Photo credit to Brittany Cunningham
“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40
Maybe it seems like I keep pounding in the same nail but maybe there is a knot in the wood and I really have to get that nail in all the way or things will fall apart. And what if I just haven’t got what it takes by myself to drive that nail all the way in like it needs to be? What if I need Someone stronger and more knowledgeable to take my hand and show me how to drive that nail home? And what if sometimes I just have to give that Somebody the hammer altogether and let Him just do it as only He can. And then it’s really done, it’s really firm, it’s Rock solid.
So, here I am Lord, still with You and Mary and Martha and Lazarus and the disciples that day. And that day and this day intertwine in time and message. Because what You said to Martha and everyone else matters just as much to me. Because You didn’t just speak it for her benefit or their benefit. You spoke it for the benefit of every person who would hear. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10,11) How comforting is that?! Well, only comforting to the extent that I believe it.
There is One who is the Comforter. There is only One who can truly Comfort. He’s the same One that is Life. And it’s You, Lord. And You give out this invitation. Isaiah offered that invitation from You. It’s what led to the words in the verse I just shared. I want to listen to Your invitation. “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, My steadfast, sure love for David.” (Isaiah 55:1-3) “Come, find your comfort, satisfaction, and life in Me. Let Me be Your life and your provision and your delight and You will live steadfast forever in Me and that care and faithfulness in love.
Now, here’s an “interesting” thing I came upon as I was checking into Your mercies here, checking into the meaning of Your sure mercies, Your steadfast, sure love. Because this is what You are trying to get me to understand, or actually to know. In 2 Kings 12:15 there is this statement that is shared, “Moreover, they did not require an accounting from the men into whose hand they gave the money to pay to those who did the work, for they dealt faithfully.” And Skip Moen shared what that signified in Hebrew thinking, to deal faithfully, and it has bearing on how I see Your sure mercies and steadfast, sure love. This “dealt faithfully is expressed by the Hebrew word “emunah.” “Emunah conveys the idea of inner stability, integrity, conscientiousness, cleanliness, which is essential for any responsible service.” Skip Moen adds, “In Hebrew, faith is seen in action and that action is based on the certainty of God’s words. In other words, if God says it, I do it. That is the Hebrew idea of faith. It is not cognitive rational explanation, a sequence of creedal affirmations or the arrangement of theological categories. Faith is doing what God asks and expects. When I do what God asks, I have faith (I am faithful). When I do not do what God asks, I do not have faith (I am unfaithful). Therefore, it is fairly easy to determine if a man or woman has faith in God. What do they do? Do they act according to God’s instructions or not? If they do, they are faithful. If they don’t, they aren’t. And it doesn’t much matter what they say about it.” So these men didn’t need an accounting because their lives had proved that faithful. But today’s reading isn’t about the faithfulness of man. It’s all about Your faithfulness which surpasses man’s faithfulness to infinity and beyond.
But, You are stirring on our faithfulness today. You are doing more than teaching me faithfulness, You are driving it in by Your hand. You are the one imparting faithfulness to me in You and through You. To understand this, I can look back at the example of Moses. Here are Your words (which are always true) about this man. “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household;” (Numbers 12:7 ) O.K. So Moses is faithful. But wait a minute. Did Moses make himself faithful? Is Moses the one being commended here, really? Here, the Hebrew word used is “aman.” “Emunah” and “aman” are related. Now, in Hebrew thinking, truth or certainty isn’t about all the facts lining up. It’s actually all about “reliability, steadfastness and confidence.” Not only that, but even the verb form used for aman here, makes a difference. It’s that passive, reflexive verb form again. It’s not what Moses did, it’s what was done to Moses. And in the original there is not “is” in this verse. It’s all about describing Moses, not his state of being. It wasn’t that he “acted in a way that produces faith.” Think about it this way, “Moses wears faithfulness because God gave him the clothes. He receives faithfulness as a garment–and it fits. By the way, everyone in the community can see that Moses wears the clothes of faithfulness because his clothing glows of God. Just look how he walks!” (Skip Moen)
