Abraham is a wealthy herdsman in Canaan.
But the people in Canaan who know the personal facts about Abraham…despite his worldly wealth and success…might still look down their noses at him for failing in this one culturally all-important area of not producing a male heir.
In the eyes of the people who are totally ignorant of the promises of God to Abraham…who are unaware of the divinely crafted program that Abraham is walking in…that displaces all other considerations in importance…the inhabitants in Canaan might think there is something amiss with Abraham…that he is going about life all wrong…in that he has not been able to contrive the culturally accepted way…of taking-in additional wives to Sarah…to produce a male heir that is suitable to pass along his wealth to…and that will continue his name forward for posterity.
This issue of producing male heirs is important to everyone at that time-period in history…yet Abraham outwardly appears to be curiously inactive in an effort to procure more wives and produce children.
Yet the real truth…behind the scenes…of the storyline of Abraham is that the Creator of the universe…God…ascribes to Abraham righteousness based upon the faith and patience of Abraham in trusting…through adverse appearing outward circumstances unknown to other people…in the truthfulness of God’s promises to him (Gal. 3:6; Heb. 11:19).
The key point here…is that it is God…not Abraham…who is the intentional author of this adventure of faith life-script dilemma for Abraham.
It is God who has purposely set this all up…this twenty-five year detour around worldly conventional expectations…within the dramatic storyline details of the life-script calling of Abraham to become the “father of faith” (Gen. 17:17).
The big question for biblical scholarship…and for practical Christian discipleship today…is why God would do this?
What is so important about a long time-period of waiting for the birth of Isaac…inserted by God as a fundamental element into the life-scripts of Abraham and Sarah?
Completely contrary to popular conventional normalcy and thinking…the narrative story of Abraham does not go in the direction of an ancient version of the American Dream…of Abraham and Sarah in Canaan starting a large family according to conventionally normal expectations.
The God-composed journey of faith life-script for Abraham…goes intentionally against-the-grain of conventional expectations for normal life (Gen. 17:1-8, 17)…against-the-grain of our supposed entitlement to pursue the worldly universal aspirations of the American Dream of success, fame, and fortune…however we culturally and socially define this.
Examining some additional biblical narrative stories of faith will help here.
Joseph possesses the innate capacity to manage the nation of Egypt as governor during a great famine…but he finds himself at the age of 30 in Pharaoh’s prison…as a result of being falsely accused by the wife of Potiphar of sexual assault.
What could be going worse in terms of outward appearances for Joseph…just a few months prior to Pharaoh’s dream and Joseph’s interpretation…just before this supernatural insertion of massive events that change Joseph’s life…and that miraculously confirmed his two dreams as a teenager in Canaan (Gen. 37:5-11)?
Why this extended time-period of years of adversity in the life-script of Joseph…in this unusual version of graduate management training in leadership and humility…before being elevated up into the position of governor in all of Egypt?
As Moses tends sheep in Midian…he has essentially become a “nobody.”
Moses is no longer a prince in Egypt. Moses is a colossal failure in worldly conventional terms…as he and Aaron walk towards Egypt to confront Pharaoh and demand the release of the Hebrew slaves…with nothing more than a shepherd’s wooden staff…the strength of God’s word at the burning bush…and the promise of an old and faded reputation.
David is the youngest and therefore the least culturally valued son of Jesse…when the prophet Samuel arrives to find and anoint with oil…the next king for Israel.
But as David is pursued for his life by the current and established King Saul…with several near misses…people looking at David from age 20 to 30…might consider him a disappointment and a failure.
How can this adversity be the case for the daring young man that courageously killed the Philistine giant Goliath…is anointed by Samuel the prophet to be the next king…and is the son-in-law of King Saul?
Esther and Mordecai have the best of positive intentions for their current capitol city Shushan…and for their people the Jews…in their deadly struggle against Haman the Agagite…and are locked into a totally unanticipated combination of circumstances in a battle for their lives…that is not anything like pursuing the American Dream…in terms of worldly conventional normalcy.
Again, why is God the author of this challenging life-script for Esther, Mordecai, and the Jews in exile…not Himself being the source of the evil that first propels the storyline…but as the brilliant scriptwriter finding the perfect finale response…for the end of the story?
Is there a good explanation behind this storyline theme of adversity that precedes victory…that is universal in the biblical stories of faith?
The great prophet Elijah bitterly complains to God that he appears to be all alone…in his criticism of the evil king and queen…Ahab and Jezebel…in their apostasy of worshipping the idol-god Baal.
Elijah faces adversity like few others in the Bible.
The prophet Jeremiah is certainly going against-the-grain in denouncing the wayward condition of Israel at that time…a condition so bad that it resulted in the eventual removal of the nation into foreign exile.
Daniel is a faithful, loyal, and exemplary civil servant in exile…yet he finds himself spending a long night in peril in a den of lions…as the result of a deadly scheme of revenge powered by the jealous envy of a small group of men high-up in the government…colleagues of Daniel.
Jesus is the Son of God…the Savior…the light of the world.
Yet without the wide separation from worldly conventional thinking that fueled the violent rejection of the person, the teaching, and the ministry of Jesus by the religious and political leadership in Jerusalem…as well as a portion of the populace siding with this leadership group…then there is no cross of Calvary, no Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for lost sinners, no glorious resurrection on Easter morning, and no redemptive salvation for mankind.
The roots of Christianity come out of deadly adversity…the emphatic rejection of Jesus Christ demonstrated through the cross at Calvary…and not from the broad gate of Matthew 7:13…not from a peace-seeking compromise with worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…not in a coronation of the King of Isaiah 9:6…to be fully actualized in the near future at the second coming of Christ.
When Paul gives his final testimony to his fellow countrymen in Jerusalem…Paul receives a total and complete rejection as the people throw their garments and dust into the air in violent protest against Paul…saying: “Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live” (Acts 22:22).