Today’s blog excerpts points made on Father’s Day, June 21, 2015. I trust readers will profit by it more than the congregation seemed to. Three Old Testament men took action when God tested their faith, but only two in a positive way.
One, Abraham, Genesis 22:1-18. He had waited for the promised son 25 years before seeing him born. Then, within 12 years God ordered him executed on an altar atop Mt. Moriah. Hebrews 11:17-19 says that Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead.
To PROVE that, he had to raise his knife over his son’s heart ready to plunge it down and in, proving he intended to KILL him. That action proved his faith. He didn’t look for the ram in the thicket. God provided the ram because Abraham would have sacrificed Isaac otherwise.
The Biblical principle is: whenever we declare faith in God, expect to have him test it. And when tested, God wants to lead faith to obedience, not to doubts, questions and defeats.
Two, Jonathan, I Samuel 14:1-12. He expressed confidence that God could save Israel by many or by few, then proved he could be one of the few. His danger-courting faith inspired his equally-courageous armor-bearer.
Two spiritual principles to remember. First, we need to consider any person God puts into our life as the one he wants us to influence. It may be an entirely different person than we expect. No matter. Seize the opportunity that person provides. Second, we need to be the kind of person whose spiritual integrity precedes us and inspires reckless courage in them.
Jonathan went into action when the Philistine sentry invited them to “Come up.” He didn’t turn to his armor-bearer to verify the reaction. Nor did he seek a second sign. He simply said to his youngster, “Climb up after me,” for I’m going to war in God’s name!
The spiritual principle is: if we ever say we’ll obey God if such and such happens, or if we ask for a sign and he gives it, Do Not Delay To Obey!
Three, Gideon, in Judges 6:36-40. He alone of the three couldn’t get evidence enough that God wanted him to defeat the Midianites. After granting his requests for two signs, God granted him a third: steal down and listen to their fear.
Unlike Abraham who had to sacrifice his son; unlike Jonathan who had to dare, Gideon’s faith flagged despite having only to surround the enemy camp, to shout a slogan, to break the jars revealing lighted torches and to blow those horns. And watch God turn the camp against itself.
The Spiritual Principle is: if God wants something done, and can find an Abraham or Jonathan who say, “Let’s do it”; or like Gideon who has to say later, “I didn’t believe I could do it,” he’ll use them. For a simple reason: whatever the conflict or enemy God’s people encounter, the battle is the Lord’s, not ours! He alone gives the victory. Which is why no one can ever boast of being the reason we succeed.
Scripture says that God tested Abraham, tested Israel and tested Jesus. But what remained a test for Abraham and Jesus became a temptation to Israel because she failed the test into a temptation to disbelieve and disobey God.
God will test our faith: maybe by not answering our prayer; by imposing a burden we don’t want to bear; by facing a challenge we want to avoid. He never, never intends the test to become a temptation that causes us to lose faith in him.