THE POWER OF FAITH (OLD TESTAMENT PERSPECTIVE) by Bishop Dr. J. Akin Atere J.P

PAPER DELIVERED AT FAITH CONFERENCE 2015 HELD ON THE 21ST MARCH, 2015 AT DOROTHY IKOKU MEMORIAL ANGLICAN CHURCH (DIMAC) 35A LADOKE AKINOLA STREET, G.R.A. IKEJA

THEME: THE POWER OF FAITH (OLD TESTAMENT PERSPECTIVE)

MAIN TEXT: MARK 2:1-12

INTRODUCTION:

From the narrative of the text, the paralytic man’s condition seemed to be very critical from the extreme measure his friends took. They could have been disappointed at first or discouraged. But before anybody could realize what was happening, there was a man lowered down from the roof by four men. They knew about their friend’s desperate need. Their actions revealed their faith. The paralytic man, prior to his healing, was incapable of self-supporting. As such he was dependent on the grace and compassion of those around him for his daily survival. Jesus was impressed by the faith of the man’s friends. Their faith was in action, showing care, compassion and friendship. In their faith, there was no separation between being and doing. Jesus saw their efforts as an act of collective faith. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5).

Many lessons are obvious here (a) our work and faith are intended to benefit those who can’t support themselves and those who can (b) Faith and work are not separated, but are integrated into action empowered by God (c) work done in faith cries out for a community of faith to support it (d) Faith is required for forgiveness (e) Genuine miracle is premise on faith in God (f) There are great gain in community or when in communion with the faithful. (g) In most cases faith required courage (h) Faith is not complete until boldness and fearlessness is added.

THE CONCEPT OF FAITH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

The concept of Faith in the Old Testament can be seen in its earliest form where a variety of Hebrew terms provide a rich and complex definition of which the root word is ‘ãman’ which connotes reliability, stability and fairness. The hiphil verb form means, to be certain, sure or be assured (Gen.15:6; Ex. 14:31; Num.14:11; Deut.1:32, 9:23; Ps. 78:22; Isa. 43:10; Jonah 3:3).

Adding another dimension to the meaning of ‘faith’ is its basis on fact, that faith is not blind or a leap into the unknown, but founded on truth, certainty of a real God and the absolute reality of His words. The examples of the usage is Gen.15:6 “Then he believed (ãman-hiphil) in the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.”  From (Ex.14:31), “it states when Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the lord and they believed (ãman-hiphil) in the Lord and His servant Moses.” God Himself used it in His dialogue with Moses “How long will this people spun me? And how long will they not believe (ãman-hiphil) in Me. Despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst.” (Num.14:11) etc. The niphal verb form means ‘to be  true, reliable or faithful and can be applied to both God and men’ e.g. God in Deut 7:9; Moses Num.12:7; Prophets 1 Sam.3:20; Servants 1 Sam.22:14; Messenger Prov. 26:13. When referring to beings “faith” acquires a meaning as “to be entrusted with” Deut.7:9 (God) “Know therefore that the LORD your GOD, he is God, the faithful ( ãman-niphal) God, who keeps His Covenant and His loving kindness to a thousand generation with those who love Him and  keep His commandment.” (Num.12:7)

When referring to objects, the emphasis of ãman is placed on the word of God for its dependability and its confirmation in subsequent action i.e. (1 Sam.25:28’ 2 Sam. 7:16; 1 Chro.17:23) This usage is based on God’s promise of a Davidic dynasty and is referred to as “an established house.” When ‘ẽmunnã’ is used its means (firmness, fidelity or steadfastness). These basically applied to Yahweh Himself (Deut.32:4) to express His total dependability. It is frequently listed among the attributes of God (1 Sam.26:23; Ps. 36:5, 1Sam.3:23). Believers are entrusted with the duty of being faithful personality and faithfully responsible to carry out operation of their office (1 Chron.9:22; 2 Chron.31:15) ‘emet’ (firmness, truth). This terms carries underlying sense of certainty and dependability, and it is used directly or indirectly of God. It is applied to God as a characteristic of His nature (Gen.24:27; ex. 34:6; ps. 25:5; 31:5).

Finally, the word ‘Batah’ means “to trust, rely upon” or to put confidence “Batah” as a verb in its Qal or hiphil, expresses the sense of well-being and security which result from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. It is the action of believing in something so strong that a confidence is generated from the trust e.g. God is the true basis of security (2 Kings 18:20; Jer. 39:18; Ps.62:8).

