When Promises Seem Far Away——

Abraham’s Journey of Faith Message No.13亚伯拉罕信心之旅第十三讲:『IMPOSSIBLE不可能』——PORTRAITS OF DOUBTING GOD’S PROMISE当人怀疑上帝的应许的时候

经文:《创世记》Genesis 17:15-21;18:1-19


《创世记》Genesis 17:15-21:

The scripture is《Genesis》17:15-21 and also 18:1-19经文是《创世记》第十七章15到21节;还有第十八章第1节到第19节。We will only read the Chapter 17 portion现在我们只念第十七章的部分。

先念英文(《Genesis》)17:15-21:And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name上帝又对亚伯拉罕说:你的妻子撒莱不可再叫撒莱,她的名要叫撒拉。I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”我必赐福给她,也要使你从她得一个儿子。我要赐福给她,她也要作多国之母;必有百姓的君王从她而出。Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”亚伯拉罕就俯伏在地喜笑,心里说:一百岁的人还能得孩子吗?撒拉已经九十岁了,还能生育吗?And Abraham said to God“Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”亚伯拉罕对上帝说:但愿以实玛利活在你面前。God said“No”上帝说:“不然”,but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son,and you shall call his name Isaac你妻子撒拉要给你生一个儿子,你要给他起名叫以撒。I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him我要与他坚定所立的约,作他后裔永远的约。As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold,I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly至于以实玛利,我也应允你:我必赐福给他,使他昌盛,极其繁多。He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation他必生十二个族长;我也要使他成为大国。But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.到明年这时节,撒拉必给你生以撒,我要与他坚定所立的约。”


Brothers and sisters,God’s will for us and God’s command for us is trusting and obeying——faith and obedience弟兄姐妹,上帝给我们的命令、上帝在我们身上的旨意就是信靠顺服的;but we so often deviate from faith可是我们往往从信心偏离——our life manifest all kinds of faithlessness我们表现出各种不同的不信。Let’s look at five kinds of faithlessness我们来看五种的不信:

  1. First第一种the non believer’s faithlessness非信徒的不信:

The Bible says that we don’t believe god,we are actually calling him a liar圣经说我们若不相信上帝,就等于称上帝为撒谎的。

  1. The second kind of faithlessness第二种的不信is the ignorant of the uninformed believer’s faithlessness这个是无知的信徒的不信,或者说还没有受到神的话语的教育的信徒的不信:These believers trust in things that God did not promise这些信徒呢,他们为一些上帝没有应许的事情来信靠祂。For example,people who receive the Prosperity Gospel比如说,接受成功神学的信徒;they trust that God will give them things that God did not say he would give them他们相信神要给他们一些东西,但是上帝没有应许要给他们的。
  2. The third kind of faithlessness第三种的不信is a partial faith是一种部分的信心:Faith?Yes;but also sight凭信心?是的;但是也要凭看见。Faith?Yes;but also objections or questions信心?是的;但是又有一些的疑问向上帝发问题。Now we very often fall into this condition我们基督徒常常堕进这种的属灵的状况。
  3. The fourth kind of faithlessness第四种的不信:There are

some people in the church who just love to think negatively教会里面有些人就喜欢唱反调;even when God has spoken连上帝说了话,they just want to respond from the opposite point of view他们也要从反面来回应的:Perhaps this is the bad habit from the non Christian environment可能这个是从非信徒背景或者环境养成的坏习惯;this attitude is very harmful to the church这种的唱反调的心态对教会是非常有害的。They just don’t believe他们就是不信。Sometimes we call this a critical attitude比如说我们称这个叫过分的批评的态度。

  1. Last is the fifth kind of faithlessness最后第五种的不信is a weak faith这个是一个软弱的信心——faltering faith差不多要跌倒的这种的信心。Sometimes we just can not hold on to God’s grace and God’s promises有的时候我们抓不紧、抓不住上帝的恩典,抓不出上帝的应许了;We’ve got tired我们累了。

Let us look at the weak faith——the partial faith of Abraham and Sarah from this passage今天我们从这段经文来看亚伯拉罕跟撒拉他们的软弱的信心或者是部分的信心:When man’s faith or woman’s faith is weak当人的信心软弱的时候,what does God do神作什么?What does God say神说什么?Is God’s plan affected or obstructed上帝的计划有没有受到影响、有没有受到拦阻呢?

