He who wisely heeds the word will find good; whoever trusts in Yahweh, happy is he.
One of the things that I find fascinating about the Proverbs is their construction. Sometimes the proverb will highlight a contrast; other times it will provide two supporting statements, both saying the same thing but stated differently for emphasis. In this case, this proverb falls into the latter category.
The admonition of this proverb involves paying attention to or heeding the word of God. The emphasis is stated in the second half of the proverb so that the halves can be equated. One who heeds the word is equated with trusting in Yahweh. The attainment or finding of good is equated with being blessed or happy. Therefore, trusting in Yahweh by heeding his word will result in good, blessing and happiness.
Most people seek to have this hope of goodness and happiness as much as possible in their lives. However, goodness and happiness are not rights as some would contend, but a privilege. According to this verse, these are a privilege afforded to those who trust in God, who abide by his word. This is not a guarantee in every single situation, but a theme or pattern that will prevail in the lives of those who trust in him.
If this equation is true, then highlighting the opposite carries a logical conclusion, as well. Those who do not heed God’s word will not find good; whoever does not trust in God will not be happy. This also does not mean that they will never experience any good or any happiness, but these will not be the predominant characteristics of their lives.
Coming openly to God’s word we are confronted with his power and majesty, a mighty Creator who guides the nations. Established as the ultimate authority over his Creation, and demonstrating this in vivid detail with his people time after time, we are drawn into a vivid understanding that he is worthy of our trust, respect, and honor. We see how his purposes are designed for the good of his people, not their harm. His word therefore fosters our trust.
But we are also struck with the reality of those who disobey his instruction, and they do so at their own peril. Many times their disregard for the wisdom of God brings their misfortune back on their own heads.
The more we remain in his word and seek to understand his will, the more our lives are characterized by the goodness and blessing that he seeks to provide us when we place our trust in him.
Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LORD Almighty, how happy are those who trust in you!
This entire psalm is a hymn of longing to be in God’s presence represented by the Temple courts and prophetic Mount Zion.
The psalm ends with the statement above, “how happy are those who trust in you.” This Hebrew word for trust also includes meanings like confidence and reliance. To trust is to be confident in and to rely on God. How do we demonstrate a confident reliance on God?
When we operate our lives from an understanding that there is one God who is establishing an eternal kingdom on earth, we are relying on him.
When we base our worldview upon the principles he has revealed in his Torah, or his Word, we are relying on him.
When we keep the eternal perspective over the temporary things of this world, we are relying on him.
When we give sacrificially of ourselves and what we have in obedience to his Torah, we are relying on him.
We are relying on God when we trust him for the things we cannot see, but are no less real than the physical Temple and Mount Zion. Paul encouraged the early believers to maintain their trust and reliance on God through tumultuous suffering and persecution, because the reality of eternal things superseded any earthly travail.
That is why we are not discouraged. Though outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are renewed day by day. Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine. We don’t look for things that can be seen but for things that can’t be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can’t be seen last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Longing for God’s house is a longing to be in his presence. The Temple and Mount Zion, while they were established as real places in the land of Israel, are metaphors for the larger work of God on the earth in his kingdom. However, these images both stem from his eternal presence in heavenly places.
The psalmist writes, “One day spent in your Temple is better than a thousand anywhere else.” Yeshua taught his disciples, “Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe [i.e., trust, have confidence or reliance] in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so,” (John 14:1-2).
To be in God’s presence is the fulfillment of the life of the believer, the one who trusts in, or relies on, him. How happy and confident we should be!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Anxiety can find its way into the smallest cracks in our emotional armor. As much as we seek to keep a strong and positive mental attitude, we can sometimes be overwhelmed by a flood of possible outcomes to a given situation, or our circumstances in general.
It is natural to consider the possibilities of things that might happen; this is a response to ensuring we are safeguarding our positions and being circumspect regarding our known responsibilities. We all have plans that need to be made and kept in line as we progress through life.
However to dwell unnecessarily on thoughts of unknown things that might happen to the point of stress can be debilitating. Anxiety can creep in where unknown influences come into play. When the fear and thoughts of things beyond our control begin to take over, the advice of Paul to the Philippians can be a way through the incoming fears.
