Faith: What is it, biblically?
The word used in the Brit Khadasha for ‘faith’ is אֱמוּנָה, “Emunah”; this is from the root word אמן “ahman”, where we get our word “Amein” [ay-men, for you southerners].
The Navi, Khabakuk, tells us what Avraham, Yitz’khak, and Ya’akov, and all the Patriarchs of the “Faith of Mashiakh” understood:
צַדִּיק, בֶּאֱמוּנָתוֹ יִחְיֶה
“A “Tzadik” in his faith will live on”; often rendered, “The just shall live by faith”.
This is what was said of Avraham when he made covenant with Abba:
הֶאֱמִן “And Avraham ‘he’emin’ trusted [verb form] in יהוה , and He considered that “tzedaka” for him.” Gen 15:6
In Khabakuk, the word is “emunah”.
In the Brit Khadasha, when Yeshua says, “For Elohim [G-d] so loved the world that He gave His One Beloved Son, so that whoever trusts in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” the word for ‘trust’, often xlated as ‘believe,’ is ‘הַמַּאֲמִין’ ‘ha’ma’amin’, or “the ones who trust”, rooted in our word אֱמוּנָה , אָמֵן.
This word is not just ‘cognitive awareness’, in the sense of “I believe”; it is an affirmation of something that is absolute; firm, reliable, trustworthy.
When we say “amein”, it is supposed mean that we support whatever is being said, because we absolutely trust it to be true, or that it will come about in spite of not seeing it. There are many who erroneously say that “amen” is not in the bible. Some even assert it is a pagan word; that is ludicrous. Wrong. It is in the scriptures many times, and is in that precise context; it shows that Israel “agreed” with Elohim that the Torah is good. It is used 12 times in Deut 27 alone; and each time, it was Israel agreeing that the pronounced curse from Elohim was just. After Ezra read the Torah to Israel for the first time in 70 years, He blessed Elohim, and all Israel said, “Amein”. The psalmists used this word to affirm the blessing of יהוה as well, 7 times.
So, this word in which ‘faith’ or ‘absolute trust’ is rooted is ‘affirmation of something that is firm/trustworthy.’ It means to put our trust in something with which we agree.
So, how do we become ‘righteous’ by our ‘trust’?
First, understand that being ‘righteous’ means being absolutely cleared of all guilt: ‘justified’, before the judge of the ages.
Trust in what?
Look at Khabakuk’s prayer, that caused him to receive the promise from יהוה that the Tzadik [Righteous one] shall live on in his Emunah.
“Why do You show me iniquity, and behold mischief? And why are spoiling and violence before me, so that there is strife, and contention arises? Therefore the TORAH is slacked, and justice never goes forth; for the wicked beset the tzadik [righteous]; therefore justice goes forth perverted…..they are terrible and dreadful, THEIR ‘justice’ proceeds out of themselves.”
[sound like today?]
Clearly, our “Emunah” is to be toward Messiah, understanding that Messiah Yeshua is the embodiment of the Word of Elohim, which is the Torah. He ‘affirmed’ it many, many times over. [Matt 5:17-19, John 14:15,21, 15:10].
It is indeed through our TRUST, our FIRM AGREEMENT with G-d, that Yeshua is indeed His Risen Son:
“G-d makes a Tzadik [a justified one] of everyone who puts his EMUNAH in this man [Yeshua, declared to be the Son of G-d, risen from the dead], even in regard to all the things concerning which you could not be made a Tzadik by the Torah of Moshe.” Acts 13:39
Shaul is preaching here, and he shows that he understood the same thing as Khabakuk and Avraham, quoting Khabakuk’s verse three times directly in his letters [Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38].
In preaching this message, he shows us he is drawing from Khabakuk, warning the Jewish hearers not to ignore his words the way they did the prophets, quoting the verses in Khabakuk that follow this very simple statement:
“Watch out, then, so that this word found in the Prophets may not happen to you: ‘You mockers! Look, and marvel, and die! For in your own time, I am doing a work that you simply will not believe, even if someone explains it to you!’ ” Acts 13:40, quoting Khabakuk 1:5
Emunah is the only thing we can ‘offer’ Elohim in order to be ‘made right’ in His eyes, and it is specific Emunah. It is trust that only Yeshua is the last offering, the final and completely satisfying offering made by a man [Yeshua] before G-d as atonement for sins, on our behalf made. All the offerings in the Beit HaMikdash only temporarily sated the soul, giving the faithful trust that one day יהוה would save Yisrael in a Messiah. That day came. And many in Israel rejected Him. One day, soon, however, ALL Israel will be ‘saved’; they WILL trust. Rom 11:26. They will then weep over the One whom they pierced. [Zech 12:10].
But, until then, Jew or Gentile, those who ‘trust in’ Yeshua, HaMa’amin, are made each a Tzadik, one who is ‘justified’, and able to perform the work of Torah by simply ‘agreeing’ with Elohim.
It is very interesting that the three letters in the root of this word give us a word picture from the Hebrew symbols of the letters:
Alef is “G-d”, Mayim is “Water”, Nun is “Seed”.
Elohim [G-d] waters the seed [of trust].
Is that why Yeshua said : “With what can we compare Malkhut HaElohim? What illustration should we use to describe it? It is like a mustard SEED, which, when planted, is the smallest of all the seeds in the field; but after it has been planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all the plants, with such big branches that the birds flying about can build nests in its shade.”
And: The Shlikhim said to Adoneinu [Our Master, Yeshua], “Increase our Emunah.” He said to them, “If you had Emunah as tiny as a mustard seed….”
That is IT. That is all you need: TRUST. That is the ONE thing you must ‘do’ to be made ‘just’, or innocent of all sin before Elohim: Trust that His Word concerning Messiah Yeshua is True. Then, begin to DO it, and HE will PROVE it to someone else through you.