A History of the World Through the Scriptures
From Creation to the End of Days, the Scriptures give a remarkable picture of God’s activity throughout the history of humanity. Discover the overarching story of the Bible and your part in God’s story.Filled with history, poetry, songs, prophecies, and letters, the Scriptures reveal God’s character.
Like a love letter, the Bible is designed to connect us to the One who created us and loves us.
Genesis 1:1-2:3: Genesis 12:1-3; Romans 4:1-5; Acts 7; and Hebrews 11
But some of us get tripped up by the Bible.
These thoughts come to mind:
- “The Bible is an ancient and irrelevant book with an archaic view on women, sex, and violence. The Bible has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, and even used to hurt or oppress people.”
- “I’ve tried reading the Bible! I can see some value in it, but most of it doesn’t make sense. The Bible is too old and too long and too confusing to understand or apply to my life.”
- “I want to read the Bible, but I am just so busy!”
For just a moment, whatever resistance you may be feeling, or whatever your experience has been with the Bible. I want you to consider having an open mind. We need to become more open-minded to the possibility that God has more for us!
What if what keeps us from experiencing all the Bible has to offer has more to do with our view of the Bible than the Bible itself?
- Some of us have hit a ceiling in our spiritual growth. We think we have arrived, or we think that this is all there is. We come to closure too soon on who God is in our life or what God wants to do in your life.
- Some of us have rejected the Bible because of what others have said negatively about the Bible.
- Some of us have been inoculated to the Bible. We’ve heard just enough to think we know it all.
- Some of us think it’s important, but we can never quite make spending time in the Scriptures a priority.
What if I told you, if you make spending time in the Scriptures a priority you will be more fulfilled and faithful in all of your other priorities?
Let me acknowledge:
- The Bible has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, and even used for the agenda of people who did not have the heart of God or were a product of their times.
- The Bible can be hard to understand. Some passages were written so long ago and seem so different than our day and time.
To make matters even more complicated, many of us have given up on the Scriptures, haven’t understood the Bible, or haven’t made spending time in the Scriptures a priority because there are spiritual forces opposing us. The darkness in our heart, and the darkness in the world around us does not want us to discover the mysteries that are revealed in the Scriptures.
We can trust that what we have as the Bible is a trustworthy document. In other words, we have enough proof that what we have is what was written.
We have more proof that the Scriptures are authentic than our grandparents or great grandparents did. Discoveries in science like carbon dating and discoveries in archaeology like the Dead Sea Scrolls or the fact that archeologists have found cities mentioned in the Bible that skeptics did not believe exist.
- The Bible is not a giant “Don’t Do” List – a book of rules to make us feel guilty.
- The Bible is not a series of boring stories that have no relevance in our lives.
- The Bible is not what you probably think it is.
“The Scriptures are a portal into God’s presence!” – Erwin McManus
Why the Bible?
2 Timothy 3:16; Heb. 4:12; Psalm 119:9,11; Psalm 150
The Goal of the Bible:
- The goal of the Scriptures is not to get more information. The goal is transformation – understanding who God is and living a new life under His leadership and with His guidance.
- Applying the Bible means trusting God and trusting God means a real relationship with God. That is the goal of the Scriptures.
- Application equals obedience. James 2 and John 14:21 – Obedience = God’s love language
Keys for Understanding the Bible:
- The Bible is human and divine (historical particularity and eternal relevance).
- Interpret the Scriptures with the Scriptures
- Humility necessary in preaching and applying the Scriptures.
- Understanding the types of literary genres.
God is the hero of the story and the story shows three levels:
- God and humanity.
- God and Israel/the Church.
- God and individuals
Every individual OT narrative is at least a part of the greater narrative of Israel’s history in the world, which in turn is a part of the ultimate narrative of God’s creation and his redemption of it.
“The message of the Bible is not that God blesses and saves those who live moral and exemplary lives. The message of the Bible is that God persistently and continuously gives His grace to people who don’t ask or even appreciate it.” – Timothy Keller
“The Law and the Prophets”
The Old Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures are the Bible of Jesus and His disciples.
