26 February 2010 (Sheshi/Kippur)
When We Stop Trusting in Elohim
Generations of children and adults alike have been inspired by the story of David and Goliath. A teenager, who knows nothing about warfare, fights an experienced warrior and wins. How did he win? He was absolutely certain that Yahweh would deliver him and thereby vindicate his Elohim (God) and his country (Israel). He was so convinced that he would win that he didn't even bother to don any armour. And as we know, he took his slingshot, picked up five stones, and defeated the undefeatable giant.
Don't we all want to be like David? Don't we want to be so certain that Yahweh is real and present that we'd dare to do anything? We certainly dream about it and 'play the hero' in our imaginations and games as children but when it comes to the 'real thing', are we so brave? And if not, why not? So where did David get his confidence? And is this the kind of certainty we should all have in our several 'Goliath' situations or was this an extraordinary exception that belongs to just an élite few? Is it even reasonable that we should be like David? What if David hadn't won? And what if, after all, it's just a fairy tale, a myth? Well, you believe it's a fairy tale or a myth what I have to say isn't going to make much different to your faith. Nothing the Bible says can be taken seriously if you don't trust that it's inspired. So if you have a problem with the Bible, you need to do some further digging and then come back.
Another question that's sometimes asked is this: if David was so confident that he would win, why did he take 5 stones? Why not just one? And if he took 5 just in case one missed, how does this show his certainty that he would win? Well, if it doesn't, then his answer to sceptical King Saul makes little sense:
David faced his human adversary in confidence because he had faced other adversaries in the form of wild animals before. His faith had been built up degree by degree because of his prior experiences. If he had not won victories over wild animals, do you think he would have had the confidence to face Goliath? Probably not. But then Yahweh would not have placed him in a situation he was not in some pay prepared for. He had passed previous testings.
"Yahweh, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (1 Sam.17:37, NKJV).
We are no different. There are times when we face our personal Goliath's and we know we don't have that sort of trusting that David did. We'd like to but we are quite simply unprepared. And when we hear of the faith of other believers like Moody, Wigglesworth, Müller or whoever our hero might be, and we face something similar to them, our faith shrinks and we retreat. Worse, when others who think they have 'great faith' but don't - or if we think they do because we expect them to (like pastors and evangelists), and we hear them say of us: 'Oh he's just a young believer - one day he will believe in Yahweh's power', this just adds to our discouragement. And when we see that they don't have what they profess - or don't profess and don't have - it just adds to our dissilusionment.
Friend, it is good to have examples of those of faith whom we can emulate and be encouraged by but don't give up because the faith of those around you is weak.
I have discovered, as I am sure many of you have too, that miracles tend only to happen when Yahweh says they will and asks us to trust Him. I know a lot of sick people (including myself) and of course I pray for all of us that we are healed. We do that by default because we want them to be healed. Many preachers teach that Yahweh wants everyone who is sick to be healed but is that always His will? Not in my experience. If in doubt, I assume it is His will, and pray for their recovery. I have witnessed many get healed but that's not necessarily because my own faith was strong - there may have been others who were told by Yahweh that a sick person would recover so they prayed with greater faith than I. But I still prayed, and I believe it was right to, and I believe my prayer had some small inpact with Heaven.
All the most dramatic miracles that have happened in my life have done so because Yahweh first told me that they would and that it was just a question of trusting that revelation. He doesn't, of course, tell us everything, which is how it is supposed to be. This means that there are two types of trusting, as I understand it:
I think the first is often a lot easier than the second. When you are desperate for some information in a difficult or painful situation, it can be extremely difficult to trust. And the longer you have to wait, the harder it gets, unless you have had some experience in Yahweh making you wait for something you have desperlately wanted, and so know how to wait. And sometimes, alas, we refuse to listen to eactly what he has said and 'hope' that He will change His mind. The bottom line is:
- 1. Trusting in something Yahweh says is going to happen if we do this or that;
- 2. Trusting that He will see us right even when He does not say what is going to happen or its outcome.
The area where it is hardest to trust is in the restoration of broken or damaged relationships because everyone is a free agent. For me these have been the toughest. Some of these I have been praying about and waiting for over 20 years. Yahweh's view on the best way of restoring broken relationships usually isn't the same as ours because He is omniscient and we aren't. So many virtues and vices are tested when we are required to trust over a protracted period of time.
- 1. Are we seeking Yahweh's will or our own?
- 2. Are we seeking Yahweh's glory or our own perceived need?
Let's take another example of trusting Yahweh - again, if you don't believe the Bible is true, this won't make much sense to you:
Oh boy, we really are in the 'big league' of trusting still! What was the boys' response (remember these were not adults!)?
"Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"" (Dan.3:13-15 , NKJV).
Five centuries had passed since David confronted Goliath so this story was certainly known by the boys. Their answer is not apparently like David's, though, is it? They acknowledge two possible outcomes: "If that is the case" and "But if not". Does that sound like faith? Isn't there an element of doubt in their minds that Yahweh will intervene? Why didn't they express the same confidence and certainty that David did? The answer is simple: they didn't know what Yahweh was going to do! How could they place confidence in an outcome they knew nothing about? Obviously they couldn't. All they knew was that Yahweh was Elohim and that Nebuchadnezzar's gods were not. They know that Yahweh could save them and might save them but they weren't sure. It didn't matter to them. The issue here was not the same as David's. This was about them and their personal relationship with Yahweh and not about Yahweh's Name or their country being mocked. This was about them being true to Torah or not. So actually, these three boys are a lot more like us than David - they just wanted to be true and trusted that Yahweh would do what would give Him the greatest glory.
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our Elohim (God) whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up"" (Dan.3:16-18, NKJV).
Life is full of uncertainty and Yahweh does not choose to reveal all the certainties because if He did we would never have the opportunity to exercise faith/trust and grow in character. Yahweh has made a lot of promises we can trust in but there are as many - if not more - promises that He has not made and we are simply going to have to trust Him to see us right in these areas. In the end, who of David and the three boys exercised the greatest faith? It takes a lot more faith to trust in something Yahweh has not promised you than in what He has. Both David and the boys had faith and courage - great faith and courage - but they were different kinds of faith. Perhaps I shouldn't judge so I won't.
So long as any part of us operates in the flesh there will be doubt and a certain amount of atheism. Dealing with these doubting elements within is part of our daily struggle to overcome. And when we have - when we have finally yielded all to Yah'shua and are trusting in Him completely, then we have done as Jacob and become Israel. It almost certainly won't happen overnight. The important thing is to persist not just in pursuing truth but, more importantly than that, pursuing emet (biblical truth) in ahavah (agapé love). And that can only come to fruitiion by making sure that Yah'shua is "all in all" (1 Cor.12:6; 15:28; Eph.1:2) and not just "in part" (1 Cor.13:9).
May you have a wonderful day IN Yah'shua!
 C. Michael Patton, When I Don't Trust God