…about believing God.
“…and he said to them, ‘Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess.” Deu 32.46, 47
The Word of God is life to me! It must be my breath, my pulse, my appetite, my vision, my rest. My Creator gave me His own Word not for His benefit, but for His glory and for my benefit. He gains nothing whether I believe Him or not, whether I obey Him or not. He is the I AM, the All-Sufficient One, and can manage quite well on His own. His Word is life to me, not to Him. But I must believe Him, and belief will demonstrate itself in behaviour.
Take Peter, for instance, who decided to take a walk on the wild—and wet—side in Matthew 14. Conventional thinking about this passage revolves around the fact that Peter was fine until he took his eyes off the Lord and began to sink. That preaches well, but think this through? Listen to the text again:
“…and when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” Mat 14.26-33
Here are a few questions:
- Did Peter need to go into the water to recognize that Jesus was not a ghost? The other disciples didn’t leave the boat, but they acknowledged Jesus’ identity and deity at the end of the incident. (v. 33)
- Was Peter acting in faith when he got out of the boat, or in unbelief? If in faith, why did Jesus rebuke him? Peter did not believe Jesus when He identified Himself. This appears to be a test of the truth of Jesus’ words, not an act of faith.
- Would the storm have ceased when Jesus got into the boat even if Peter hadn’t gone into the water? The text does not make any suggestions to the contrary.
The crux of the issue is settled for me in Jesus’ words, “It is I,” and in Peter’s response, “Lord, if it is You.” The condition of the Greek verb does not seem to change the meaning in this case—Peter didn’t believe Jesus!
So as I go back to the Song of Moses, I have to realize that God’s Word is life to me, and that I can believe everything he said and act upon it with confidence. Doing so will “keep me in the boat” and prevent some problems that I can easily bring on myself when I doubt the Lord.