A phrase in Hebrews 11:19 struck me this morning: “He [Abraham] considered that God is able.” Able to do what? Able “to raise men even from the dead.”
When God commanded Abraham to take Isaac to one of the mountains of Moriah and “offer him there as a burnt offering” (Gen 22:2), Abraham obeyed “by faith.” In order to obey the Lord, Abraham was required to completely trust Him—the God of promise. For it was God who had previously said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.”
How? How did Abraham do this?
The answer is found in this striking phrase: “He considered that God is able.” He consciously made a choice. That conscious decision was to consider that God is able “to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type” (Isaac being one foreshadow of Christ). Considering that God is able was Abraham’s act of faith, which fueled his act of obedience. This is what true faith does. Biblical faith counts on God to be God.
In the footsteps of Abraham the other patriarchs did the same. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all did what they did because they considered the future to already be—they totally counted on God to keep His promises. They acted as if these things were already true. Isaac passed on the blessing to his sons “regarding things to come” (Heb 11:20; Gen 27:27-29). Jacob, “as he was dying,” pronounced blessings on the sons of Joseph, which would be fulfilled in the land that God had promised (Heb 11:21; Gen 49). And Joseph, on his death bed, by faith commanded that his bones be one-day taken to the land of promise (Hebrews 11:22; Gen 50:25). Though he was about to be embalmed in Egypt, yet he considered that God is able. The God of promise would indeed bring His people out of Egypt to the land of promise.
So it must be with us. If we must see the future—in order to obey—then we do not know possess true faith. We merely make “smart choices,” by man’s standards. But God has so much more in store for us, so much more than the mere results of operating by common sense. When our so-called acts of obedience are limited to that which benefits us in the here-and-now then our choices are not fueled by faith, but by human reason. And if we want to live a very small life then that is indeed the way we should operate. But if we want more—if we want to truly live by faith, walk by faith, and obey by faith then we must constantly make the same choice over and over again. We must consider that God is able. We must act as though the future promises of God are already true—that they are already fulfilled. This will lead to radical acts of risky obedience, which show forth the glory of our trustworthy God.