Brothers and sisters弟兄姐妹,ever since the beginning of the story of Abraham从亚伯拉罕的故事一开始,God has been revealing his plan/his will step by step上帝就是一步一步地在启示祂的计划,and he fulfills his plan of redemptions step by step祂一步一步地实现祂的救赎计划的。God simply moves forward神不断前进就是了。And he also loves Abraham但是祂很爱亚伯拉罕;Abraham is his friend亚伯拉罕被称为上帝的朋友——What amazing grace何等奇异的恩典呐!


Today first of all,we look at the context今天第一部分我们来从上下文来看,let us look God’s ways and man’s ways我们来看上帝道路和人的道路——《Isaiah》55:8-9says《以赛亚书》第五十五章8~9节是这样说的,God says:My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways——declares the Lord耶和华说:我的意念非同你们的意念,我的道路非同你们的道路。For as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts天怎样高过地,照样我的道路高过你们的道路,我的意念高过你们的意念。

Now this is not a theory,it’s a very concrete principle这不仅仅是理论啊,这个原则是非常具体的。It gets as concrete as Abraham and Sarah’s physical condition具体到亚伯拉罕跟撒拉的身体的状况;and their propagating capability具体到他们繁殖的能力的。

1.Let’s look at the larger context first我们先从比较广的上下文来看:

(1)What has God been doing for Abraham上帝一直在为亚伯拉罕做什么?Chapter 12:God called him(《创世记》)十二章:上帝呼召了他。Chapters 12、13:God delivered him from Egypt and sin(《创世记》)十二、十三章:上帝搭救亚伯拉罕出埃及、脱离他的犯罪。Chapter 14: God’s presence came to Abraham and he blessed through Melchizedek第十四章:上帝藉着麦基洗德临到亚伯拉罕,赐福给他。Chapter 15第十五章:God now intensifies his promises with his self-maledictory oath上帝现在加强祂的应许——祂做了一个自我咒诅的誓约。Chapter 16: God’s mercy was shown to Hagar when Abraham and Sarah made a mess of things第十六章:当亚伯拉罕跟撒拉搞得一团糟的时候,上帝向夏甲施怜悯。Chapter 17: God gave the covenant seal——circumcision第十七章:上帝赐下圣约的印证——割礼。That’s have God done all of these上帝做了这么多的一切的事情!

(2)On the other hand what has Abraham done那么,从另外一个角度来看:亚伯拉罕又在做什么呢?Chapter 12: he obeyed and he built altar to worship God第十二章:他顺服,然后筑一座坛敬拜上帝。Chapter 12: he failed miserably in Egypt在第十二章:他去了埃及,惨败了。Chapter 13 and14 Abraham make a tremendous progress in love and obedience十三、十四章亚伯拉罕大有进步——在信心和顺服的生活上大有进步。Chapter 16 he failed miserably again十六章他又再一次的失败得非常惨。Chapter 17 now we take a look第十七章我们先来看:he showed his partial faith and obedience他现在表现出他的部分的信心跟顺服。

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Brothers and sisters,isn’t this a picture of our progress and faith and sanctification弟兄姐妹,这个岂不就是我们的信心、我们的成圣的道路的写照吗?Who else 还有谁?David旧约的大卫王吗? Peter彼得吗?But through all of this,God is wise and very merciful但是,在整个的过程里面上帝是非常有智慧的、也大有怜悯的。

2.Now this particular passage that we are discussing today

现在我们来看今天我们要学习的这段的经文:Let’s give an overview and look at the highlights我们来看看这段经文的纵览跟要点:

These two episode occurred during or shortly after God gave the seal of circumcision这两段的场景是当上帝赐下割礼这个印证的时候或者是不久之后,God renews his promise上帝再一次的更新祂的应许,God intensifies his promise for Abraham and Sara上帝对亚伯拉罕跟撒拉再加强祂对他们的应许的。God gave a new name for Sarai,now is Sarah上帝给撒莱一个新的名字,现在她要被称为撒拉。And God Specifies that the heir—— Abraham’s heir will be through her上帝现在特别指出:亚伯拉罕的后裔,后裔要由她撒拉而生。And God gave the name for the son that had a time Isaac上帝在这个儿子还没有出生之前就已经命名了叫以撒。And he named the time上帝还要说明时间的:one year later一年之后。Abraham and Sarah in other words had three months to obey God in faith换言之,亚伯拉罕和撒拉有三个月的时候凭信心来顺服上帝的。

God’s promise will be fulfilled God’s way上帝的应许必定用上帝的方法来应验、来成就的:It’s God’s time这是上帝的时间with God’s power用上帝的大能。And the person born is God’s choice出生的是上帝所拣选的那一位。And then God’s plan that will be a people for himself that plan will succeed上帝的计划是祂必定要有一群属于祂的子民——这个计划必定成功的、必定成就的;God simply moves forward with his plan上帝的计划不断的继续前进就是了!

