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Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. (Genesis 16:1~4)
To elaborate upon Abraham, he is the father of faith; however, he was not a man with faith to begin with. God clearly promised Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make thee a great nation . . . . (Genesis 12:1-2) If he were a person who had faith in God, he would have believed, saying, “Regardless of the circumstances, since this is the promise from God, I will have many descendents like the stars in the sky and the sand of the sea.” Yet, he could not. There is a step anyone who enters faith must take. Abraham was going through that step. That step was that although God told him he would have many descendents, the actual circumstances stated otherwise. As ten years had passed after God gave Abraham His promise, he had become older, and he began to think, along with Sarah, his wife, that, “Although God promised, it is impossible now to have a son.” If the circumstances had gone consistently with the Word of God, then when they heard the Word of God, they would have simply believed. If Sarah became pregnant the moment God said, “Your children will be many like the stars in the sky,” it would not have been difficult at all to believe. But ten years passed, and Abraham was becoming older and older, while the possibilities of him having a child were diminishing. However, God said that Abraham would have many children, and thus, Abraham was experiencing conflict between the circumstances and the promise.
When Taking the Step of Faith
Our eyes to see the circumstances are much stronger than our eyes to see the Word of God. Thus our hearts are constantly inclined toward the circumstances, which keep us from believing God. The Bible often speaks about this. When Lazarus was diseased in John chapter 11, his sisters sent a person to Jesus to ask Him to heal Lazarus. Jesus did not go to their house but said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.” In their hearts, Mary and Martha, who heard this, thought, “If this sickness is not unto death, then our brother will live.” But then their brother began to become more and more ill instead of getting better the next day. The hearts of the two sisters also changed in accordance with the circumstances. “The Lord said that our brother will live, but he might die.” “If this keeps up, he will die!” “Oh, our brother is dying!” The Word disappeared from their hearts and the reality that their older brother died was magnified. How much faith do people who walk by faith need to believe the promise of God? They need the faith that since it is the Word of God, it will be accomplished exactly as it was articulated, although the circumstances state otherwise. God wants to save every one of the people of this earth; to make them into the people of God. But we become the people of God when we take the step of faith. If we believe the Word of God because it seems that it will be accomplished, then we will believe not only in God but also in the fortune teller and anyone just passing by. If things go as stated, who would not believe? Satan creates circumstances that are opposite of the promise God gave us in order to keep us from having the faith to believe in that promise. At the moment, everything feels impossible when looking at the circumstances. But believing the Word of God because they are God’s words is true faith. This is how God is training and leading His people. Regardless of how it appears in your eyes; regardless of how it seems according to your experiences; and regardless of how the circumstances flow, God wants to lead you to the step of faith and have you say, “If this is what the Word of God says, it is the truth,” and have you believe the Word. But people only follow whatever fits their hearts or circumstances. They do not follow the Word when it does not fit. God clearly said to Abraham, “I will make thee a great nation.” Then Abraham will become a great nation. Abraham has to have a son to become a great nation. How can he become a great nation without having a son? Therefore, Abraham saying, “I am old and it has ceased to be with my wife after the manner of women. However, this is only the circumstances. God will give me a son!” is what faith is. But for the most part, people are unable to have such faith.
Even if I have to Sleep with the Handmaid
We call Abraham the father of faith, but he did not have faith to begin with. He was human just like us. Upon hearing the promise of God, Abraham must have excitedly asked his wife, “Honey, any news?” many times, but there was never any news. They were getting older and older. That’s when reality became magnified greater than the Word of God in Abraham’s heart. Then Sarah, his wife, tells him, “The Lord has restrained me from bearing.” In actuality, there was no change in the great plan of God to give many children to Abraham and have Christ be born to save mankind from his descendents. However, the thought, “The Lord has restrained me from bearing,” arose in Sarah’s heart. She fell into distrust as she saw the circumstances. At the time, Sarah had a young, healthy Egyptian handmaid, and Sarah thought in her heart, “If I cannot have a child, how would it be to have a child through this handmaid?” What woman would like for her husband to sleep with another woman? But this was what Sarah was proposing.
