Abraham was persuaded about the character of God. The God of glory appeared to Abraham when he was still in Ur of the Chaldees. That vision of the glory of God must have instilled in him an understanding of the character of God that was the premise for his faith. God made several promises to Abraham none of which had, prior to him being told that he would have a son through Sarah. He was promised by God that he would be a blessing to the world – but it hadn’t happened yet. He was also promised that the land was his – but not yet. He had been promised that he would have a son. In his impatience Abraham and Sarah, because Sarah was not getting pregnant, contrived that he could sleep with Sarah’s servant girl and have a son through her. That son, Ishmael, was considered to be the heir that God had promised Abraham. But he wasn’t!
Ishmael was thirteen years old, Sarah was ninety, and Abraham was ninety nine. To cut it short, God turned up in human form to have a meal with Abraham, and told him that twelve months from that day, Sarah would have a child. Sarah laughed in God’s face at the thought. According to Romans 4 and Hebrews 11 they were both “past it!” Sexual relations could not be sustained at all through two elderly people that the Bible tells us were “dead” referring to Sarah’s fertility and Abraham’s virility.
Yet, we are told in Romans 4:21, that after praising and giving thanks to God for nothing but a promise Abraham was, “Fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” In plain English, he believed the promise. Why? He believed in the integrity and character of God who promised.
The point is that Abraham lived in the atmosphere of a premise to believe God. God had spoken to him. God had mentored him. God had interacted with Abraham to the degree that the father of the faithful accepted the veracity of anything God promised. It is necessary to understand that Abraham needed to believe for the promise to come to pass. The trust and reliance that Abraham placed in Yahweh was almost absolute. At least, if it was not absolute it was far ahead of where most of us live. Abraham justified God’s words and actions all through his biblical biography, and that is a definite proof of faith and trust in God.
Promises from God come in all shapes and sizes. In Genesis 37:5-9, Jacob’s favourite son Joseph had two dreams. It turns out that the two dreams were prophetic promises. The first dream upset everybody because he saw his entire family tying sheaves of wheat together. In a sudden the sheaf that Joseph had tied together stood upright in the middle of the field, and the sheaves of his brothers gathered around Joseph’s sheaf and bowed down to it.
Only a dream! What’s the problem? Most of us would think that there was no problem at all! A dream is random and involuntary. Why should there be a problem? The truth is that his brother’s through a wobbler and despised Joseph greatly because they straightforwardly assumed the dream was a prediction, and that Joseph was consciously stirring up such a thought.
The issue might have passed and been forgotten if Joseph had not had a second dream. In this dream, the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to Joseph. Wow! Talk about upset in the family! Even his ever loving father had a “go” at Joseph. Again, just as the brothers had known how to interpret his first dream, his father immediately knew the interpretation of the second dream. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”
The entire family, it would seem, were perfectly fluent in dream language which sounds very wise and spiritual. Yet they all condemned Joseph for dreaming such a dream, as if he had wilfully dreamed in order to belittle them all, which seems incredibly unspiritual and illogical. Of all the dreams I have ever dreamed (I keep a record of all my dreams), and of all the dreams I have heard people talk of, whether they were mighty men of God, normal church members, or unsaved and ungodly people I personally have never ever heard of a dream that somebody wilfully sought after. Dreams come to us, we don’t choose them or go to them.
These two dreams sustained Joseph for years. He was betrayed and sold by his brothers, he was then falsely accused of rape and imprisoned, and as if that was not enough, he interpreted dreams for key members of Pharaoh’s household who were so impressed by his character and gift that they promised they would speak up for him in the corridors of power. Joseph, sadly was forgotten. The character that could humbly receive his brothers bowing before him for food and still stay humble had to be placed in Joseph’s heart before it could happen. The stability that could received the subservience of both parent and brothers without being governed by pride was engrafted within him.
The promises received through the dreams I believe sustained Joseph and built his Godly manhood.