Hebrews 11:11 - Being Able to do the Humanly Speaking Impossible
By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise.Hebrews 11:11
I’m sure all of us have at one time or another faced difficulties and challenges that completely overwhelmed us. They unsettled us, robbed us of sleep and were constantly on our minds. Humanly speaking, the difficulties could not be dealt with and the challenges not be met.
Our text for this meditation also speaks about the humanly speaking impossible. For it tells us about Abraham being enabled to become a father even though he was past the age.1
A Humanly Speaking Impossible Situation
One look at the biblical givens in the book of Genesis will tell us that God went a very difficult route with Abraham. Over a period of some twenty-five years, God repeated the promise of a child to him. And during all these years, Abraham continued to advance in years. By the time he finally did father the child of the promise he was no less than one hundred years old!
With regard to Sarah his wife things were not all that much different. Repeatedly we are told in the book of Genesis that Sarah was barren. Furthermore, we are told that she was past the age of being able to bear children. By the time she finally did conceive the child of the promise, she was about ninety years old!
In the light of these biblical givens, you will agree that the humanly speaking impossible did indeed happen with Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was as good as dead – sexually dead, that is – and Sarah was barren and past the age of being able to bear children.
And yet, the impossible did happen! And you ask yourself: “How? How in the world was it possible for Abraham to father a child when humanly speaking this was no longer possible?”
The Key of Faith
The answer to this question lies in the little word faith. By faith Abraham even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise.
What a beautiful little phrase that is: “because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise.” The faithfulness of God is such a heart-warming expression. It simply means that the LORD our God is an unchanging God.
He is a God whose life does not change. For He is a God who is from everlasting to everlasting God. He is a God whose character does not change. For He is a God who cannot deny Himself. He is a God whose truth does not change. For everything He promises is an abiding valid expression of His mind and thought. He is a God whose purposes do not change. For His plans stand firm forever and the purposes of His heart through all generations.2
This is what Abraham believed. He believed the God who had made the promise of a child to him to be a faithful, unchanging God. And because he did, he knew for sure that God’s purpose of a great nation through him would surely come to pass. He knew for sure that the truth of God’s promise was and remained an abiding valid expression of God’s mind and thought. Because Abraham considered his God to be a faithful God, he knew for sure that his God would never deny Himself, but always remain true to Himself. Abraham knew for sure that the God who had promised a son to him was a God whose power did not grow stronger or weaker, but would continue to be strong for all eternity.
As a matter of fact, Abraham believed that by faith he could release that power. For faith is the instrument in releasing the power of the promises of God. Abraham knew that God’s promise was charged with power, but that this power had to be released through the exercise of faith. Much like a car battery is charged with power, but this power can only be released by turning on the ignition. So, too, faith is the key to releasing the power of the promises of God.
The Struggle of Faith
That is not to say that Abraham had no difficulties. We all know about how Sarah advised him to father the child of the promise through Hagar their slave (Genesis 16). Abraham could have refused. But he didn’t. That was a serious lapse in his faith. Later when God repeated His promise to him, Abraham fell facedown to the ground and laughed (Genesis 17). That was another tragic lapse in his faith. Obviously, it is not always easy to live the life of faith as God wants us to live it. The devil is out to infiltrate our hearts and make us doubt the power of God’s promises.
Yet, these are the only two instances recorded in the Scriptures of Abraham’s lapse in faith. Two incidents in a twenty-five year waiting period for the fulfilment of God’s promise. That means that as a whole Abraham continued to live the life of faith. As a whole Abraham continued to celebrate the reality of the blessings of his hope and the proof of events as yet unseen (Hebrews 11:1).
Romans 4 gives us a beautiful description of this life of faith. There we read that against all hope Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations. We are further told that without weakening in his faith, Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about one hundred years old – and Sarah’s womb was dead. Yet, he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised (Romans 4:18-21).
The Hebrew Christians
This is what the author wants the Hebrew Christians to do as well. To be sure, their life was not an easy life. Their difficulties were great. Their problems humanly speaking sometimes insurmountable. Yet, by faith they are not. By faith they can release the power of God’s promises. Those promises that are charged with power and whose power can be released by the key of faith. God had promised them that He would never leave or forsake them. God had promised them that they could do all things through Him who strengthens them. God had promised them that nothing would separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Neither trouble or hardship or persecution. Nor nakedness or danger or sword.
If only they would believe these promises! If only they would release the power of these promises through the key of faith. If only they would celebrate the reality of the blessings of these promises and the proof of these events as yet unseen! What a difference that would make in their lives! How they would be changed from timid and compromising Christians into courageous and faithful children of God! How they would give glory to their God and be a hand and a foot to their brothers and sisters!
You and I
What applies to the Hebrew Christians applies to us as well. To be sure, our difficulties are not the same as those of Abraham and Sarah. Nor are they the same as those of the Hebrew Christians. Yet, everyone of us faces difficulties and challenges. If not now, then most certainly in the future. Sometimes these difficulties and challenges can be so awfully overpowering. Sometimes they can even paralyze you so much that you have absolutely no power to deal with them.
At times like these we need faith – faith in the promises of God. I realize this is not always easy. That was not always easy for Abraham. Nor was this always easy for the Hebrew Christians. It is much easier to live by sight and let your challenges and difficulties paralyze you. Then you simply do not have to deal with them. And supposedly your life will be much easier.
Yet, that is simply not so. Just look at all the problems Abraham ran into when he lapsed from the faith and agreed to father a child by Hagar. Just look at all the disharmony this one lapse of faith caused both him and his family!
Similar things can happen to us when we fail to deal with our problems in faith. So let us not do this, but let us believe. Let us follow the example of our forefather Abraham and live the life of faith he lived. For only that type of a life will bring glory to our God and enable us to deal with our problems and challenges – even those which humanly speaking are impossible to solve.