“Husband, it seems that there is no child in my fortune, but there is one in yours. How about if you could take my handmaid and have a son through her? Shouldn’t we at least do that in order to have a son?” The reason this thought sprouted in Sarah’s heart was because she did not have the tiniest bit of faith. If Sarah even slightly felt, “Although I am old and it has ceased to be with me after the manner of women, since God said He will give me a child, I will have a child,” she would not have given her handmaid to her husband. If there was even a 1% chance that she could have a child, in her heart, she would have placed her hope there instead of having the heart to have a child through another woman. This heart arose in Sarah because all possibility of her having a child herself fell apart in her heart. The many thoughts that arise in people’s hearts do not come about from nothing. The thoughts that arise from people who are faithless are completely different from the thoughts of people with faith. There is a heart faithless people have, and there is a heart people with faith have. The power of distrust cannot arise when there is faith. There are so many things caused by faithlessness. Mary and Martha wept sadly when Lazarus died. Why did they weep? The Lord said, “This sickness is not unto death, but a disease for the glory of God,” but they did not have faith in these words. “If it is for the glory of God, then Lazarus has to come back to life for it to be glory. How can glory come from this state? Okay, although he is dead now, God will raise our brother again!” If they had this faith in their heart, even though their brother was dead and smelling, they would have said to other people, “Why are you crying? Our brother is not dead. Do not worry because he will rise again.” “Are you crazy? He’s dead, what’s wrong with you!” “It only appears he is dead. He is not dead. Jesus said that our brother’s disease is for the glory of God, and not a disease unto death.” This state of heart is faith. But as their brother was dying little by little, the words of Jesus shook and faded in the hearts of Martha and Mary. It was because they did not have the faith to believe in Jesus. It seems that Sarah was a woman with very good intentions to allow another woman into her husband’s bedroom so he could have a son. It seems that she had virtue, and had no jealousy. Yet this happened ultimately because she did not have faith.
Sacrifice and Prayer that Arise from Distrust
In the Bible, Saul is cursed by God one day for giving an offering to God. The Philistines attacked and Israel was in a dangerous situation. Saul was afraid that God would not help him, so he gave an offering to God in order to receive His help. However, this offering was a sinful one because it started from not trusting that God would protect him. Jephthah faced so many soldiers when he was going to fight against the Ammonites. Although God was with him, he thought, “What am I going to do if God does not help me?” and was captivated by a heart of fear. So he swore to God: “God, if you deliver the children of Ammon into my hands, I will offer the first person or thing that comes out to welcome me as a burnt offering when I return home from winning the battle.” When Jephthah returned after winning the battle, his daughter, who was his only child, came out to welcome him with timbrels. Ultimately, Jephthah had to kill his sole loving daughter and give her as a burnt offering. Why did Jephthah do this? God stood with Jephthah and stood on Israel’s side to protect and keep Israel victorious. But since he could not believe this, he made this proposal on his own. All of this transpires from distrusting God. There are many things that are based on distrust in the spiritual life that we live as well. There are many people who try diligently on their own to do something. People think, “What’s so bad about trying to be good?” But there are so many good deeds that were based on distrust. People try to achieve goodness on their own because they are unable to believe that Jesus has achieved it. There are many people who strain and cry out to have their sins forgiven. They appear to be truly sincere, but such prayers come from distrusting and not believing that the blood Jesus shed on the cross has washed their sins away. There is no one who does not sin, but people who believe, “Lord, although I am an evil, dirty human being. It is recorded that the blood the Lord shed has washed away all of my sins. I believe that my sins are washed away,” do not pray, “Lord, wash my sins away.” Instead, they pray, “Thank you for washing my sins away.” However, people who know that Jesus died on the cross for their sins but think that their sins have not been washed away cry everyday and sincerely pray, “Lord, forgive my sins. Wash my sins away.” It seems that their prayer and years of repentance seem sincere, but from another perspective, because those things have come from distrusting and not believing in the blood of Jesus, it is in itself a sin. If you believe that the blood Jesus shed on the cross forgave your sins, why would you ask for your sins to be washed away? The Bible says, And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17) Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18) Many places in the Bible say that the blood of Christ has washed our sins away. The book of Romans says that we have no more condemnation. It says that we are justified. 1 Corinthians tells us that we are cleansed, and our sins are washed away. Because people do not believe in these words but in their thoughts, it feels as though their sins remain. Because you sinned, it feels as though your sins remain. Then you go to sincerely pray to God for the forgiveness of sins. It seems to be a sincere prayer when seen from someone who does not know, but this is actually a prayer from distrust. It is a prayer to be cursed. Saul giving an offering, or Jephthah giving his only daughter as an offering, both started from the heart of sincerely hoping that God would protect them. But they were from distrust.
