From Commonsense Christian Apologetics
“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.
If this claim is true…and I think it is…this is one of the most important issues for discussion and testing through applied Christian living…in all of human history.
The novel through-line of the story of Abraham…having no precedent or parallel…is that God…the Creator of the universe…communicates and interacts on a personal level with Abraham in a life-script that has an imaginative story, true-to-life characters, and captivating drama. But the story of Abraham also has a life-script that introduces non-simplistic, highly specific, unheard-of themes 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 A.D.
The commonsense apologetic argument in this book starts out by suggesting that unless Abraham has the faith-challenging, plotline component of waiting the unexpected twenty-five years for the birth of Isaac…this being a 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 shakes up the universal mindset of worldly conventional thinking shared by Abraham and every other human being on earth…then Abraham would not have been able to muster the faith to take Isaac up to Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:1-19).
This ultimate surrender of all that is important to Abraham in trusting and obeying God in taking Isaac up to Mount Moriah…gives us an invaluable 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.
If Abraham and Sarah had been able to start a large family early…according to a more conventional life-script upon their arrival in Canaan…to live a commonplace, unremarkable, and unadventurous life-script…then over time it is likely that Abraham would have become so committed to the routine activities and continued longevity of a large family life…that the conditioned instinctual pull inside him to stay within worldly conventional normalcy on a going-forward basis…would have flat-out said “no way” to God’s incredibly audacious and unconventional “request” to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering at Mount Moriah.
It was the unusually unconventional component of the late arrival of the birth of Isaac…engineered by God in Abraham’s life-script…that reconditioned Abraham’s thinking and thereby set-up the context of events that inaugurated the revolutionary new concept of biblical faith.
This is described succinctly in Hebrews 11:1…”Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”…that scrambled-up the otherwise rigid duties, responsibilities, and long-range aspirations that normally accompany the early start and ongoing maintenance of a large-sized family-life…that created the space within the newly liberated mindset of faith within Abraham to even entertain…much less follow through with this idea to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac…for what turned out to be 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 trajectory of the upfront, advance preparation for Abraham that enabled him (Heb. 11:17-19) to step forward in faith…take Isaac to Mount Moriah…and become the “father of faith” for the millions upon millions of people down through the succeeding centuries of human redemptive history…who will take the risk to place the benefit-of-the-doubt in the living God…in their unique “called-out” missions in life.
Simply put, the faith-journey of Abraham offers an alternative dynamic for human life…previously unheard-of…of God displacing our otherwise mundane, mediocre, and short-sighted ways with something far better.
What does the Bible have to say further about the brilliant dynamic of God displacing our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 3:5-6)…in this opening life-story of Abraham…for our benefit?
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 Ismael be the preferred and more expedient fulfillment to 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…without your council and input God…according to our own clever and imaginative scheme”…rather than continuing forward within the original plan of God to wait for the birth of the promised heir which seems to be taking far too long in time…according to the worldly unconventionality of God-sovereignty?
But the point of the storyline of the life of Abraham is not to achieve a start to a conventional family-life…but for God to create the context of events and circumstances to actualize biblical faith.
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”…previously inconceivable to Abraham before this point in time…now actualizes into a new worldview of faith in the true living God…that 13 years later on Mount Moriah will take Abraham to the pinnacle…the summit…of trust and faith placed in the word of another person…in this case…trust and faith placed in the word of God.