I read through the Bible every year, from cover to cover. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. And one of the amazing things about the Bible is how, no matter how many times you may read it, you’ll always discover startling and fascinating things you never noticed before.
As I’m writing this, I’ve just been reading the portion in my One Year Bible (apportioned into 365 dated pieces) for today’s date. And I saw again a question mark I’d written in the margin beside this paragraph from First Chronicles 16:
“And I will provide a homeland for my people Israel, planting them in a secure place where they will never be disturbed.”
And then, a few verses later, regarding the throne of David and his son Solomon:
“I will confirm him as king over my house and my kingdom for all time, and his throne will be secure forever.”
And I had written in the margin … “What happened?”
It was God’s declared intention that the people of Israel dwell safely in the former “land of Canaan” – and that the throne Solomon inherited from his father King David endure – for all time. But it didn’t. At least not, apparently, for several thousand years. The people were taken captive, dispersed throughout the world, and their God-ordained homeland became a mostly uninhabitable wasteland. The “throne of David”? It seemed to have vanished into the dust of history.
What happened to God’s promise? Was He not powerful enough to perform His word? I had wondered about this many times. But at this reading, the answer came.
When God spoke these words, He was speaking with absolute faith. Faith in the people He had chosen to bless, faith that they would walk in righteousness and gratitude before Him. He believed in them.
But they let Him down repeatedly, perpetually it seemed, until He finally warned them through His prophets that if the Israelites continued to disobey and disregard Him, He would have no choice but to allow them to reap the consequences of their disobedience and forfeit what He’d promised – in faith – to give them forever.
We believers in God talk often about our faith, and about the necessity and rewards of our faith in God. But have we ever considered the astonishing faith God has had in us? In America? In Israel? In mankind?
If we believe in God at all, we understand that He created man in His image, with the intent that we would emulate our Father, seek His counsel, live in His provision and protection, and delight in His company and splendor. We are His family, and His faith was that we would delight in that relationship, and He would nurture and enjoy us … forever. He had absolute faith … in us!
He had faith in man; He had faith in Israel; and He had faith in a dream called America. He had faith in you, and in me. But in so many ways, His faith in all of us seems to have been thwarted – not because His faith wavered, but because the beloved objects of His faith failed to live as He intended they should.
But the story isn’t over yet.
What is faith, anyway? The Bible gives us the answer, the best definition possible: “Faith is the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1).
This is profound, indisputable, and perfect. “The evidence of things not seen …” This is what sets faith apart from mere hope, or wishing, or even deeply believing in something for which there is no reason or expectation. The “evidence” is the basis for real faith, although the object of that faith is not yet visible. The evidence, whatever that may be, is visible – and therefore confirms that the invisible object of the faith is real, and even substantive.
Electricity is a good example.
You can’t see it, can you? Oh, in a thunderstorm, you see lightning flashes, and when something shorts out, you may see sparks fly from a broken connection or cross-wiring – but these are the evidence of the actual substance of the fantastic force we call electricity. If you want to prove that this force is coursing through the wires in your house, you just flick on a switch, and voila! Your faith has been rewarded by the evidence of the substance you hoped for.
You still haven’t seen the electricity, but your faith in its existence has produced light.
The Bible also declares “the just (righteous) shall live by faith”, shall be motivated, sustained and rewarded by faith. Faith in what? In the words and truth of the Bible itself, which it declares to be the very word and will of God. The God who created everything, the God who Thomas Jefferson proclaimed is the One who endows all men equally with “certain unalienable rights,” among these “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Thomas Jefferson, whom disbelieving liberals today label “Mr. Separation of Church and State,” actually said further: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?”
And still today, engraved of the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, are his words, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Friend, the very existence of the miracle of America for these last 250 years is “the evidence of things not seen” – the reality of an all-powerful God and His faith in us. We have enjoyed all the blessings of liberty and prosperity and world leadership as the very “substance of things hoped for” – through the faith our Founding Fathers had placed in God.
It comes now to us. Will we let leftists, socialists, communists, “progressives” and legal groups like the ACLU rob and intimidate us into giving up the faith we inherited? Or will we together do whatever it takes to revive and cherish our liberty – and again justify the amazing faith God still has in America?