Shalom in His grace,
I know you would agree with me that God is faithful! The hymn writer had it right when he wrote, “Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not…great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.”
Faithfulness is not something God does: Faithfulness is an essential part of His character—it is His nature!
We celebrated Israel’s 70th anniversary this year (2018), and next year, beginning in January 2019, we are going to celebrate the 125th year of Chosen People Ministries (which means we are much older than the modern State of Israel!). There have been trials and challenges along the way for Israel and for us, but we are both here today because God is eternally faithful.
The prophet Jeremiah assured the Jewish people that, although they would go through hard seasons and at times come close to destruction, God would preserve them for all time!
“Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs from before Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever’”
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the verse that inspired the hymn writer to pen the majestic hymn mentioned above.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
The prophet Jeremiah, who was disheartened to witness his beloved city of Jerusalem destroyed by the Babylonians, most likely wrote the book of Lamentations. Life can be hard, and most of us know what it is like to be disappointed by the circumstances of life. Some of us have experienced the destruction and dismantling of our lives—just like what happened to Jerusalem. However, Jerusalem endured because of the faithfulness and promises of God! You and I are still here as well, and that is why we can smile and praise God for His everlasting faithfulness.
The timeless text of Lamentations 3 teaches us that God is faithful by nature. That means that God cannot make a promise that He cannot keep. God cannot break His word and cannot be unfaithful.
The Hebrew Terms Describing God’s Faithfulness
There are three wonderful terms that are used in the Hebrew Bible to describe the faithfulness of God. One is the Hebrew word “chesed” (loving-kindness), which refers to God’s unending loyalty to the people He chose. According to Jewish tradition, the Lord went from place to place, and people to people, offering the commandments. They all declined for a variety of reasons. But when He came to the Jewish people, they said, “Yes—sounds good for a variety of reasons!” Most of them are quite humorous! However, we know that this was not the biblical story. When God wanted to bless the world, He created a miracle in Sarah’s womb, and a child (Isaac) that should not have been born, emerged.
The Jewish people are not simply the chosen people. The Jewish people are God’s especially-created people, created to be His bridge of redemption to a dark and broken world!
The next word is “rachamim” (compassion), which draws attention to God’s tender mercies. The word has the same root as the word for womb and implies a nurturing or motherly feeling. God’s compassion will never cease because it is His nature and covenant commitment to the Jewish people. He is loyal and never breaks a covenant. He is tender and compassionate, and finally Jeremiah says, “For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The Hebrew word “emunah,” translated faithfulness, literally means “firmness” or “steadiness” or even “steadfastness.” Moses describes the character of God over and over again in the book of Exodus, and he mentions His faithfulness. In Deuteronomy 32:4, the Lawgiver sings, “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness (emunah) and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” Moses is an accomplished lyricist and expresses his understanding of God’s unending faithfulness in a glorious song of praise!
We see that God is faithful in bringing the Jewish people back to the land of Israel after 2,000 years of exile. In Ezekiel 36:24 we read, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.” The return of the Jewish people, and the establishment of the State of Israel seventy years ago, are further signs of God’s covenant faithfulness to His chosen people. God is faithful because He cannot be anything but—He is steadfast and firm in His commitments to the Jewish people and to each of us! And He will also keep His promise to turn the hearts of the Jewish people to Jesus the Messiah.
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:25-26).
As sure as the Jewish people are back in the land, as sure as Yeshua died and rose from the grave, that’s how certain I am that one day the promise of Romans 11:25-26 will be fulfilled because God is both a promise maker and promise keeper!
I am looking forward to the many events we have planned to celebrate our 125th year of ministry. We are blessed with a great history because He is faithful. What began as a small seed is now in seventeen countries and dozens of cities in North America, with more than one hundred staff members making the gospel known to the Jew first and also to the Gentile! We have a lot to celebrate!
Blessings, and I hope to see you involved with our 125th year activities as we celebrate God’s faithfulness to us and to His chosen people!
Your brother in the Messiah,