The Eye of Faith
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Summary: It is important that we see things, more so that we see things right. In the all-too-familiar story of the Exodus, the Israelites' crossing of the Red Sea was an important milestone in strengthening their relationship with God.
 
 

The Eye of Faith

by Michael E. Fassbender

By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.


hat do you see? It is important that we see things, more so that we see things right. In the all-too-familiar story of the Exodus, the Israelites' crossing of the Red Sea was an important milestone in strengthening their relationship with God. What had happened? The Hebrews had been led out of Egypt and were now encamped beside the sea, whose waters presented a seemingly impassable barrier before them. In the south, a rugged mountain range obstructed their further progress. And then? The Egyptian army was approaching.

And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. Exodus 14:1-2

Pharaoh came after the Israelites:

And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them ...  And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. Exodus 14: 6-10

How much faith does it require to believe in a last-minute intervention of the Lord? 

And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. Exodus 14:11-12

It appears that God’s people had now come out of their comfort zone. Yes, they had been slaves; they had spent their lives as captives. But, after all, being a captive may not have been all that bad; it likely meant a regulated everyday life, where basic needs were met and “government” protection gave peace of mind. But now? They were on the run, did not feel much regularity, apparently lacked peace of mind, no longer saw protection. 

Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Then why had God maneuvered the Israelites into such a precarious situation? After all, God was in control, or was He? The Spirit of Prophecy gives us some additional clues on the background of this dilemma:

Instead of pursuing the direct route to Canaan, which lay through the country of the Philistines, the Lord directed their course southward, toward the shores of the Red Sea. “For God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” Had they attempted to pass through Philistia, their progress would have been opposed; for the Philistines, regarding them as slaves escaping from their masters, would not have hesitated to make war upon them. The Israelites were poorly prepared for an encounter with that powerful and warlike people. They had little knowledge of God and little faith in Him, and they would have become terrified and disheartened. They were unarmed and unaccustomed to war, their spirits were depressed by long bondage, and they were encumbered with women and children, flocks and herds. In leading them by the way of the Red Sea, the Lord revealed Himself as a God of compassion as well as of judgment. PP 282.1 (emphases supplied)

Why were the Israelites led into this “hopeless” trap? The answer is surprising: it was still the better option! It was God's protective mercy. Their faith was not strong enough for the straight alternative. They were not prepared to mess with the Philistines. So what does that mean for us? The way God leads us depends on what? On how well we know Him. A seemingly hopeless dead end emergency may still be the better option God has for us. God helps in the last minute; whenever we are on the verge of desperation, God is there for us. In the New Testament, the Red Sea crossing is presented as a case of demonstrated faith:

By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. Hebrews 11:29

So what do we see? 

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace. Exodus 14:13.14


Do we see through our physical eyes the trials and threats that seem to devour us? Or do we see the salvation of the Lord with the eye of faith? 

When the mind has been long permitted to dwell only on earthly things, it is a difficult matter to change the habits of thought. That which the eye sees and the ear hears too often attracts the attention and absorbs the interest. But if we would enter the city of God, and look upon Jesus in His glory, we must become accustomed to beholding Him with the eye of faith here. LHU 144.2

It almost seems that the eye of faith is like a sixth sense, a capacity to perceive the spiritual world. The basics of faith are spelled out in the Book of Hebrews:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:1.3

Then where does faith start? With believing in creation. If we don’t believe in creation in the first place, we will have a hard time believing in redemption, which is re-creation.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Without faith, nobody can please God; without faith, there is no reward from on high.

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. The eye of faith will discern God very near, and the suppliant may obtain precious evidence of the divine love and care for him. But why is it that so many prayers are never answered? Says David: “I cried unto Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” By another prophet the Lord gives us the promise: “Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” Again, he speaks of some who “have not cried unto Me with their heart.” Such petitions are prayers of form, lip service only, which the Lord does not accept. Testimonies for the Church 4:533 {Pr 263.2}

Apparently there is “lip service” and there is “service of faith.”

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Hebrews 4:2

Without faith, the Gospel has no power; without faith any religious culture is just a waste of time; any church attendance is of little use if not based on faith. Cultural Adventists attend the weekly church service because they “grew up” in the system and exercise the empty habit of church-going. The believing Adventist, on the other hand, goes to church to meet and worship the Lord. In the year 1893, Ellen White penned a rather scary statement on the spiritual condition of the Seventh-Day-Adventist Church even back then.

It is a solemn statement that I make to the church, that not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books are prepared to close their earthly history, and would be as verily without God and without hope in the world as the common sinner. They are professedly serving God, but they are more earnestly serving mammon. This half-and-half work is a constant denying of Christ, rather than a confessing of Christ. ChS 41.1

Reports on SDA membership growth may appear impressive, but what fraction of the more than 20 million world-wide members is really prepared to meet their God today? Is it more or even less than the 5% in Ellen White's time?

For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:9

This tells us that faith is an acknowledgment of God’s ultimate power; it is the channel through which God’s power is accessed.

