Gamliel Asher ran long distance races on a cross-country track team growing up in Hungary. On May 3, 2004 he crossed his final finish line and completed the race. The course wasn’t such a long one – 39 years. But he ran it well, with all his might, and passed the baton to us. This is the sermon Gamliel preached on April 24, 2004, ignoring the intense pain caused by cancer, 9 days before he passed away.
Noah heard strange things. Until his time there had been no rain. Mist had watered everything. Then God says to Noah, “Soon it will rain.” How would he respond? Noah says, “What is rain?” After a lengthy explanation God continues with His instructions, “… You must build an ark…” Noah’s next question: “What is an ark?”
Not only did Noah have to deal with his own lack of understanding and doubts, but now he also had to explain his plans to the family, first his wife and then his sons who must help him with all the work of shipbuilding. They had to become full-blown shipwrights. From time to time doubts surfaced in Noah’s heart about God: “I’ve already lived 500 odd years and I’ve never seen rain.” Then God said, “I’ve been around even longer than you. If I say it’s going to rain, it’s going to rain.”
Let’s translate this into our daily reality. You can all see that I don’t exactly appear to be in tip-top condition. But does that mean that God’s word isn’t true? Does it annul the fact that by His wounds we are healed? We cannot measure the reality of God’s word by our experience, just as Noah could not rightly judge God’s word by his own experience.
This is demonstrated when I take a photograph with a camera. The inner reality of the picture is not immediately seen, at least not in the old-fashioned “non-digital” camera. But the picture inside is real. I can’t say when it will become visible. Maybe I’ll wait a long time before developing the film. The picture is real in the camera, but as yet unseen.
Our challenge is to live in accordance with the unseen reality. We have become accustomed to believing our senses, feelings and experience. When we live by these we miss out on God’s reality.
God’s word is not only real, but powerful. Genesis 1 says again and again, “And God said, let there be … and it was so.”
God’s word brings the visible from the invisible. His word has the power to create, to call into being that which does not yet exist. Why does this so often not benefit us? Because God’s word without faith is nothing more than death (2 Corinthians 3:6). It does not matter how much we understand in our head that God’s word is real, or ho many facts we can cite about it. If His word is not combined with faith in my life, the word will never become real in my life.
Responding in Faith
Let’s return to Noah. He could have said. “I have lots of time, I’ll go to college to learn ship building and then see what happens.” If he had not responded with faith, he would have been numbered with those who were destroyed in the flood. He couldn’t say, “Let’s wait for the first drop of rain.” When the first drop of rain came, it was already too late. He couldn’t say, “I’ll wait until my sons completely understand.” He needed to make the first steps in faith.
What we see is that if we fail to respond with faith to what God said, we will come to the place where it is too late to respond. Therefore God wants to give us a revelation of how real His word is, to burn into our hearts that we can count on what He said.
In Chronicles we see another example. The city of Samaria was under siege and the food was all gone. The king said, “Why should I keep on waiting for God?” But the prophet said: “Tomorrow there will be plenty in the gates of the city.” The office said, “It’s impossible – even if God were to open up the floodgates of heaven.” The prophet said, “You will see it with your eyes, but you will not eat of it.” If we will not respond to God’s word with faith, we may see others enjoy the fruit, but miss out ourselves. If we want to construct reality from what we see, hear and feel, we will miss out on everything.
God is looking for people of faith. Look at His list in Hebrews 11. Our names must be added to this list. We have more going for us than they did. Noah and Abraham had no Bible to read. They still responded with faith. What does it mean to respond with faith? Hebrews 11:1 explains it as the evidence of the yet unseen. It doesn’t seem like it but I am sure of it. I may not even see it tomorrow but I am still sure. Abraham did not inherit the land in his day, but continued in faith. Why? Because of the “camera principle.” He didn’t know exactly when the “film would be developed.” But he didn’t doubt the reality of God’s word. We have proof of the unseen. We can define faith simply – what God said is absolute truth. Faith says “yes” to that unseen reality in the face of that which is seen in the reality around us.
Choosing the Unseen
We have a challenge before us, because the “seen” things have helped us to survive and succeed over the years. If we want to live not just according to the reality of this world, which leads to death, but to live according to God’s reality, we must choose the unseen. It does not come to me naturally to say every morning, “Thank You God for the healing Yeshua gained for me on the cross.” But it is more real that the fact that I cannot now hold things with my left hand. I don’t yet see that the wound in my side has closed over, but I know that God has promised in Jeremiah 30 that He will heal my wound. And I want to ascribe more reality to the things God said than to the things I see.
We cannot enter into our inheritance by living according to that which we see. We cannot live according to the Spirit if we live according to what we see. If we want to be in God’s reality we must choose to see the unseen and to base our lives on the unseen.
The things that we see, we already have. What God wants to give us we can only receive through faith. I don’t want to make due with what I see because that which I see belongs to this world, and the appearance of this world will pass away. That which God said will stand forever. Do I want to fill myself with eternal things? I want to live in the light of eternity. When I arrive in heaven it will be too late to start living in accordance with with eternity, because I’ll already be there. God is eternal and we can reflect Him only if we walk in eternal things. He wants us to delineate between the reality of this world and Hid reality. He wants to give us the power to set aside, in a certain sense, the reality of this world and to consider reality to be that which God has said.
Focusing our Thoughts
God’s word is the instrument which divides between spirit and soul for us (Hebrews 4:12, 13). He reveals our very thoughts. Who would want to be in a machine that could reveal all the thoughts we have had for the last 24 hours? None of us would excited to be examined in this machine, but God sees all our thoughts and He wnts to reveal to us how we are thinking – through His word. We live according to what we think, as Proverbs says. God wants us to think His thoughts. Some of His words are hard for us to imagine, as it was hard for Noah to imagine rain. God wants to make us accustomed to His thoughts. And when I live according to His thoughts there must be actions accompanying. Paul wrote Timothy that when God fills us with His word, we may be living as madmen in the eyes of many because they cannot accept the unseen reality. But God begins to use us (Timothy 3:16-17).
God wants to change our thoughts and character through His word so that our people will be able to see God’s works through us. They will see the good works God ordained beforehand for us to walk in – the things that now seem unrealistic to our eyes.
We are all looking forward to revival here in this land. Question: Are we living according to this reality – which He has promised will happen? No demon in hell can present it. But we can prevent ourselves from entering into it like the officer in Samaria. Are we already starting to live the revival, to live according to the reality God promised would accompany this revival? I still see these things in small measure. I still haven’t raised anyone from the dead. We still haven’t seen signs and wonders in the land such as were in the first century. But I want to give my life to God so that He can call these realities into being as He has promised. Will it be fulfilled with me or without me? He can raise up sons to do His will even from rocks. Am I living in the old familiar things or in the things God is creating now? God wants to raise up a people of faith here who will declare the reality of the word we have not yet seen or tasted, and enter into it by faith. It’s easy for us to complain when things are tough, but do we see that which is unseen? Can we see past out 10-12 hour workday to remember why God has brought us to this land? Do we see the big picture? Or are we lost in the details – work, mortgage, children? God brought us to the land for last days’ revival. The mortgage and difficulties must not steal that from us. God wants us to walk in His promises, and all the other practical details will fall into place.
Let’s pray: Father, we thank You that You and Your words are more real than we can imagine, that Your word is eternal and always true, not what we see or feel or have experienced. Father, give us grace to receive and walk in Your word more than in our experience. We need Your reality in our lives and in the lives of our people. We want to see the fulfillment of what You promised and not miss out on any part of it.