“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Do you have faith?
Yeshua (Jesus) asked if He would find faith on the earth when He comes again.
Speaking from His Hebraic mindset, what is this faith that Yeshua will be looking for. And do you have it?
Let’s find out.
What Is Faith?
Faith in Hebrew is emunah—אמונה.
It shares the same root letters as the verb to trust and believe (aman), which is why we announce Amen—אמן after praying.
Saying Amen to God’s Word involves a heartfelt commitment to His faithfulness, against all odds. It is the trust that Job had. When everything was taken away from him, he steadfastly trusted in God’s goodness.
It is a trust that says, “Even if God says no to my prayer, I will trust that He knows best.”
“The Hebrew word Emunah means faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, not walking away even when the going gets tough, trusting the other and honouring the other’s trust in us,” says Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom’s United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.
This is a very helpful definition for us in its Hebraic context. But for the Greek mind, it might appear that ”to trust” and “to have faith” are two different things.
However, in Hebrew they are one and the same. And together, they form a powerful force.
To trust and have faith is to believe.
In Israel, a Jewish follower of Messiah refers to him or herself as Ma’ameen (Believer), a word which shares the same root as emunah. It is a word adopted from an old Jewish prayer still heard in synagogues worldwide.
This prayer has become a popular song called Ani Ma’ameen (I Believe) that often accompanies Jewish as well as Messianic folk dancing.
The words begin with a wonderfully joyful declaration:
“I believe (Ani ma’ameen) with perfect faith (emunah shlemah) that Messiah (Mashiach) will come. And even though He may tarry, I will wait for Him, whenever He comes.”
This belief in the coming of Messiah doesn’t only belong to the Ma’ameen of Yeshua; it is also the belief of faithful Jews. In fact, these words are the 12th of 13 Principles of Faith compiled by Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, known as Maimonides in the 12th century.
Emunah in the coming of Messiah is not based on feelings, so it also applies when circumstances are not joyful.
Legend has it that the original tune of “Ani Ma’ameen” was not a happy one, but a sombre melody out of the lips of a broken Rabbi, Azriel David Fastag, on a packed cattle train to Treblinka.
The Rabbi is said to have challenged himself: “Just now, when everything seems lost, is a Jew’s faith [in Mashiach] put to the test.”
It is the song death camp prisoners would often sing while walking into the gas chambers.
As the lively Mashiach song says, believing in the coming of Messiah is a perfect or shlemah kind of faith. Shlemah comes from the root shalom, meaning completely whole.
This is, perhaps, why Jewish People who accept Yeshua as the promised Messiah call themselves “Completed Jews.”
Yet, even as Believers in Yeshua, our faith sometimes wanes. In such times, we can count on Yeshua, who always has perfectly whole emunah (faithfulness) to be our firm foundation.
What Is Perfect Faith?
What does it mean that Yeshua has perfect faith?
Yeshua had a learnt, personal, mature emunah that speaks from experience, and trusts in God’s character and sovereignty. It is a faith we are to emulate. Yet, Yeshua goes even further. He puts out the plea to each of us:
“Trust in God; trust also in Me.” (John 14:1)
We can trust, rely on, and believe in Yeshua because He is the Word of God (John 1:1), and His Word forms the firm foundation that we need to build our lives upon (Matthew 7:24).
Yet, there are times when our faith in Him fades.
Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul) helps us understand that this is not a quality known to our Messiah, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful—for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)
He is “the same, yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
This steadiness is another meaning of emunah. We see this in action when the Hebrew men Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses, “one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady (emunah) until the going down of the sun.” (Exodus 17:12)
While there is nobody on earth we can trust wholeheartedly to be completely truthful, faithful, and steady, we can trust Yeshua to be everything He says He is forever.
And He says, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
It is because Yeshua is so faithful that we can be assured of our spiritual salvation through Him.
His faithfulness is a gift from God, “not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:9)
This is a vitally important principle because at the time of Yeshua, many tried to be saved by perfectly keeping the Torah (God’s instructions in the first five books of the Bible).
Yet, no one could keep it perfectly.
In fact, Rabbi Shaul (Paul of Tarsus) tried zealously to keep Torah to the letter as a means to become right with God. But after encountering Yeshua first hand, He finally understood that “the life I now live, I live by the faith [emunah] of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Nevertheless, that revelation didn’t stop him from being zealous to do good works for the kingdom of God or follow Torah. And it should not stop us.
Faith in Action
“For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
True saving faith doesn’t stop at merely believing in Yeshua. It requires action to fulfill the good works that have been prepared for us in advance to fulfill.
