Trust, Believe and Honour
Article based on The Living Word Bible study for Sunday, March 6.
The story that emerges from this week’s Bible readings (following the Revised Common Lectionary scheme which is used by many different churches and chapels) is about trusting God and honouring Him.
• See also this week’s video (10 min) Trust, Believe and Honour
It’s a theme that has particular resonance with Ukraine, at this time (Feb 2022) when war has been declared and Russian invasion is under way.
Setting the scene are these verses from Psalm 91 which are probably being prayed by Ukrainian Christians and those standing with them, at this time:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
…He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone…
“Because he loves Me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.
He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and … show him My salvation.”
Excerpt from Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
The Israelites were displaced people who knew God’s deliverance in giving them a passage through the Red Sea and the promise of a fertile land of their own to settle in.They were being taught to trust God, not only the matter of the resettlement, but also the day-to-day requirement of food and water for their families and flocks.
Part of this training was the practice of giving back to God the first part of His provision, This typing was part of our regular Tabernacle worship, but there was also to be a special offering made to the Lord to celebrate that entry the new land.
1-3 When you have entered the land the Lord your God (Yahweh) is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the first-fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for His Name and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.”
4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God.
5 Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.
6-7 “But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labour. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression.
8-10 “So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the first-fruits of the soil that You, Lord, have given me.” Place the basket before the Lord your God and bow down before Him.
11 Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.
The words they were to speak celebrated as a difference and pledged their reliance on God’s providence in the whole of life.
This idea of honouring God as the ultimate provider of everything that we receive, grow, or create persists up to the present day, as many Christians take the rule-of-thumb of a tenth, giving the first part of their income to support the church and its mission.
This principle of honouring God goes further than that His provision in material physical ways, but extends to what God has said about is intentions, passed down orally and recorded in written form in the Bible.
Jesus, under attack by the devil in the wilderness counters the devil’s suggestions each time by referring back accurately to God’s word saying, “it is written… It is written… It is said.”
1-2 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry.
3 The devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
5-7 The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, “I will give You all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If You worship me, it will all be Yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”
9 The devil led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down from here.
10 “For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.
Modern scholarship, drawing on a much wider education and experience of life, finds this literal reliance on key statements unconvincing, but this practice of Jesus in exercising faith is consistent with what He taught and practised generally. it is a foundational Christian skill has to be learned, for us to be able to trust God in the way that He would like.
We are seeing this in three dimensions: (1) Trusting God in His providential supply day by day; (2) trusting God in His word against the challenges and attempted deception of the devil, and now (3) trusting God for salvation based on declaring that Jesus died for our sins and was raised again, is Lord and Master our lives.
8b-9 The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.”
12-13 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
In this third perspective, Paul teaches that the word of God is not just a reliable external source, but for the believer it is internalised. It is something that becomes part of us, and we demonstrate that by willingly expressing it, recognising Jesus as the only means of our salvation, and choosing to honour Him as the Lord of our thoughts, actions and ambitions.
He quotes: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” This is Joel 2:32, part of the passage which Peter used in his message on the day of Pentecost.
Peter exhorted Jews at the gathering which was the birth of the Christian church to ask God into the hearts in a very personal way. Receiving this personal salvation is a hallmark of Christian faith which has no parallel with other faiths. Many world faiths look back to the life example of a particular historic person and seek to folow their moral teaching. Christian faith, by comparison, is more of a way of life than a religion because it depends on the day by day guidance and relationship with a living Person, not a story, who is very much present and active in the believer’s life.
Trusting God and honouring Him has moved from remembering Him as the source of providence, through using His revealed word as the truth that defeats deception and spiritual attack, to .