Yes, I know I’m about a month late for Father’s Day, but I just found this in one of my file archives, so I’m going to share now, anyway. 😉
Abraham is known as the Father of the Faithful1. His story starts in Genesis 11 and goes all the way through 1 Peter, but relax. We’re not going take the whole thing at once. There are a couple very interesting ways that Abraham serves as a model for our Father in heaven, and those are where we’re going today.
We first run into Abraham, or Abram before God changes his name, in Genesis 11 where he’s part of a genealogy, but he doesn’t really get going until Chapter 12. Notice how that starts, “The Lord had said…” That gives me the impression that God had told Abraham to get moving, but he didn’t at first. When he did get moving he was already seventy-five years old and childless. Yes, this was at a time when people were still living longer lives than we have now, and it is true that we have examples today of gentlemen who sire children in their very elderly years, but Abraham makes for an unlikely daddy. Nevertheless, God commits to Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land2. He wanders around for a while, gets into some grand adventures, talks to God and a couple angels, and finally at the young age of 100 years old, has a son he names Isaac3.
Before we get into how Abraham, Isaac, and an unnamed servant model the Trinity, you need to understand something about prophecy. We, being educated in the West, have this notion that prophecy is prediction and fulfillment, and there are uncountable examples of that in the Scriptures. There is, however, another way to view prophecy. Others view prophecy as pattern. Events can be used as models of similar things that will happen in the future4.
Here, take an example of an event in Genesis 22 that’s called the Akedah. God instructed Abraham to take his son Isaac to a mountain in the ridge system called Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Early the next morning, Abraham took his son, 2 other guys, and a donkey and set out. Three days later, they arrived. Abraham and Isaac left the other two there and headed up the mountain with the wood and the fire. They got up to the peak; and, just before Abraham sacrificed his son, an angel interrupted him. There was a ram stuck in the brush by the horns5.
This sounds like a bizarre thing for a good daddy to do to his kid, but he trusted that God would resurrect Isaac because there was a promise from God that Isaac would have children, and this belief was counted for him as righteousness6. Abraham also knew he was acting out prophecy. First, look at Genesis 22:8 where Abraham says, “My son, God will provide himself an offering.” That looks a little like he’s stalling the kid, but is he? Look at that again. “Himself” is an object of the verb. God is going to provide himself. Then, look at what Abraham calls the place. “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” Mount Moriah is the same ridge system where Jerusalem ends up. The top of the ridge system is where our eternal Father did sacrifice His own Son for us. Because of Sunday school pictures, we get the idea that Isaac is just a child, but the text doesn’t say that. Jewish tradition holds that he may have been in his thirties when this happened7.
Isaac disappears from the scene for a while, all the way until Genesis 24, when Abraham sent his eldest servant to find a bride for the young man. The servant gets to where Abraham’s family lives and sets out a request for a sign from God as to who a good bride for Isaac would be. Rebekah fits the bill and leaves with the servant to go back to marry Isaac, whom she’s never met in person.
This is a model of the Trinity and the Church. Isaac is in the role of the Son. Abraham is again in the role of the Father who is sending out his unnamed servant. In the Scriptures, “unnamed servants” are often the Holy Spirit. This particular unnamed servant actually does have a name, but you have to go back to Genesis 15:2 to figure out who he is. Why is the Spirit usually unnamed? He won’t testify of himself8. Who’s Rebekah? Well, if Isaac is the Son, who is the bride of the Son? That would have to be the Church9.
Now if you stand back and look at the whole sequence of events, Abraham is ordered to sacrifice his son Isaac. Isaac disappears from the account until an unnamed servant goes out to collect the bride. Translate the model, and you get the Son is sacrificed and goes away until the Father tells the Spirit to go get the Church for the marriage. Huh. Interesting, eh? The model is holding up rather well, isn’t it?
1 Galatians 3:7
2 Genesis 12:1-7
3 Genesis 21:5
4 Missler, Chuck. Prophecy 101 (and others). Koinonia House.
5 Genesis 22:1-14
6 Genesis 21:12
7 Missler, Chuck. Genesis Commentary. Koinonia House; Romans 4:3
8 John 16:13
9 John 3:29, Revelation 21:9