His advice is to pray about everything. When we express our needs and our thanks to God, we are recognizing him as the one who is ultimately in control of all things. Where we sometimes err is in thinking that if we pray about a situation, God will control the outcome to be beneficial to us in all aspects. However, in this recognition of his ultimate authority in all things, we should ensure that our desires always fall under the category of trusting in his judgment for the outcome that is best.
Yeshua expressed this as, “Not my will, but yours be done.” This is the prayer that demonstrates ultimate trust in God releasing us from our self-induced prison of anxiety. When we really take those words to heart and mean them, we do receive a sense of peace, a peace that absorbs our anxiety and stress because we are being honest about our limitations to change or influence a specific outcome. We are deferring to him as the ultimate authority in all aspects of life. We are allowing God to be God.
However, in praying this way, we must remain open to seeking and recognizing what his will really is in any given situation. This comes through consistently being in his word, receptive to his torah, or instruction. This is how, according to Paul, we “live in Christ Jesus.” With our prayers containing the sense of Yeshua’s relegation of obligation to God, we can maintain our trust in God while minding our own responsibilities. This is where our peace and rest from anxiety lies.
If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here.
Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you from my power. Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’ “Don’t listen to Hezekiah!…
2 Kings 18:28-31
Assyria was on a military campaign against the surrounding nations, and Israel had come into its sights. The king of Assyria, Sennacherib, had declared war on Jerusalem and prior to setting up a siege, the commander was declaring its intent to the city.
However, Hezekiah, not being deterred by the king’s arrogance, laid out the demands of the Assyrian king before God in the temple, and prayed for deliverance.
After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the LORD: “O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God. “It is true, LORD, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all–only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”
2 Kings 19:14-19
He trusted in God to deliver his people. Through this act of humility and trust, God responded through the prophet Isaiah that he would indeed protect Jerusalem and the honor of his Name.
The very next day, almost the entire Assyrian army was dead:
That night the angel of the LORD went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.
2 Kings 19:35-36
It’s one thing to trust God for one’s own private needs or the needs of one’s own family, but consider how much faith Hezekiah was displaying by trusting God for an entire city, and even the nation of Israel!
Think of some of the alternatives: he could have mustered troops to come out in battle against Assyria, trusting in the might of his own army. Or he could have sent word to Egypt trusting in a foreign country as an ally to come and defend the city, but he didn’t do either of these things. He simply laid out the situation before God and prayed humbly and sincerely for deliverance. Through his simple act of faithfulness, the aggression of a military “superpower” was averted.
In like fashion, Yeshua encouraged his hearers to not be anxious for the future by trusting in God. How much more can your trust in God be emboldened to consider that God, through a sincere and humble trust in him, is able to deliver an entire nation from the aggression of another?
In this episode we will be exploring the topic of trust in God, and how God’s provision is promised within the activities of the kingdom.
Yeshua stated it this way:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25
In the core of the Bible paraphrase, I have stated it this way:
“Unnecessary anxiety over the essentials of life can consume us and cause us to lose our eternal perspective.”
Life is about so much more than the temporary things of this existence in this world. And yet we are constantly distracted with the basics of living that we forget about the true life that only comes from God. For believers, this is an ongoing struggle: to remain focused on God while overcoming the flash and noise of this world.
But a way to overcome this is to change our perspective. If we are able to get our focus off of ourselves and our problems, and focus on the important things like the Kingdom of God, we have more strength to overcome our struggles, which by comparison, are much less significant. Having our perspective changed from temporary to eternal will change how we respond to these hurdles. We will find over time that the anxiety and distress over temporary things will begin to fade as we focus more on the eternal things.
So to begin looking at this passage in Matthew 6, according to Yeshua, life is more than food.
Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.
He is reassuring his hearers that if God is able to provide animals their food, he can certainly provide it for those who are serving him in his kingdom.
This is an echo from the Psalms:
Psalm 104:20-21 – You send the darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals prowl about. Then the young lions roar for their prey, stalking the food provided by God.
