Do we really have the right to question the Almighty?
Abraham reasoned that God could leaven the dead, and so in a manner of speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:19
He is loved and venerated by Jews, Muslims, and by Christians. Though he lived over 4,000 years ago, his life is a refreshing study of what it means to live and walk by faith. Here was a man at the season of life when people are thinking of retirement, but God called him and said, “Abraham, I want you to follow me into a strange land which I will eventually give to you as an inheritance.
Abraham is known for his faith, not his questions, yet there are four questions which Abraham could well have asked, questions which most of us today would certainly ask if God were to ask us to do what He asked Abraham to do long ago.
Question #1: Where are you sending me? It was a long journey to Canaan from the town of Haran where Abraham lived in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley. That journey of nearly a thousand miles was marked by constant danger. Besides, Abraham was 75 years old, and the older we get the more concerned we are for our comfort. But, says the writer of Hebrews, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
But the response of this man was that of simple obedience–not ignorant compliance. He didn’t know where God was leading, but He knew who was leading Him, and his response was that of simple trust.
Question #2 (which Abraham never asked) was, “God, how is this possible?” No sooner had God taken Abraham into the promised land than He told him he would have a son of his own to whom he could pass on the inheritance. If Abraham never said it, he must have thought it: “Sure, God, I’m going to have a son–at my age? I’m in my middle 70s, and my wife is an old woman.” It was no wonder Sarah laughed when angelic messengers told her she would be the mother of a multitude.
The next time you are tempted to ask, “God, how is this possible?” please remember what the response of the angelic messenger was to Sarah’s unbelief. “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).
Question #3 (which Abraham never voiced) was, “God, when will this happen?” Other men and women the ages of Abraham and Sarah were grandparents and great grandparents, but buying nursery equipment when you are almost 80 years of age? Who would believe such a preposterous thing? The man or woman who walks by faith has to learn that God’s time table is much different from ours. What normal woman would not ask what Sarah asked, “Will I really have a child, now that I am old?” (Genesis 18:13).
We know that Abraham struggled with this issue–which resulted in his fathering a child by Sarah’s maid, Hagar, thereby laying the foundation for 4,000 years of hatred and conflict between Jews and Arabs.
There is one more question which Abraham never asked. Question #4: “Why me, God?” This last question could well have come nearly two decades later. Eventually, God did give Abraham and Sarah their own son, and they watched him grow to maturity. The first mention of love in the Bible is that of Abraham for his son, Isaac.
Then God tested Abraham by asking him to offer his son as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah. Four questions which Abraham never asked: Where? How? When? and Why?
Do we really have the right to question the Almighty? Or can we learn from Abraham that simple obedience is the best response to what God asks of us? Abraham believed God and so can we. It’s still the response of faith.
Resource reading: Hebrews 11:11-19