Struggling with Doubt

MEMORY SELECTION: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” —II Corinthians 12:9

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:1-8, 15-19

WHEN God first made the promise to Abram that he would have a seed, Abram was approximately seventy-five years old. At that time the prospect seemed reasonable and proper. But as time elapsed and Abram grew older, the probability of having the promise fulfilled in a natural way was getting more and more remote.

At the time of our present lesson Abram was ninety-nine years old and Sarah was ninety. From the human standpoint the fulfillment of the promise was an impossibility, and yet the Lord reaffirmed his promise in a most emphatic way. He made the covenant of circumcision with Abram, saying, “My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” (Gen. 17:13) In reaffirming the promise God said, “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”—Gen. 17:5-7

For the moment Abraham was overcome by the seeming impossibility of this wonderful promise. “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?”—vs. 17

In Abraham’s mind the whole matter could have been concluded in a much more obvious way. From his previous relationship with Hagar, Sarah’s hand-maid (Gen. 16:2-16), Ishmael was born, and Abraham loved his son Ishmael. In verse 18 of our selected scripture Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” But it was God’s design that the circumstances be conclusive that a child could not be born to Abraham and Sarah unless it was by a miracle from God. This, of course, was necessary, because the Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 4:22-26 that the lives of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar were an allegory; that in the picture portrayed Abraham represented God, Sarah represented the Abrahamic Covenant, and the child born to Sarah represented the Seed of that covenant, which was by grace. In Galatians 3:16 the Apostle Paul states, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ.”

And so the child promised to Abraham and Sarah, whose name was to be Isaac, was to picture Christ. From the accounts given to us in the Gospels, especially in Luke, we know that Jesus, too, had a miraculous birth, and that his birth was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham.”—Luke 1:68-73

In Genesis 21:1-3 we read, “And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.”

After this demonstration of the faithfulness of God in keeping his promises, Abraham was content to submit himself and the course of his life entirely to the overruling providences of God.

It is interesting to note God’s tenderness in regard to Abraham’s love for Ishmael, for in Genesis 17:20 God said, “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”

We are told by the Apostle Paul in Galatians, the fourth chapter, that Hagar pictured the Law Covenant and her children pictured the Jewish nation. God kept this promise, also, to Abraham, for he did make of Ishmael a strong nation.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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