In various contexts, the Old testaments introduces the idea of faith as based on historical and factual events and leads to the conclusion that all truth comes from God and is true because it is related to God. With this objective basis, the concept of ‘faith’ requires a human response that entails the subjective nature of trust. In the Old testament, faith is both personal encounter and daily lifestyle, it is easier  to describe in the life of a faithful follower than in a lexical form. The personal encounter is best illustrated in Abraham and his seed, (David and Israel). 

THE FAITH OF ISRAEL PROGENITORS AS OLD TESTAMENT STYLE

The type of faith we are looking at today is a divine, supernatural, justifying, saving faith, the faith of God’s elect, the faith that is not ourselves, but it is of the operation of God.

THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM

One of the greatest men in history is patriarch Abraham…

  1. Three religions look to him as their spiritual progenitor (Judaism, Christianity and Islam)
  2. Christians view him as “the father of all them that believe” (father of the faithful) (Rom. 4:11)

What is most noteworthy about Abraham was his faith  (a) Paul made reference to his faith time and again (Rom 4:3,9,11,16-22; Gal. 3:7-9b.) James used his example to illustrate saving faith (James 2:21-23). Both Paul and James make reference to the following Old Testament statement about Abraham’s faith. “…and he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Gen.15:6; (Rom. 4:3; James 2:23) (What was it about Abraham’s faith that so pleased God?

Abraham’s Faith Was Based On Revelation

God Revealed Himself To Abraham

  1. In Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 15:7)
  2. At Haran of Mesopotamia (Gen. 12:1-4)
  3. At Shechem in Canaan (Gen. 12:6-7)
  4. After Lot moved to Sodom (Gen. 13:14-17)
  5. And many times more (Gen.15:1-17;17:1-27;18:1-33; 22:1-9)

By revealing Himself to Abraham, God provided Abraham ample evidence for Him to place his faith and trust in God.

Our Faith Must Be Based Upon Revelation

Not that God reveals Himself to us as he did to Abraham, but faith comes through the Word of God (Rom 10:17)

It contains evidence that we might believe – Jn 20:30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  No wonder God commanded Joshua to tell His people not to allow the words to depart from their mouth (Joshua 1:8).

The more we read, the more God is revealed to us.

If we desire to have “The Faith of Abraham”, we must be receptive to God’s revelation of Himself through His word! Every sermon, Christian seminars, conferences, worship services, even burial services are means of revelation to create or strengthened your faith.

Abraham’s Faith Was An Obedient Faith. By faith, Abraham obeyed God…

  1. He left his country (Heb. 11:8)
  2. He sojourned in a foreign land (Heb. 11:9-10)
  3. He offered his son Isaac (Heb. 11:17)

Abraham’s faith was not a dead faith “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? …. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:20,26), but a dynamic faith expressing itself in obedience! By faith we must obey God’s command. This was the faith the friend of the paralytic man applied and demonstrated.

Abraham’s Faith Was A Trusting Faith

  1. Abraham Trusted In God, Not Is Works“And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” 15:6
  2. Abraham believed in the Lord.
  3. It is (his faith) that was reckoned or considered for righteousness
  4. It was Abraham’s faith in God that greatly pleased God.

Abraham was not justified because of his works (declared blameless) but of his faith! – Though he had a faith that works, he did not trust in his works; rather in God who justifies the ungodly (Rom.4:5-8).

We must trust in God, not our works … As noted before, we must obey God which involves certain “works”. Such as faith, which is a “work”.

(While works are an essential element of a saving faith, it is crucial to note that it is the faith behind the works that pleases God (and not the works per se)!

 So “the Faith of Abraham” was an obedient faith that placed its trust in God who justifies the ungodly. To be “the sons of Abraham”, we must have the same kind of faith.

Abraham’s Faith Was A Growing Faith

Abraham Grew In Faith …

  1. There were times when his faith was weak e.g. He had Sarah his wife tell a half-truth to save his life (Gen. 12:11-20; 20:1-18). He questioned God when he and Sarah did not have children (Gen. 15:2-3). He showed weakness of faith in the case of Hagar (Gen. 16:1). He offered an alternative Ishmael to God when he thought the promise of Isaac was getting late. (Gen. 17:17-18).
  2. But God was patient with Abraham, and his faith grew. He had faith, even against hope, and his wife – Sarah was able to conceive (Rom. 4:18-22). He had faith that God could raise Isaac from the dead, and so was willing to offer him as commanded – Heb. 11:17-19 “The Faith of Abraham” was not a static faith, but an ever-growing faith that came through being “a friend of God” (James 2:23)

We Must Grow In Faith

Our faith will grow, if we are willing to “walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had” (Rom.4:12).

