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 When Christians DOUBT God's Promises

Many believers have occasionally doubted God's promises, even as far back as 3900 years ago at the time of Abraham. Here are several examples.


1.  God told Abraham directly or indirectly a total of 30 TIMES that he would have a son, yet Abraham doubted God's promise 6 times.


From the beginning of Genesis 12 through the end of Genesis 21, God told Abraham directly or indirectly at least THIRTY TIMES that Abraham would have a son. Specifically, God told Abraham he would have a SON (2x), have an HEIR (1x), have OFFSPRING (2x), have many DESCENDANTS (9x), GENERATIONS would come from him (3x), that he would be the FATHER of MANY NATIONS (3x), that KINGS would come from him (1x), that God would INCREASE HIS NUMBERS (1x) and that he would be VERY FRUITFUL (1x). God also told Abraham that Sarah would have a SON (5x), that Sarah would be the MOTHER OF NATIONS (1x), and that KINGS would come from her (1x). This totals at least THIRTY TIMES that God told Abraham directly or indirectly that he would have a son through whom Abraham would sire many generations. All these reassurances to Abraham were spread out over ten chapters (from Genesis 12 through 21) so most people don’t actually recognize just how many times God reassured Abraham over and over that Abraham would indeed have a son.

Yet Abraham clearly DOUBTED God’s promises SIX TIMES! In fact, when Abraham was 99 years old, after God's FINAL set of reassurances to Abraham, Abraham only had to wait a mere three months before Sarah would finally become pregnant. Yet Abraham STILL doubted God’s ability to keep Abraham alive to impregnate Sarah within the next three months and instead, Abraham deliberately spread a rumor among the Philistines that Sarah was Abraham’s sister and not his wife, so Abraham could REASSURE HIMSELF that the Philistines would not kill him prior to Abraham being able to impregnate Sarah so he could have a son. So even at the “end” (when Abraham was 99 years old), Abraham still felt God needed Abraham’s “assistance” in order for God to honor God’s own promises. It was only after the Philistine King Abimelek told Abraham (in Genesis 21:22-23) that “GOD IS WITH YOU IN EVERYTHING YOU DO”, so please make a treaty with us so YOU won't harm US (as if to teach Abraham that “the very nation Abraham was afraid of (the Philistines), was now afraid of Abraham”, and that “Abraham NEVER needed to have doubted God’s promises in the first place) that God finally tested Abraham. In fact, it was on the very heels of Abimelek teaching Abraham about the perfect faithfulness of Abraham’s own God, that God finally decided to test Abraham by asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to see if Abraham finally trusted in God's promises that through Isaac, Abraham would inevitably be the Father of many nations. 


And THAT is why Abraham is the only person who God ever asked to sacrifice his son, because Abraham was the only person who ever lived who had the audacity to doubt God's promises 6 times, even after being told by God 30 times (directly or indirectly) that Abraham would be the Father of many nations through Isaac.  


So in my opinion, Abraham is the Bible's best example of how someone of great faith can simultaneously have great doubts.


2.  In Genesis 18:10-15, we learn of Sarah's doubt in God's promise that she would have a child


3.  In Numbers 10:29-31, we learn of Moses' doubt of God's choices of the best campsites when he suggested to Hobab that Hobab should be the guide and choose the best campsites


4.  In Numbers 13:16-20, we also learn of Moses' doubts concerning whether God would really allow them to conquer the promised land and whether the Promised Land was really as wonderful as God had promised them.   For Moses asked the spies to find out whether “the people who live there are STRONG or WEAK, FEW or MANY.  What kind of TOWNS do they live in? Are they UNWALLED or FORTIFIED?”


All these instructions from Moses indicate Moses’ DOUBTS about God defeating the Canaanites.  Instead, Moses should have said, “I don’t care whether the people are strong or weak, few or many or whether their towns are walled or fortified.  It won’t matter.  God will help us to defeat them no matter what.”


Yet Moses also asked the spies to find out “What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad?   How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not?” 


Again, every one of Moses’ instructions to the spies indicated that Moses’ had significant doubts about whether God’s promises of a “land flowing with milk and honey” were really true.  Because of Moses’ doubts, the spies’ answers to Moses’ questions could only have FRIGHTENED the Israelites, which is exactly what happened.  Moses did not seem to have the faith of Joshua and Caleb. 

5.  In Judges 6:36-40, we learn of Gideon's doubt of God's protection


So the Old Testament has several detailed examples about Abraham, Sarah, Moses and Gideon each having doubts about God’s promises.


But the New Testament has several examples of people having doubts in God’s promises as well.


6.  John the Baptist began to doubt whether Jesus was the Christ in Matthew 11:13.


7.  Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ in John 20:25


8.  Peter developed doubts when he walked upon the water when he got distracted by the winds and the waves and he took his eyes off Christ in Matthew 14:29-31


9.  In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus talks to those who have doubts and worries about the circumstances of this life


10.  In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus talks about the doubts and the "little faith" of the disciples during the storm on the Sea of Galilee (a different storm than the one where Peter walked upon the water).  


11.  The apostle John dealt with so many people that doubted their salvation that in 1 John 5:13, he wrote, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life."


In my opinion, John wrote these words to reassure all those he personally KNEW who had doubts about their salvation and to reassure all those who he NEVER MET who also had doubts about their salvation but who he also KNEW would someday read his letter.


So there are many examples in both the Old and the New Testament of people who have doubted God's promises. 


I hope these examples reassure you that Christians can indeed have occasional doubts about God’s promises without those doubts threatening their salvation in any way.

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