On occasion I visit and post on a social media site where people ask all sorts of questions and others post answers. One of the topics is Bible and others are asked to interpret or define this or that incident in the Bible. Often, a question is posed from the most obscure and difficult passages. Whether they are skeptics, cynics or true seekers is hard to say, but it seems to me that a lot of Biblical misunderstanding arises when people view the Bible as a collection of random short stories. While we can learn from each story as a stand alone account, many stories, especially those in the Old Testament (the time before Christ) don’t make a great deal of sense unless we take time to understand what came before, what came after and what the story meant to its original audience in their cultural context.
To take note of, when looking at any passage is God’s eternal character. Revelation 1:8 states “He is the Alpha, the Omega, the beginning and the end.” This is one of many clues to the thread that ties the whole Bible together as a unit.
The Bible is One Story, an incredible narrative written by God’s breath, through his servants. The thread (spoiler alert) is God’s redemption plan for His people. The first clues are found in the very first book. In Genesis 3:15, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s directive regarding the tree, he stated His plan of redemption, involving the offspring of the woman (Jesus) and a final triumph over the serpent (Satan).
The last book of the Bible, Revelation, focuses on the plan coming to its holy consummation. It is the grand finale, the finale explosive act of the play, if you will. Is it easy to understand? Not so much. I doubt that I will understand even half of it. Even renowned Bible scholars share the mystification. Perhaps we would do best to think of Revelation as a play filled with metaphors, symbolism and other mysteries.
But since we are looking at One Story here, at least some of these things can be detected by figuring out where else in the Bible the ideas occur.
Going back to Genesis again, here is another thing which indicates the One Story idea. When God created Adam and Eve, He was with His first two children, presumably1 in a tangible way, when he placed them in the garden. They had no shame in their nakedness (Genesis 2:5) before the God of the universe who came and walked in the garden with them. It was all great until Adam and Eve chose to disregard God’s direction for them.
Their special and intimate relationship with God was broken, not only for them but for every human being who has lived since. It is only through Jesus, the Promised one that we can have fellowship with God at all. Because of Him, we can stand as if we had never sinned and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, comforts us in our weakness and empowers our life as new creations as we give testament to His grace. Salvation from our sins was completed at the cross and spiritual death conquered by Jesus’ resurrection.
But is everything complete?
Let’s face it, life here on earth is not always that great. Even if, as believers we have God’s Spirit living within us, the heartbreak, suffering and trials of our human existence can be difficult.
So here is the really exciting part that God has promised. The completion of our relationship with Him is yet to come- Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes…’ “
Yes, God will dwell with His people once again. He will live and commune with us as He once did in the garden of Eden. Things will be restored to the way it was in the beginning. It reminds me of a do-over that a gracious parent gives an errant child, but this restoration can never be destroyed by our foolish choices. Jesus has made it right.
Though I usually hate to come to the end of a good book, I can’t wait for the wrap up of this one. God’s story is coming full circle, I can hardly wait!
Scholars differ on exactly what form God used to make his presence known.