Christians seems to have worn out the verse ‘Nothing is impossible with God’. Did you know the ad for the footwear Adidas claims: ‘Impossible is Nothing’! We can demonstrate God’s power at work on behalf of people if only we learn how to put feet to our faith and this is no small challenge. Abraham’s call to obey God (Gen 12) came in the form of ‘tests’ that help us examine and prove our own faith and commitment to God and His purposes. While there are distinct steps in Abraham’s life of faith that tested him, in Hebrews 11:8-19, there are at least four that challenge us:
Test-1 A Major Change: (v.8) Have you been in some way re-located and feel ‘rootless’? Abram lived in the famous Ur of Chaldea in Mesopotamia. This ancient business centre was his life, workplace and ‘comfort zone’. God asked Abram to: Get Up, Get Out and Get Going to a place he had never seen before, that He now promises to give him as an inheritance. Abram had directions without knowing the destination, yet he simply trusted and implicitly obeyed. The acronym for F-A-I-T-H, Forsaking All I Trust Him is evident in Abraham’s life. He relied totally on a trustworthy God who he knew was with him. God’s Mission (missio = to send) implies movement and change is that sure constant in a life of faith. Believers today need to ask: Am I willing to follow and obey God’s Call even though I do not know where?
Test-2 A Delayed Promise: (v. 9-10) Faith acts upon God’s Word, yet is willing to wait for God to act, in His time! Abram lived in tents for over 100 years, waiting for God, in His perfect ‘time’ to give him the Promised Land. His focus was on his God – the object of his faith, not the Promised Land, because ‘by faith’ he looked for a lasting city, which God himself had planned and built! Waiting is never easy, but is essential for the life of faith, for only those who wait on the Lord will be renewed and strengthened (Isa. 40:31). While God’s clock and calendar are not the same as ours, remember His timing is perfect and He is never late or too early. Am I willing to wait for God’s promise though I don’t know when?
Test-3 An Impossible Plan: (v.11-12) God’s promise to Abraham not only was about a physical inheritance but a spiritual heir – a son and a nation, through which God planned to bring the blessing of His salvation to all the peoples of the earth! For this, Abram (father of many) had a major problem – he was childless! To make matters worse, God changes his name to Abraham (father of multitudes!) and promises him a son through Sarah, who was well beyond child-bearing, right – Impossible! Abraham and Sarah try to help God out and get Hagar to bear him a son but this was not faith or God’s way. Yet, God in due time gave Sarah a son and ‘this kids was (not) a joke’ and called Isaac (Laughter!) Be careful what you call impossible. Am I willing to accept God’s methods without knowing how?
Test-4 A Senseless Tragedy: (v.17-19) After proving his word, God continues to test Abraham’s faith in the never failing power of His love. Would Abraham willing give up all to God in the sacrifice of his ‘only begotten’ son – Isaac!? The ultimate test in any relationship is ‘love’ and ‘sacrifice’ and NB: these always go together. Did you know, child-sacrifice was a common practice among the pagans in Abraham’s culture? Would his faith in YHWH, the true and living God, be comparable? Abraham’s obedience demonstrates how believers are but clay and must allow God, the Potter to have his way in their lives.
Abraham didn’t understand ‘why’ God would want Isaac sacrificed, but had resurrection faith in Jehovah Jereh who not only ‘provides a way, His Way’ but literally, gives life to dead people! His faith was anchored in what God said (His faithful Word) what God can do (His mighty works) most importantly who God is (His matchless worth)! Spurgeon put it well: ‘When we cannot see God’s hand, we can always trust God’s heart’. I’m proving how “God is too good to be unkind to me; and too wise to make any mistakes in my life!” The question is: Am I willing to trust God’s heart without knowing just why?