Tim Hansel, in his book, Holy Sweat, tells an experience he had with his son, Zac. The two of them were out in the country, climbing some cliffs. Tim heard his small son yell, “Hey Dad! Catch me!” He turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at him. The boy had jumped even before he yelled. It looked like a circus act, the man clutching his son in midair, then both of them falling to the ground. After catching his breath, the anxious dad asked in exasperation, “Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that?”
With remarkable calmness, the boy responded, “Sure . . . because you’re my dad.”
Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of confidence in your heavenly Father? Here’s the good news; you can! God is trustworthy, and we can have full confidence in Him.
1. God is Trustworthy
We want to first look at God’s promise to Abraham. (Genesis 12:1-7)
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
When Abram was 75 years old, God promised him that he would make Abram into a great nation. If that is true, there would need to be sons and heirs. At 75 Abram is still childless. If I were him, I would begin to wonder when all this was going to happen. Even though God promised these wonderful things, Abram had a trust problem. Let’s take a look at a few (Genesis 12:10-13)
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
The first problem we discover is that Abram was a very jealous man. He was probably insecure as well. He always thought someone was going to steal his wife, so he told the people that Sarai was his sister. This was a half-truth and the one thing about half-truths is that there is half-a-lie involved too. Sarai was his half-sister. Which at this time it appears, God allows. This is not the last time this happens. Let’s also take a look at Genesis 20:1-2.
1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
Would you agree with me that Abram had a trust problem? Let’s take a look at how Abram trusts God in Genesis 15:1-7.
1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
Abram is asking the question who will inherit my estate? God tells Abram not to worry and continue trusting God. This son will be your own, not a servant-heir. In verse 6, it is recorded, “Abram believe the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” So Abram believed God, but at this point he didn’t trust God as we soon will see. You see there is a difference between belief and trust. Abram believed with his head, but didn’t trust God with his heart. Let me ask you the question, “Do you only believe God with your head, or do you trust God with your heart?” Think about it as we continue on, because God has to remind Abram of his promise once more.
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- 19the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”
God was promising Abram a great nation (people)and a great land (inheritance), a land so great, even to this day, Israel has not occupied. But Abram was still having trust trouble. Even Sarai, (his wife) gets into the act. She basically tells Abram, “I not able to have children, so take my servant and have a child through her.” Sarai is just adding to Abrams trust troubles and creates a bigger problem. It’s like that with us. When we don’t trust God and try to move his hand, we often make a bigger mess of it than it really needed to be. In chapter 16, we see what happened as a result of Abram and Sarai’s lack of trust in God. Sarai’s servant became pregnant and had a child. If you think lack of trust isn’t a problem, I believe that most of the difficulty we are having in the Middle East even to this day is a result of Abram’s lack of trust in God. After this whole fiasco, God again reminds Abram of his promise.
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. 2 I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
God says, “I really will take care of you, please trust in me.” God changes Abram’s name to Abraham to indicate that he really will be the father of nations. God also reiterates his promise that Abraham’s MANY descendants will occupy a large portion of the Middle East. At the same time God renames Sarai to Sarah and tells her that, “I will bless you and you will give birth to a son.” Sarah had a trust problem as well. I’m still not sure Abraham has got it figured out.
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
Abraham has all kinds of questions. How can I father a child? How will Sarah bear a child at 90? I ask, “Is anything too hard for God?” God is asking, “Will you trust me?” Abraham still thinks he has it figured out, he wants a shortcut. Just let Ishmael be my heir. God says, “No, do it my way.” God reminds Abraham to trust him. I will provide you a son and you will call him Isaac. And this covenant is not for you only but all of your descendants. We find out in Genesis 21 that God kept his promise and gave Abraham and Sarah a son. God’s promises are true and God is trustworthy. Since God is trustworthy, I can rely on him. Let’s take a look now at how God puts Abraham to the test. (Genesis 22:1-18)
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
”Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
”The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
Wow! We go from a man who had a real trust problem to a man who now trusts God with his promised son’s life. We often think this is a horrible story. We need to remember that in Canaan, child sacrifice to gods was quite common. Abraham was being put to the test. Abraham has great confidence in vs. 5. “We will return back to you.” Abraham is confident that God will provide. He even tells his son Isaac this. “God will provide a lamb.” But Abraham does not kill the boy. Why? Because Abraham trusted in God. Let’s continue.
11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
”Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
What an awesome story. Abraham trusted in God. Abraham trusted God with his most prized possession. Can we do that today? What is your most prized possession? Can you trust God with it? Think about those areas of time, talent, treasure, and touch. Abraham has learned that he could trust God and God would be faithful. God provided a lamb just the way Abraham trusted God would and Abraham sacrifices it instead of Isaac. Abraham calls the place, “God will provide.” Can you come to the place that you know without a doubt that God will provide? Just as Abraham had to come to a place that he could trust God with his possessions and inheritance, you must come to that place as well.
Abraham tried to move God’s hand but it only got him into trouble. Abraham’s belief in God only became trust when he surrendered everything to God.