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. Matthew 9:2

This is significant. Was physical healing important to Jesus? Yes it was, but there was something even more important. Physical healing was a typology for healing from sin. God’s teaching style is typology. Many hidden truths in the Bible are unlocked if we see the typology in the stories and in the people of the Bible with the eye of faith. One of the great typologies is “healing”. All of us long for physical healing; but our greatest need is healing from the disease of sin; and since this is so hard to understand, Jesus came to heal the sick, the lame and the blind to teach us typology and, at the same time, to open the eyes of faith.

Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened.  Matthew 9:29 

How then do we obtain faith and increase it? Romans 12:3 tells us: “….God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

In Galatians 5:22, we learn that faith is one of the fruits of the Spirit. So faith is both a gift from God and a fruit we develop. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

From this we understand that every man has been given a measure of faith, whether small or large.  God calls us to exercise the faith that He has given us, and if we need more, we can be as the father who asked for more: 

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. Mark 9:24

God can multiply our faith, if we ask Him to.  But when we don’t exercise the faith we've been given, God is displeased. 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

We have no excuse for not having enough faith, for God has given us enough to get started and is willing to give more as we exercise it. 

And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:18-20

The Lord says: 

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: Matthew 7:7

In Luke, the apostles asked Jesus to strengthen their faith:

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. Luke 17:5-6

God’s will is that we should have faith – even as a mustard seed – to be able to move mountains, and if we ask for this, which we know is according to His will, He will hear us. 


And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: 1 John 5:14

Jesus had much to teach the disciples about faith. Although they were closest to Jesus, He chided with them over their lack of faith.

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?

And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? Mark 4:39-41

The question we have to ask ourselves is, Who is in our boat? If it is Jonah, we better make sure to get rid of him. But if it is Jesus, why worry? Perfect faith will extinguish all fear if we know that Jesus is in the boat of our lives.


Law, Judgment, Mercy and Faith

When will the righteous Judge come? The Lord tells us this parable: 

And he spoke a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Luke 18 

And then Jesus closes with a question - a rhetorical question, to which the answer is implicit:

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8b

Adventists have been waiting for the Lord. But what kind of people will the Lord find when He returns? The context of this parable is clearly about judgment and about the people of God, His own elect, calling upon God to execute judgment, or to make manifest His judgment. But this parable also provides clues as to how we deal with delay, which links it to a passage in the Book of Revelation:

Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.  And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. Revelation 15:4-6

What will be happening on earth when the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony is opened in heaven? Are there clues elsewhere in Scripture? Let’s go to Exodus 31:

And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you ...  Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: ... It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. Exodus 31:12-18

We know that Moses had a “one on one” meeting with the Lord Himself on Mount Horeb; and the final words of the Lord to Moses, before He gave him the tables of testimony, was ... about keeping the Sabbath!  And in the preceding chapters, from Exodus 25 to 30, the Lord “opened the tabernacle” to Moses in a sense that He instructed him how to set up everything from furniture to service rules according to the original in heaven. Thus, the tabernacle was opened, and the Sabbath law was given, Moses was given the testimony, the communion concluded, and Moses came “back to earth”. What did he find? 

And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. Exodus 32:1-4 

What was the result of worshiping the false gods in the form of the golden calf?

So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made. Exodus 32:35 

Let’s get back to Revelation 15 :

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. Revelation 15:1

Thinking typologically, what was the sign Moses learned when he communed with God? It is mentioned twice in Exodus 31:12-18. It's the Sabbath - the sign of the people of the  Lord. When Moses met the Lord on Mount Horeb, nobody was allowed to follow him to the top of the mountain. Similarly, no man can enter the Heavenly temple:

And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. Revelation 15:8 

In this context, Moses was a type for Jesus:

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken Deuteronomy 18:15

And this is the typology of the golden calf: While the eternal law and the eternal sign was handed to Moses, the people got tired of waiting and danced around the golden calf; God had to “plague” many of them, and history will repeat itself, when the Father will hand over the eternal authority to His Son, the righteous Judge.

Man will have to make a decision as the Israelites of old had to:

Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? Let him come unto me.Exodus 32: 26 

Likewise Jesus will ask before the close of probation: Who is on the Lord’s side? Who has kept faith? Will the Son of Man find faith?

The Mount Horeb typology also shows that the Sabbath will be getting attention just before the return of the Son of Man, because the Father will commune with the Son about the eternal sign, just before the Son descends from the heavenly sanctuary to planet earth.

That’s why it is important to bring the Three Angels' Messages to the world; to make sure that Jesus will find faith on earth. And Adventists have been waiting since 1844 for the Lord to come back. How can we avoid that trap of losing patience and dancing around the calf?  In other words, how can we be counted among the five wise virgins?

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12 

Combined with faith in Jesus, we can get a renewed understanding of the Sabbath as a protective guard if we see it as an eternal sign of God’s ownership of His people. And if we remember how the Lord concluded His “one-on-one” meeting with Moses, it appears that the Sabbath is in that sense a special Commandment standing out from all other nine.

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Revelation 13:10 

This goes back to the widow and the judge: the saints will see final justice if they have patience and if they have faith.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4  

Faith is the rope that connects us to the Anchor of eternity.  When you meet the Lord Jesus, will He find faith in you?  



 

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