Exodus 34:6: And Yahweh passed over before him, and he proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, God, who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding with loyal love and faithfulness.”
Psalm 25:10: All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Hosea 4:1: Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land.
Isaiah 16:5: then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness.
John 1:14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
3 John 3-4: For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
In our final Lenten devotion in this study in the character of God found in Jesus, we come to an incredible word that in some ways seals all the other words – God’s faithfulness. As the video showed, emet is rich with meaning and usage. This Hebrew word and its related words are used in some way 329 times in the Old Testament. It can refer to faith, faithful, true, truthful, and trustworthy as examples.
Emet is more than just saying something is true, such as “gravity causes leaves to fall to the ground.” It’s more personal. In our theme verse of Exodus 34:6, it’s relational. God is overflowing with truth and faithfulness to his people. He keeps his promises. As such, he is full of truth, meaning he is someone worthy of trust. You can rely on him.
But another form of emet is used when you count someone as trustworthy, meaning you trust that individual to be true to their word. That is what happened with Abraham. Genesis 15:5-6: Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. In that moment, Abraham counted the Lord as trustworthy, and the Lord counted him as righteous because he trusted him.
This was the relationship the Lord desired from the nation of Israel – He would be faithful to them, and he desired their faithfulness in return. The prophets called the people to covenant faithfulness to Yahweh. 1 Samuel 12:24: Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But as we know, humans are not faithful. Time and time again, Israel abandoned their God to serve the gods of the nations around them. Their kings, priests, and prophets led them to unfaithfulness to Yahweh. The prophets of God called out their lack of emet. Hosea 4:1: Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land.
But even in their unfaithfulness, God remained faithful to them. They experienced the consequences of their sin, but God kept making promises. The biggest of these was the promise of a faithful King who would show them how to rely on the Lord. Isaiah 16:5: Then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness.
As we turn to the New Testament, we see God’s ultimate expression of truth and faithfulness – the Lord Jesus Christ. John introduces us to him in John 1:14 this way: So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. Ultimately, what Jesus did (dying on the cross and rising again from the dead) confirmed God’s faithfulness and reliability as he fulfilled all his promises to the family of Israel and to the world. And when we see Jesus living out God’s truth, it brings us to a choice concerning him. As Jesus told Martha in John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Like Abraham, we are called to trust in Jesus, to consider him trustworthy. During this Lenten season, we trust ourselves less and trust in Christ more as we think on his faithful obedience to the Father, even to the point of death.
Once again, the character of Jesus before us in the Scriptures is not one we are to simply read and know. His character must become ours. John writes in 3 John 3-4: For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. We are to be people who tell the truth but also walk in truth. In other words, we should be people who can be counted on, considered trustworthy and steady. Ultimately, we should be people who are rooted in the truth of God’s word, which can transform our hearts and fix our minds in faithfulness to him.
God’s emet, his faithfulness, is such a rich way to end our study in the character of Jesus. Everything we have learned about him – compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, overflowing with loyal love – is what you can always depend on with God’s character, because he is faithful, true, steady. We see the fullness of his character when we follow the crucified and risen King Jesus.
Additional Resources for Loyal Love
Music Resources for the season of Lent: