“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:1-3)
In making an apologetic argument for the existence of God and the truth of Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity…one place to start is to make the opening claim that the story of Abraham is too profound…too complex…too coherently integrated…and too thoroughly unconventional to be the product of human literary invention …in ancient human history or even today.
The through-line of the story of Abraham is that God…the Creator of the universe…communicates and interacts on a personal level with Abraham in a life-script that is brilliant in its innovative composition…but a life-script that also introduces a large amount of non-simplistic, highly specific information that cannot be found anywhere within the universally conventional mindset of the plans and goals for “normal” human living…in 2,100 B.C. or in the twenty-first century.
The commonsense apologetic argument in this book starts out by suggesting that unless Abraham has the storyline component of waiting the very challenging and unexpected twenty-five years for the birth of Isaac…a very large detail left out of God’s promise to Abraham of descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth and the stars in the night sky (Gen. 13:16, 22:17)…that unless God in this unexpected way shakes up the universal mindset of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking shared by Abraham along with every other human being on earth…then Abraham would not have been able to take Isaac up to Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:1-19)…and to give us a foreglimpse of what God the Father planned to do with His Son Jesus the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin…two thousand years later at the cross on Calvary Hill in Jerusalem.
In the first detailed journey of faith life-script introduced in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament)…God inserts an upward incline of new and novel events and circumstances into the life-story of Abraham…events and circumstances that deliberately lead to the capstone question in life…at some point in time along the way for Abraham: “what do I think of God?”
This incredibly profound question is initiated by God Himself…within the unique events and circumstances our God-composed journey of faith life-scripts. God wants us to ask and answer this question as part of the purpose and meaning of the course of our lives.
But the point here for apologetic consideration into the existence of God and the truth of the Bible and Christianity…is that the life-context of events for the exploration and the arrival at a definitive answer to this question…could only be set-up…could only be actualized by God.
If Abraham and Sarah had been able to start a large family according to a conventional life-script upon their arrival in Canaan…then over time Abraham would have become so committed to the normalcy of a large family life…that the overwhelming pull inside him of the expected entitlement to be able stay within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking on a going-forward basis…would have flat-out said “no way” to God’s incredibly unconventional “request” to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering at Mount Moriah.
It was the unusually unconventional late arrival of the birth of Isaac that inaugurated the new concept of biblical faith…described succinctly in Hebrews 11:1…”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…that scrabbled-up the otherwise normally rigid expectations and aspirations that accompanies the early start and ongoing maintenance of a large family-life…that enabled the liberated mindset of faith in Abraham to even entertain the concept…and to follow through with this idea to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac…for the highest and best of reasons imaginable…as we see at the end of the story.
It was the innovatively specified and inconceivably fine-tuned originality of this advance preparation for Abraham that enabled him to step forward in faith and become the “father of faith” for the millions upon millions of people who will take the risk to place the benefit-of-the-doubt in the living God…in their unique callings and “called-out” missions in this life.
What does the Bible have to say further about this concept of the brilliant ingenuity of God displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 3:5-6)?
In Genesis 17:17…after God reaffirmed His promise to Abraham and changed his name from Abram to Abraham, and Sarah’s name from Sarai to Sarah…it reads:
“Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?”
Then in the following verse 18, Abraham reveals that he is close to giving up on this promise of God, and suggests to God a more reasonably conventional, alternative solution for the fulfillment of God’s promise:
“And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!” meaning that Ishmael is alive and here now…and cannot he be the fulfillment of this protracted, long overdue promise?
Or in other words…”cannot the earlier arrangement be acceptable that Sarah and I worked out with Hagar that produced Ishmael…according to self-sovereignty on our own…without your input God…within the otherwise acceptable zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking”…rather than staying within the original plan of God to wait for the birth of the promised heir which seems to be taking far too long…according to the unconventionality of God-sovereignty?
But after the birth of Isaac…the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1 of “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…inconceivable to Abraham before this point in time…now actualizes into a new worldview of faith in the true living God that will even take Abraham to the pinnacle…the summit…of trust and faith placed in the word of another person…in this case trust placed in the word of God.