“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?” (Genesis 15:1-2, KJV)
Have you ever challenged God like this: What will you give me? Or what can you do in such situation?
Many times when there are such moments in our lives, we become disappointed, and think we are powerless. Perhaps, as a believer, we do not say these things to God but subjectively we think along the lines of, “What can God do in such a negative, terrible situation? How can God transform the heart of such an evil person? It is impossible.”
Abraham’s original name was Abram; it means “Great Father.” Then God gave him the name Abraham, which means “Father of many Nations.”
“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” (Genesis17:5).
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, 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 of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3).
In these modern days, when a servant of God preaches the gospel, he informs us that we can have divine blessings, salvation, satisfaction, contentment, prosperity, peace and serenity, forgiveness of sins, abundant and eternal life. We can have all this if we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and receive him as our personal Lord and Savior. After listening to such precious promises a person joyfully accepts and receives the message of the gospel.
He tries to obey the Word of God from all aspects of his life, but while living in the world there are times when a person feels that God is not fulfilling his expectations. He thinks God is not meeting his promises, so his zeal begins to decline, his love becomes cool, and the desire for preaching the promises to others becomes very low. On such an occasion in Ephesus, the Lord Jesus said to the church;
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove the candlestick out of his place, except thou repent ” (Revelation 2:4-5).
We ignore this thing the Lord is showing us; that we should keep on waiting upon him. The Lord does not answer our prayers according to our choice or will. He is spiritually training and teaching us, examining our faith. We don’t see our weakness or weak faith, but we are looking at God through the eyeglasses of our weak faith so God seems weak to us.
When we see God as weak, in truth God is not weak but our faith is weak—we are weak as believers. Therefore God also seems weak. We start doubting the power and ability of God and our faith starts shaking. We say like Abraham, “What will you give me?” Words that can be interpreted like this, “What can you give me?” These words imply that we are inquiring of God, “Just how much strength and power do you have? What can you do?”
It is very interesting that in our Urdu language the word “can” comes from the word, “DO or DOING” power; that is, we are talking about the strength, power, vigor and ability of a person.
This could have been a natural response for Abraham because the words of God, on whose’s command he left his country and relatives, this same God did not fulfill his promise after Abraham waited ten long years. When he and Sarah left their relatives, he was seventy-five years of age; when Ishmael was born Abraham was eighty-six years of age.
“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” (Genesis16:3).
“And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram” (Gen.16:16).
So after fourteen years Ishmael was born, and the promised son, Isaac, was born after twenty-five years.
Has there been a time in your life when twenty five years have gone by and God had not answered your prayer, or God did not fulfill his promise? Can you wait upon the Lord for this long period of time with patience and perseverance? Perhaps verbally it is easy to respond affirmatively but, when thinking practically, waiting for a few moments becomes very hard for us. Twenty-five years is a major portion of a human’s lifetime. If your age is seventy or eighty, then it is one third of your life. In order to get the reply of your prayer, or the fulfillment of divine promise, you spend one third of your life and then God does not fulfill his promise. What would be your attitude and response?
Would you doubt the power of God?
Would you doubt the ability of God?
Would you doubt the truthfulness of God?
Would you not start to think and say, “What can God give me”?
God forbid that, as a believer, any of us would have such an attitude! Abraham is called the father of the faithful. This is true: by faith he expressed his obedience to the call of God. He left his kinsmen, his relatives, and moved toward the Promised Land.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8).
Although this question of Abraham is an expression of doubt on the power, strength, and ability of God, we must remember that he was the only person to respond from an idol-worshipping nation. Apart from Noah, there was no cloud of witnesses behind him, who could become a source of encouragement and strength. He took his first step in obedience to Jehovah by faith alone.
In the epistle of Hebrews, Chapter Eleven is full of testimony about the lives of the giants of faith. As we enter into chapter twelve it is written:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Let us examine carefully how God satisfied Abraham as he responded to his question, “What will you give me?” In the book of Genesis it is written that God took Abraham out in the open and had him look at the stars of the heavens, and He said:
“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be” (Genesis15:5).
These words were a challenge to Abraham. Now consider this: Do you have the power and strength to number the starts in heaven? Certainly it was impossible for Abraham to do so. It is still impossible in this modern age of development, science and technology. The stars are numbered in the trillions of trillions. The stars which we see from our earth, in fact are much more in numbers. There are some stars which are invisible.
When a human being cannot fathom the unlimited universe with his limited comprehension then how he can comprehend his Creator? What can he ask or question with regard to HIS power? God said to Abraham, your children will be like stars. It is written;
“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
If today we make an excuse of Abraham’s response and question God in this fashion. Then it is not right. Please find below some of the reasons:
|1. Abraham was the first person who believed in God, that is Jehovah.
|A great cloud of witnesses (believers) is surrounding us.
|2. Abraham was expecting to see the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, some two thousand years before Christ came into this world. (John 8:56)
|God sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago.
|3. Abraham in the beginning of his faith’s journey could say, “What will you give to me?”
|But we cannot say this, because when God did not spare his Son then what else will he not give us?
|4. Abraham had to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise for twenty-five years.
|Nowadays it is very rare that we should keep on waiting for the completion of his promise for so many years.
|5. Abraham did not have the written Word of God from where he could draw his spiritual strength.
|We have the written Word of God, through which the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual strength.
My dear friend, if you want to be rooted and strong in the Word of God, then practice:
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
There is no doubt that there are lives and testimonies of other believers which strengthen our faith. The continuous study of God’s word sustains us in faith. Above all and everything, we should not take our eyes off of the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ; otherwise the waves of doubt will start drowning us.
Never say to God, “What will you give me?” He gave you life, abundant and eternal life, He gave you everything. In asking from Him can you say, “Oh God, what can I give you?” When Abraham was strong and mature in his faith, he did not spare sacrificing his most precious son and the promised child, for the sake of God.
Dear brother and sister, the journey of faith starts for a common person with this question, “O God, what will you give me?” And when he knows the love of God through the Lord Jesus Christ, he is filled with zeal and divine love and says like David;
“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12).
May God grant us the grace to have the attitude and mind like Christ who gave His life!
May the Lord abundantly grant you spiritual blessings.