WALK BY FAITH NOT BY SIGHT
The book of Daniel in the Old Testament has much to teach us on the subject of walking by faith and not by sight. Daniel and his three friends were among those taken into exile to Babylon in 605 BC after the first raid on Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The city of Jerusalem was subsequently captured in 597 BC and finally destroyed in 587 BC. One can only imagine the devastating effect of the fall of Jerusalem, the city of God, on the Jewish people. They probably could not comprehend how the city in which God supposedly dwelt in could be defeated by a people who defied the God of Israel. Could it be that the gods of Babylon were greater than Jehovah? How was it that God could abandon His chosen people and allow them to be put to shame before an enemy who did not regard God at all and even took the sacred articles from the temple to Babylon?
It would certainly be understandable if Daniel and his three friends ended up perplexed, depressed and lost in a foreign city, far away from home with many unanswered questions on their minds. They were exposed to a foreign culture and there was no temple to worship the Lord God. In addition, they had to be educated and trained in the values of the Babylonians, adopt Babylonian names, partake of Babylonian food and learn the ways of those who practiced religious observances which probably were abominable to the Jews.
However, despite all these setbacks and negative circumstances, Daniel and his three friends remained faithful to God and were prepared to take their stand for God when they knew they had to.
When Daniel’s three friends were commanded to worship the image of gold set up by king Nebuchadnezzar or face a fiery death in a burning furnace, they responded:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
This is the kind of faith God requires of His people and Daniel’s three friends demonstrated it powerfully. They were confident that God was with them and even if God allowed them to die for their faith, they were willing and prepared. This is the same faith required of His people as they face the end times. God is able to deliver His people from death and through death. His grace will be sufficient to enable them to remain faithful even in the face of persecution and trials, provided that they learn increasingly to walk by faith and not by sight. Such a faith acknowledges and recognizes the sovereignty of God. Even though the circumstances seem difficult and challenging, the trust in God remains unwavering.
We see this trust in God expressed in Habakkuk 3:17-18 when the prophet knew that God was going to use Babylon to punish His people in warfare. He said:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior.”
We may not understand fully why certain events take place in a fallen world but we can affirm that God is good and loving, and there will be ultimate justice and vindication. Our object of faith is God. If we ever doubt His love and goodness, we need only to behold the cross at Calvary and know His love, grace, mercy and sacrifice when God Himself became man and took our place in judgment, imputing our sins to Himself and imputing His righteousness to us so that we can experience forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God.
Suffering can cause one to become incredibly strong in faith or conversely, the sufferer may become broken and bitter. Our faith can be deepened through suffering if we commit to honoring God and living for Him in whatever circumstances He sees fit for us. We can pray for deliverance in such situations but we should not make demands of God. More importantly, we can ask God to strengthen us to endure the suffering and to be faithful to Him throughout the time of trial and crisis. God does not require us to understand everything; even if He were to explain, we are too finite to understand God’s infinite wisdom and ways. But He certainly desires us to trust Him and worship Him wholeheartedly even though we cannot fully comprehend.
Faith has to do with seeing the invisible, not what can be seen externally; it has to do with discerning the spiritual realm and appreciating God’s point of view.
The Apostle Paul explained:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
The eyes of faith would see what is beyond the visible and appreciates the total reality which only those in the Lord can perceive.
A person may profess faith in Jesus Christ but he will quickly show his true colors when he is compelled to make a decision between Christ and Satan. The lack of a thorough change of heart and commitment is the root of all apostasy. It is highly likely that he turns away from God and Christ not because he loses the grace he had, but because he never had any in the first place. It may have just been an outward show of religion. It is genuine faith in Christ which persuades us not to give up God’s mercies and grace for Satan’s transient thrills. Faith helps us to see that what the evil one offers is an illusion that is passing away but what God offers is precious, everlasting and glorious.
By faith, let us believe that the Almighty manages all things well and He chooses all the portions of His people from a heart of love and compassion. Faith will not sink under the weight of trials and testing; faith can see the light even in the darkest hour and know that God is still there.
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”
Even in the face of death, faith sees what lies beyond and knows fully well the glory that awaits. The resurrection of Jesus Christ as the first fruit has changed everything; death has lost its sting:
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?’”
(1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
Facing the end times in the last days requires God’s people to increasingly learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Only then can they rise up above all the evil circumstances and challenges that threaten to cause them to fear and to doubt the goodness of the Lord.