I’ve never been much of an apologist. I’ve always felt that using the Bible to prove a point to someone who doesn’t believe in the Bible was circular reasoning, and doesn’t really accomplish much. However, I have run into the occasional agnostic, who often ends up being someone leaning hard towards athiesm, that wants to point out that scripture is unreliable. Many have had a religious backround, and ended up feeling that the Bible is just too propostorous to be accepted.
Pouring over the different translations, early manuscripts and other details of scripture is too much for most people. They don’t really care, because it’s detailed, and details are boring.
Even if someone wanted to wade through the details of the surprising accuracy of our current translation to the earliest discovered texts, many still feel it’s an antiquated book that has no veracity as truly being the “word of God”.
To this, I suppose I spiritually shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t see a point in arming myself with examples of it’s authenticity. That is, until an example hit me so squarely in the face, that I couldn’t ignore it.
I was reading in Genesis today, and came to the account of Abraham taking Isaac to be sacrificed. On the surface, its such a horrific sounding story. God tells Abraham to kill his son as a sacrifice to the Lord. I’ve heard atheist friends point to this event as evidence that, if there is a God, he must be petty and manipulative, bent on bizarre violence.
But what if it’s something completely different? What if it’s less about testing the devotion of Abraham, and more about proving the faithfulness of God?
True, a ram was provided that replaces Isaac, and Abraham had predicted that God would provide; but there is an even larger proof of God’s faithfulness here.
If you’re not familiar, you can read the account in Genesis 22; but I’ll summarize and paraphrase it here.
God told Abraham to take his only son Isaac and offer him in worship in a land called Moriah. Isaac went where his father told him, and carried the wood meant to sacrifice him up the hill to the site he was meant to die. The altar was built and he dutifully allowed himself to be bound and laid upon the altar. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice his only son, he was interrupted and his son was spared. An alternative and less precious sacrifice was provided. A ram was found and took Isaac’s place.
It’s important to realize that centuries before Israel was a nation, and arguably before a single word of what we know as the Bible was written down, this scene played out. It’s also important to realize what this meant. Abraham had been promised to father nations. God had committed to blessing the whole world by his descendants. Now, his only son, born to him miraculously in his old age, was going to be sacrificed. How would the world be reconciled to Him if this line ended now? It seemed like an end to God’s plan. It didn’t make sense. The obedience of Abraham and Isaac in the face of these truths is astounding, and in the end, the son was spared.
Generations later, when this was literally ancient history, woven into the tapestry of His chosen people, another only son was slated to be sacrificed. 1900 to 2000 years later (as distant as Jesus’ earthly ministry to current day) Moriah, now called Jerusalem, was the site of a sacrifice. A place where the Son willingly traveled. The last arduous mile spent carrying the wood meant for His death. Upon the top of the mountain, the altar was set, and the Son willingly allowed himself to be prepared to be sacrificed.
This time there would be no replacement. This time the Son would not be spared. This time the hope of the world would be totally destroyed and the plan for all of history would seem lost.
Millenia later, with perfect symmetry in the very same place, the scene was repeated. This authenticates the veracity of the word of God and simultaneously demonstrates His love for us, as He did not settle for a lesser sacrifice. He turned His head and allowed wrath to be poured out on his only begotten Son for us. His Spirit would raise Him and death would be defeated.
Did God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son for blood lust? By no means. He spared no detail to demonstrate that before time began He had a plan for all of history, by foreshadowing precisely how He would redeem not just a nation, but the whole world.
Realizing this truth makes John 3:16 leap off the page like never before. To deny this as divinely orchestrated is foolishness. To say this was a manipulation of translation is ignorance.
I know that this may not prove to the harshest of critics that the Bible in it’s entirety is inerrant, but it is clear evidence that, while penned by human hands, it’s author is outside time, and has sent His word to us. Two sons, two sacrifices, two covenants, one plan for all eternity.