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And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Genesis 17:15~19)
Breaking the 13 Year-Long Distrust
Abraham had two sons. One of them was Ishmael, who was borne through humanistic methods. Ishmael is a son borne from distrusting the promise that God would give a son to Abraham. The other is Isaac, who was borne according to the promise. This happened when Sara conceived Isaac. It was 13 years after the birth of Ishmael, and Abraham was 99 years old while Sarah was 89. It had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women, and she was so old that in every way it seemed impossible that she and Abraham would have a son. When they had given up on having a son, a messenger of God came searching for Abraham one day. “Your wife, Sarah, will have a son.” Abraham laughed. “How can a man 100 years old have a child? Sarah is ninety. . . .” The distrust that appeared in chapter 16 continued all the way here. Abraham thought it was only fitting since he had not had a son for 13 years. Now the Word of God enters Abraham’s heart and works to insert the faith that he will have a son into his heart, which thinks that he cannot have a son. Then Satan brings forth the circumstances and crumbles down the faith to believe in God, saying, “You cannot have a son! You are too old! It is impossible!” This was done in order to provoke distrust, which is the opposite of the Word of God. On the other hand, God changes our hearts of distrust to lead us to have faith. If you look at the traces of Satan in the hearts that Satan has passed, they are full of distrust. If you look at the traces of God in the hearts that God has passed, such hearts are filled with faith. When Sarah heard the promise of God, she first had the heart that the promise would be achieved. But as she and her husband continued to age more and more, and they weren’t able to have a son even after 10 years, Satan then began to work upon Sarah’s heart. “You are old. How can you have a son? It’s impossible!” When Sarah heard the voice of Satan, it truly seemed that she could not have a son. Therefore, she told her handmaid, Hagar, to sleep with Abraham, and Hagar bore a son. This was a humanistic method, opposite of the will of God. But 13 years passed with Abraham and Sarah believing that they had done the right thing. God wanted to break the distrust in Abraham’s heart that had hardened over 13 years. He wanted to crush that heart of not believing in God, the heart of looking at the circumstances. Thus, He appeared unto Abraham. “Your wife, Sarah, will have a son.” Abraham was already full of distrust, thinking that he cannot have a son, so he laughed because he already had Ishmael. “How can a man 100 years old have a child? Sarah is ninety. . . .” He spoke from his humanistic viewpoint, solely from his logic and his experience. God spoke to him again. “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time you will have a son. You will call his name Isaac.” God spoke words that broke the distrust in Abraham’s heart. “Is anything too hard for the Lord? Can the Lord not give you a son because you are too old? Can God not give you a son because it has ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women? It is the Lord who is giving you a son. Why do you not believe?” Right then, the Word of God entered Abraham’s heart, and the distrust that was in him began to break. “Yes, that’s right. God said that He would give me a son. If God is the one giving me a son, what problem is it that I am old?” Faith arose in Abraham’s heart. “Yes, God. I will have a son.” Abraham was so old and it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Under the circumstances, there is not even the slightest bit of possibility that she can have a son, and it makes no sense according to the experience, logic, and methods of man. But upon hearing the words of the promise of God, Abraham had faith, “That’s right, I will have a son!”
Through Faith, Sarah Received the Strength to Conceive
God once again came to Abraham and spoke to him. “Where is your wife Sarah?” “She is in the tent.” “At the appointed time, your wife, Sarah, shall have a son.” Sarah heard this at the door of the tent and she laughed. “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” Those were purely humanistic thoughts. Humanistically speaking, it is only natural to think, “I am old and my husband is old as well. What pleasure can I have? How can I have a son?” You, too, would speak of humanistic things rather than the faith to believe in God. Sarah spoke of what she saw and felt as a human. God wanted to break this distrust in Sarah’s heart.
“Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?’?” Sarah, who was afraid, without herself realizing it, said, “No, I did not laugh.” It was spontaneous lying, but God said, “No, you did laugh.” Here, the same thing that happened to Abraham’s heart occurred in Sarah’s heart. God said that He would give her a son, but for a long time the distrust from seeing the circumstances that she could not have a child had captured her heart. But as the Word of God entered Sarah’s heart, that distrust completely came crashing down. The faith, “If God gives me a son, then even if I am old, I will have a son!” entered her heart. Hebrews chapter 11, verse 11 says, Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed. Up to that point, her body was old and powerless, but strangely her body changed as her distrust broke. Strength began to spring up in her as soon as she had faith. The strength to have a son is in God, and when she said, “Yes, God. If you do it, I can have a son,” and faith came upon her, the heart of God and the heart of Sarah became one. That heart became the channel for Sarah to receive the power of God. “Honey, don’t I look 50 years younger? I don’t know why my appetite is so good these days. Honey, shall we go out to exercise?” That is what’s truly amazing.