And what is trusting, faith, believing all about? Isn’t that it? When You tell me “Didn’t I tell you that if you keep trusting, you will see the glory of God?”, isn’t that what You are saying to me? “Walk with Me, depend upon Me, let me clothe You in my faithfulness.” How do You do that? I don’t know but You just do. Every time I hear Your word spoken to me and I act upon it, even without understanding, even without seeing the outcome, You wrap Your faithfulness around me. I was wondering where You first told Martha that if she was faithful, she would see the glory of God. And back where the messengers came, is where You said “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may receive glory through it.” But that’s not the first place. It’s all over Scripture. It was all over Torah. It’s in the first sentence of the Beginning, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Now, You really want me to see the power of Your words today, Lord. Because this verse You’ve just led me to, that may seem somewhat unrelated to everything today, this “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, ” relates more than I thought. Because if we go back to the Hebrew translation, we find that something was lost in translation. There is this little word that pops up all over Scripture and gets lost in translation all the time–“et.” Sorry, but I can’t help noticing little words. It’s used as a linguisting marker. Other languages, like Tagalog, have linguistic markers. Skip Moen suggests we read this verse according to its “face value.” “Then I get, ‘In the beginning God created et.’ Some rabbis read the verse like this and they conclude that in the beginning God created the et, i.e., the aleph-tav, the Hebrew alphabet. The first things God created were the Hebrew letters, aleph through tav. Everything else was the result of the creation of the Hebrew alphabet. In other words, the sacred letters of the Hebrew alphabet were the vehicles by which God created all the rest of the cosmos. First came the letters. Then came the formation of those letters into words and the words manifested themselves in physical reality. Isn’t that what we see in the verse, ‘And God said, ‘Light,’ and light became’? Can the word be spoken without a prior alphabet?” So, even “the shape of the letters in Hebrew matters and communicates something that God wants me to know.” Seeing the words brings understanding. Where the words are matters. I have to read it as it appears, not as I alter it to fit my language. But how does this matter? Doesn’t it go back to what You said in Isaiah? Does this all really relate today?
Here are Your own words, Lord, from Matthew 5:18, “Don’t think that I have come to destroy the Law of Moses or the teaching of the prophets. I have come not to destroy their teachings but to give full meaning to them. I assure you that nothing will disappear from the law until heaven and earth are gone. The law will not lose even the SMALLEST LETTER OR THE SMALLEST PART OF A LETTER until it has all been done.” Yes, Lord, it has everything to do with how I become faithful and how I come to see Your glory. Your words are my law. And every word that comes forth out of Your mouth matters forever.
Every word You speak is beneficial to me. I’m a Gentile, if I were a man, I wouldn’t have to be circumcised to believe. But understanding circumcision would be beneficial. And if I chose to be circumcised, it would still be beneficial. It’s not because I am under the law. It’s because I love and trust Your words. There’s a difference. So when You tell me that the illness isn’t unto death but that I would see the glory of God, why am I not waiting and telling everyone, ” Stop crying. Jesus is going to do something. He already said it. I’m so excited!” Maybe I’m too busy rationalizing and believing all the stuff around me. Maybe I’m too busy giving too much value to that because I see it. But then, what am I really putting my trust in? Where is my faith?
I suppose that’s why You choose to keep putting these tough situations in my life. You have to keep putting clothes of faith on me because I keep grabbing my own old shirts and pants out. And I guess I just don’t realize how holey and tattered they are. And here You are, trying to clothe me in Your beautiful own design.
James warns me not to become a hearer only, but to act upon the words of God I hear. Lord, You told me what it meant to honor You. “Truly, truly, I say unto you, he that hears My word, and believes on him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” And then You emphasize the importance, no, desperation of responding to Your words again in John 6:63,64 “It is the spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Why would I end with that negative note, “there are some of you who do not believe”? Because I want to check myself, Lord. As I hear Your word, I want to understand and I want it to minister to me and change me, no, transform me. I don’t want to be one of the ones who misses out on the glory of God in my life. I want to act upon Your word, upon every jot and every tittle as You reveal them to me. I may have an eternity ahead of me to do this, but why would I want to miss even a small treasure now? I don’t want to wait till then. I want to see and know and experience Your glory now. I want to be a believer who acts upon Your word, because if I don’t act upon Your words to me, I’m not a believer at all. Lord, continue to clothe me in Your faithfulness as I respond to and in Your words. And make me shine before others with Your glory, for Your glory. I love Your words, ALL of them, even the ones You’ve yet to reveal.