Believing the Seemingly Unbelievable
Imagine someone from 200 years ago visiting us today. They would know nothing of electricity, cars, aeroplanes, or mobile phones. How amazed would they be? Now try to imagine someone in the 1800s describing our way of life to a friend. It would all seem incredible.
Godly faith has always required people to believe things that are well outside of their experience – things that seem incredible.
The Resurrection of Jesus
The apostle Paul, talking about the resurrection of Jesus, asked King Agrippa “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8). This was indeed a phenomenal miracle, because Jesus was not only brought back from the dead: he was raised to eternal life. In one of his letters Paul says:
…Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over him (Romans 6:9).
This had never, ever, been known before. Jesus had raised people from the dead and there are resurrections recorded in the Old Testament, but these resurrected people were not immortal – they died again in due course. Jesus was the first to be raised to immortality.
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep … Christ the firstfruits, afterward those that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20,23).
Jesus had no experience of people being raised to immortality. As he went willingly to his sacrificial death Jesus believed that his Father could and would raise him to eternal life.
We are not told much about life in the Garden of Eden, although the record in Genesis 1 repeats that everything was “good”. Before they sinned Adam and Eve had most certainly not seen a person die. It seems unlikely that they had seen the death of an animal. They were told that if they disobeyed God they would die – they would cease to exist. How unlikely would this seem to them in their idyllic surroundings? And what a shock when their conditions changed and they and all their offspring did indeed become dying creatures.
In Genesis 6 Noah is told to prepare for a great flood. This flood was of cataclysmic proportions. Noah may never have experienced rain.
Genesis 2:5 says, For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth”.
Even if rain had fallen by Noah’s day there had never been a flood like the one experienced by Noah. He had to believe that this would happen; had he not believed, and done as God asked of him, he and his family would have been destroyed.
By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household.
Hebrews chapter 11 is not specifically about believing the incredible, but there are many examples in it of people who did just this. They were looking for ‘things not seen’ (Hebrews11:1).
- Sarah, Abraham’s wife believed that she could have a child even though she was ‘past the age’ (Hebrews 11:11);
- Abraham believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11: 19);
- The Hebrews passed through the Red Sea (Hebrews 11: 29);
- The walls of Jericho fell down (Hebrews 11: 30).
These were all ‘firsts’ – things that had not previously been known.
God asks us to believe things that might appear to be unbelievable. It is vitally important that we believe His promises.
- Jesus will return to the earth – This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).
- A multitude of people will be raised from the dead and judged; many of them will become immortal – The Father …. has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man … The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:26-29; see also Daniel 12:1-3).
- Jesus will become king – He must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (I Corinthians 15: 25-26). See also Luke 1:32-33; John 18:37; Revelation 11:15.
- There will be great changes in all aspects of the world – There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse … with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth … The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them … They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:1-10). See also Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 35, and Revelation 21:3-4.
These prophecies point forward to a very different time. Yet we must believe what God has said, however incredible it may seem to us. Because whether or not we are ready, it will all surely happen, just as God has promised.
By Anna Hart