The Faith of the People

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, December 17, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

What are your biggest fears? We all have them, whether we like to admit them or not. I’ve talked about some of my fears on this blog in the past, but there are some I’ve probably kept hidden only because I don’t want people to think less of me. Just a few weeks ago, I had a situation where two fears of mine clashed. My wife and I have been blessed with our first home, but it needed some work on the chimneys. The man who came to do the work was someone we randomly picked from the Internet based on reviews. As he was doing the work, I began to fear that he might be taking advantage of us. This was based more on the fact that I knew nothing about chimneys (having never been a homeowner) than the man’s quality of work. I called my dad to get some advice and he told me the obvious - that the only way I’d get a better idea of the work the man was doing was to go up on the roof and see it for myself! While my dad was certainly right, that’s just what I was hoping to avoid. You see, I’m even more afraid of heights than I am of getting swindled. I had been on roofs in the past, but the roof at our home is steeper and way taller than any I had ever been on. My dad of course told me this is MY house so it’s important for me to know what’s going on with it. Again, this was obvious, but not helpful for dealing with my current plight. Ultimately, I chose to get up there and see everything. As I climbed that worker’s ladders and walked across the roof taller than any other around us while explaining my fear to the worker, I wondered how pathetic I looked in his eyes!

We like to try to disguise our fears because we worry about what others think. But the reality is that every human being has fears. We know this because fear is connected to sin. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve go from a perfect and fearless relationship with God to being afraid of him. What causes it? Sin! After they disobey him and eat from the tree from which God had told them not to eat, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they immediately experience fear, something they didn’t even comprehend before. Verse 10 tells us that after God questions Adam’s whereabouts, he admits that he hid from the Lord because he was afraid. The whole thing makes perfect sense. Let me remind you they ate from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Think about why we fear. I am afraid of heights largely because I’m aware that I could fall and be seriously injured or die. Death and pain only came because of sin. Had I not had that knowledge and had I still been in perfect relationship with God, I’d trust that he would still protect me even from gravity. He’d cause a soft landing, catch me himself, or help me fly! Likewise, I only fear getting swindled by a businessman because I have knowledge that it does happen.

The same was true for the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt and heading for the Promised Land. Hebrews 11:29 tells us that they “passed through the Red Sea as on dry land” by faith. For the first time in Hebrews 11, our hero of the faith is actually a crowd. Just think about what it means for a group of people to have faith. Did they always agree? Did they have issues? Different opinions? Different perspectives? Different agendas? I’d say so. I mean, most of us can’t get through a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with relatives without facing some of these things! Yet, there were over two million people in this group. The people’s differences didn’t matter. Ultimately, they were united in faith. And guess what? Faith is not about what we “believe." Faith is shown by action. Even if there were some in those two million who thought it was a bad idea to walk through the sea with walls of ocean water on both sides (I’m sure there were), they all chose to walk across. Their faith was not judged by their doubts or differences, but by their ACTION.

The story is in Exodus 14. I encourage you to read it yourself if you never have, but I want to make a few key points regarding the faith of the people. At first, God speaks directly to Moses and instructs him to tell the people to camp by the sea. This would make them incredibly vulnerable and God even tells Moses that Pharaoh and his army will go after them. But Moses’ responsibility as a servant of God and leader to the people was to pass on God’s Word exactly as he heard it, not sugar-coating or changing it to make the people feel more comfortable. Moses had grown in his faith and does just that. He trusts that God would deal with the people’s hearts and also that he will protect them as he had been doing the whole time. At first, the people are completely trusting of Moses and God. But then, verses 10-12 tell us that the people SAW the Egyptians coming after them and were “terrified." They cried out to the Lord and complained to Moses. In other words, the people were faithful and trusting until they saw and became aware of the great danger. Moses remains steadfast in trusting God, and God tells him and the Israelites to move forward after he has Moses stretch out his staff and part the Red Sea. God could’ve done it without Moses, but he decided to use Moses because he knew the people trusted more in who they saw (Moses) than who they couldn’t see (God).

You could point to any fear you have and see that it comes from the knowledge of good and the opposite of what is good. Even the fear that we all have to some degree, the fear of the unknown, still goes back to what we “know." We fear the unknown because we know that when we don’t know something, bad things happen. Did you follow my intentional word play? We relate “knowledge” mainly to what we can see, just as the Israelites did. Therefore, it’s not so much the unknown as it is the unseen (they saw the Egyptians, but not the future) that we fear. Hebrews 11:3 tells us that our faith helps us understand that God created everything that we DO see out of what is NOT visible. But the implication there is that it is not visible TO US. Who is it visible to? Who has never faced an unknown or an unseen? I’m talking about our mighty God! Now, let me ask you, who does a blind person trust? They have to rely on those who can see. So, when we face unknowns or “unseens” in our lives, it makes sense to put our trust in the ONLY One who knows all and sees all. The Israelites knew and saw the ocean water and knew the possibility of drowning was there, but God allowed them to see HIS power through Moses so they would trust that the water would stay where it was until Moses again stretched out his staff to return the waters to their place, which ultimately destroyed the Egyptians.

God knows where you are on your faith journey. If you need to SEE things, God will reveal himself to you in a way you can’t deny. The goal for all of us, however, is to get so close in our relationship with God that we KNOW and sense his presence in our lives and in our difficulties even more than we know the bad things that can happen. When we pay more attention to what we know about God than what we know about the evil in the world, that’s when fear turns to faith. I pray that for myself and for each and every one of you each time you face a fear. The One who is unseen is greater than anything we could ever see or understand!

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