Jerusalem Cornerstone Foundation

Go Home

October 2013

A Faith that Grows

“And Abram was believing the Lord,
and he calculated it for him as righteousness (Gen 15:6).”

By RANDALL BUTH

Abraham’s faith or faithfulness played an important role in the earliest recorded layers of Christian faith.  Even today, “faith” or “belief” is often understood as the core of Christian identity.  But what does it mean to “believe”?

The first time that “believing” is used in the Bible, it is associated with the “father of faith”, Abram[1] (Gen 15:6).  The first Hebrew word used there is וְהֶאֱמִן “and he was believing.”  This is not the expected narrative tense וַיַּאְמֵן “and he believed” that would have been used for a simple narrative past event. The verb וְהֶאֱמִן is an open-ended narrative tense that was not used very often in a biblical Hebrew story.  Any Jew fluent in the classical biblical dialect of Hebrew would immediately have heard the reading of Gen 15:6 as the equivalent of “and he was believing.”

How does the Hebrew affect our reading and application of Gen 15:6?  Both Paul (Rom 4:3, Gal 3:6) and James (Jam 2:23) quoted Gen 15:6 and used it for different purposes in their discussions about the essence of faith.  While Paul and James were reading and quoting from the Greek translation[2] of the Hebrew Bible, their understandings of Gen 15:6 also fit the Hebrew.  The Hebrew text of Gen 15:6 uses a verb that looks at the process of believing without looking at the beginning or end of the “believing.”  It does not imply that Abram first believed God at this point.  Nor does it imply that Abram’s faith was a complete act at this point. Quite obviously, Abram had already started to trust the Lord when he moved out of Haran and traveled to Canaan in Gen 12. 

The author’s choice of an open-ended verb tense here at Gen 15:6 forces the reader to think about the ongoing implications of Abram’s faith. In a real sense, Abram’s faith was a lifelong “walk.” There were aspects that matured and were tested. The most climactic and shocking test of Abram’s faith came later in Gen 22 with God’s command to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on an altar.  In fact, James 2:20-24 specifically makes the link between Gen 15:6 and Gen 22’s sacrifice of Isaac. We may speculate that the writer of James was aware of the open-ended nature of the Hebrew in Gen 15:6’s “and he was believing.” 

While James focused on the open-ended nature of faith or faithfulness, Paul, on the other hand, was more interested in Gen 15:6’s second clause, “and he calculated it for him as righteousness.”  God's crediting of righteousness is presented here in the Hebrew as a simple past, a complete act including the endpoint.  Just like James’ open-ended faith, Paul’s understanding of justification by God as a completed action is correct as well.

Where does this episode leave us?  God is good and his promises are trustworthy.  However, as we walk and journey through our life on earth we do not always see God’s perspective on individual situations, just like Abraham did not see how he was going to have children and a great inheritance.  But he walked by faith and was trusting God.  He was loyal to the promises and to the covenant. 

We, too, have a journey to walk.  Our faith is not just a one-time assertion, but a life of faithfulness.  We may look back and say “we have believed God,” but more practically, we know that God is pleased by daily trusting him. We are believing that his promises are true and sure in Jesus Christ, so that a walk of faith does not need to fear the future even if we do not know the future.

For a more grammatical analysis of Gen 15:6, check out the Biblical Language Center's blog.


[1] Abraham was called Abram in the book of Genesis up until Gen 17:5.

[2] The Septuagint (LXX)


Charity Report:Your Gifts Helped these Individuals, Families, and Ministries during June-August 2013

Hope Secondary School in Beit Jala provides an education for a hundred Palestinian children from difficult backgrounds (orphans and those with disabilities).  JCF provided $500 towards their work.

Nina is a nineteen year old Israeli single mother of two daughters who are three years and 3 months old.  Since the birth of her second daughter the social worker has recommended that the family move in with the grandmother. Now the family has had to move the eldest daughter to a new daycare. JCF helped cover part of the cost of the daycare ($570).

Rebecca is a pregnant divorced Israeli mother of three.  JCF is helping cover part of her month’s rent ($423).