Yes, there is work to do while on earth.
To say we have faith without doing those works is to show that we have no faith at all.
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26)
Although we have learned that our works for God in a legalistic way cannot save us, God’s promises to bless us are conditional on our obedience, which is a natural product of faith.
Abraham exemplified this faith-filled action. As he obeyed God we see that “his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” (James 2:22)
During the 25 years that Abraham was waiting for his promised son Isaac, he had grown in faith and learned that he could trust his God so implicitly that he became a “friend” of the Almighty One of Israel (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8).
The beautiful thing is that Yeshua also calls us His friends, if we “do what He commands.” (John 15:14)
Faith Is a Sign of Covenant Love
As always with the Lord, emunah is about relationship.
In the Book of Hosea, the Lord desires to betroth Israel to Himself through righteousness, justice, love, and mercy that both parties live out.
“I will betroth you to Me in emunah,” said the Lord. (Hosea 2:19–20)
These divine qualities of emunah form a powerful force that unites us with God and His Son, as a bridegroom unites with his bride in anticipation of marriage—both trusting in each other to be faithful to one another, loving each other through words and deeds.
All Believers possess a certain level of this faith. Yet, some possess an enhanced emunah—a spiritual gift of faith that rises to superior levels.
Faith as a Spiritual Gift
Like all of the Spiritual gifts mentioned in Scripture, the gift of faith is a seal of the Lord’s covenant love and commitment to us, as a wedding gift to those He betrothed.
Like all spiritual gifts, the gift of faith is given for the purpose of building up the kingdom of God. To accomplish this goal, faith as a spiritual gift is, perhaps, a faith so steadfast and secure that it encourages others even in dire situations.
It is a faith that keeps our hand in His no matter what. Even in the darkness, we trust that He will watch over us and guide us because He is always with us.
Yet, having such a powerful gift means nothing if it doesn’t express itself in love for God and for one another. Paul says,
“If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing,” wrote Rabbi Shaul. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
While Believers have varying degrees of emunah and love for each other, “the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Faith Has Chutzpah
Perhaps one way to test the level of faith we have is to see how far we push the boundaries of that faith. That is, how much chutzpah (nerve) do we show our family, friends, and neighbors as we live out the Word of God in our lives?
Let’s look at some examples of this chutzpah:
By faith, Moses chose not the pleasures of Egypt.
By faith, Ruth took the advice of her mother-in-law and, as a result, became the great-grandmother to King David.
By faith, Esther entered the chamber of the king uninvited, thereby risking her life. And Israel survived.
By faith, Daniel ate just fruit and vegetables, refusing the king’s delicacies. By faith his three friends said no to bowing down to the statue. And they all survived.
Both a Roman centurion and a Canaanite woman broke through their cultural and religious boundaries and reached out for a supernatural encounter from Yeshua (Mark 8:10; Matthew 15:28).
Hebrews chapter 11 reminds us of a whole list of Biblical characters whose lives are examples of how to live out our faith.
And Yeshua tells us many times not to be afraid; we demonstrate our faith in Him when we fear not!
We are to live by the emunah shlemah (perfect faith) of the Son of God, not fearing bad news (Psalm 112:7), not being afraid of people or situations, but rejoicing because He is in control.
What does that look like?
On a stormy sea with Yeshua asleep, His disciples cried out, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He rebuked them, saying “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” (Matthew 8:23–27)
Not only does Yeshua control the winds and the waves, but all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. (Matthew 28:18)
So, let us fear not and show some chutzpah!
Will Yeshua Find Faith?
In the end, it need not be so difficult to have the kind of faith that Yeshua is looking for when He returns and while we live out all that God has called us to do.
Developing that faith is, again, about relationship.
Emunah includes the little word em (אם) or mother.
Like the love of a mother who feeds, teaches, and protects her child, emunah is a nurturing, deep, inner conviction from the Holy Spirit given to those who believe in Messiah, causing us to know God as Abba (Daddy). (Ephesians 1:13, Romans 8:9, 11, 15-16)
We are to be like a child who clings to our mother and father for sustenance, seeking lovingkindness, protection, guidance, and even correction.
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3–4)
The more we humble ourselves before our Saviour, Messiah Yeshua, the easier it is to trust and believe in all that He says.
The more we put that trust and belief into action for the Kingdom of God, the more faith and confidence we will develop to do even greater deeds.
And our deeds will be remembered forever.
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And there were open books, and one of them was the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books.” (Revelation 20:12)