The magnificent words by faith ring down through the ages. That was all it took. By faith in God the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry land. Who took the first step? Was it an elderly priest—wise in the ways of God? Or a young boy with the faith of a child, trusting and eager to get going? Yahweh had gotten them this far, and there was no turning back. So the first one took the first step—and then another and another. Slowly others began to follow until the multitude crossed safely—by faith.
How ridiculous the Israelites would have looked as they marched round and round Jericho blowing their trumpets. What must the townspeople have thought? And then the walls fell down—by faith in God.
By faith Rahab the prostitute offered hospitality to the spies from Israel. She did not perish because she sided with the God of Israel. Each instance above contrasts the faith of Israel with the unbelief of the adversaries.
And we know the names and stories of so many more faithful men and women. Through their amazing deeds, suffering, and perseverance they became the people of faith God created them to be. What made them persevere and not give up?
As those in battle and the martyrs lay dying, having fought the final battle, what were their thoughts about God at that moment? What did they think when they realized that God’s promises had not been fulfilled? Had God let them down? They probably died as they had lived—by faith in God. They depended on the faithfulness of God, whose plan unfolded to reach its full glory in Christ. We can do likewise.
Lord God, strengthen and deepen my faith. I want to be the person you created me to be. Amen.
Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:8-19 employ simi- lar images to represent the people of God—a vine or a vineyard. The image clearly communicates the careful commitment of God to God’s people. Unfortunately, the people do not respond in kind, so God must destroy the vineyard. The people plead for restoration, and their future life will depend not on their repen- tance but on God’s repentance! Jesus issues a radical call for human repentance in Luke. God will bear the burden of human disobedience, and God’s gracious turning to humankind makes life possible. Hebrews shows that the story of God’s people does contain outstanding episodes and exemplars of faith and sug- gests that God never gives up on calling us to follow, to run the dif cult race that leads to life.
• Read Isaiah 5:1-7. What fruit are you growing—wild grapes or sweet ones? How can God redeem you?
• Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How do you recognize God’s love and presence?
• Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Think of a cirumstance when your faith in God was all you could rely on.
• Read Luke 12:49-56. Where do you recognize the urgency of the kingdom of God? How does this awareness affect your daily actions?
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