faith and trust in god
The baptism of the nation of Israel into Moses in the sea (1 Cor. 10:1-2), followed their deliverance out of Egypt by the Almighty God, “by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors” (Deut. 4:34). So it is with us. Egypt is representative of the World. As the Lord God called the nation of Israel out of Egypt, so now he calls us out of the world. Then it was a national call, now it is an individual call. In a sense, even then it was an individual call—but we shall not elaborate on that here. That it is an individual call now, we see from the words of Jesus to the woman of Samaria. Let us turn to John 4:21-24:
“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (See also Mal. 1:11).
As by a mighty hand and a stretched out arm God brought Israel out of Egypt, so these mighty works are relevant to our call. Moreover, the Almighty has done more for us. He has sent his Son, “a man approved by God … by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him.” As God slew the firstborn of Egypt, and because of this Israel were called upon to sanctify their Firstborn unto Yahweh, so the Almighty has allowed His Firstborn Son to be slain for our salvation. Whereas Israel in Egypt witnessed these mighty works, and Israel in the time of Christ witnessed the mighty works that the Master did in their midst, we have not witnessed them—but we do read of them in the Word of God. These things are as relevant to us as they were to Israel, although we have only heard of them through the medium of God’s word. I shall now demonstrate this with an example from the Word, which will also show that the calling then was individual.
The example we shall take is that of Rahab the Harlot. Rahab did not witness those mighty works in Egypt, she only heard of them by word of mouth. Yet she believed on them with all her heart. Let us turn to Joshua 2:9-13, and the words which she addressed to the spies sent to her:
“and she said unto the men, I know that Yahweh hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how Yahweh dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what He did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side of Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any courage in any man, because of you: for Yahweh your God, he is God in Heaven above and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by Yahweh, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: and that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death”.
What is amazing here is that Rahab not only heard of these mighty works—but believed them, whereas Israel who witnessed God’s wonders did not believe them. As a consequence, all the generation who came out of Egypt, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua perished in the wilderness during those 40 years. It was their children who entered the Promised Land. Yet Rahab, for nearly 40 years believed in those mighty works and therefore was called by God to enter the Promised Land. So we read in Hebrews 11:31: “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed, when she had received the spies in peace.” She manifested her faith by receiving the spies in peace.
I now propose to consider another example of how the Lord God calls individuals. The example I am going to take is the Philippian Jailor. It is noteworthy that when the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel, he did not go everywhere; he was told where to go, and where not to go. We see this from Acts 16:9-10. There were two households who God purposed to call in Philippi in Macedonia, namely Lydia and her household, and the Philippian jailor and his household. These would eventually form the ecclesia at Philippi. We shall simply consider the call of the Philippian jailor. For this one man to be called, it was necessary for Paul and Silas to be beaten with many stripes, for them to be thrust into the inner prison in the stocks, where because of their great faith, they prayed and sang praises to God, “and the prisoners heard them.” As a result there was a great earthquake and all the prison doors were opened. The keeper of the prison awoke out of his sleep and would have killed himself, but his hand was stayed by the Apostle Paul and he fell down before the Apostle and asked, what must I do to be saved?” So we read in verse 22: “and they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was baptised, he and all his, straightway.” So it was that through the stripes of the apostle Paul and Silas he was healed.
So God calls us to the Truth. The Bible does not teach universal salvation. God is calling out of the Gentiles a people for His Name. Brother Thomas taught that God’s purpose was God Manifestation not universal salvation. How does God call us? This is shown by the words of Jesus in John 6:44-45:
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me”.
The hand of God through the work of the angels has worked in our lives to bring us to the Truth. It is important that we appreciate what God has done for us. Although the Truth brings with it the wonderful fellowship of brethren and sisters in Christ, primarily our call is individual and our response should be an individual response to the Father. This brings us to our title, “Faith and Trust in God”. When we are called from the World to the Truth, things don’t always work out well in our lives and we begin to wonder whether God has really called us. To illustrate this, I propose to take the example of Abraham. Abraham was not called out of Egypt. He was called out of Ur of the Chaldees. This was the World of his days. But when Abraham came into the Promised Land, he experienced nothing but trouble. Firstly there was famine in the very land which God had promised him and he had to go down into Egypt. When he came up again into the Promised Land, there was strife between his herdsman and Lot’s, and he had to separate from his nephew. Then there was war in the land in which Lot was taken captive and Abraham had to rescue him with his trained servants. Abraham could have looked back to the comforts and safety he had experienced in Ur of the Chaldees and have desired to return there, but he did not. We see his faith in Hebrews 11:13-16:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their god: for he hath prepared for them a city”.
But after his troubles, the Almighty God reassured Abraham in Genesis 15:1:
“After these things the word of Yahweh came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward”.
So it is with us, brethren and sisters, for we read in Psalm 84:11:
“For Yahweh Elohim is a sun and shield: Yahweh will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”.
If we walk uprightly, God is our shield and our exceeding great reward. Our reward is concerned with our faith. Abraham looked forward in faith to the kingdom, that city which hath foundations. When things are difficult in our lives, we need to have faith in these promises. Let us look at the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen”.
Brother Thomas rendered these words:
“Faith is a confident anticipation of things hoped for, a full persuasion of things not seen”.
With faith, we look forward, but we also look back as we see from verse3. Brother Thomas wrote this, which is a combination of Hebrews 1:2 and 11:3:
“But he (Jesus) is the appointed “heir of all things, on account of whom” “the ages were re-arranged by the word of God, so that the things seen exist not from things apparent” (“Elpis Israel”, 14th ed. Rev. 1949 p. 40).
We see how all the ages past have been under God’s controlling hand. This is what we considered earlier. How all those mighty works in Egypt, and all the signs and wonders which the Master did, are there for our sakes and help us to have faith and reassurance that God rules in the kingdoms of men.
But we also have to remember that God is our shield, as he reassured Abraham. This is where our trust comes in. When things go difficult for us as they did with Abraham, and we may not think that the Almighty is our shield, we have to remember these words to Abraham. For those 40 years, Rahab had to believe that the Almighty was her shield and that she would be saved when the walls of Jericho fell and she was saved and her household.
Some of the faithful have had to experience years of trouble with little evidence that God was with them—and that eventually they will be delivered from all their troubles. This was the case with Joseph. For 13 years he was imprisoned, and then in the space of a day, he was delivered from prison, and exalted to be second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. Mordecai also in the book of Esther was transformed overnight from being a hated man by Haman to being second only to Ahasuerus in the kingdom. So we could consider all the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, who learned to show faith and trust in God, who:
“had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect”.(v. 36-40).
May we take comfort from these faithful examples in the words of Hebrews 12:1-2:
“Wherefore seeing we are also compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”.