Hebrew Words for Faith

     Because the Jews thought in concrete rather than abstract terms, Hebrew words were designed to form mental pictures. There are five Hebrew word-pictures of faith found in the Old Testament. They are progressive, and they illustrate steps in spiritual growth:
  1. Amen means “to lean on for support.” It is usually translated “believe.” It is used of the faith for salvation and pictures someone leaning on God. Gen 15:6 tells us that Abram “believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” This “leaning faith” is the faith of spiritual infancy.
  2. Batach is a wrestling term that draws the picture of someone bodyslamming his opponent to the mat. Usually translated “trust,” batach is found in Psa 55:22, “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you.” “Wrestling faith” is analogous to the experience of spiritual adolescence, the time when believers—having acquired a little biblical knowledge—begin to enter the spiritual conflict.
  3. Chasah means “to flee for refuge,” as a rabbit might seek protection in the cleft of a rock from pursuing wolves. It is the faith of spiritual maturity—when the believer can be bold and confident because he has come to understand that the Lord is his fortress, his stronghold, his shield, and his deliverer (Psa 144:2). David, in the Cave of Adullam where he had fled for his life from King Saul, understood this kind of faith: For my soul takes refuge in Thee” (Psa 57:1).
  4. Yaqal means “to trust in extreme pain; to trust under pressure.” It is usually translated “hope” and draws the picture of applying healing salve to a wound. This is the faith that heals the wounds that spiritual heroes pick up in their advance. Job displayed the heart of a hero of faith when he wrote in the heat of his affliction, Though He slay me, I will hope in Him (Job 13:15). Jeremiah, distraught over the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of her people, was able to face another day because of this kind of faith (Lam 3:21).
  5. Qawah, the strongest Hebrew word for faith, is translated “wait.” The word was originally used for the process of making rope by weaving frail, easily broken strands into cords that could not be broken. Qawah is the patient endurance that comes from weaving together promises, principles, and doctrines from the Word of God into an unbreakable rope of faith. This is the faith of the friend of God. The Hebrew in Isa 40:31 promises that those who wait for the Lord will “exchange their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

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