The Word Must Be There Above
I have seen many works of God. I often say this, but water flows through water pipes, electricity flows through electrical wires, and the works of God flow from heart to heart. But sadly, many people have a heart different from God. It is because God has power but we look at the circumstances. The heart of God says, “You will have a son,” but we look at the circumstances and say, “I cannot have a son.” Our hearts are different from God’s. In John chapter 5, Jesus said to the man with the infirmity for 38 years, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” However, this man originally had the heart, “How can I get up?” But upon hearing the words of Jesus, he thought, “Well, let me believe in those words for once. He has come to me and told me to walk, so let me walk!” and changed his heart. When he tried to walk from his heart, his heart became like that of Jesus’ and their hearts flowed together. Through this heart, the power of Jesus was delivered to him and he walked. Faith is us accepting the Word of God to have the same heart as God, when we had a different heart from God. when we had a different heart from God. Sarah’s heart became one with God’s as she obtained faith. Then the strength to conceive worked upon every corner of her heart, and she was able to have a child. As we live in this world, we cannot ignore our experiences, knowledge, or logic. We live relying on those things. This is only fitting. But regardless of what you face, if you are standing before God, the Word of God must be placed above your thoughts. God must be placed above your methods, knowledge, or experiences. When the general of an army shouts, “Attack!” a private may say, “No, we cannot,” but the order of the general will be followed. Likewise, when God has a higher place than you, although you cannot walk, in your eyes, you can walk when the Lord says to walk. Although you cannot have a child, in your eyes, if the Lord says that you will have a child, you will have a child. The Word of God, in this manner, must be above your heart. Regardless of how it seems in your eyes, you must accept the Word of God by faith, regardless of your own thoughts. Abraham, until now, had not believed in God. He only looked at the circumstances. The circumstances showed that he was too old to have a son, but God loved Abraham and approached him with the Word. “Your wife, Sarah, will have a son.” “How can a 100 hundred year old man have a child? Sarah is ninety. . . .” “Why are you laughing? Call your son Isaac. Is anything too hard for the Lord?” The Word of God entered Abraham’s heart and cast out the distrust in his heart. The 66 books of the Bible are the words of God. When these words defeat your experience, logic, and knowledge, regardless of how they are, they are placed below the Word of God. When you then accept the Word of God, He begins to work powerfully in your life.
Receiving the Forgiveness of Sin
This is exactly true, also, with receiving the forgiveness of sins by faith. People do say that they believe in Jesus. They know that Jesus was crucified for their sin. How is it in your thoughts? The memories of having sinned make you feel guilty in your conscience and torment your heart. In their hearts, people’s personal thoughts say, “I don’t think this sin can be forgiven. There is no way this sin can be forgiven. This sin must have remained.” That is how your thoughts arise, but if the words of the Bible say that your sins are forgiven, then you must believe those words of God. Even though you may sin every day, are lustful, and always have deceitful hearts arising in you, you must put the Word above those things. The heart, “How can I be good and righteous? I am a sinner,” is the same as the heart of Abraham who looked at the circumstances thinking that he cannot have a son. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” God speaks to our hearts. “If God sends Jesus to cleanse your sins, would He not do it? Can you become holy if God makes you holy? Can you become as white as snow when God makes you so?” “God, if you do it, I can be pure no matter how dirty I am. God, if you do it, I will be holy. It did not work when I tried to wash away my sins and tried to not sin. But God, if you do it, I will be righteous and clean.” That is how you believe. “I am made clean through Jesus bearing the cross. Why couldn’t Jesus, who bore the cross, make me pure? He made me pure!” Abraham had two sons: one of them, Ishmael, was a son borne through the distrust of not believing the promise. He was a son borne of distrust. Ishmael is the son born through using humanistic methods because it seemed that God would not give them a child. Their second son, Isaac, was a son borne through the faith to believe in the promise of God. Abraham was too old and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women so it was impossible for them to have a son. However, he gained a son through the faith that he would have a son if God allows them one. This is also true with us receiving the forgiveness of sins. It is not because it is possible humanistically. “I cannot become clean no matter how hard I try. It is impossible for me to become pure.” Often, this is how it seems to man. You come to know your limits in what you do and you see that you cannot do it. Thus now we must rely on God doing all the work. “If God makes me clean, then I am clean. If God makes me holy, I am holy, regardless of the circumstances. If God makes me good, I am good even if I am evil.” It is all about believing in the blood Jesus shed on the cross for me. It is relying on the blood of Jesus Christ. “That is right. Jesus died on the cross for me. Jesus perfectly achieved that which I could not do, and made me clean and holy.” It is not done through our righteous actions or our holy lives. Regardless of how you are, you can become righteous.
Only through Faith in Jesus
Abraham had two sons: one was the son borne through distrust and the other is the son borne through faith. The son of distrust is the result of seeking humanistically possible things. The son borne through faith may seem humanistically impossible, but he was the result of having the faith to believe in Him. In our spiritual lives as well, this rings true in us receiving the forgiveness of sin and becoming righteous and holy. It may seem impossible from a humanistic standpoint, but it is about believing in the Word of God. It is about looking at Jesus Christ, who was crucified according to the promise of God. If He was crucified to forgive our sins, that means our sins are washed away. If Jesus shed His blood to make us holy, then we have been made holy. The work He does is perfect. It is we who lack, not Jesus. When we believe not in ourselves but in His cross, in His blood, and rely on Him, it is true faith. Abraham having a son was humanistically impossible, but he believed in the promise God had made. We becoming holy and righteous is something we cannot imagine, but we believe in God. It is because Jesus bore the cross to make me holy and righteous. Did Jesus fail? Not so. I believe that I am bundled in sin, and that I am evil, dirty, and deceitful. But when our Lord shed His blood and died on the cross, there, every single one of my sins became purified and clean. I have no doubt that it has been washed clean. Through believing in this fact, I am righteous. I have been sanctified through believing that the blood of the cross was shed for me. I was a pile of sin, but I am no longer a sinner. My sins ended on the cross. The punishment and curse that I was to receive all ended at the cross. We believe in this. Just as Abraham had Isaac through faith, that is how you receive salvation. I hope that you will believe that the work of Jesus has perfectly cleansed you.