The Bible shares the story of God’s pursuit of humanity. All are created in the image of God. In our freedom, we have made choices against God and His ways. Even still, when God chose a person (Abraham), He was choosing all people. When God blessed a nation (Israel), His intention was blessing all nations. His people were set apart in their behavior yet sent out into relationships. His people struggled to live out the commitments they made in their covenant relationship with God. God used Judges, Kings, Priests, and Prophets to help His people reconnect to Him, His purpose, and His ways.
God as Creator and Humanity’s Rebellion
Genesis 1-2 – God is the creator of the universe and humanity
Genesis 3-11 – Humanity rebels against God
God’s Love for All People
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3
A Peculiar People: Set Apart and Sent Out
Genesis 12-50 – God chose Abraham to bless and to be a blessing to all nations.
Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Before Jesus, it was faith in the God who will rescue that saved. After Jesus, it is faith in the God who came to rescue us and will come again that saves.
Exodus – God’s redemption and deliverance of His enslaved people through Moses.
Leviticus, Numbers, Deutoronomy – God chooses the people of Israel to become a peculiar people
Over 600 commandments for a particular people and for a particular time.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
All of the Old Testament is still the Word of God for us even though it is not still the command of God to us. Only that which is explicitly renewed from the Old Testament law can be considered part of the New Testament law of Christ.
Judges, Kings, Priests, and Prophets
“The key to resolving the apparent moral contradictions between the Old and New Testaments is understanding the incremental manner in which God revealed his ethical ideal to humankind. He unveiled it within a developing story, not in standalone rules meted out one verse, paragraph, or incident at a time. That’s why the Bible is a narrative, not an encyclopedia or constitution. Its ethical storyline goes like this: (1) God chose a specific group of people, (2) set them apart from the rest of the world, (3) gave them a list of rules that improved their ethics beyond anything the world had ever known, (4) gradually continued revealing ethical improvements to them, and (5) then completed his ethical revelation in Jesus. God didn’t just fly by earth one day and drop off a list of finalized rules. He first established a relationship with his chosen people and then progressively taught ethics to all of humanity through them.” – Matthew Curtis Fleischer in The Old Testament Case for Nonviolence
“If any aspect of God has needed to be progressively revealed to people over time, it concerns God’s nonviolent, self-sacrificial, loving character. For it is on precisely this point that the true God revealed in the crucified Christ most thoroughly contrasts with the way fallen humans have always tended to conceive of God and the gods, including, unfortunately, with the way most Christians have conceived God throughout history!” – Greg Boyd, Cross Vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of Old Testament Violence
The Psalms are prayers, poems, and hymns that help us learn to express ourselves to God and consider His ways. They are a guide to worship, a demonstration of our ability to relate honestly to God, and remind us of the importance of reflection and meditation upon the things that God has done for us.
Types of Psalms: Laments, Thanksgiving, Praise, Salvation History, Celebration and Affirmation, Wisdom, and Songs of Trust
Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Job, and Song of Solomon
- Wisdom is the ability to make godly choices in life. The very first step in biblical wisdom is knowing God and following Him leads us into knowing more of the specifics of what we should do.
- Proverbs are not legal guarantees from God but poetic guidelines for good behavior.
- Proverbs should be read as a collection.
- Proverbs are worded to be memorable, not to be theoretically accurate.
Those 300 years were characterized by unprecedented political, military, economic, and social upheaval; an enormous level of religious unfaithfulness and disregard for the Mosaic covenant; and major shifts in populations and national boundaries.
The prophets announced the immediate future of Israel, Judah, and other nations rather than our future. Less than 2% of OT prophecy is messianic. Less than 5% describes the New Covenant age. Less than 1% concerns events yet to come.
Look for a simple pattern in the Prophets:
- An identification of Israel’s sin or God’s love for her.
- A prediction of curse or blessing depending on the circumstance.
The New Covenant
31 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”