Many stories center around the prophesied one, the great prophecy, in which usually unexplainable and unbelievable circumstances produce a savior, no matter how awkward or un-heroic he or she appears. Harry Potter. Luke Skywalker. Gregor the Overlander. Percy Jackson. Clark Kent. The list goes on.
In Genesis chapter 21, we are introduced to this amazing experience through the long awaited (fifteen years!) pregnancy of Sarah by Abraham and the birth of their promised son, Isaac: the prophecy fulfilled.
At one-hundred years old, Abraham becomes a father for the second time, and at ninety, beautiful Sarah births and nurses her miracle son. This child is destined to be the first of many, the first seed to grow and produce a great nation.
Do you think he popped out of the womb with all the grace and wisdom to handle the task set out before him? Did he enter the world fully grasping his place and purpose? Imagine Sarah kneading bread with young Isaac in the kitchen, reminding him that some day he would father a great nation. Or Abraham with teenage Isaac resting in the shade of a tree for lunch, talking about the great responsibility God had entrusted to him as his birthright.
I can picture other days, too, when Isaac disobeyed or reacted through puberty or did stupid things that kids do. Abraham and Sarah must have whispered their fears and disbelief over their pillows on those nights wondering if Isaac would ever become the man God intended, doubting they were equipped for the great task God had charged them with.
I think of Peter Parker and Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.” But Peter doesn’t want the gift. He wants a normal life with Mary Jane, one that is not possible for Spiderman. And Harry Potter, who has spent his entire life in the dark about the world of magic, but is suddenly thrust into an environment where he is expected to be the greatest wizard of all time.
The greatest part of the prophecy fulfilled story is the hero’s journey. Her growth as she doubts herself, denies her gifts, refuses her task, and ignores the needs of the people that only she can fulfill. It’s an awesome and powerful experience that brings the reader alongside the hero to feel their own self-doubt and inabilities and fears as they, too, discover inner strength, perseverance, and sacrifice for the prophecy’s fulfillment.
Whether or not you’re writing a story with a prophecy, take some time to study books or movies that are based around this element. What emotions were stirred up in you? How did the author accomplish this? Can you diagram the hero’s ups and downs? What inner and outer forces contributed to their growth and fall-backs?
As a prophecy is fulfilled and a hero is born, so the same exact environment and circumstances work to create a nemesis, an idea which will be explored in the next chapter.
(This is an excerpt from Writing Your Novel, Using the Bible as Your Guide, published by A Writer For Life, LLC, which you can purchase from Amazon as a paperback or ebook.)