The Great Things Faith Can Do

December 15, 2009

God sometimes asks us to do things that are incredibly difficult. For years He asked Abraham to trust His promise that he would have a son by his wife, Sarah. Finally, when he was 100 years old, Isaac was born. Finally, Abraham had the promised heir, the one who would inherit all the promises that God had made to him. Then God tells Abraham to “take his son, his only son, the son whom he loved” and sacrifice him as a burnt offering at a place three days journey away.

Preachers and commentators expound upon the agonies that Abraham must have felt upon hearing God’s command. Each detail of the story is brought to bear to heighten his emotional turmoil. To slay your precious son as an offering to God, who could bear such a thing? Yet Abraham overcomes all his feelings and triumphs by faith. How remarkable!

As moving as such expositions are, they miss the most remarkable thing about this account. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the story to suggest that Abraham had such emotional turmoil. He does not protest God’s command. He gets up early the very next morning, makes suitable preparations for the trip and departs immediately. As soon as he sees the mountain he leaves his servants behind and heads to the place. He immediately builds the altar, arranges the wood, binds his son and lifts the knife to take his life. One modern commentator notes that “Abraham appears almost artificial in the subdued, matter-of-fact way that he moves from one step to the next.” Yet, he assures us that “it goes without saying that Abraham is utterly distraught at the prospect of losing his son, Isaac, in this way.”

What must be said is that Abraham is completely calm. He knows the One in whom he has believed and is persuaded that He is able to fulfill that which He has promised. He tells his servants that he and Isaac will return to them. He says this fully believing that Isaac will be slain and burned to ashes. Why? As Hebrews 11:18-19 tells us, he “concluded that God was able to raise him (Isaac) up, even from the dead.” Abraham’s faith reasoned its way to peace. God had promised that in Isaac his seed would be called. God has the right to ask anything He wants of us. God commands the death of Isaac. Therefore, God will have to raise him from the dead in order to keep His promises.

Faith believes God’s promises. It does not doubt when God’s commands or His providence seem to contradict them. Faith rests in God’s wisdom, power and faithfulness. When it does so, it can do great things. It can calm a father’s heart so that he does not feel “utterly distraught.” When we become upset over God’s ways it is because our faith is too small. Rather than complain, strive daily to put all your confidence in Him by rebuking your doubting heart and by meditating on God’s infinite wisdom, power and faithfulness. Then you will see what great things faith can do for you and, in so doing, will glorify your Heavenly Father.

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One Response to “The Great Things Faith Can Do”

  1. […] Jim O’Brien has a very nice post over at J.O.B.’s Journal on the faith of Abraham, and the grace God gives those who trust Him to do the difficult things to which He calls them. You can read it here. […]

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