Faith and FAITH

For my daily quiet time, I’m reading the Book of Judith. In it, the Assyrian king Nebuchadnezzar sends his general Holofernes to invade Jerusalem. This occurs in 586 B.C.E, right after the Jews have returned from exile and rebuilt their temple. (I know, we have some major historical errors here! The debate among scholars is whether or not they’re deliberate on the part of the author).

In Holofernes‘ camp, there’s an Ammonite named Achior. Achior advises Holofernes not to invade Jerusalem, since God is on the Jews’ side when they’re behaving themselves. Holofernes gets mad, affirms that the only god is Nebuchadnezzar, and sends Achior to the Israelites. Now, Achior will be among the besieged people!

There are many things that I can say about this, but here’s a lesson I want to share. The Israelites reassure Achior and praise him highly (Judith 6:20). And, after the beautiful Jewish widow Judith goes to Holofernes‘ camp, seduces him (while not actually sleeping with him), and cuts off his head, she shows the head to Achior. Achior then converts to Judaism and is circumcised (even though that’s a no-no according to Deuteronomy 23:3).

Achior had faith when he was in Holofernes‘ camp, for he said that God could fight on the side of the Israelites. But head-faith can easily be tested. When Achior was among the besieged Jews, who were going thirsty because Holofernes had cut off their water supply, he may have doubted the beliefs he expounded to Holofernes. But, after he saw the general’s head, he truly believed in God, and he decided to serve him. He had moved from a generic head-faith that was based on things he heard about Israel’s history, onto a genuine conviction.

I often feel that I just have head-faith. I believe in a set of doctrines, and they’re relevant to me when I’m praying, studying the Bible, or sharing my faith on my blog. But how’s my faith relate to the rough and tough reality of day-to-day life? I’ll need a job, especially in these hard economic times. But I wonder if God will bless me with one, especially considering that so many people with Asperger’s are unemployed or under-employed. Even when they do get jobs, they tend to mess up. Where is God in all of that? I’m like Achior: I can recite a bunch of doctrines I’ve heard, but when I’m sent to the besieged area, is my faith as strong? Achior needed continual encouragement, and he truly believed in God only after he saw the head of the enemy.

I can have faith on the mountain-top. It’s a lot harder on the ground-level!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Faith and FAITH

  1. ElShaddai Edwards says:

    But, after he saw the general’s head, he truly believed in God, and he decided to serve him. He had moved from a generic head-faith that was based on things he heard about Israel’s history, onto a genuine conviction.

    James! Wow – what a punning door not to walk through… certainly you could have said that Achior had *real* head-faith!

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  2. James Pate says:

    Yeah, I missed that El Shaddai! I’ve made unintentional puns before.

    Yeah–he moved from a theoretical head-faith, onto a real head-faith. 😀

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