Thursday, February 12, 2009

A doubting session

I had a doubting session today that I had to come face to face with God. And what came to mind was God counting Abraham’s faith as righteousness.

(I have reproduced the passage here from ESV, with the all the verse-numbers removed – see if you find it a better read.)

Genesis 15 (ESV)
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir." And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir." And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. And he said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess." But he said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?" He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."

Here we find God giving Abraham a vision that He will be his shield and will greatly reward him. What struck me was the word “but” which I am not sure if it is in the Hebrew text. It is present in the ESV, NIV, NLT and NRSV translation, absent in the NASB.

Whatever the case, does it show Abraham’s doubts? In view of the questions he posed God about his progeny, I’d say he had his doubts. But he “believed God and God counted to him as righteousness.”
But that was not the end, he continued with his questions for confirmation on the promise of land: “how am I to know that I shall possess it?” And what follows was a series of acts God instructed Abraham to do, and then God made a covenant with him, promising that to his offspring He will give the land.

What I realized is that Abraham did not stop doubting. Judging from the things that he did after, for example his decision with Hagar, their Egyptian servant, he was far from firm in his belief. But yet God was with him every step of the way. He may not have accepted Abraham’s actions but because God made a covenant with him, God stayed and continue to lead him through, in spite of his faults.

In the same way, we too will have our doubting sessions. But our covenant is a covenant by blood with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We may make mistakes in our decisions because of our lack of belief but we are still in the covenant with Him, as long as we believe, and with that, He will listen to us and lead us to live a godly life.



  1. What a wonderful reading and analysis. It lies in the steadfastness and unchanging WORD of the LORD.

  2. Hey Pearlie,

    I think this is the heart of what Paul was saying in Hebrews 2:1-4.

    Also, I have always interpreted Abraham's faith as faith in who God is. Perhaps Abraham's doubt is in himself... as in maybe his own actions caused him to miss God (hence the Hagar incedent). He was not doubting God, but more himself.

    God Bless

  3. This is something I posted a while back from Cal Thomas commenting on the reports of Mother Theresa's episodes of doubt:

    There is a hymn many Christians sing which includes the plea that God would "drive the dark of doubt away." We live in a fallen world with many temptations and distractions. We witness poverty, war, death and other horrors. We "see through a glass darkly," as Paul writes. We are constantly bombarded with "evidence" that God does not exist.

    And yet as we focus on Jesus, it is He who drives the dark of doubt his life, death and resurrection and by His assurance that He goes to prepare a place for us that where He is, we may be also. It is by looking beyond our circumstances in a fallen world and beyond doubt that we find hope and faith. Perhaps Mother Teresa's doubt lasted longer than most, but doubt is not the same as disbelief and in her actions as well as her words, she exhibited more faith than any doubter -- or non-doubter -- I have known.