsibilities were required from both parties.
This means that the word “faith” implies a relationship with obligations on both sides and that having quote, unquote, faith; from a personal viewpoint, is basically, holding up your end of the responsibilities required in a relationship. This is a very different understanding than most of us have today, which is often that God has to do everything and we don’t have to do anything.
It is quite interesting that the meaning of the word faith changed in the 14th century from a relationship with mutual privileges and responsibilities on both sides, to what we have today, which, according to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is,
“a strong belief or trust in someone”
something that is not mutual and requires no loyalty and no responsibilities.
This shows us that having faith in and being faithful are truly the same thing. It means loyalty expressed in obedience to His Instructions, in walking in the path of our Heavenly Father, and as He says in Leviticus 19:2,
“You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.”
Until we enter into a covenant relationship with Our Heavenly Father, until we stand before Him and say,
“All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”
Only then can we expect God to bless us and protect us — only then will we truly be Children of God. And only then will we be able to fulfill our obligations to that covenant through our trusting in Him; knowing that through God, all things are possible.
Why is it so important for us to follow His Instruction that life and death depends on it? As Deuteronomy 30:15 says,
“See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil, in that I command you this day to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances; then you shall live and multiply.”
The creation God gave us requires tending and protection and that was the first commandment He gave to Adam. Why? Because of entropy. Because left unchecked disorder increases over time. Energy disperses, and systems dissolve into chaos. Action is required on our part to continue to bring order out of the natural tendency towards chaos.
As John Stuart Mill said,
“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm, if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
And as God said in Isaiah 58:6,
“Is not this the fast I choose:
to let the oppressed go free,
and to tear off every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread
with the hungry,
to bring the homeless poor
into your house?
When you see the naked, to cover him,
and not hide yourself
from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth
like the dawn,
and your healing will spring up speedily.
Your righteousness will go before you,
the glory of the LORD as your rear guard.”
To untie the cords of the yoke, God’s Instructions require us to work towards harmony because if we do nothing, then everything will fall into Chaos. We must obey His Instructions in order to bring Light; in order to bring Order; in order to bring Shalom into the world.
In summary, we saw how our Heavenly Father is truly all-powerful, and all-knowing. That and that He can be relied upon, and that He has given us instructions that are still relevant today because He does know the end at the beginning. We also saw that we cannot fulfill His Instructions without trusting in, and having Him within a covenant relationship with Him. A covenant that has obligations and responsibilities on both sides — obligations such as loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. A covenant through which God will bless us and protect us; a covenant that requires us to work towards bringing balance, harmony and peace into the world.
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Peace to you, and peace to your house, and peace to all that you have!