I came across something quite interesting in my time with God the other day. I was reading in Hebrews chapter 4 where the author encourages us not to be like the ancient Hebrews who, incredibly, failed to enter into God’s “rest” despite everything God had done for them through the exodus and journey in the wilderness. He says they fell short somehow, and warns us to be careful to not be like them.
The Israelites had the Word of God (the Law received at Sinai), the Presence of God (the divinely designed tabernacle, filled with the Shekinah glory of the Lord), and the Power of God (displayed through miracle after miracle – crossing the Red Sea, Manna every morning, rocks turned into drinking fountains- just to name a few) – all of this delivered by Yahweh himself! Yet they still fell short. How come?
Where’s the lesson here for us?
The problem, according to Hebrews 4:2, is that despite having all of this from God, they failed to combine it with faith. And a little later in the book the author makes it clear that, without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Why? What’s so critical about faith? What is faith anyway?
Faith is the thing that underpins everything else. Faith is the thing that creates solid ground where none exists. Faith is the unwavering conviction that God is, and that He is good. Without that, you’ve really got nothing.
Without faith, the Word of God is just another voice in your ear. Without faith, the Presence of God is just a momentary good feeling. Without faith, the miraculous power of God is just a coincidence. It is faith that causes us to identify each of these as the Holy, Creator God – giving meaning and significance, naming them as divine.
And faith is not just looking in the rear-view mirror through God-soaked eyeglasses. Faith is future focused too. Faith projects us forward in life, in decisions, prayers and expectations – prompting us to see something happening that hasn’t happened yet. Faith propels us to take action in a direction that may seem risky at the time a decision needs to be made. But it’s our faith that gives such moments rock-solid stability.
When I was preaching on the subject of healing a couple of years ago, I mentioned what it says in Matthew 13:58. In that passage, Jesus has returned to his hometown where the reception was cool. The people there doubted him and some were offended by him. As a result, he didn’t do many miracles there – because of their lack of faith. I told the church that morning that, while I didn’t understand a lot about healing I did understand one thing – Forest Brook cannot be that place. We are to be a people, and a place, of faith. As we pursue a deeper, more authentic relationship with God through the Holy Spirit, let’s be sure we combine that with faith.
That’s something worth thinking about, don’t you think?