Those who are serving God in his kingdom may not always know how or what kind of food they will have, but God is able to provide it when the focus is first and always on him.
Continuing in Matthew 6:26, Yeshua states the conclusion of this provision for animals by saying, “And aren’t you far more valuable to God than they are?” The implied answer, of course, is yes you are! You have far more worth than many sparrows or lions because you are created in the image of God; your whole being is modeled on his.
Yeshua also teaches us that the body is more than clothing.
Matthew 6:28-30 – “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
God’s provision of food and clothing for believers is being compared to the natural order within God’s creation. Just as being a participant in God’s creation entitles his creatures to the natural provision of their needs, being a participant in God’s kingdom naturally entitles his children to the basic necessities of living.
Psalm 37:23-25 – The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.
The provision of these basic needs belong to those who are seeking first the kingdom, i.e., believers. However, if there is no kingdom-seeking going on, there is no guarantee that this provision will be met. The benefits of the natural order of creation belong to those who trust in the Creator, as the benefits of the natural order of the kingdom belong to those who trust in the King.
Also, the basic needs being discussed here may not be what one would expect or is accustomed to. What we consider basic and what God considers basic may be two different ideals completely. But if we are trusting in him for our spiritual needs, Yeshua is implying that God will meet our physical needs. We may not be rich, but we will be able to get by. We may not always have the type and quantity of food that we want, but we will not actually starve. That gives God a wide latitude of options when it comes to meeting our needs.
Our role is to recognize his provision and to be grateful and content with what he has provided for us. As Paul writes:
Philippians 4:11-13 – Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Messiah, who gives me strength.
To understand more about how God can provide, we can view some examples of how he has done so in the past.
The most apparent and significant example of this principle is expressed in how God provided for the priests who spent all of their time regarding the things of God involved with sacrifice and maintaining the Tabernacle. Because they spent all of their time in this necessary service and ministry, they were not granted any land inheritance, and they could not farm for themselves. God provided for their needs by allowing them to eat (with specific limitations) the choicest offerings of the people that were brought to God.
Leviticus 10:12-15 And Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering that remains from the offerings made by fire to the LORD and eat it without leaven beside the altar, because it is most holy. You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your share and your sons’ share of the offerings made by fire to the LORD; for this is what I have been commanded. And you and your sons and daughters may eat the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution in a ceremonially clean place, because these portions have been assigned to you and your children from the peace offerings of the sons of Israel. They are to bring the thigh of the contribution and the breast of the wave offering, together with the fat portions of the offerings made by fire, to wave as a wave offering before the LORD. It will belong permanently to you and your children, as the LORD has commanded.”
Deuteronomy 18:1-2 The Levitical priests—indeed the whole tribe of Levi—shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They are to eat the offerings made by fire to the LORD; that is their inheritance. Although they have no inheritance among their brothers, the LORD is their inheritance, as He promised them.
So we see that because the priests were wholly occupied with the work of the Tabernacle, God was providing for their needs in the very acts of their service.
The Tabernacle or Mishkan in Hebrew was the symbolic root of God’s kingdom on the earth, which is why it is explained in such detail in the Old Testament. It represented God’s presence on the earth; it is where forgiveness was offered as repentant people brought their offerings. It was the center and heart of the camp of Israel in the wilderness, and everything in that community revolved around the presence of God in that place and his guidance in every aspect of their lives. To be a member of the Levites who were continually working within the courts of the Mishkan was considered a great honor, and they were highly regarded by others in the community.
This was the initial and primary pattern of how God would provide for those who were sacrificing all of their worldly inheritance to participate in this model of the kingdom on earth. And this is an eternal pattern that is established for us right down to our current day and age. As we seek first his kingdom, we need to trust that God will provide for us so we can keep our attention and focus on him and his purpose at all times. And when we truly trust him for our provision, he will not disappoint us.
Another interesting aspect of God’s provision is brought out as we look at the sacrifice of Abraham. In the story, Abraham is preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac in amazing and unswerving obedience to God’s request. As they are assembling everything necessary for the sacrifice to take place, Isaac innocently asks where the lamb is for the sacrifice.