Priscilla is a retired Israeli divorcee who lives off her pension and has large debts. JCF contributed toward eliminating her debt ($300).

Jill, a Christian Arab, needed support to attend a summer camp for honor students.  JCF helped subsidize her expenses with $144.

Sarah, a Christian Arab, lives in the Old City in Jerusalem. JCF helped cover part of the cost for her daughter to take a test to achieve her high school diploma ($289).

Todd, an Eritrean refugee, cleans at a monastery in Jerusalem. When he tried to renew his status in the country in order to work, his request was denied. In despair, he tried to commit suicide. Todd spent four days in the hospital and has a large bill to pay.  JCF contributed to his bill ($577).

The Devin Family has six children between the ages of 1 and 16. The father supported the family as a driver. This year the family went through medical and financial difficulties and the father’s salary has been frozen because of debt. The family has received an eviction notice from their landlord since they have not been able to pay their rent. JCF is helping cover part of their rent ($500).

Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors is run by Yad Ezer L’Haver to provide a place for needy and lonely Holocaust survivors.  It is the first of its kind in Israel and offers attractive assisted-living facilities and a warm family environment.  The residents enjoy healthy meals and a range of recreational activities, plus free medical care.  JCF gave $2050 towards the expansion of the kitchen.  The International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem has partnered with the home since 2009.  ICEJ writes:

"Of the estimated 180,000-200,000 holocaust survivors living in Israel today, approximately one third live below the poverty line. The Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors provides a warm home to survivors of little means unable to afford the high cost of of an old age home. Many lonely survivors are strengthened by the arm community that this home provides for them.  Today there are 70 residents living in the home, but the waiting list is long. Due to the growing number of residents, the kitchen is badly in need of expansion and renovation. The estimated cost of this project is $18,000. Gifts received provide for basic needs of the survivors and ensure that they will receive proper care."

 

News in Israel

Israel is having Municipal Elections on Oct 22nd.  Learn more about the upcoming elections around the country, here.  Learn more about Jerusalem's important mayoral race, here.

Polio virus found in Israel, country revaccinates children.  Learn more:

Ancient town discovered on the Sea of Galilee.  The ancient town may be Dalmanutha described in the Gospel of Mark as the place where Jesus sailed to after miraculously feeding 4,000 people by multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread. More here.

own may have been mentioned in the Bible. According to Dark, the town’s age and location suggest it many be Dalmanutha.

Dalmanutha, or Dalmanoutha, is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. According to the Bible, Jesus traveled to Dalmanutha after performing a miracle with bread and fish.


Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/954719/ancient-town-discovered-on-sea-of-galilee/#IjYkEUY1wwbcFcFj

town may have been mentioned in the Bible. According to Dark, the town’s age and location suggest it many be Dalmanutha.

Dalmanutha, or Dalmanoutha, is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. According to the Bible, Jesus traveled to Dalmanutha after performing a miracle with bread and fish.


Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/954719/ancient-town-discovered-on-sea-of-galilee/#IjYkEUY1wwbcFcFj.99

town may have been mentioned in the Bible. According to Dark, the town’s age and location suggest it many be Dalmanutha.

Dalmanutha, or Dalmanoutha, is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. According to the Bible, Jesus traveled to Dalmanutha after performing a miracle with bread and fish.


Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/954719/ancient-town-discovered-on-sea-of-galilee/#IjYkEUY1wwbcFcFj.99

town may have been mentioned in the Bible. According to Dark, the town’s age and location suggest it many be Dalmanutha.

Dalmanutha, or Dalmanoutha, is mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. According to the Bible, Jesus traveled to Dalmanutha after performing a miracle with bread and fish.


Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/954719/ancient-town-discovered-on-sea-of-galilee/#IjYkEUY1wwbcFcFj.99

Instead of wearing a cross, how about an empty tomb?  Hand-made by Armenian Christians in Jerusalem.  

 

JCF News: A Blessing of Babies

David and Erin Kopp, son and daughter-in-law of Chuck and Liz Kopp, ushered in their first child,  Eden Joy on July 31st in Las Vegas, Nevada where David is serving in the United States Air Force.  Eden weighed 7 lb 10 oz. 

