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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Faith and Presumption

After nearly forty years of walking with God Abraham doesn’t blink an eye when God instructs him to take Isaac up on the mount and offer him to the Lord. Abraham has learned a number of truths about God:

  • God is good, knowable, and trustworthy.
  • God’s ways differ from man’s.
  • Faith in God pleases Him.
Abraham also teaches man the difference between faith and presumption:
  • Faith begins with a promise from God.
  • People respond with joy whatever the outcome.
  • Faith is God-centered (God wants to do something that brings glory to Himself).
  • Faith is humble.
  • Faith waits on God and surrenders to Him. 

  • Presumption begins with a personal desire.
  • People respond in anger when their expectations are dashed. 
  • Presumption is man-centered (Man wants God to do something for him).
  • Presumption is arrogant and demanding.
  • Presumption dictates what God must do.
Abraham responds to God’s instructions and takes Isaac up on the mount believing that if God can bring life to a barren womb then He can raise Isaac from the dead, “Concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (Hebrews 11:19). God responds to Abraham’s childlike faith and interrupts his obedience with His provision. 
Abraham teaches believers of every generation that God fulfills promises that He makes. That's not presumption. That's faith! Life in a barren womb. Life from a dead heir. Substitute ram for the son of promise. Life in Jesus’ name. 

A modern day analogy of faith

In corporate law, a stock certificate (also known as a share) is a legal document that certifies ownership of a specific number of stock shares (or fractions thereof) in a corporation. To own Home Depot stock is to own a portion of Home Depot. The promises of God are like stock certificates. To have a promise from God certifies the owner of God’s activity. God obligates Himself to the owner of that promise.

God gave Abraham a promise of a son, a land, and a nation through whom He would bless all the nations. Sixty-five years later all Abraham has is a 40-year-old single son and a burial plot in Canaan. The promise of God certifies that Abraham actually has a son, a land, and a great nation although he only sees partial fulfillment in his lifetime. To have a promise is to have total fulfillment, whether you see it or not, and whether it occurs in your lifetime. 
Older Post
The Place of Waiting
"Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching." Genesis 24:62-63 

Beer Lahai Roi: "The well of the Living One who sees me" or "The well of 'He who sees me lives'" 

God appears to Hagar at Beer Lahai Roi twice. Beaten emotionally (and maybe even physically) Hagar encounters God. So impacted by His care she names the place after her experience, "I see Him who sees me." The second encounter with God takes place at Beer Lehai Roi thirteen years later. It is here that Hagar finds release, redirection, and resuscitation of life. No longer is she classified as "Sarai's handmaid;" God simply calls her by name, "Hagar." 

Yep, if I were in Isaac's shoes I'd go wait at Beer Lahai Roi too. I'd want to be at a place known as "The meeting place with the God who sees, knows, and communicates with those who are alone and desperate." That would be Beer Lahai Roi: great place to wait on God. Especially for a 40-year-old bachelor and heir apparent. Especially since the task of "wife finding" has been outsourced to the oldest servant (with possible cataracts and waning eyesight) in Abraham's house. I wonder what Isaac's prayers were like as he waited for the servant's return: "Oh Lord, please let her be pretty." 

Beer Lahai Roi reminds Isaac that God sees, God knows, and He can be trusted with one's welfare. If God can take care of Hagar, then He can certainly provide a suitable wife for Isaac. 

I too, can wait on God; maybe not at the specific geographic location of Beer Lahai Roi. My chair in my den is my Beer Lahai Roi, my place of waiting upon the Lord with an open Bible and a prayerful heart. Just as He sees, knows, and provides for Hagar and for Isaac, so He provides for me. I can trust Him. He knows what is best for me and He isn't interested in giving me "ugly." 

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Genesis 22:1-24:67 (approximately 38 years have now passed since God first made promises to Abraham when he was 75 years old) 
  • Who does Abraham say will come back down from the mountain? What does this tell you about Abraham's faith in God? 
  • What does this provision teach Abraham's waiting servants about God? 
  • What news does Abraham receive about his extended family after he returns from Mount Moriah? What does this news tell Abraham about God's provision?
  • What does Abraham communicate about God to his servant to whom he gives the responsibility of finding a wife for Isaac? 
  • What does the servant communicate about Abraham and Isaac to Rebekah's family that convinces them that she'll be well taken care of? 
  • What does it cost Rebekah to follow God's will for her life, and what does she get in exchange? 
  • What role does Isaac play in getting a wife? 
  • What does this story teach you about God? 
Turning truth into prayer 
Thank the Lord that "He is good and only does good" (Psalm 119:68). Thank Him that He sees and He knows and that He can be trusted to accomplish His good purposes for your life.