Genesis 22:8, 14 – “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.”
Well, of course, all along Isaac was intended to be the sacrificial offering, and yet just as Abraham is about to fulfill his duty in faithful obedience, something happens.
Genesis 22:12-14 – “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of Yahweh it will be provided.”
While this famous passage is used to teach many wonderful and, yes, challenging aspects of God’s character and purpose which we do not have time to explore in this lesson, it primarily focuses on the idea that God is a provider; in fact, that is one of his names: Yahweh-Yireh (Or Jehovah Jirah, as the song goes).
While this passage confirms God’s ability to provide, let’s take a step back from the imagery of the story into the text itself. I find it interesting to note that the word for provide actually has a root in the word ra’a: to see, perceive, appear, cause to see. It’s as if at a point, God’s provision is made apparent when it wasn’t apparent previously.
Genesis 22:13 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
As soon as the test was over, Abraham saw the ram caught in the thicket. So then the question becomes, had the ram been there the whole time, or did it just happen to get caught right at the time Abraham needed it? Well, the verse doesn’t actually say, but it does raise some interesting ideas of just how God’s provision comes to pass.
We can see a similar idea of seeing God’s provision another narrative involving Abraham with the story of Hagar. When she was being sent away by Abraham into the wilderness, the passage says she saw a well of water when the need arose:
Genesis 21:14-16, 19 – So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears. … Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.
So the question is, did God miraculously provide a well that wasn’t there previously, or did he just reveal its location, make it apparent, to Hagar when her need was greatest?
Another famous example revolves around the rivalry between the nation of Aram and Israel. Elisha was the prophet of God at the time, and knew that God would deliver the Israelites from the hand of Aram:
2 Kings 6:14-17 – So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city [of Dothan]. When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
By contrast, just like revealing provisions that were not apparent previously, God can also cause some not to see when the reality is right before them.
2 Kings 6:18-20 – As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, please make them blind.” So the LORD struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria. As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the LORD opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.
Yeshua touched on this concept of “seeing and not seeing” in the preaching of the kingdom:
Luke 10:23-24 Then Jesus turned to the disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Mark 4:11-12 “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside everything is expressed in parables, so that, ‘ they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.’”
Of course, this is a quote from a famous passage in Isaiah, demonstrating how God would be very intentional with reaching out to Israel, and yet they would reject him, being blind and deaf to his pleadings:
Isaiah 6:8-10 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?” And I said: “Here am I. Send me!” And He replied: “Go and tell this people, ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the hearts of this people calloused; deafen their ears and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
So what can we take away from all of these stories of God’s provision, and seeing and not seeing? Well, according to the example of the Levites, we can see that God will provide for those who are wholly engaged in the service of the kingdom. We can also understand from the stories of Abraham, Hagar and Elisha that God’s provision becomes apparent when it is needed, in his timing.
What this implies is that God’s provision is already here, but many times we just can’t see it. Though we may be physically incapable, mentally incapable, or spiritually incapable of seeing clearly, we can be certain that God’s provision is always at hand for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
When we are trusting in God and his Messiah, we are placing ourselves in line with those believers in the past who have had real provision of needs shown and available to and around them. God’s bounty is abundantly more than we can ever ask for.
Learning to trust God in this way liberates us from micro-managing. Trusting God allows God to be God, and for Yeshua to reign as Lord in our lives, because then we can be freed to live for him. As we focus on the kingdom and the righteousness of God, God provides for our needs.
Well, once again, I hope I’ve been able to provide you some ideas and concepts to meditate on further. We need to keep in mind that If we are truly trusting in God, we can know that he will supply these basics of life through whatever means he chooses. They may not be in the brand or style that we would choose for ourselves, but knowing that they can and will be provided can free us up to focus on the more significant aspects of this life. When we truly trust God, we demonstrate that we are not subject to the typical anxieties of this life. We are then living out the values of his kingdom, knowing the King provides for his subjects.
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Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
This verse has been very popular over the years due to its simple admonition to prayer and its promise of peace of a troubled mind.