We have seen that “The Faith of Abraham” was

  1. Based upon revelation (b) An obedient faith  (c) A trusting Faith   (d) A growing faith.

Indeed, those who have “The Faith of Abraham” are truly the recipients of the promise made to Abraham: “In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen.18:18)

Are we walking in the steps of the faith of Abraham, obeying the Word of God given today through the gospel of Christ?

THE FAITH OF MOSES

The Bible demonstrates how God honored the faith of Moses’ parents under hostile circumstances. They chose to obey the LORD God above Pharaoh’s command to have all Jewish male children killed. God honoured the faith of Amram and Jochebed. Not only do we see this strong faith in Moses’ parents, but they were determined to associate themselves with the people of Israel and the promises of their God.

Even though Moses was uniquely qualified to lead the nation of Israel by his training at Pharaoh’s court, the people were not ready to accept him. God continued to hone and shape him in the wilderness. He needed 40 more years in God’s seminary. This is a perfect example of the faith God honours. Moses did not cower to the mighty Pharaoh’s threats. Philip Huges write, “it was during the forty years of obscurity, which were years of testing and preparation for the final forty years for the deliverance of his people. This prolonged interval was indeed a period which called for great faith and endurance if he was to overcome the temptation of frustration and discouragement”

It was persevering faith that kept Moses focused on. “Moses paid more attention to the invisible King of kings than to the king of Egypt,” F. F. Bruce observes this comment thus. As a result of this focused faith he “endured” meaning “to be strong, be steadfast, hold out. It is a picture of persevering faith that would not turn back to Egypt. He stood firm in his strength, steadfast and fearless faith.

“By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood.” His faith is forward looking and is expressed in active obedience to God’s command. It took faith to believe  the shedding of  blood would cover sins on that first Passover night. If the people did not listen and obey, their firstborn would die. It was an obedient response to God’s commandment that he would kill the first-born, and that he would pass over those houses whose doorposts and lintels were sprinkled with the blood of the lamb. Moses also demonstrated his confidence in the blood of the lamb that God would provide for the Passover. The deliverance out of Egypt was a type of the greater deliverance God would provide.

Through the community of faith led by Moses, the Israelite crossed over the Red Sea: The Lord delivered Israel by His powerful hand. They all passed safely over the Red Sea and the waters rushed back over Pharaoh’s army and drowned them (Exo.14:16-22). Israel was delivered because they took God at His word and obeyed. The Egyptians drowned because they presumed on God and were swallowed up by the rushing waters. They had not received any instructions from God. The books of Exodus, Numbers and Joshua demonstrate how Israel under Moses experienced victory over their enemies as they trusted in the LORD. Trust and obey is the theme of all the books of Moses. Yet, even though Israel saw God deliver them, the whole next generation refused to trust and obey and died in the wilderness. They failed to exercise this faith and only two men entered the Promised Land. They were Caleb and Joshua. So it is with us. We can presume on God or we can walk by faith trusting in His Word. The only way we can live the Christian life is by putting into daily practice the promises of the Word of God through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It is a walk of faith.

THE FAITH OF DAVID

David put his faith in God. He constantly and consistently asked God for His will: “What do I do” especially on matters of political or military significance. Many people know of David’s slingshot and the famous one was his encounter with Goliath (the Philistine giant man). A slingshot was not a weapon of war nor was it composed of iron and foreboding to an enemy. It simply signifies that David was not born nor grew up as a warrior. Undoubtedly God was with the young shepherd-boy (David).

But for David, a battle was fought to protect ones faith, nation or tribe, ones livelihood, and homes. David was in the midst of many conflicts and fought many great armies for many, years.

As a youth, he came to understand that when people fail, God does not fail. When the expected happens, God is not the unexpected. Instead God remains the same every time we called upon Him. David’s faith was built on these premise. Perhaps that is why David felt more comfortable with a slingshot rather than a sword and was not afraid of someone twice his stature.

