If I were to ask you to describe Abraham with one word, what would it be?
If I were to ask you TO describe Sarah with one word, what would it be?
If I were to ask you to describe Moses with one word, what would it be?
If I were to ask you to describe Gideon with one word, what would it be?
If I were to say to you that all these people had one single thing in common, what would it be?
The word I would use to describe them is the word ‘doubters’, they were all doubters, they all doubted God. What we’re going to do is go through each of them and look at the very point in their lives when they doubted God, but also look at their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
‘God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’ Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ Genesis 17:15-17
At what point did Abraham doubt God? He doubted God when he laughed, but why did he laugh?
He laughed because God said that he would have a child, even though Abraham was 100 years old. He doubted God’s word. I would like to suggest to you that some of the most important words which was are written in the Bible about Abraham are found in Genesis 15.
‘Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.’ Genesis 15:6
Although Abraham had been demonstrating his faith through his actions, it was his belief in the Lord, not his actions, that made Abraham right with God.
‘What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.’ Romans 4:1-5
We too can have a right relationship with God by trusting Him. Our outward actions, church attendance, prayer, and good deeds, will not by themselves make us right with God.
So, what is the right relationship based on?
‘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. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.’ Hebrews 11:8-9
Faith is the heartfelt inner confidence that God is, who He says He is. Abraham doubted God but his name appears in the great hall of faith.
‘So, Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’ Then the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.’ Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But he said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.’ Genesis 18:12-15
At what point did Sarah doubt God? Sarah doubted God when she laughed, but why did she laugh?
She laughed because she was listening to what God had said and because she was Ninety years old. She too doubted God’s Word. Sarah lied because she was afraid of being discovered.
I believe that fear is the most common motive for lying. We are afraid that our inner thoughts and emotions will be exposed or our wrongdoings discovered. If God can’t be trusted with our innermost thoughts and fears, we are in greater trouble than we first imagined.
‘And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.’ Hebrews 11:11
What is significant about this passage in relation to Sarah?
She too doubted God but also Sarah is the first woman listed in the hall of faith in Hebrews. This also tells us that she was a very faithful woman.
‘So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God,’ Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’ Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ ‘This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.’ Exodus 3:10-15
At what point did Moses doubt God? He doubted when God told him to return to Egypt to lead the people out. Moses made excuses because he felt inadequate for the job God asked him to do. It was natural for him to feel that way because he was inadequate all by himself. But God wasn’t asking Moses to work alone.
What excuses do people make today for not doing what God tells them to do in His Word?
What excuses do Christians use for not sharing the Gospel with others?
God often calls us to do tasks that seem too difficult, but He doesn’t ask us to do them alone. God offers us His resources, just as he did to Moses.
We should not hide behind our inadequacies, as Moses did. We should look beyond ourselves to the great resources available. Then we can allow God to use our unique contributions for His will.
What resources has God given us today to help us live right for Him?
What resources has God given us can we use to share the Gospel with others?
‘By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.’ Hebrews 11:24-25
Moses too doubted God’s Word, but again we find that Moses’ name appears in the hall of faith.
‘The LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’ ‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ The LORD answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.’ Gideon replied, ‘If now I have found favour in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.’ And the LORD said, ‘I will wait until you return.’ Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak. The angel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.’ And Gideon did so. Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared. When Gideon realised that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, ‘Alas, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!’ But the LORD said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.’ Judges 6:14-23
At what point did Gideon doubt God?
Gideon doubted God when God told him he was going to be a judge and leader. ‘I will be with you’ God told Gideon and God promised to give him the strength he needed to overcome the opposition.
Despite this clear promise for strength, Gideon made excuses seeing only His limitations and weaknesses, he failed to see how God could work through him.
Like Gideon, we are all called to serve God in specific ways. Although God promises us the tools and strength we need we often make excuses.
What happens when we remind God of our limitations?
Reminding God of our limitations only implies that He does not know all about us or that He has made a mistake in evaluating our character. We need to stop spending time making excuses and we need to spend more time doing whatever God wants us to do. Because it is not ‘be all that you can be’, it’s be all that God wants you to be.
‘And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword whose weakness was turned to strength and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.’ Hebrews 11:32-34
Gideon too doubted God’s Word, but he too is mentioned by name in the hall of faith.
Can doubt be used positively?
If doubt leads to questions, and questions lead to answers, and then answers are excepted, then doubt has done good work. It is when doubt becomes stubbornness and stubbornness becomes a lifestyle, this is when your doubt can harm your faith.
We need to realise that many of the people God used to accomplish great things started out as real doubters. With all of them, God showed great patience. Honest doubt was not a bad starting point for them, as long as they didn’t stay there. Let me finish by asking you this question.
How great a part does doubt have in your willingness to trust God?