What is Faith? In my most recent Blog I asked a great deal of questions regarding your interaction with faith. Today, we will take an up-close look to answer a few of those questions.
Believe is word that is often substituted for Faith. I located this definition for believing – accept (something) as true or hold (something) as an opinion. I believe that Star Wars is the best Sci-fi story ever told. I can believe (hold an opinion) that this statement is true. Some may notice that I am able to discuss the story line. They may see my figurines on the shelves inside my home near the many books on the topic. But do I have faith in Star Wars? I believe (hold an opinion) that it is a well told story, but my life is not better, I do not find purpose, nor do I exceed because of this closely held belief.
Today we will take and up-close look into two Bible characters. Did they believe (accept or hold an opinion) or did they have faith in God? Starting first with Sarah the wife of Abraham, who was promised by God to become the father of a great nation of people. Then I want to take a look at someone you may not know as well but still listed in our chapter of faith in Hebrews 11, Gideon.
Genesis 16: 1-2 New Living Translation
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.”
Genesis 18: 12-13 New Living Translation
So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’
Abraham was given the promise of children 10 years before Genesis 16 and 24 years before the passage in 18. God directly told them that they would have more children than the stars that shined above. How? She was 65 years old when they heard the promise of children? Now, years have passed, and they wonder if maybe God had another plan, so she placed the wheels into motion and Abraham had a child. They soon learned that their plan was not God’s answer to the promise. In chapter 18 above Sarah is 89 years old and without a single child. She laughed to herself and simply ask, “How?”
Hebrews 11: 11-12 New Living Translation
It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so, a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
Sarah after 25 years from the first promise, she gives birth to a sweet baby boy named Isaac at the age of 90. Taking an up-close look into this passage, let us read slowly through verse 11, “though she was barren and was too old. She believed!” Sarah had nothing in which to believe (hold an opinion), she was barren and old! Maybe just maybe, within the moment of her laugh she understood the meaning of faith, for faith begins when our abilities end. Wow, that really hit me, I hope it does you as well.
Hebrews 11: 3 2-33 New Living Translation
How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,
Here is a quick list of Kings, Generals, Judges, and Prophets of God who each have incredible stories of their own. And shutting the mouth of lions must be Daniel. He trusted God in everyway and with every detail of his life. But what about Gideon, what is his story and how does he make this list?
Judges 6:11 New Living Translation
Then the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites.
Gideon is hiding in a basement. He created his own plan that would save the little bit of food he had from the enemy, down below the winepress. He and his people were hungry, the enemy had been raiding their food for some time now and he needed to feed himself, family, and friends. He does not stand up to the enemy, instead he hides.
Judges 6: 12-13a New Living Translation
The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?
A “Mighty Hero”, since when do mighty hero’s hide in the basement? At this time Gideon, our hero (?), lacks any signs of faith, he wonders why God would even allow this to happen. “God are you still there? We could one of those miracles right now.” I am not even sure at this point that Gideon still believes the stories his parents and grandparents told him about God.
Judges 6: 15-16 New Living Translation
“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The LORD said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”
Just like Sarah, Gideon is well aware of his shortcomings, his family is the weakest in his tribe, and he is the least of his entire family. Sarah laughed and Gideon hides, both of these people are listed in Hebrews 11, our hall of faith. Then the Lord says, “I will be with you!” Read more of his story in Judges, absolutely amazing what is accomplished though the life of Gideon because he stepped out of himself and understood that faith begins when our abilities end.
I do not believe (opinion) that I am done posting regarding our study on faith. There is more to come, I have just scratched the surface. I am learning that Faith begins when I have come to the end of myself and my plans, allowing God to work from me.