The Israelites were frightened of the Philistines. No one wanted to fight Goliath. The anxiety was high and humiliating. They became frightened by the increasing emotion around them. The appearance of the man and the size of the army, especially when they were in a minority, can be overwhelming. All of this can lead to poor decision making if appearance of what is perceived is frightened to them and to us today. At the bottom of a ravine in a streambed David found his stones for his sling shot. He was only a youth, not fully grown. Yet he confronted Goliath, approximately 14 metres tall. Goliath wore a bronze helmet on his head and armor on his chest that weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. His legs were also covered with bronze and he carried a shield and javelin. From Goliath’s shoulders’ to his knees, he was protected against the enemy’s weapons. The Philistines had acquired the use of iron and metals for war. But the Israelites were using copper, which its best function perhaps was to slice foods. Therefore, the Israelites had good reasons to be frightened of the Philistines; they were taller, larger in number, and has more proficient weapons. King Saul, had through the years become more anxious and had much difficulty sleeping at night. To make matters worse, he and prophet Samuel were also at odds which added to the King’s increasing anxiety. By increasing anxiety and the forsaking of God in his life, King Saul sent the young boy, David into battle to confront the giant. Perhaps he thought “What’s the risk, he does not fight in my army?” or “What glory would there be if the enemy killed a young boy?” or “after all, he is only a shepherd. When we are frightened by the emotion around us, we need to appeal to our Lord for guidance. That’s exactly what David as a teenager instinctively did, he appealed to his God. Goliath had challenged the Israelites 40 morning and evening with no response. David without a sword, no army training of any sort, without the blessings of his father or older brothers, fought one full grown giant man and won. With David’s faith in the God of Israel, he was made wise to know when to sling, when to hide. King David became the mightiest ruler of his days; he expanded the boundaries of Israel from approximately 6,000 to 60,000 square miles, opened up trade routes and highways throughout much of the countries surrounding him. He destroyed idols and made priesthood as sacrosanct. King David was no priest but his heart was with God. Though his humanity proved he was not perfect. But most often his repentance was sincere. King David gave all glory to God on the battlefield and for his successes.  David did not consider himself the winner of prizes but the doer of the Lord’s will.

From the faith of David we learn how to overcome obstacles and how to depend on the will of God. We learn that all the positive things in our lives must be attributed to God. We are to think wisely and live likewise each day. King David had faith, learned accountability and courage as a shepherd.

THE FAITH OF DANIEL

Daniel and his people were captured and led away in chains into captivity in Babylon. There Daniel was educated in the philosophies and pagan ideas of Babylon.

He was taught these alien and ungodly ways but he never embraced them or converted to them. He remained true to the God of Israel in his heart. Because Daniel embraced the true wisdom of his God, his reputation grew and he became a prominent adviser in the royal court of Babylon. He was one of the bright, rising stars of Israel who served in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. There, he experienced the fullness of God’s purpose for his life.

Even though Daniel experienced suffering, anxiety, humiliation and persecution as a captive of the Babylonians, God had a plan for Daniel’s life. It was not a backup plan. God did not have to shift for Plan A to Plan B because of unexpected circumstances. The Babylonian invasion did not come as a surprise to God All the events of Daniel’s life to accomplish his positive purpose in a negative world. God had a plan to use Daniel as a strong for his truth and a strong encouragement for his people, even  though they were in exiles in a heathen land.

God provided for Daniel in exile (Daniel 1:1-7). He placed Daniel in the king’s most elite training and education program. He arranged for a mentoring relationship between Daniel and one of the king’s most trusted aides. And Daniel remained faithful to the God of Israel. So, in verse 9, we see that God earned for him favour and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs. God elevated Daniel to a position of far-reaching impact and influence. Not only did Daniel’s influence affected the King, and through the king the entire kingdom of Babylon, but his influence has echoed down through the ages, affecting millions of believers, including you and me.

Daniel is a role model, an example to us of the power of one person to make a difference. His story speaks to us across the ages and reminds us of what God is able to do through the life of one yielded, faithful servant. As we witness the life of this committed young man, let’s open our minds and hearts to believe that God can do anything- absolutely anything through our lives as well. If we can be resolute in our faith to God. One of the key lessons of Daniel’s life is that God is with us in times of trial, persecution, and temptation. We can always count on God to have a plan and a purpose for the difficult circumstances we face. His purposes are ultimately for eternal good. God’s plan is never thwarted. Everything he does is focused on a purpose and his purposes are not bound to any finite time or fixed place. God’s purpose is for eternity. No matter what happens to you, if you will stand firm on God’s principles as Daniels did, if you will trust God to work in you and through you and around you as Daniel did, you can have 100 percent confidence that what God has planned for your life will have an eternal impact. 

