Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, July 1, 2023
Day 39: Evening
The Attribute of God Called “Faithfulness”
by David Harwood
Can you imagine Yeshua coming to you and letting you know that one thing He really loves about Father is that He is reliable? How would that affect you? That’s what happened to Moses.
The Lord passed over Moses, and called, “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God who is compassionate and favorable, slow to anger, and abundant in chesed and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6 my translation)
Since we just meditated upon lovingkindness, took note of the Hebrew, and defined chesed, I am going to use chesed in place of lovingkindness. I hope it helps you as you meditate on the Scriptures.
Up until now I’ve been using a version of the Bible that speaks of God as being abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Many versions use the word truth. From my perspective an alternate translation is better, more to the point, and fits the relational context of Exodus 34. The Hebrew is emet. It can mean truth, or faithfulness, depending on where and how it’s used.
In Exodus 34 the Lord revealed His goodness within the context of His relationship with Israel. What He emphasized was His faithfulness; His trustworthiness. He is true to His word and His people. It’s like a married couple saying to one another, “I will always be true.”
By the way, the New English Translation, Lexham English Bible, New Living Translation, and the New Revised Standard Version translate emet in this verse as faithfulness.
The word emet comes from aman, from which we also get amen. Amen basically means, “Yes, let this truly come to pass,” or “Yes, that is a reliable word.” In the Gospel of John, the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew, amen, is often translated Truly, truly or Verily, verily (John 3:3, 5; 5:19, 24, 25; and another sixteen times). The Messiah said, “Amen, amen,” signifying, “What I’m about to say is a faithful, reliable, true statement.”
I enjoy what the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis shares about the context of emet in our verse.
Among the qualities of Yahweh, he is “abounding in love and faithfulness” (רַב חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת, 34:6b). What precisely does “faithfulness” mean in this context? In general terms, it must relate to Yahweh’s willingness, in response to the intercession of Moses (Exod 33:12-18), to show his true nature through renewing the covenant with Israel despite their sin …
A fuller context than that is that this is what Yahweh loves about Yahweh. He proclaims. He says, “I love that You are so reliable to Your people! You will always be faithful.”
Here is the Psalmist’s brief but powerful summary of Exodus 34:6. Note that there is no hint of apprehension concerning impending judgment. Why? He is sloooow to anger.
But You, my Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, full of love (chesed) and truth (emet). (Psalm 86:15 TLV)
We see in that summation the primary characteristics of God. As in this verse, chesed and emet are often paired together, echoing what Yahweh said of Yahweh.
For instance, it’s written that Moses knew God’s ways. Here’s a description of His paths.
All Adonai’s ways are lovingkindness (chesed) and truth (emet) to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. (Psalm 25:10 TLV)
These characteristics are worthy of praise.
For great is His lovingkindness (chesed) toward us, and Adonai’s truth (emet) endures forever. Halleluyah! (Psalm 117:2 TLV)
They are poetically celebrated.
For Your love (chesed) is higher than the heavens, Your faithfulness (emet) reaches to the clouds. (Psalm 108:5 TLV)
Here, His chesed and emet are pictured as part of the permanent beauty and majesty (seen in sky, clouds, etc.) of God’s actions overshadowing the earth.
There are so many verses that reference Yahweh’s heralding in Exodus 34:6. I encourage you to look them up. Let’s end with this one:
Because of the mercies (chesed) of Adonai we will not be consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning! Great is Your faithfulness (emunah). (Lamentations 3:21-25 TLV)
He is slow to anger and abounding in chesed and faithfulness (emet). How faithful? He keeps chesed for thousands. We will consider the transgenerational nature of his chesed in our next meditation.
Pray: Lord, You love Your Father’s faithfulness. You staked Your life on it when You committed Your spirit into His hands. Yeshua, convince me through the Scriptures and the activity of Your Ruach ha-Kodesh of Father’s faithfulness. I love the thought of His being faithful. Help my heart love Him in fellowship with You.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 1 July 2023 12th of Tamuz, 5783 Parashat Chukat-Balak
Nu 23:27-25:9 Mic 5:7-6:8 2 Pe 2