Meanwhile we see God’s mercy and tremendous grace与此同时,我们看到上帝的大怜悯跟莫大的恩典。And so this principle for the believer’s life on the story is according to《II Corinthians》5:7所以信徒的生活原则就是好像《哥林多后书》第五章第7节说的:For we walk by faith, not by sight我们行事为人是凭着信心,不是凭着眼见——not foolish faith不是愚蠢的信心, but faith in God’s promise乃是相信上帝所应许的事。

So we look at the context现在我们看的这个上下文,now we look at Abraham’s faith,we look at Sarah and we look at Sarah’s faith现在我们要来看亚伯拉罕的信心;我们再来看撒拉,然后看撒拉的信心:Now second part

[II]ABRAHAM’S FAITH现在第二部我们来看亚伯拉罕的信心:

We can say that Abrahma lived by faith,but also by sight我们可以说亚伯拉罕行事为人是凭信心,也凭着看见:first of all

[1]God gives Sarah a new name and double blessing现在我们来看:首先,上帝赐给撒莱新的名字,并且向她双倍的赐福:

(《Genesis》)Chapter 17:15-16(《创世记》第十七章15-16节:And God said to Abraham:“As for Sarai your wife,you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name上帝又对亚伯拉罕说:你的妻子撒莱不可再叫撒莱,她的名要叫撒拉。I will bless her我必赐福给她——blessing赐福,and moreover, I will give you a son by her也要使你从她得一个儿子。I will bless her 我要赐福给她——第二次了second time,and she shall become nations;kings of peoples shall come from her.”她也要作多国之母;必有百姓的君王从她而出——new name,double blessing新的名字,双重的福分。

[2]Abraham worshipped but also doubted第二亚.伯拉罕俯伏敬拜,但同时也有他的怀疑:

(《Genesis》17)verse17-18(《创世记》十七章)17-18节:Abraham fell on his face and laughed 亚伯拉罕就俯伏在地喜笑and said to himself:“Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?(心里说:)一百岁的人还能得孩子吗?撒拉已经九十岁了还能生育吗?”And Abraham said to God“Oh that Ishmael might live before you!亚伯拉罕对上帝说:“但愿以实玛利活在你面前!”

[a]Abraham doubted because he looked at himself亚伯拉罕因为看他自己而怀疑。

[b]Abraham doubted because he looked at Sarah亚伯拉罕因为看到撒拉而怀疑——by sight not by faith凭看见,不是凭信心。

[c]Abraham proposed alternative plan所以亚伯拉罕提出另外一个的建议——第二号计划:May Ishmael find favor with God但愿让以实马利在上帝面前蒙恩、蒙祂悦纳。

[3]God said: NO!第三.上帝说:‘不!’God has his plan上帝有祂的计划,God has his way to realize his plan上帝更有祂的方法实现祂的计划。

(《Genesis》17)verse19-20(《创世记》十七章)19-20节:God said“No,but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son上帝说:不然,你妻子撒拉要给你生一个儿子;and you shall call his name Isaac你要给他起名叫以撒——名字都给了even the name was given;I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him我要与他坚定我的约,作他后裔永远的约。As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly至于以实玛利,我也应允你的:我必赐福给他,使他昌盛,极其繁多。

Please note请注意:

[a]Sarah will bear the son——the heir首先撒拉要生那个儿子——那个后嗣。

[b]And then God names the heir上帝为这个后嗣定名字的: Isaac以撒——the word“Isaac”of course means“laughter”当然“以撒”的名字是“笑”的意思。Who will the son of promise be 谁来作这个“应许之子”呢?That’s very important to God这个对神很重要的!

