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What is Faith?

Oh, we’ve heard all the expressions and jargon; just have faith, you need to increase your faith.  Some even quote Heb 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Yet what does it truly mean to have faith?  To discover what faith is in order to correctly apply it, we must go back to the Hebrew meaning of the word.  Why is the English translation not good enough?  Solely because most of the time true Scripture meaning is lost in English translation, as English is a passive language, whilst Hebrew is an active language.  The English translation also tends to use the same word even when the Hebrew meaning and or part of speech are different.  Let me explain further.  One Hebrew word for faith is emunah (H530). This word is a noun and means steadfastness, firmness, support or trust, as referenced in the following examples:

1 Sam 26:23, “YHVH render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness(emunah H530);…”

Here in 1 Samuel 26, King David spoke of the Creator’s steadfastness in delivering Saul into his hand.  David is not speaking of a passive feeling rendered via the English language but instead a profound dedication and commitment the Creator showed in delivering Saul into his hands.

Example 2, Exod 17:9-12, “And Moshe said unto Yahshua (Joshua), Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amaleq (Amalek): tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of Alohim in my hand.                                                                  
10 So Yahshua did as Moshe had said to him, and fought with Amaleq: and Moshe, Aharon (Aaron), and Chur went up to the top of the hill. 
11 And it came to pass, when Moshe held up his hand, that Yashar’al (Yisrael) prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amaleq prevailed.
12 But Moshe’s hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aharon and Chur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady (emunah) until the going down of the sun. 

In verse 12 above, the English translation got it right. With the help of others, Moshe held the rod of YAH up all day in steadfastness because he knew the Creator would deliver on His promise and allow them to prevail over the Amalites (see Exod 17:14).

Let’s keep digging.  Another Hebrew word for faith is Aman (H540).  Aman is a verb which infers action.  This word means to trust, as referenced in Dan 6:4,

“Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Dani’al (Daniel) concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful (aman H540), neither was there any error or fault found in him.”  

Dani’al did not have faith in the English sense, Dani’al was faithful in the Hebrew sense, via his actions.  I must clarify here that most tend to obscure the terms faith and belief.  Let us never confuse faith with belief as they are two distinct words that in English are sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably. However they do work hand in hand.  The Hebrew word for belief is Aman (H539).  Notice it is spelled the same way as one of the words for faith (Aman H540), yet the two words are pronounced differently.  The verb for faith (aman) is pronounced am-an’ whereas belief (aman), also a verb, meaning to confirm, to support,  is pronounced aw-man.  

When read in Modern Hebrew the two words (faith and belief) are distinguished by their vowel points.  However, in ancient Hebrew no vowel points were needed as those indigenous to the language pronounced the words via context, such as we do via the English words, read (present tense) and read (past tense), or perfect (to be perfect) and perfect (to perfect something, bring to a completion as good as possible).

Yes, all that was a major mouthful so let’s divulge some clarity on all that we have gone over.  The easiest way to shed light on the proper use of these words (faith, belief) is to use them in a sentence.  Here goes; Due to our emunah (steadfastness, noun) in YAH, we are aman (faithful, verb) to Him in all that we set our hands to do. Therefore we strongly aman (believe/belief, verb) that He is a strong tower to all those who call upon Him. 

Another example is this; I am a nail in my Father’s HouseThe nail that I am is emunah (faith).  How?  I am firmly fixed, steadfast in YAH’s House.  My belief (aman) effects my actions.  How so?  Everything I do will be to support the nail (faith) and keep it firmly fixed in support of Father’s House.

It is clear that faith is not passive, it requires action.  Recall I stated previously that faith and belief work hand in hand.  Our belief should drive our action of faith.  Because we believe, we should be faithful to the MOST HIGH.  What does faith in action look like? Firstly, the majority of the people of Yashar’al (Yisrael) nor our Messiah Yahshua (during the time he walked the earth in flesh), spoke Greek.  The language of the nation during that timeframe was Aramaic and Hebrew.  Therefore we must always look at Scripture through its original lens or we will go wrong and fall short of its true meaning.  Keeping that in mind, we will reflect on Hebrews 11:3-13 to glimpse faith in action.

“Through faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of Alohim, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.           
By faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) Abel offered unto Alohim a more excellent offering than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, Alohim testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaks.
By faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because Alohim had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased Alohim.
But without faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to Alohim must believe (aman H539, confirm, support) that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.                          
By faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) Noah, being warned of Alohim of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. 
By faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.   
By faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Yacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 
10 For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is Alohim.   
11 Through faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful (Aman H540, to trust, trustfully) who had promised.     
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 
13 These all died in faith (emunah H530, steadfastness)not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

The emunah (faith H530) of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah and many others, moved them to action (as underlined above). They were all steadfast, firmly fixed, in support of YAH and showed it by their obedience because they first aman (trusted H540) Him.  Yet, as I stated before, faith and belief work hand in hand.  I will restate verse 6 as highlighted above, “But without faith (emunah H530, steadfastness) it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to Alohim must believe (aman H539, to confirm, to support) that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

So we see that it is impossible to have emunah (faith) without first having aman (belief), which means to confirm and to support that YAH exists and that He is a rewarder of those who truly seek Him.  That is what we see underlined above. We cannot just say we have faith, then sit motionless for results to fall out of the sky.  Our emunah (steadfastness, faith) and aman (belief H539) should move us to action, showing that we aman (to trust H540) YAH. Which is what Yacob (James) meant when he stated, “Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone” James 2:17

Now, if someone asks us, if we have faith?  We can say, “I sure do!  I stand firm in this set apart walk, and my actions support my belief in our Great Creator.” 


Then we can counter with these questions, What does faith mean and look like to you?  Do you truly have faith?    


We all need to be clear on the aspects of our walk with YAH and for what we are striving to obtain.  If we don’t even know the real meaning of faith we could very well be walking “the walk” in vain.  Let us therefore do our best to please YAH.  That means we must aman (trust) Him, and walk emunah (steadfast) on the path of righteousness, in order to aman (support, confirm) YAH in all that we do.  HalleluYAH!