The second act of any screenplay is the hardest. This is where the meat of the story is told, where the protagonist must face multiple challenges and overcome each one individually, changing and growing… hopefully for the better.
The same happens in God’s salvation screenplay. We, the protagonist, will face difficult challenges. We will overcome and we will fail. God’s mercy will sustain us and his just judgment will guide us. And through it all, God starts layering the pieces of the puzzle he will fulfill in Act Three, inserting exciting hints and clues to the end of the story.
To refresh, here’s a reminder of the screenplay structure of second Act.
ACT TWO (Pgs 31-90)
- Pgs 31-60: The new path is established and obstacles faced.
- Mid-Point (Pg 60): A major event occurs that propels the protagonists further down their current path.
- Pgs 61-90: The protagonist faces new challenges and obstacles.
- Plot Point 2 (Pg 90): A major event occurs that completely changes the path of the protagonist and propels them toward the climax of the story.
A LOT occurs in this Act, so we will only cover a few of the major highlights. I encourage you to read the Bible and learn as much of the detail as you can.
To start, God has given us free will and we are free to follow our own will or to follow God’s. When righteous people enter the story, God moves his salvation story forward.
The one question you want to keep asking yourself as your journey progresses is: If God could have done anything, why did he choose this?
Every major event in the Old Testament occurs for a reason. It is not by chance, it is not by accident. It is because God knows, and is preparing us for, the end of the story.
We rejoin our story after the fall of man, after we have separated ourselves by sin. After some time, mankind falls prey to temptation. God calls on a righteous man, Noah, and his family, to build an ark so that they may be spared from the coming wrath.
God is going to cleanse the world of sin by allowing a flood.
Why a flood? Why does God choose water? He could have used famine, disease, earthquakes, volcanoes, meteors, angels… remember the question. God could use anything. Why water?
Because God knows the end of the story. As Peter states in the New Testament, the flood prefigures baptism. God uses water to cleanse the world of sin with Noah because he plans on using water to cleanse his people of sin with John the Baptist and his Church.
God knows the end of the story. Nothing is wasted.
We move on to Abraham. He and his wife, Sarah, are not able to have children. God promises Abraham his descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky. Miraculously, Sarah, in her old age, conceives and gives birth to Isaac.
Why does God wait until Sarah’s conception is a miraculous event to put this part of the story into motion? God could have done anything at any time? Why this?
Because he is preparing us. God wants us to understand, at the end of the story, how important, through similar circumstances, is John the Baptist. And, even more so, it will show by comparison, through his own incarnation within Mary, a virgin, just how unique, special and holy is Jesus.
He’s establishing a paradigm of God’s grace, mercy and generosity that will be fulfilled in total by God himself, Jesus Christ. He’s also teaching us that, when God enters the equation, it’s all for a purpose, part of his master plan, his salvation story.
Sacrifice of Isaac
Later God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Why does God ask him to do that? Could he not have been able to prove Abraham’s obedience any other way? Of course he could.
Again, God knows the end of the story. He knows that Jesus, his only son, will have to be sacrificed. He has given us a chance to understand the end of the story by placing this in the middle of the story. We have historical context for such a selfless act.
Prior to that moment, when Isaac and Abraham head up the mountain, Isaac asks him where is the lamb for the sacrifice? Abraham tells him that God will provide the lamb.
After Abraham shows his obedience and is willing to offer up his only son, God calls off the sacrifice and provides for him a ram as a sacrificial replacement.
Why a ram? Where is the lamb?
That question hangs around for thousands of years until Jesus shows up to be baptized by John, who answers the question when he exclaims “Behold, the lamb of God.”
God knows the end of the story and that Jesus will be that sacrificial lamb.
The story continues. After Abraham we have Joseph and the Jews time in Egypt. Hundreds of years later, Moses is called to free God’s people from Egypt and God sends numerous plagues, all of which are an assault on Egyptian deities, trying to get Pharoah to release God’s people.
This is when we come to the mid-point of the story: Passover.