“I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8 NASB
Faith – Recently we examined Paul’s citation of Habakkuk 2:4. We discovered among other things that the Hebrew word for faith, ‘emunah, is a far cry from our usual ideas of creeds, theological statements and doctrines. What we learned is that ‘emunah really means faithfulness or fidelity. That ties this word to hesed, the voluntary, mutual commitment to well-being that entails obligations in both directions (remember?). Once we realize that this verse in Luke should have been translated according to the Hebrew words Yeshua spoke and not the Greek words that were written, we see that Yeshua is asking a very straightforward question. But it isn’t a question about whether or not He will find people who claim to be Christians. I am quite sure He would find millions who say that they believe. That isn’t His question. His question is whether He will find faithfulness! Will He find people who consistently and persistently live according to God’s instructions as they follow the Messiah? Will He find people to carry out the commandments? Will He find people who do what they say?
Now this becomes a completely understandable and critically important question. This question implies that it is absolutely insufficient to simply proclaim “Jesus is Lord.” It is useless to say, “I accept His forgiveness.” It doesn’t matter if you joined the Church, signed the Statement of Faith or took an evangelism class. Read the text in its context! Yeshua is speaking Hebrew to Hebrew-speaking men and women and they knew exactly what ‘emunah meant. It meant keeping Torah. There was no other sign of faithfulness to God than this – keeping Torah. No one in that audience thought anything about church membership, the sinner’s prayer, raising your hand, the Westminster Confession, the Apostles’ Creed or any systematic theology. They thought Torah! Period. Yeshua is simply asking if He will find Torah observers when He returns. He is asking if people will be living on the basis of the utter reliability and trustworthiness of God’s Word – the Tanakh. That’s it. That’s all.
Did you notice that this question follows a statement about speedy justice? What is the connection? Do you suppose that when He returns He will make allowances for those who aren’t living according to God’s instructions? Do you think He will give them a second chance? Do you imagine He will delay separating the sheep from the goats so that we can all try again? I don’t think so. I think the impact of this statement is that when He returns there will be some, not many, who will have lived a life of faithfulness. They will have demonstrated their fidelity to God by fulfilling their hesed obligations. They will be welcomed in. Justice will be done.
But what about the rest? What about all those who thought it was only about “being saved” or “getting to heaven”? What happens to them? Will they be found ‘emunah?
Topical Index: Luke 18:8, faith, faithfulness, ‘emunah, pistin