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Monday, November 7, 2016
Moral Decline and the Faith of Abraham
Hebrews 11:17 –
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received
the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, "In
Isaac your seed shall be called," concluding that God was able to raise
him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative
Scriptures discuss the faith of Abraham and especially his faith in being
willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. Hebrews 11 says his faith was so great he
believed God could raise Isaac from the dead. Consider some lessons we can
I. God’s Faithful
Servants at Times Misunderstood His Intentions.
– "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are
revealed belong to us and to our children forever..." God has revealed
everything we need to know in order to do His will and receive eternal life.
But there are many things about God’s purposes that have not been revealed.
Abraham knew what
God commanded him to do, but if Abraham killed his son Isaac, how could God
keep His promise to make of Isaac a great nation with many descendants? Abraham
concluded God might raise him from the dead, but he was mistaken. Instead just
before Abraham killed Isaac, God stopped him and gave a substitute to offer
Job could not
understand why he was suffering when he knew he had served God faithfully.
Esther 4:13-16 –
When Haman determined to slay all the Jews, Mordechai urged Queen Esther to use
her position to appeal to the king to save them. He asked, "Who knows
whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" He did not
know what God’s plan was, but he did know that Esther must what she could.
that if she went to the king, she might be killed. But she said, "If I
perish, I perish." She too did not know what the outcome would be, but she
determined to use the privileges she had to do what she could to protect her
servants often did not know what God’s future plans were. This did not mean
they were displeasing to God. Not all ignorance is blameworthy. There are some
things we cannot be blamed for not knowing simply because God has not revealed
II. Faith Finds
Ways to Honor God Instead of Blaming Him.
Many people, who
do not understand God’s purposes, will criticize, blame, or even deny God on
the basis of human wisdom.
Job 42:1-3 – Job
had to repent (verse 6) because his misunderstandings of God’s purposes had led
him to criticize God. God proved to Job that he did not have the wisdom or the
power to sit in judgment on God and criticize Him. God is the Creator and
Ruler, far wiser than we are. So when He allows things that do not make sense
to us, we should still trust Him to do right.
Many people today
argue that suffering and other events in life do not make sense to them. Others
point out things in the Bible that confuse them. Some claim to find flaws in
God’s creation. So they sit in judgment on God, and conclude that they do not
have to obey the Bible, or even that God does not exist.
Others use human
wisdom or extreme hypothetical situations in which it appears that Bible
teachings do not make sense. So they deny that people must follow Bible
teachings about morality, salvation, the church, etc.
that true faith respects God instead of blaming Him.
God’s instructions to kill Isaac would be extremely hard for Abraham. But
instead of blaming God or criticizing Him, he demonstrated great faith by
finding a way to honor God despite the difficulties. It turns out his view was
mistaken, but at least it harmonized with what had been revealed rather than
When we find
ourselves confused by teachings of Scripture or events in life, we do not
always have to correctly understand God’s purposes. But whatever conclusions we
do reach should always harmonize with what God has revealed and should defend
His righteousness and justice, rather than criticizing or denying Him.
III. Faith Trusts
and Obeys God Even When It Is Hard to Understand.
things that God allows may result in suffering and hardship for His faithful
servants. When we do not understand these things, it is much harder to obey.
difficulty of God’s command, Abraham did not rationalize or excuse
disobedience. He did not understand how God would resolve the difficulty, but
he trusted God to do what was right so he obeyed anyway.
11 is filled with similar examples:
At God’s command,
Abraham left Ur when he did not even know where he was going.
At God’s command,
Noah built an ark to prepare for a flood when such a flood had never been known
in the history of the world before or since.
At God’s command,
Moses led Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea..
The Bible is
filled with faithful servants of God who faced similar difficulties. Not only
did the situations make little sense by human reasoning, they also required
great sacrifices and hardships.
When we have true
faith in God, like Abraham and all these great Bible characters, we will
acknowledge that there may be things about God’s purposes that we do not
understand. And He may allow us to face hardship and trouble, but rather than
criticizing Him we will still trust Him to do what is good and give us great
blessings in the end.
In recent years
the decline of our nation has become an avalanche of wickedness and immorality.
Many of us have observed this decline with amazement, frustration, sorrow, and
even anger. We have prayed, and we have often wondered where it all will end.
Christians do and what should we think in troubled times like this? Let us
learn the lessons from Abraham.
1. Remember that
we do not understand God’s intentions. God is not limited by the alternatives
that we see. Abraham suggested an alternative, but he was mistaken.
intends to bring severe punishment on this nation for its wickedness. Perhaps
He may allow the nation to fall. Who knows? But God has ways of dealing with
situations that are beyond our comprehension.
remember to defend God’s conduct, but never criticize or blame Him. The fact we
do not understand His purposes should never lead us to doubt, criticize, or
blame Him. He is the great Ruler of the universe. His thoughts and ways are
beyond our thoughts and ways as the heavens are higher than the earth. God is
in charge and He knows what He is doing.
3. And always
trust God enough to obey him regardless of the hardships and difficulties we
may face. The future may hold suffering for us even as God’s people in times
past have suffered. Perhaps we may be persecuted for our faith. But however
difficult the future becomes, like Abraham we must trust God to know what He is
doing and to care for His people.
Daniel 4:30 – The
king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a
royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" While
the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King
Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And
they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of
the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass
over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and
gives it to whomever He chooses." That very hour the word was fulfilled
concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his
body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles'
feathers and his nails like birds' claws. And at the end of the time I,
Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me;
and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to
generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does
according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the
earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You
2 Peter 2:9 – The
Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the
unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.
(C) Copyright 2016, David E. Pratte
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