 

 


Yony and Munira Buth, son and daughter-in-law of Randall and Margret Buth, also welcomed their first child, Nuria Esther at 3:51 a.m. on August 24th in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where Yony is a pilot for Coastal Aviation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrorist Attack in Nairobi, Kenya: Dania and Wes Minor helping students in the aftermath

On Sept 21st a group of al-Shabaab terrorists attacked Nairobi, Kenya's elite shopping mall, Westgate killing scores in their path.  So far 67 have been confirmed dead with hundreds wounded.  For more on the attack, here

Dania Minor, JCF's former Charity and Operations Director, has been living in Nairobi for the past two years with her family.  Her husband, Wes, has been Director of Operations at Rosslyn Academy, a Christian International School, while Dania has begun serving there as a Learning Support Specialist.  Two of Rosslyn's students were severly injured in the terrorist attack and each student lost parents.

Dania writes:

Words aren't enough to express the deep grief and the shock the people of Kenya are feeling right now. Horrors happen all over the world but when it hits so close to home and it is so gruesome, it's hard to fathom 'why' and it seems like too much to bear. You, our dear Jerusalem family, know this so well. We have walked this road with you many times. What we have learned together is that being surrounded by love is the best way to come through and heal. Your love for us and our broken community has been amazing. Your generous monetary gifts, your kind words and most of all your prayers mean the world right now.  There are so many people affected by this tragedy. I am on the lookout for other ways to support the broken-hearted with your donations. More news on that later.


BLC Fresno Summer 2013 Workshops, A Rousing Success:

*Nearly thirty professors, university students, and biblical language enthusiasts converged on Fresno, California at Fresno Pacific University this summer to participate in the Biblical Language Center’s Hebrew and Greek workshops.  BLC’s workshops are run “immersion style” with the entire day taking place in Koine Greek or Biblical Hebrew. Randall Buth and Sharon Alley headed up the sessions along with the help of other facilitators.  For more, see pictures and videos.

 

Prayer Requests and Praise Reports

  • Israel Municipal Elections on Oct 22nd—Read the above "News in Israel" for more details.
  • Eritrean Refugees in Israel—Read the June 2013 newsletter for more details on their situation.
  • Syria—Over 120,000 people have died and more than two million refugees have fled the country in the civil war.  An article on Israel's view of the Syrian border.
  • Those living in Nairobi, Kenya in the aftermath of the terrorist attack at Westgate Mall.
  •  After more than two years of searching and praying, Gary and Sharon Alley’s family have moved into Jerusalem.  Thank you for your prayers. 

Good News in the Middle East

 

  • New Exhibit on King Herod at the Israel Museum, “The Final Journey of King Herod the Great.”  The exhibit will run from February 12 through the fall. http://www.timesofisrael.com/herod-gets-his-15-minutes/
  • Oil in Israel’s Future?  It is estimated that Israel has nearly 250 billion barrels of untapped oil shale reserves.  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/31/why-israel-will-rule-new-middle-east/
  • Israel and Iran: A love story?  When war between Israel and Iran seemed imminent, Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry shared a poster on Facebook of himself and his daughter with a bold message: “Iranians ... we [heart] you.”  http://www.ted.com/talks/israel_and_iran_a_love_story.html

Good News in the Middle East

 

  • New Exhibit on King Herod at the Israel Museum, “The Final Journey of King Herod the Great.”  The exhibit will run from February 12 through the fall. http://www.timesofisrael.com/herod-gets-his-15-minutes/
  • Oil in Israel’s Future?  It is estimated that Israel has nearly 250 billion barrels of untapped oil shale reserves.  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/31/why-israel-will-rule-new-middle-east/
  • Israel and Iran: A love story?  When war between Israel and Iran seemed imminent, Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry shared a poster on Facebook of himself and his daughter with a bold message: “Iranians ... we [heart] you.”  http://www.ted.com/talks/israel_and_iran_a_love_story.html