You will have an impact on your world. You will have an impact on eternity. Every act of kindness you perform, every word of blessing you speak, every stand you take for truth and righteousness, and every godly relationship you maintain becomes a building block God uses to construct his kingdom. In this life, you may experience what looks like setback, failure, thinking that the end of everything has come, God has something up His sleeve. You are never alone. Your faithfulness and willingness to stand against pressure and persecution will not go unnoticed. You are connected to a limitless God. The power he makes available to you is as unlimited as God Himself.

ELIJAH: MAN OF FAITH(FULLNESS) 1 Kings 17:7-16

Elijah had a long rest in the Lord’s secret place. During his stay, the Lord cared for the prophet and he was kept safe from the evil king. During the national drought, Elijah had all the food and water he needed, at least as long as he remained in that secret place. Both the prophet’s faith and patience was tested. We, like prophet Elijah, must learn to wait on God before we can hope to “walk by faith, not by sight.” One reason so many Christians today seem to fail in living by faith is because they refuse to wait on the Lord. The curse of the 21st century is that we want everything right away. As Elijah did, we must learn to be patient as he speaks to us through His word. God wants us to grow in our faith and work out our faith, and this requires, among other things, waiting on Him. Faith, like gold, must be refined in the fiery furnace of life.

When the call came, verse 7,8 “Sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him.”  Elijah must have been surprised the morning he got up and saw his brook no longer flowed!  Why would God lead a person to live by a flowing brook, only to take that brook away from him? We might accuse God of playing some kind of funny game. Remember what happened to Jonah “The the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered” (Jonah 4:6,7). God might take something away, like he took Elijah’s water away; whatever door God may close, we may be sure he will open another. God may dry up our brooks of prosperity or health or the brook of self-confidence in order that he move us along in His will.

It is noteworthy that God would want Elijah to go to a place called “Zarephath”, which means “place of fiery trials or furnaces.” Here God’s man would undergo a fiery time of testing. This was also Jezebel’s homeland – the wicked wife of the evil king! It must have taken some faith indeed for Elijah to walk purposely into the land of Jezebel!  Zarephath was about 100 miles from the Kerith Ravine; Elijah would have to walk through 100 miles of famine and drought stricken land, possibly encountering representatives of the king just to get to his fiery furnace. Elijah demonstrated a remarkable man of faith, even at the early stage of his career. God had asked the prophet something that, on the surface of it, defied common sense and seemed to go against the plans God had already revealed to Elijah. He was a man of God, and he simply obeyed the Lord and got up and went to his fiery furnace.

Verse 9bI have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food”. God is ever gracious, and to help Elijah out, he gave the prophet this promise. We may be sure that when God moves on our hearts to step out in faith, we may be given a promise of provision, as well.

Circumstances must have appeared confusing to the prophet. A widow out gathering sticks couldn’t be rich! Why would God send him to her? And her response to his request for food and drink must have appeared either Elijah had made a mistake or God did! How could this woman take care of Elijah when she couldn’t even take care of herself? But Elijah was faithful to his God and his mission. Life’s circumstance didn’t affect his faith. Stepping out in faith strengthened Elijah; and stepping out in faith will strengthen your faith too.

The widow’s response to Elijah indicated that she was a believer in Yahweh, so Elijah gave her astounding promise. The promise was astounding, but before the promise could be fulfilled, she had to submit to simple test: “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.” (verse 13) For a woman on the brink of starvation, this was quite an audacious request to make! But the promise was unmistakable; God would honour her faith with a supply of flour and oil as long as the drought would last only after she took her faith with a supply of flour and oil as long as the drought would last only after she took God at His word. She had neither precedent nor example for such an act of faith, but she had hope and she had faith in the Word and power of God.

Like the manna that miraculously appeared and sustained the Israelites, and like the ravens that fed Elijah, so God made sure this woman, her family, and the prophet were looked after. But remember: God provided after they had stepped out in faith and obedience. There is nothing quite as rewarding as living by faith! The problem with modern believers is that they want the miraculous provision but without first offering obedient. God has not changed and He is more than willing and capable to meet all our needs, but the cost of such divine provision is our complete obedience and faith in God.

