Faith

What is Faith?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb. 11:1 

We’ve all heard the charlatan healers claim that the reason they cannot heal is because the sick person’s faith is not strong enough. However healing is not what our faith is primarily for. For it is a faith in things NOT seen.

We tend to think that faith is a feeling. However faith is the assurance of the things we hope for. We are as sure of the things of God, as we are that the chair will hold us up, that gravity will keep out cup on the table, and the sun will rise in the east and set in the west.

We are sure that Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. We are sure of our salvation. We are sure of new and incorruptible bodies. We are sure that we will present ourselves before the judgment Throne of God with Messiah’s righteousness imputed to us, that we come under no condemnation.

The things unseen are of the kingdom of Messiah, it is all around us, the armies of His heavenly host in battle with the forces of evil.

. . . because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2Cor. 4:18

What we see is old Jerusalem the one of bricks and stone, but out hope, our faith is in New Jerusalem, the Jerusalem that is above and for now is unseen.

Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! Psa. 137:6

But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. Gal. 4:26

He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Rev. 3:12

We watch as friends and family die. Their bodies seem dead and cold. But our faith is that we will have the victory over sin and death. It is ours, we just can’t see it. [See Also: What Happens when we Die?]

 

See Also: Hope

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Hope

Hope in the Bible is more than “hope” as presently defined in postmodern English, where “hope” is to believe that good and pleasant things will come to us. Biblical Hope is the steadfast belief and confidence that those blessings presently unseen are in fact ours.

. . . having a hope in God which these themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. Acts 24:15

Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. Rom. 5:2

For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. Gal. 5:5

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27

NonBelievers Trust in Money and Power

Believers are contrasted with the rich, who trust in their positions and power, for it was by these positions and power that they believed that they could bribe their pagan gods into showing them favor.

As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. 1Tim. 6:17 

There is One Hope

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, Eph. 4:4 

There is only one real hope, it is a hope of salvation. That the Lord’s righteousness will be imputed to us. It is not a hope of earthly life, health, or prosperity. But rather a hope in things unseen at the present time. That when we seen those hidden things we will be in good standing, because of our Lord’s sacrifice. As the old hymn says

Bold I approach the eternal Throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

from And can it be that I should gain

See Also: Five Crowns

Faith

The Congregation is Firstborn

Here’s a surprise for some. All believers are considered first-borns.

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,  23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel. Heb. 12:22-24

We now all have the special blessings and therefore the responsibilities of a firstborn.

The first responsibility is to take care of our mother.

But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. Gal. 4:26

The other responsibility of the firstborn is to take care of the rest of the family.

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 1John 3:23

So our first thought and action of each morning is to seek the Kingdom of God and to build it up.

Even the Messiah understood that the Father’s will come first.

“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30

Messiah as Firstborn

Our Messiah is the firstborn of all creation, as well as the firstborn of the dead, as well as being the firstborn of Mary and Joseph.

Can an unclean things bring forth a unclean thing? Once there was this tomb outside of Jerusalem that did.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Rom. 8:29

Aside from being the great “predestination” verse we are also informed the Messiah is the firstborn of the brethren. He is the pre-eminent leader of His Congregation. The firstborn were to be dedicated to God, they were the head of the family and as such were responsible for the others welfare. No one can or should try to usurp His firstborn status. He is our leader. We have no king but Messiah.

He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; Col. 1:15 

This is not to mean as some cult teach that Messiah is a creation. The Greek is actually prototokos pases ktiseos which is, born before all the creation. The word, with only the change of the accent, prototokos, signifies actively the first begetter or producer of all things. The firstborn here is used in the sense of His pre-eminence.

He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. Col. 1:18

He is the head of the Congregation as ancient kings were heads of the kingdoms. He is the head of the government with the right to make and enforce laws. The Greek is arche, prototokos ek o nekros, beginning, ruler, principle, born or the dead.

Ephraim is my Firstborn

ephraimThere is a lot of odd teachings about Ephraim out there. They all center around this group or that group or Christians in general being Ephraim. Why would anyone of Gentile decent want to be of Israel. They are under God’s judgment. Is it not enough to be adopted into the Family of God? His love is for the individual who will follow Him, not some group that must have the right parentage.

With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born. Jer. 31:9

The tribe of Ephraim had gone astray from God, was no more worthy to be called a son, a first-born son and as such is to be given the double portion.

The same reason that was given for their release out of Egypt is given for their release out of Babylon; they are free-born and therefore must not be enslaved. They are born to God and therefore must not be the servants of men.

However the odd thing here is that Ephraim was not taken by Babylon but rather Assyria. They were relocated with the rest of the Ten Northern Tribes in Persia, now called Iran. (See Also: The Ten Lost Tribes)

In pure birth order Ephraim is the last born of the tribes, as he is Joseph’s second son.

The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Gen. 41:52

At the time of the blessing of the tribes Judah/Israel gives Ephraim the blessing of the firstborn.

13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it upon the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand upon the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands, for Manasseh was the first-born. Gen. 48:13-14

So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh”; and thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Gen. 48:20

The Curse of rebuilding Jericho

The city of Jericho from the ruins of the old walls

The city of Jericho from the ruins of the old walls

A little known passage about Jericho.

Joshua laid an oath upon them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man that rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.  At the cost of his first-born shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.” Josh. 6:26 

And yes someone over 400 years later did rebuild Jericho.

In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun. 1Kings 16:34

The Law of the Firstborn

We see a great deal of strife thought out the book of Genesis in the family dynamic of the chosen family of God. For various reasons the firstborn is rejected.

Issac and Ishmael

And Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live in thy sight!” Gen. 17:18

Jacob and Esau

Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your first-born. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that you may bless me.” Gen. 27:19

And you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my first-born son, Ex. 4:22

Jacob’s Sons

This is interesting for it is exactly what happened with Jacob’s children. However it was not because of how Jacob felt about them but rather because of their rash actions. Reuben the first born slept with his father’s concubine which lost him the right of the firstborn. Next came Simeon and Levi who for the sake of their sister Dinah killed all the males of Shechem. So the scepter passed to Judah.

 3 Reuben, you are my first-born, my might, and the first fruits of my strength, pre-eminent in pride and pre-eminent in power.  4 Unstable as water, you shall not have pre-eminence because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it — you went up to my couch!  5 Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords.  6 O my soul, come not into their council; O my spirit, be not joined to their company; for in their anger they slay men, and in their wantonness they hamstring oxen.  7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.  8 Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you.  9 Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up?  10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.  11 Binding his foal to the vine and his ass’s colt to the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes;  12 his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. Gen 49:3-12

Manasseh and Ephraim

Joseph called the name of the first-born Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” Gen. 41:51 

3 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him.  14 And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it upon the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand upon the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands, for Manasseh was the first-born.  15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has led me all my life long to this day,  16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Gen. 48:13-16

The Law of the Firstborn

We don’t find out what all these special rights are until Deuteronomy.

. . . 16 then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the first-born in preference to the son of the disliked, who is the first-born, 17 but he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the disliked, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the first issue of his strength; the right of the first-born is his. Deut. 21:16-17

No matter what a father feels about his children’s mother the rights of the firstborn are not to be abridged.