But rather than focus on the peace it provides, I would like to draw out another unstated concept present in this verse: trust in God. You see, peace can only come when there is an understanding that something, or someone, larger than our current troubling circumstance is handling the situation, and we don’t need to be anxious about it.
I think about when I was a small child, riding in the back of our car on a trip home from visiting relatives. I had no concerns about which roads we had to take, how much traffic there was, what the weather conditions were. My dad was taking us home, and that’s all that mattered. I would inevitably drift off to sleep with the rhythmic motion of the car and the road noise. I had no cares to concern me, only knowing that I would be home at the end of the trip. I trusted my dad to get us home; I had no reason not to trust him to do so.
When I became a dad and our family was on road trips to visit relatives, it was up to me to take all of those factors into consideration, since I was responsible for getting my family home safely. My role as a dad had increased responsibilities, but even with those responsibilities, my skills had grown to meet them. Certainly I had to focus on things that I was not concerned about as a child, but even though I had to manage all of those concerns, I still had an over-arching trust that we were going to make it home. Regardless of the right route to take, the traffic, or the road conditions, we would be home soon.
You see, trust is not an abdication of all responsible action; it is a recognition of power or skill beyond your own that will ultimately accomplish the outcome. That trust can be present at every skill and responsibility level. When we pray about everything, our trust is in God.
You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.
We need to be strategizing our route, but not to the exclusion of allowing for detours along the way. We need to be considering traffic and road conditions, but remain open to having to modify our plans accordingly as needed. We need to be faithful with what we’ve been called to do, but we need to always keep a higher sense of trust and dependency beyond our own abilities and actions.
When we pray for the outcome according to God’s will, we can rest assured that regardless of any modifications along the way, everything will come to pass within his purpose and timing.
This is where the peace that passes understanding comes from: it is generated in the recognition that God ultimately has us, and will bring us safely to our destination, regardless of what happens along the way. It is beyond our understanding, because only he knows which route we will ultimately have to take to get there. We should always maintain a healthy understanding of the limits of our abilities and be sure our ultimate trust is in the One who will be bringing us safely home at the end of the trip.
The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace. But even if he doesn’t, we still won’t worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”
For those who know their Bibles, the story is familiar. When the Hebrews are captured by the Babylonians, they are taken captive, and the leading families are held in the king’s palace.
The king has set up an idolatrous monument to himself and commanded that everyone in the area pay homage to it at a specific time, or be killed by being thrown into a furnace. Three prominent Hebrews, being Torah-observant, know of course that God has commanded that idolatry is forbidden, and honoring of any other gods is an abomination to him.
Their act of defiance enrages the king, and he does indeed throw them bound into the fiery furnace. To everyone’s amazement, they not only survive, but their bonds disappear and they are visited by a mysterious angelic individual while in the midst of the flames. The king commands them to come out, and not even their clothes or their hair has been singed or burned.
In response to their miraculous survival, the king, who just previously wanted all people to worship him and his idolatrous monument, now commands everyone to honor the one true God of the Hebrews.
They trusted their God and refused to obey my commands. Yes, they chose to die rather than to worship or serve any god except their own. And I won’t allow people of any nation or race to say anything against their God.
While there are many fascinating facets to this story, the essence of what it conveys is both practical and challenging. True trust in God does not care for consequences, it only knows what’s true and right and cannot be dissuaded once it is fully embraced. These men were not trusting God to save them, they were simply trusting God regardless of the outcome. This demonstrates that their trust was not in a hoped-for resolution, their trust was in God alone, whatever was to come of it, even if death resulted.
If you are a believer, why are you trusting God? Are you trusting him to save you from the flames of a fiery hell? What if, for his own purpose and glory, there was no guarantee that he would deliver you from that fate, would you still trust in him? What if when you die, you cease to exist; would you still trust in him today?
A real trust in God would say yes. Real trust believes that God has revealed himself to us as the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe and he alone is Sovereign. Because this would be accepted as fact, regardless of any consequence, nothing should be able to dissuade that trust. It has nothing to do with our personal condition or situation.
