I could never claim to be a Bible scholar. But I DO love to study God’s Word in its original languages, aided by some handy-dandy Bible apps like Blue Letter Bible & PocketSword. Currently, three of my favorite words are the Greek “histemi” (pronounced “his-stay-me”), “pistos”, and the Hebrew “‘aman”, all of which resound heavily regarding where I am right now in my journey of faith – and I mean “journey” because, God knows, it’s taken me 41 years to get here. As a matter of fact, I’ve actually considered getting “histemi” tattooed on my hand (Deut. 6:8…I think the forehead is a little too much, don’t you agree? Ha!)
There have been so many moments recently when I’ve felt the pressure of life begin to weigh heavy on my shoulders, when I’ve wanted to say, “Okay, enough! I give up!” And, just then, the word “histemi” will come flooding into my mind, with all of its depth of meaning:
Outline of Biblical Usage (from Blue Letter Bible Lexicon):
1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set
a) to bid to stand by, [set up]
1) in the presence of others, in the midst, before judges, before members of the Sanhedrin;
2) to place
b) to make firm, fix establish
1) to cause a person or a thing to keep his or its place
2) to stand, be kept intact (of family, a kingdom), to escape in safety
3) to establish a thing, cause it to stand
a) to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything
c) to set or place in a balance
1) to weigh: money to one (because in very early times before the introduction of coinage, the metals used to be weighed)
2) to stand
a) to stand by or near
1) to stop, stand still, to stand immovable, stand firm
a) of the foundation of a building
b) to stand
1) continue safe and sound, stand unharmed, to stand ready or prepared
2) to be of a steadfast mind
3) of quality, one who does not hesitate, does not waiver
“His-stay-me”…I think of that and, by His grace, peace floods my soul and I, having stood, stay standing.
The following, by Skip Moen, is so beautifully written, I wanted to quote it here (I hope he doesn’t mind). If you enjoy reading about in-depth, original language, Bible study, I highly recommend Skip’s website: http://www.skipmoen.com/
SOLID AS A ROCK
“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
FAITHFUL – What does it mean to be faithful? What do you think of when you hear these words? Do you think about a marriage vow or a promise or someone? Do you think about unwavering commitment or loyalty? If we look at the way John uses this word, we find some other imagery that helps us understand what faithfulness really is. Then we will know why Jesus can say, “Be faithful unto death.”
John uses this word only one time in his gospel. When Jesus confronts Thomas’ disbelief, Jesus invites Thomas to examine the nail prints and the scar from the spear. Jesus says, “Come and look, and as a result, be believing.” That is the Greek word pistos. It is an adjective, not a verb, so our English translation sounds funny. We would like to say, “Come and believe,” but that would make pistos a verb, and John doesn’t use “believe” that way. When John talks about believe, he always uses the verb pisteuo (92 times). For John, belief is an action, not a set of statements. To be faithful is to act in a certain way.
How do I act when I am faithful? For that answer, we need to look at the Hebrew thought behind this Greek word. We arrive at Numbers 12:7, for example, where the Greek word pistos translates the Hebrew word ‘aman. This Hebrew word paints a very tangible picture. Its primary meaning is to provide stability and confidence. It is used to describe the foundation of a house, the support of pillars, a nurse holding a baby in her arms, a nail driven into a post. It is about things that can be relied upon; things that are solid as a rock. Suddenly faithfulness is no longer simply mental affirmation. It is no longer just about what I think. It is about the concrete actions of unshakeable trust. It is building on granite instead of sand. It is trusting that nurse not to drop the baby. It is knowing that the pillars will hold up the roof. To be faithful unto death is to be steady as a rock no matter what the storm may bring.
Faithfulness is not found in my signature at the bottom of a list of beliefs. Faithfulness is found in the behaviors that reflect those beliefs. Yes, I must know what I believe, but until my head knowledge is converted into real, tangible actions, it is not faithfulness.
The Old Testament uses pistos for another Hebrew word, ne’um, a word that means “an oracle or prophetic saying from God.” You can find this in 2 Samuel 23:1. Why is this also pistos? Because it comes from God’s mouth and it is totally and undeniably trustworthy. You can act on it. It is rock-solid truth. Accepting the oracle of God means more than simply acknowledging that God spoke it. It means hearing and acting on it. I cannot be faithful until I put it in practice.
“Faith” is not like medicine. In fact, it’s not a substance at all. It is a code word for a relationship, and just like any other relationship, you can’t bottle it or store it or acquire it except in interactive exchange. The relationship exists only in the exchange. You don’t have a “relationship” with someone you never speak to. The idea that “faith” is something that I acquire is as misguided as the idea that children are something I own. In fact, the Hebrew word, ’emunah, is typically a word about character, the utter reliability and fidelity of someone, particularly God.
Faith is my active attitude of total reliance on God’s absolute trustworthiness.
That means that my “faith” is demonstrated in the action of putting myself in His care, no matter what the circumstances! Until and unless I act on His reliability, I just don’t have faith. I might have a set of written beliefs that I can recite, but I won’t have any active relationship. Faith is only found in the action, not the declaration. Israel claimed to have “faith” in God, but their actions revealed denial of His claim on them. The truth is that they were faithless.
How much faith does it take to please God? The question itself is wrong-headed. If faith is the action of trusting Him, then I either act or I don’t act. I either trust Him, or I try my own way. There is no half-full measure here. So, how do I get this faith? God grants it, freely, abundantly, continuously. From God’s side to the relationship, nothing impedes your trust in Him.
All you have to do is act accordingly.
God is a Rock. Imitating that rock-like quality is being faithful. So, polish the granite in your life. Sculpt the marble. Shine like a diamond. You were called to be a geological marvel.
– Skip Moen, D. Phil.