Even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals God wants us to live with hope. Scripture reveals God promising a variety of things for those who belong to Christ.
Yet, perhaps a doubt lingers. Can I really trust in the hope God’s word would inspire? Let me suggest God has never called for a blind faith, an unwarranted obedience nor a groundless hope. God always gives us reason to believe, obey and hope before asking anything of us. Check me out on this claim.
Let’s start with some obvious examples. At Mt. Sinai God instructed, commanded and promised many things. First however, God revealed his power through the ten plagues and splitting the Red Sea. Israel had a reason to trust and obey God at Mt. Sinai.
Before God gave Israel instructions regarding how and why they were to observe the first Passover, God first showed himself powerful and worthy of obedience through nine plagues.
This is all fine and good. However, biblical history is not a continuous record of God’s miracles providing evidence to every generation. In fact, miracles tend to be clumped around just a few periods of time spread out over history. For example some of these include when God revealed his power through amazing ways just prior to claiming Israel as his covenant people at Mt. Sinai, the early years of establishing Israel as his nation, the ministry of a few prophets during times of distress, the time of Jesus’ ministry just prior to creating a new covenant people, and the early years of the church.
As far as we know, within the timeframe of biblical history there are lengthy periods without any confirming miracles. So, how can I claim that God provides reason before asking anything of us?
Let’s start with us. Although we did not personally witness it, God has provided us with good reason to believe, trust, obey and place our hope in Jesus because God raised him from the dead. And as Anthony Flew, a former world class atheist turned theist, acknowledged, Jesus’ resurrection is the best attested miracle from the ancient world.
In a similar vein, although any particular generation of ancient Israelites might not have seen a single miracle, they had access to powerful stories and standing monuments testifying to who God is. In fact, God’s plagues upon Egypt and his dividing of the Red Sea seems to have justifiably impacted Israel’s psyche throughout their history (Deut. 4:34; Jos. 4:23; 24:7; Neh. 9:10-11; Ps. 78:12-13; 106:8-9; 136:13; Is. 63:12; Jer. 32:20; Dan. 9:15; Ezek. 20:9).
Well, what about someone like Abram whom God told to leave his family for a place that God would show him? How did God provide Abram reason to trust and obey?
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to suggest that if God actually speaks to someone, as he did to Abram through whatever means that may have entailed, doubt could not exist about where the message came from and who God is. Such faith is not blind. Abram would still need to trust and obey, but God had provided reason for moving.
And let’s not forget Paul’s words: “For his (God’s) invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). From the time of creation God has provided us reason to honor and place our hope in God. God is able.
Do we have real reason to place our hope in what God has promised? “…it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, …” (Hebrews 6:18-20). Do we have real reason to place our hope in what God has promised? Yes!