READING: Psalm 119:25-32, 65-67, 75-76, 89-91, 137-144
It seems appropriate this winter to study some from the Old Testament since these ideas would have found their deepest cultural meanings in the Hebrew language of the story of the Jewish people.
Their common word for “faith” came from the consonantal root “A-M-N” from which we get our English word “Amen.” In the usage of the prophets and the psalmists the word had a necessary component of trust in a covenant agreement combined with time living day after day in order to confirm the covenant agreement. This was true of common life agreements such as marriage, ownership of property, loans of goods and currency, etc. It was also more significantly true of belief in and obedience towards God.
In other words, the idea of “faith” without “faithfulness” was nonsense to their understanding. This helps us understand the later set-up in Hebrews 10 where the author cites Habakkuk 2:3-4 “…the just one shall live by faith…,” before explaining “faith” in chapter 11, which includes brief memorials to so many “faithful” men and women from the story of Israel.
What does that mean to you? As you imagine relating to the “faith” of Joseph and Mary during the first Advent, think more of their “faithfulness” to obey and trust God in the midst of innumerable questions and hardships rather than some abstract quantity of “faith” that kept them from wondering, worrying, or suffering. Receive courage from them, and remain FAITHFUL in tough times!
Mark Hill, Pastor