The Bible is filled with so many stories. Most of us are familiar with many of the stories, but maybe we’re a little confused about the main message of the Bible. The message of the Bible is communicated through the overarching story of the whole Bible. It may come as a surprise to some that the Bible is one large mega-story, but it is. The overarching message of the Bible is seen so clearly through its overarching story. The burden of this blog is to unpack the story of the Bible in such a way that it becomes clear to the Bible reader.
Since the Bible is a story, it has a story line. Almost half the Bible is comprised of narrative stories. These stories are not independent units, but work together to present a unified story, a metanarrative, with a central message. Each book in the Bible communicates its particular story that fits into the storyline of the whole Bible. If one fails to see the bigger picture of the overarching story, then one will more than likely misunderstand the smaller stories. The individual stories are only properly understood in the larger context of the central story of the Bible.
The story is about God’s beautiful creation that is ruined by the first people he creates. The sons and daughters of the first couple are corrupted as well as all their descendants. Things go from bad to worse until God intervenes by calling a pagan man from a pagan land to enter a relationship with him. God makes promises to this man. Through many struggles of faith the man begins to see the promises of God materialize in embryonic form. God’s relationship with the man becomes a relationship with his family, then the twelve tribes of his family. The tribes become a nation. The relationship is strained many times throughout the years by the rebellion of God’s people. God disciplines his unruly people, but never totally forsakes them. Finally, the nation is focused again on one man through whom all the promises to God’s people are fulfilled. This man is faithful where many others were unfaithful, and expands the promises to the whole world. This epic story becomes everybody’s story. That is, anybody who will enter the story by faith. The story is a true story that is rich and complex. But we can begin to understand the story by seeing the basic storyline in the Bible. It helps to understand that the basic storyline of the Bible consists of four main parts that are easy to remember.
The story begins with creation in Genesis chapters one and two. God creates the world good, but it doesn’t remain so long. The second part of the Bible storyline is the fall in Genesis chapter three. God creates the first man and woman good with the capacity to obey or disobey his one command. They disobey the command of God when they are tempted by an intruder and deceiver. Their sin plunges the world into ruin and corruption. The world is sinful, fallen and broken. It has no capacity to fix itself. This is clearly and painfully seen in Genesis chapter four through eleven. The world spirals down into chaos. It looks like God is impotent to change things.
The third part of the story is God’s plan of redemption. This is the largest part and the central part of the story. It runs from Genesis four through Revelation twenty. This redemption part of the Bible story unfolds through four redemptive covenants, or relationships God make with people. The four redemptive covenants are: (1) The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12-50). (2) The Mosaic Covenant (Exodus through Ruth). (3) The Davidic Covenant (1 Samuel through Malachi). (4) The New Covenant (Matthew through Revelation 20). The New Covenant is the fulfillment of all the previous covenants in Jesus Christ. He is the central message and story of the Bible. If you miss him you miss the whole story.
The fourth part of the Bible story is restoration (Revelation 21-22). This is the reality to which the whole Bible is moving. God restores his creation to a better place. A new heaven and a new earth, a place of goodness, righteousness, love and truth. A place of no more sorrow, no more pain, no more sin and no more death. A place where God lives with his people.
Knowing the storyline of the Bible helps us read the Bible with greater understanding. We can better grasp its message and apply its truths to our lives. The Bible is a story. We must enter that story as we read it so that the story can enter us and be our story too.