THE FAITH OF ELISHA

Elisha was actively prophesying and performing miracles until the book records his death in chapter 13. The following are list of the miracles that Elisha performed as listed in chapters four through seven of 2 Kings 4:8-37) Miracle of the Deadly Stew (2 Kings  4:38-41) Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves (2 Kings 4:42-44) Miracle of the healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-27) Miracle of the Floating Axe Head (2 Kings 6:1-7) Miracles during the First Aramean Attack (2 Kings 6:8-23) Miracles During the second Aramen Attack  (2 Kings 6:24-7:20) God performed the miracles through him. It was Elisha’s faith in the LORD his God that allowed God to work His wonders through him. Elisha was available and trusted that God would work through him.

I found the Miracle of the Shunammite’s Son to be particularly interesting. When Elisha first found out that the boy had died, he sent his servant with his staff to revive the boy by laying his staff across the boy’s face. This did not work! The boy still lay cold and dead.  Elisha went personally to revive the boy. He prayed to the LORD and lay on the boy and placed his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes on the boys eyes and his hands on the boys hands. The child became warm but still was not revived.

We know that the author of life would have no trouble restoring life to a dead boy. The text says that Elisha returned to the main room in the house and walked in the house back and forth. He then returned to the boy and stretched himself on him again and this time the lad was revived. It shows persistence, courage, boldness, encouragement, steadfastness, consistent in faith, patient until result is achieved.

OTHER AREAS WHERE THE POWER OF FAITH WERE DISPLAYED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:

The destruction of the walls of Jericho was a display of Israel’s faith in Yahweh (Joshua 6) The people of Israel marched around the city for seven days blowing their trumpets and shouting. It was not human ingenuity or power that defeated Jericho. It was God who did it. Joshua took God at His word and obey. “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace” Rahab was a foreigner and a notorious sinner, but God in grace saved by her faith (Joshua 2:1-24; 6:22-25). Calvin said the fact that she was a “harlot” heightens the grace of God.

Rahab reappears in James 2:25 and Matthew 1:5. She is right in the heart of the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. She was praised for her faith in the LORD, in the people of Israel, and joining in with them. She saw the hand of God in the invasion of Canaan. Rahab is also a type of the ingathering of the gentiles into the kingdom of God. God will save all who are personally unworthy by His infinite grace and mercy if they place their trust in His great provision through the death and resurrection of His Son. He saved by means of faith in His Son.

Faith of Gideon (Judges 6-9) and his little band of 300 who defeated 135,000 Midianites. Faith of Barak and Deborah (Judges 4-5) who delivered Israel from the Canaanites. Faith of Samson (Judges 13-16) who delivered the Philistines on many occasions. Even at his death he killed more than he did alive. Faith of Jephthah (judges 11-12) delivered Israel from the Ammonites. It is a list of heroes of faith who were determined to do the will of God at all costs. God made promises to them and proved Himself to be true to His word. God promised the victories and fulfilled them. They obtained the “promises” (plural) by walking by faith.

CONCLUSION

Perhaps, the greatest subject in the entire Bible is that of faith. If you trust God and live your life in obedience to God’s command you will be surrounded by mercy- “Many are the sorrow of the wicked; But he who trust in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. You will be kept in perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3), you will be happy and rejoice. You will be taken care of – commit your ways to the Lord, trust also in Him and it shall bring it to pass. The best way to be delivered from your enemies is to trust God Ps.37:40 “And the Lord shall help them and deliver them. He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them because they trust in Him.” A faithful Christian will be kept save, looked radiant. God promise He will not put them to shame (Rom. 10:11, 2 Chron.13:8) says such Children will be victorious and will not be moved. The book of Proverbs talks of prosperity. Jeremiah’s promise deliverance for God says through him in Jer.39:18 “For I will surely deliver you and you shall not fall by the sword, but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in me” say the Lord. A faithful servant of God will be protected by God because he will provide a shield to all who trust him and he will be established. Such man will never hunger for he shall be provided with the bread of life and will not be afraid. Obedience and faithfulness always glorify God, if we faint not we will reap a reward in due season. God will not stand by and watch His children do what is right and not reward them. The Bible says that the very essence of faith is believing that God is “and that he is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Heb.11:6

Your bishop and friend,

 

Rt. Revd. Dr. J. Akin Atere

Bishop of the Diocese of Awori

(Anglican Communion)