[c]Why为什么?Because God will establish his covenant with Isaac and his offspring上帝要与以撒跟以撒的后裔立约:And Isaac is the type of Jesus Christ而以撒是基督的预表。 That is God’s plan这个是上帝的计划!That is God’s plan of redemption focused on Jesus Christ这个是上帝的救赎计划,是以耶稣基督为焦点的。The Messiah will come through Isaac’s line弥赛亚必定要从以撒的后裔而生。

[d]But on the other hand,God will have mercy on Ishmael但是,上帝也要怜悯以实马利的:So you see it’s a comprehensive plan所以你看到上帝有一个全盘的计划的。It’s not up to us to tell what to do or through this plan by sight not by faith不是由我们来左右上帝怎么做,也不是因为我们的看见和我们的不信而改变上帝的计划的。

[4]Finally God says it one more time最后上帝再讲一次了:

(《Genesis》17)verse 21(《创世记》17)第21节:I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year到明年这时节,撒拉必给你生以撒,我要与他坚定我所立的约的。You know this:

[a]The Heir: born to whom后嗣是由谁来生的?

[b]The Heir: what is his name后嗣是谁?他的名字是什么?

[c]The Heir:when will he be born什么时候出生?

[d]And God will come again上帝会再一次临到的:

So you see God’s choice、God’s promise、God’s power、God’s presence——God’s way所以你看到是上帝的拣选、上帝的应许、上帝的大能、上帝的同在——都是上帝的方法

Brothers and sisters,what about you and me today弟兄姐妹,我们今天又如何呢?Does our faith extend to God’s way,not only his promise我们的信心是否不仅仅是信上帝的应许,也信上帝的方法呢?God for example……God’s way is sometimes…… very often he plays suffering in our life 上帝的道路、上帝的方法往往是在我们生命中设计很多的苦难,to train us in our faith训练我们的信心——to train us in our waiting训练我们的等待。 Do we live by faith、by sight?Or by faith and buy sight我们是凭信心的吗?还是凭看见的?还是又凭信心又凭看见的呢?So we see Abraham in the mixed picture所以我们看到,亚伯拉罕整个是混杂的一个生活:faith?Yes。But also by sight信心?是的;也是凭看见。


Thirdly this morning,let’s look at a picture of Sarah before we looked at her faith今天第三部分我们先来看一看撒拉一生的写照,然后我们才来看撒拉的信心:


When I look at Sarah当我看撒拉的时候,I think of the words in II 《Corinthians》12:9我想到的是《哥林多后书》十二章第9节。I think this is the sums of Sarah’s life我想这个是对撒拉一生的一个总结。II 《Corinthians》12:9:My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness上帝说:我的恩典够你用的,因为我的能力是在人的软弱上显得完全。

[1]First we understand that Sarah followed Abram首先我们看到撒拉跟着亚伯拉罕,went from Ur through Haran to Canaan她跟了丈夫离开吴珥,经过哈兰到迦南地——So she followed她跟随的。

[2]Secondly in Egypt, she acted either——you can say as victim or as an accomplice到了下埃及的时候,你可以说她是受害者吗? 还是同谋——She posed as Abraham’s sister她装扮是亚伯拉罕的妹妹:

What’s the consequences后果是什么:They were exported他们被驱逐出境的;but God delivered them但是上帝搭救他们;and at the end with great wealth他们变得更加富有。You see this amazing grace这个岂不是奇异恩典吗!

[3]Second time in (《Genesis》)Chapter 20 later on又来一次——后来在(《创世记》)第二十章:Again she posed as Abraham’s sister before another gentile king又来一次,在另一个外邦君王面前装扮是亚伯拉罕的妹妹。Was she victim or accomplice她是受害者还是同谋?

(《Genesis》)Chapter 20:13 tells us that Abraham instructed her to do so(《创世记》)第二十章13节告诉我们,亚伯拉罕的指示她这样做的。

What’s the consequences后果是什么呢:There was a tremendous deliverance by God上帝大大地搭救他们:God delivered her from adultery上帝大大地搭救撒拉,免得她犯奸淫。Especially if we look at what happened at Abimelech’s household特别我们看到亚比米勒的一家人,God made them all unable to bear children上帝使他们全不能怀孕。More amazing grace更多的奇异恩典!

Now do we dare guess我们敢不敢这样猜吗?Some people just need more Grace from God to spurred them onto some faith是不是有些人特别需要上帝更多的奇异恩典去催逼他们有更多的信心呢?

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