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Faithfulness

Faithfulness

Faithfulness is the proper response to God by his covenant people; seen in a steadfast commitment which reflects God’s own faithfulness to the covenant. Encouraged in all believers, it is especially important in leaders.

I am called to be faithful and trustworthy. I am challenged by this some days. When I think about it and focus on it, I execute God’s goal. Some days, like a sheep, I wander off. I am thankful for the good Shepherd who finds me and brings me back home.

The good news is that God is always faithful. That is just the way He is. He has always been patient, waiting for me to come back to Jesus and follow Him. God is good! God is in a good mood. God will see me through to the end.

Moses meant for the Israelites to draw two conclusions from God’s choice and redemption of them.

  • The Master alone is God. He can control history, raise up nations, and bring them down.
  • He is the faithful God.

The thousand generations are a proverbial expression meaning “endlessly” or “forever.” Though He will never abandon His covenant of love to Israel, rebellious individuals within the nation will be judged for their sin just as His enemies in other nations (those who hate Him) are judged by Him. Therefore, each individual Israelite needed to be careful to follow His commands.

  • Deuteronomy 7:9 — “Know therefore that the Master your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
  • 1 Samuel 2:35‘But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.

Paul issued a warning: good beginnings do not guarantee good endings. The Jews experienced God’s miracles, and yet they failed when they were tested in the wilderness. Experience must always be balanced with caution, for we never come to the place in our Christian walk where we are free from temptation and potential failure. All the Jews twenty years old and upward who were rescued from Egypt, except for Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness during their years of wandering.

We can hear some of the “strong” Corinthians asking, “But what does that have to do with us?” Paul then pointed out that the Corinthian church was guilty of the same sins that the Jews committed. Because of their lust for evil things, the Corinthians were guilty of immorality, idolatry, and murmuring against God. Like the nation of Israel, they were tempting God and just “daring Him” to act.

Paul certainly knew his Old Testament, and his readers would recognize the events referred to. The “lusting” is found in Numbers 11:4ff, the idolatry in Exodus 32, and the fornication in Numbers 25. The Israelites often tempted God, but perhaps Numbers 21:4–6 was the reference Paul had in mind. For their complaining, see Numbers 14 and 16.

This kind of sin is serious, and God must judge it. Not only did some of these rebels immediately die, but those who remained were not permitted to enter the Promised Land. They were saved from Egypt but were not privileged to claim their rich inheritance. Paul was not suggesting that his readers might lose their salvation, but he was afraid that some of them would be “castaways”, disapproved of God and unable to receive any reward.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:12–13 — Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
  • Hebrews 4:14–16 — Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Disciples are tempted to forsake their confession of Jesus the Messiah by going back to the Old Covenant worship. The writer did not exhort them to hold on to their salvation, because their security was in the Messiah and not in themselves. Rather, he invited them to hold fast “the profession [confession] of … hope.”

In Hebrews there is an emphasis on the glorious hope of the believer. God is “bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb. 2:10). Believers are “partakers of the heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1) and therefore can rejoice in hope (Heb. 3:6). Hope is one of the main themes of Hebrews 6 (vv. 11–12, 18–20). We are looking for Jesus to return (Heb. 9:28) and we are seeking that city that is yet to come (Heb. 13:14).

When a believer has his hope fixed on the Messiah, and relies on the faithfulness of God, then he will not waver. Instead of looking back (as the Jews so often did), we should look ahead to the coming of the Lord.

  • Hebrews 10:23 — Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
  • 1 Peter 4:19 — Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
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