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Genesis 15:46; 16:15; 17:36, 1519comment (0)

October 11, 2012

By David Hogg

Related Scripture: Genesis 15:46; 16:15; 17:36, 1519

Bible Studies for Life 
Academic Dean at Beeson Divinity School, Samford 

From Failure to Direction

Genesis 15:4–6; 16:1–5; 17:3–6, 15–19

Trust God (15:4–6)
Trust me, I know what I’m doing. Trust me, I know where we are. Trust me, this is the best deal you’ll find anywhere. Trust me — two infamous words that none of us like to hear because they mean the opposite of what they’re supposed to convey. Instead of instilling trust they provoke distrust and suspicion. But why? Because we are uncertain about the person’s character or ability.

Unfortunately we have a habit of transferring this inherent distrust of others onto God. Few of us want to admit publicly that we can struggle with trusting God. The reasons why we may waver in that trust can be many and varied, but underlying every reason is doubt about the character or ability of God. Actions speak louder than words because actions are the evidence of what we really believe.

What do we discover about Abram in this short passage? We find that he trusted the character and ability of God to bring about what He promised, and in Abram’s case God’s promise was nothing short of incredible. Abram had no children — his wife was barren. Yet God promised a child, and not just a child but descendants as innumerable as the stars in the sky. Did Abram have all the facts? No. Did Abram know when this promised child would come? No. Did Abram have any experience with God providing children up to this point? No. 

Abram did not need to know the whole plan to trust God and neither do we. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and His faithful, fatherly love for Abram is the same as His faithful, fatherly love for you.

Don’t Take Matters Into Your Own Hands (16:1–5)
Now, let’s take care not to put Abram on a pedestal. Even though he believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness, he was still susceptible to temptation, doubt and sin. Sometime after God promised Abram a son through his wife, he and Sarai decided to provide themselves with a son through another woman. “But wait a minute, wasn’t the plan Sarai’s idea?” Yes, but let’s not forget that Abram “listened to his wife” and went on to have a very important part to play in this plot.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should. This is very similar to what happened in the Garden of Eden. Eve failed to trust the promise and warning of God, doubting His character, and Adam simply went along with the plan. You may have noticed that Adam and Eve’s disobedience has had a negative effect on the subsequent history of humanity. So too with Abram. Scattered throughout the Bible we find references to troubles that can be traced back to Abram and Sarai’s single act of distrust in God’s promise.

Here is a stark reminder for us of the superiority of trust over both logic and mutual consent. Sarai may have thought her logic was sound, but whenever logic contradicts the word and promise of God that is an excellent indicator that our logic is, in fact, not sound at all. 

We also see here that mutual consent must be compared to the Word of God. Two people may agree on a course of action, but two wrongs never make a right. All decisions must be submitted to the authority of God’s perfect Word. He alone determines what is right and true because He alone is holy.

Refocus on God’s Plan (17:3–6, 15–19)
So what do we do when we have gone our own way and failed to follow God? The same thing Abraham did thousands of years ago — fall on our face in worship. We seek God’s face, trust in His Word and obey Him. 

Worship is one of God’s provisions for maintaining focus on Him and His Word. If you want to remain a faithful servant, remain faithful in worship.

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