And Abraham said to his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
-Genesis 22:5 (JND)
God told Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. Obediently, Abraham took Isaac on a three day journey to Mount Moriah where he was to accomplish the unthinkable, horrific task. God did not tell Abraham He would provide a substitute offering for his son. And yet, Abraham confidently told the servants he would return to them with his son alive. He also reassured Isaac that God would provide a lamb for the sacrifice (Genesis 22:8). How did Abraham know God would do this when God had commanded him otherwise?
Sure, God had promised to make a great people of Isaac (Genesis 17:15-21), but He could have allowed Abraham to slaughter his son so He could raise him from the dead at some later time (Hebrews 11:17-19). Abraham didn’t have to return from the mountain with Isaac. Yet, somehow he knew he would.
His mother says to the servants, Whatever he may say to you, do.
– John 2:5 (JND)
Jesus and Mary were at a wedding when the wine ran out. Mary went to tell Jesus, but He apparently brushed her off, giving no indication He would do anything about it. Yet, somehow Mary knew Jesus would do something about it. How did she know in spite of Jesus’ answer?
These are just two examples of what appears to be presumptuous faith: expecting God to answer in a way nobody should expect. These people had received no word or prophetic vision from God of what He would do. How could they trust God to do something when the situation, even what He said earlier, said ‘No’? After receiving the command from God, Abraham had no right to tell the servants he would return with Isaac… or did he?
When it comes to knowing God, we rely on what God has told us about Himself in the pages of scripture. A whole field of study has arisen out of this which we call ‘theology’ – the study of God. The Bible is the primary textbook for this study, and there is so much in it, that it serves the mature believer just as much as the new believer.
Grade schoolers learn how to do math by example. They learn 1+1=2, 2+2=4, etc. They begin to learn by memorizing these simple formulas. But eventually it ‘clicks’ and they become able to do complex mathematical expressions that they haven’t seen before. Knowing God is similar. We learn about God from our Bibles – who He is, the things He likes and doesn’t like, etc. But mature knowledge comes to know God’s character and nature such that one can tell what God will or won’t do without an expressed statement of that in the Bible. It is similar to the relationship between husband and wife after many years go by. Each knows what (and how) the other thinks without having to hear the words… or even in spite of what is said.
The knowledge of God is not about facts that you have memorized (although those facts are necessary). It is deeper. It is personal and intimate. It is knowledge of His heart. And it comes about by spending time with Him in His word, in prayer, and in simple, submissive and obedient trust in what He has said. The more quality time you spend with your heavenly Father, the more He will reveal Himself to you, and the more you’ll know what He will or will not do in your situation. You will trust Him more.
Make it your life’s ambition to ever seek to know God’s heart.