Do Not Listen to that Voice Only
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, thought, “I am so pitiful, and I’m becoming old. My husband is so old, and if he gets any older, he will be unable to have a son. Before that happens, we’d better receive a seed through my handmaid.” Why did this heart arise in her? It was because she could not believe the promise that God would give them a child. God clearly gave them that promise, so is there anyone that could have flipped that promise over? Who can go against the promise of God? It will surely come to pass if that was what God has said. Whether mountains change, whether the waters of the sea gather and jump over the mountains, the Word of God will be fulfilled. But without faith, people only flow to humanistic thoughts. Many people, just as Sarah and Abraham lacked faith, do not look to God to take care of everything, but use humanistic methods. It seems that God will not bestow goodness unto them, so people try to become good themselves. They are unable to believe that God washed their sins away, so they strain to try to wash their sins away themselves. How heartbreaking it must be for the Almighty God when He sees this! “I have loved you, I have always been for you, I have protected you, and I am laboring like this for you, but why do you not believe?” It must be so heartbreaking for God. Loving folks, I would like to ask you a question. When you come before God, are you often in guilt and shame because of sin? Anyone who sins feels guilt and pain because everyone has a conscience. When we sin our conscience says, “You are a sinner. You lied. You deceived other people. You committed adultery. You caused damage to others. You are a terrible bastard!” Of course it is only human to have such voices from our conscience. However, you should not listen only to that voice, but listen to the voice of God in the Bible. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24) “Ah, I did sin, but God called me righteous through the redemption of Jesus! Then should I believe in my thoughts or in these words? I should believe the Word. The Word says that I have been justified, my sins are cleansed, and God remembers my sin no more. Although I remember my sins, God has washed my sins away and does not remember them!” We should believe the Word of God in this manner.
Out from Distrust
Unfortunately, people believe in their thoughts more than the Word of God. That is why Abraham had a son through sleeping with a handmaid. That son was Ishmael; the son of distrust. There are many things that happen in our lives through distrusting God. There are many seeds of distrust that God deeply hates, because man has done many things with their humanistic methods and ways without faith in God. These things are all cursed by God. I hope that you will now come out from distrust. Regardless of what you see and feel, I hope you will believe in your heart, “What does God say?” In the Bible, Jesus said to a paralytic, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” These words were not only for the paralytic, but were said for us as well. It is because Jesus was not crucified only for the sins of that paralytic. Now we must say, “These words are the words the Lord has given me. Within the Word, the Lord says that the lustful and deceitful sins that I remember are all forgiven. Regardless of what I think, this is the truth,” and accept the Word. This is throwing your thoughts away and believing the Word of God. The person who does this is a person of faith. What are you doing in your spiritual life? Are you laboring on your own to wash your sins away, unable to believe that Jesus forgave your sins when He died for you on the cross? That is the fruit of distrust. Leave all of your methods behind, and believe in Jesus. Believe that Jesus forgave your sins on the cross. That faith will bring to you a beautiful, blessed life.