Concept of Faith in Old Testament

Topics: Jesus, New Testament, Old Testament Pages: 6 (2182 words) Published: November 4, 2014
Have you any idea how often the word "faith" and its related terms "faithful, faithfully, faithfulness and believe" occur in the English Old Testament? I have in mind the King James Version, which is the one commonly used in our churches. A study of your Bible with this question in mind will prove to be most revealing, even startling.

Do you know how often you find the word "faith" in the Old Testament? Exactly twice. In Deuteronomy 32:20the Lord speaks concerning His people: "They are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith." In Habakkuk 2:4 we find the well known words: "The just shall live by faith." In both cases a word is used in the original that is commonly translated "faithful" or "faithfulness." Accordingly, "children in whom is no faith" could as well have been translated "children in whom is no faithfulness," and "The just shall live by faith" might as well have been made to read "The just shall live by his faithfulness."

Do you know how often the word "faithful" occurs in the Old Testament? Exactly 28 times, with various shades of meaning. Sometimes the idea of truthfulness is clearly on the foreground. At other times the notion of stability or steadiness or steadfastness is more predominant. Several times the word is used in reference to God Himself. "All thy commandments are faithful," we read in Psalm 119:86. InPsalm 119:138 the Psalmist rejoices: "Thy testimonies are very faithful." In Deuteronomy 7:9 we find the beautiful words: "Know therefore that the Lord thy God is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him." At other times the words is used with reference to men, often however, in a rather general sense and without direct reference to the relation of man to God. "A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health," Proverbs 13:17. "A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies," Prov. 14:5. "Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" Prov. 20:6. Only 13 times is the word used with reference, more directly or less so, to man's relation to God, to the manifestation of the grace of God unto salvation in the heart of the sinner. "O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful," Psalm 31:23, etc.

How often do you find the adverb "faithfully" in the Old Testament? No oftener than 5 times. Not once does it refer directly to man's ethical relation to God, unless it be in a very remote and general sense.

How about the word "faithfulness"? Only 19 times it is used in the Old Testament. The Psalms contain the term some 13 times, always, however, in reference to God Himself. Not once do they speak of the faithfulness of man. Isaiah 11:5 speaks of Christ: "And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins." Isaiah 25:1 refers to the counsels of God: "Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth." Psalm 5:9 is speaking of the wicked, when it says: "For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness." It is only in Hosea 2:20 that the reference may be to man's relation to God. There Jehovah speaks: "I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord." It is more than possible that even here the reference is not to some faithfulness that is worked in man's heart, but to the faithfulness in God whereby he will betroth His own unto Himself.

Finally, do you know how often the term "believe" occurs in the Old Testament? Exactly 44 times. Of these some 25 have no regard whatsoever to saving faith in God. Jacob's heart fainted because he believed not the word of his sons. Moses feared that Israel would not believe that Jehovah had sent him. Achish believed David. The queen of Sheba believed not the words she had heard concerning the acts and wisdom of Solomon. Only 19 times does the term have reference at all to God. The majority of...
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