The Chutzpah of Faith

Graphic of a wooden cross.
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever." (Ex. 32:13, ESV)

What does the word faith mean to you? The dictionary defines it as "complete trust or confidence in someone or something." Sometimes we think of Biblical faith the way we might say that we have "faith" in a team. For example, I have always been a Cubs fan, and so I might say that I hope or have faith that they will win another world series. However, that "hope" or "faith" is not based on any promises, so much as it is based on my own personal confidence that if they won once in recent history, maybe they can win again.

In this text, we see that Biblical faith grabs hold of God's promises and will not let them go. As the author of Hebrews writes, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1, ESV). In times of joy, Biblical faith praises God for His faithfulness, and in times of sorrow, it cries out to God using the words of His promise and seeking His consolation. Moses also uses God's word and promise in today's text when he is talking to God. God has just said that He will wipe out the people of Israel because they had made the golden calf to worship (Ex. 32:7-10). Moses takes God's words and promises and prays them back to the Lord on behalf of the people of Israel. Moses asks God why He should allow the Egyptians to say, "With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth" (Ex. 32:12, ESV)? And then He repeats God's promises to give the land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 26:4; Ex 32:13) back to the Lord. God did not need a refresher on His promises; after all, He is faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Tim 2:13). Instead, our Lord does delight in hearing His children return His word to Him because it demonstrates that we firmly believe His words. Christians know that our Lord was and is faithful to His promises. God used His people to bring Jesus, the savior of all people, into the world so He could bless all the nations of the earth.

So, when we say we have faith in God and hope that the Lord will fulfill His promises, we are saying more than that we "think something will happen," we are grabbing hold of our Lord's Word and praying them back to God, and confidently telling others about the reason for this hope and faith. Faith involves boldly confessing what God has promised and revealed to us.

So, when you pray today and all days, pray by using the Lord's Word promises with the confidence that our Lord delights in hearing His people pray.

Let us pray: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, because of Your tender love toward us sinners You have given us Your Son that, believing in Him, we might have everlasting life. Continue to grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may remain steadfast in this faith to the end and finally come to everlasting life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Jordan Peiser is the pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Maywood, NJ

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