Recently, while looking up ‘faith’ for my Bible 10 class, I discovered a wonderful webpage that explained the meaning of some ancient Hebrew words. I found it very interesting and enlightening, and I hope to study it more in depth sometime when I actually have some free time.
Ancient Hebrew vocabulary was filled with words that painted pictures of concrete concepts using actions or objects, and when studied they give a much deeper meaning to the abstract words that they have been translated into. Look up the word ‘fear’ for a good example of this.
I found it fascinating to look at different Biblical words like glory, love, peace, atonement and life – in the original Hebrew and the meanings they have. Sometimes the meanings aren’t too different from what we think it means, but it adds depth and perspective to look at the word from a new angle.
This is what the website had to say about ‘faith’.
The Ancient Hebrew word for Faith is Emunah.
The Hebrew root aman means firm, something that is supported or secure. This word is used in Isaiah 22:23 for a nail that is fastened to a “secure” place. Derived from this root is the word emun meaning a craftsman. A craftsman is one who is firm and secure in his talent. Also derived from aman is the word emunah meaning firmness, something or someone that is firm in their actions. When the Hebrew word emunah is translated as faith, misconceptions of its meaning occur. Faith is usually perceived as a knowing while the Hebrew emunah is a firm action. To have faith in God is not knowing that God exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness toward God’s will.
I honestly don’t know if there’s much more I can add to that. Except that, in class, we then compared this definition with the characteristics of the faithful people in Hebrews 11. And we concluded that faith is indeed an action. And not just any kind of action, but a steadfast, firm, determined action. Action that will not waver or change course.
Noah built an ark, even though he had never seen a flood.
Abraham left his home, not knowing where he was going.
Abraham offered Isaac, his son of promise, as a sacrifice.
Moses refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter.
Moses chose to suffer with the people of God.
Others refused to deny Jesus.
They did not have full understanding or explanation from God. They did not receive all the promises of God in their lifetime.
Faith chooses the spiritual over the material. Faith chooses the eternal over the temporal. Faith looks beyond the here and now, grasps hold of the promises of God and acts with firmness towards God’s will for their life, as it is revealed to them day by day.
So I had to ask… Do I have emunah? Do I live like I believe the things I teach my students? Do I act with firmness towards God’s will?
Why is faith vital to my Christian walk? Because if I don’t have emunah – if I don’t act with firmness towards God’s will – it is because I do not really believe!
I purpose in my heart, by God’s grace, to have emunah towards Him.