Some might say, why believe in a God who doesn’t give you what you want? Isn’t that the purpose of a belief in God, to gain his favor so you can have things go your way? Shouldn’t we believe in him so we don’t go to hell, so we can spend eternity with him? Those kinds of questions belie an undercurrent of self-centeredness masked with false humility that runs deep in this world, and even within the halls of Christendom, today.
If the God of the Bible truly is God of all, then whatever he chooses to do with his creatures and his Creation is up to him. He has demonstrated he won’t ever go against his own word, so he is not arbitrarily creating chaos at his own whim; however, what specifically occurs in each person’s life and how it fits into his overall purpose is not always clear to us. Sometimes deliverance glorifies him most, and sometimes sacrifice.
What if God had chosen to abandon those three men in the furnace? Perhaps he could have decided that their perishing in light of their undying trust in him would have better served glorifying his name: three martyrs for Yahweh. It would still be a good story and they would still be honored as heroes of the faith. Yet God chose their miraculous preservation as a way of honoring their faith and converting a pagan king. That served his purpose better.
Case in point: we’re still talking about the impact of this incident thousands of years later. It is still serving his purpose to this day.
Do you think those three men had stronger trust in God after that incident? I’m sure they were relieved, but to the point I am attempting to convey here, quite honestly I believe they would consider that a silly question. I believe they would say the point of their preservation was not to enhance their faith, but to enhance others’ faith by demonstrating God’s glory. As his glory was revealed, others came to know him.
Is your salvation an unspoken condition of your trust in God? Then you are believing in God for what he can do, not for who he is.
As believers, we need to remove ourselves from the center of our own faith universe and make sure that we are recognizing and trusting God simply for who he is: God. We need to let him be God, and to unswervingly place our everything: our well-being, our lifestyle, our security, into his hands and let him accomplish his own purpose in his own way. The end result may not look like we expect it to, but it shouldn’t matter. We can be confident it will always be the the outcome that best serves his purpose and provides him the most glory.
We need to check where our trust is truly placed, in our salvation, or in the God who can provide that salvation? Place your trust in God for who he is, not for what he can do for you.
Trust in the LORD forever, because GOD the LORD is the Rock eternal.
God deserves our trust because he never changes. What he has decreed will come to pass. What he has done remains forever. What he continues to do is as constant as the ocean surf, the shining sun, the starry constellations.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the purposes of His heart to all generations.
Our lives, by comparison, are unstable and variable as we flit from passion to passing trend. We waste time, energy, and passion on so many pointless and fleeting distractions that we arrive breathless and strained at the end of each day.
We rave about the most popular people and issues of the day, while ranting about individualized injustice and personal misery. Like Job of old, we come to view our lives as a constant, unfair struggle that deserves to be broadcast to the widest possible audience:
I wish that my words were recorded and inscribed in a book, by an iron stylus on lead, or chiseled in stone forever.
The fallacy of this type of thinking is borne out even in the conclusion of Job’s story: his fortunes are restored, his honor is retained, and the eternal justice of God is exonerated.
When we really pause to consider that God is eternal and we are not, how can we possibly think that our ways are better than his? Have we learned nothing from the natural course of life, how the wisdom of the aged is more stable than the impetuous passion of youth? If this is true in a natural sense, how much more with the One who never changes for all of eternity?
We are encouraged by the prophet Isaiah to trust in God if for no other reason than simply because he is eternal. We need to allow God to be God, and to recognize that we are not. When we do so, we can then have clarity through the settling dust of our temporary existence to see him for who he is, and place our trust where it really belongs: in his gracious, unchanging hands.
Turn your ear, and listen to the words of the wise. Apply your heart to my teaching. For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. I teach you today, even you, that your trust may be in Yahweh.
The writer of the Proverbs provides us with understanding regarding the nature of true wisdom. True wisdom causes us to trust in God. However, it only accomplishes its goal as we apply and review it regularly to where it is a ready resource for us to draw from.
