“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1)
From The Second Half of the Cross
Several important lessons can be drawn from the life of Abraham. First, the plan for Abraham’s life shows in hindsight that God knew what He was doing. We know from history that if Abraham had independently decided to help God out by putting down permanent roots in Canaan for the large family he and Sarah expected, that after a few generations his descendants might have been overrun and carried off by several large foreign armies that passed through this region during the next 430 years. If that had been the case, the children of Abraham would never have been able to grow into the sizable nation that existed in Egypt at the time of Moses.
The scripture says that Abraham dwelt in tents. Abraham did not start digging foundations for a permanent village or small city upon reaching Canaan (Hebrews 11:9-10). It was actually Abraham’s grandson Jacob who had the large family of twelve sons and a daughter, yet this occurred just before the widespread famine that caused the family of Jacob to seek refuge in Egypt. Through these narrowly defined chain of events God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be in number as the stars of the night sky, did indeed come true (Hebrews 11:12).
Second, it is said of Abraham that “he believed God, and this was accounted to him for righteousness.” In the story of Abraham’s life, there is no mention of any set of rules, or system of regulations, or a philosophy of life that God gives to Abraham to achieve this righteousness through a program of works or self-effort. There are only two major elements in this account—God’s promise and Abraham’s faith. The fulfillment of God’s plan through Abraham’s trust and faith in God, even with some major human missteps along the way, is accounted as righteousness. The Ten Commandments, the covenant laws, the temple services, and the observance of festival days, which come along 430 years later at the time of Moses, are not involved. Faith in God alone is the key to Abraham’s story.
Third, the unique and imaginative life of Abraham can only happen within the context of a relationship with the true living God. The story of the life of Abraham is a two-man play, and the character billed as “God” must show up. In fact, God is both the playwright and the actor opposite Abraham. Only the Creator God can compose this story and bring it to completion. The story of Abraham is a God-composed life-script. Any other naturalistic or humanistic explanation for the totally unconventional life events of Abraham falls flat.
A journey of faith according to a God-composed life-script written exclusively for each one of us excludes merit on our part. By its very nature a journey of faith sets us on a path not of our own composition, and through faith in God’s intelligence and character leads us to circumstances and places we could not imagine on our own.
This is the uniquely innovative element of the Bible that validates and authenticates this God as the true God…a distinct and separate Person composing brilliantly devised life-script callings for people that are at the pinnacle of creative imagination, artistic beauty, and purposeful meaning at the height of intellect and moral character. A journey of faith following a spiritual Coach who is our divine Creator, writing and managing life-plans that match our innate capacities and personalities perfectly, is beyond human contrivance.
It is the second half of the cross that opens up the possibility for God to perform these living masterpieces of creativity. When Abraham journeys towards Canaan, the canvas of his life is now clear and open for God to paint a beautiful portrait of a life of faith. When Abraham sets out toward Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:3), the nearly completed portrait reveals a man whose faith and trust in God has been matured through years of character-building experience. This final God-initiated test of faith demonstrates Abraham’s total trust in God. Unconditional trust is the hallmark of a rock-solid friendship.
This test of Abraham on Mount Moriah not only defines the trust-based relationship between a man and God, at the start of redemptive history, but also previews the actual sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus Christ on the cross two thousand years later. This wonderful story of Abraham in the Bible demonstrates the creative imagination of God in the life of someone who surrendered all in faith, according to the principles of the second half of the cross.