The process begins with our ears; we must hear the words of the wise. In our modern culture, we take for granted that we have the Bible readily available in written form. Yet these truths were historically conveyed to each generation orally, as literacy was not nearly as widespread as it is today.
To hear the words of the wise also implies a nearness of relationship as these truths were conveyed person to person. To hear the words of wisdom, one had to be in the company of the wise. In so doing, the learner would be exposed to not only the teaching, but the lifestyle of the sages. They would be teaching not just with a lesson, but their lives.
The next aspect of creating trust in God comes when the wisdom is applied in the most inward recesses of our being: in our hearts. To apply the wisdom is to place or station it in this place so it will remain sure and steadfast, and become part of our deepest make-up, our constitution.
As this wisdom is established in our hearts, it progresses to become fixed upon our lips; we can recite and manifest the knowledge we have gained in daily practice. Yeshua confirms this aspect of our inmost being when he teaches, “Out of the overflow (or abundance) of the heart, the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34). His immediate context was demonstrating how evil in the heart is expressed, but the writer of this proverb shows how the positive, the good, and the useful will also spill from the mouths of those who have placed good in their hearts.
Finally, when we listen, apply, and regularly recite this wisdom, our lives will be demonstrating a real trust in God. Biblically, trust is not just a feeling or an inward state of mind, it is an active outworking of revealed truth which has been assimilated into the heart. This type of “living trust” is what shines into the darkness of this world to draw others to God and his wisdom.
The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many troops for me to hand the Midianites over to them, or else Israel might elevate themselves over me and say, ‘My own strength saved me.’ … The LORD said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the three hundred men who lapped and hand the Midianites over to you. But everyone else is to go home.” … When Gideon’s men blew their three hundred trumpets, the LORD caused the men in the whole army to turn on each other with their swords. They fled to Acacia House in the direction of Zererah as far as the border of Abel-meholah near Tabbath.
Judges 7:2, 7, 22
Gideon’s trust that God would do what he said was based on reassurances that God had provided him. This was evident all along in his journey to becoming a savior of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites.
When Gideon was first called by God through an angel, Gideon asked for a sign to confirm this was truly God’s plan. This was demonstrated by a dramatic acceptance of his sacrificial offering. Immediately after this, God instructed him to tear down his father’s idolatrous altar.
When he was preparing to attack the Midianite armies, Gideon asked God for a sign by placing a fleece of wool on the ground overnight. If the fleece demonstrated wetness or dryness opposite to the normal dew patterns, he would know that it was really God who was asking this of him. Once this was confirmed, Gideon rallied his troops for battle.
As a final act of trust, God asked him to reduce his forces to just 300 men. When he did so, God still provided him reassurance as he and his servant spied on the enemy camp and overheard their fear based on a dream that Gideon was going to overtake their army.
All of these examples in the life of Gideon point to an interesting facet of trusting God: God will provide reassurances when he asks for our trustful actions. In these examples, these were not outward signs to all of Israel, but were private and personal reassurances that provided Gideon the confirmation that God was communicating with him, and that he would come through for Gideon if Gideon would act in faith by trusting in what he asked of him.
It starts with us hearing something from God. We have his word to inspire and encourage us to obedient actions. Perhaps it is an admonition from a sermon or bible study, or more typically, a spark of inspiration from personal meditation in God’s word. Then, we respond by reaching out to him to make sure we understand clearly what we think we heard. If we are sincere and attentive, we will find God responding to us in a way that only we can know, a way that has his “fingerprints” all over it.
In our lives today, we may not have visions of angels or miraculous fleeces to provide us confirmation of God’s direction. However, if we are attentive, we receive confirmations that are private and personal to us. Perhaps there is a saying on a billboard which you pass on the freeway that resonates in answer to prayer, or a song that comes up in your playlist with encouraging lyrics that match what you asked of God.
This is the relationship God wishes to have with us: an active relationship based on trust. And for trust to take place, there has to be back and forth communication to establish that trust on which our actions are based.
The Bible knows nothing of a blind faith, only a trust in what may be unseen to others but known to be real to us. And acting on that unseen trust is how we demonstrate our faith in God and fulfill his purposes in this world.