When dealing with any subject matter, the concept of perspective is important. We can break down our perspective of the bible into two separate, but complimentary viewpoints. One view is to look at the bible through the lens of a microscope and examine its parts in detail, such as a verse-by-verse study. The other view is to look at it through the lens of a telescope and see how all the pieces fit together.
This study will examine the entire panorama of the bible through a telescopic lens so we can gain a strategic grasp of the whole. Once we’ve done this, each particular book becomes more meaningful because we see how it fist into the whole of God‘s story.
We will break down God’s story into chronological eras:
Abraham Through Solomon
Division, Captivity & Exile
The Return To Israel
In each segment, we will see God’s plan to be with his people. While He remains unchanging in His attributes and character, God chooses to employ different methods of dealing with mankind during each separate period of history.
God creates the universe.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Man chooses to turn his back on God.
“….but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17)
God judges a wicked world.
“And behold. I myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth…..” (Genesis 6:17).
God dispersed mankind when man tries to become like God.
“……its name is Babel, because -the Lord confused the language of all….” (Genesis 11:9).
Desired response: “I will trust you!”
Abraham Through Solomon
[Genesis 12- 1 Kings 10]
The promise of land
and descendants is given to Abraham:
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)
This promise is then passed from father to son as it goes from Abraham to Isaac, to Jacob. At this time, God renames Jacob and calls him Israel. We also see a tribal framework develop, twelve tribes who will later rule twelve regions of the country.
One of these
brothers, Joseph, is sold into slavery and taken away to Egypt. Through
God’s providence Joseph becomes a very powerful Egyptian ruler and is a
key progenitor in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Moses comes through that
lineage, leads the Israelites out of Egypt and provides two important
1. The Law, which is God’s standard for righteousness.
2. The Tabernacle, a place where God desires to meet with His people.
During this time God prolongs Israel’s time in the dessert because of their ungrateful and disobedient hearts. At the end of a forty year period of wandering in the wilderness, the mantle of leadership is passed from Moses to Joshua. Joshua finally conquers the land by following God’s orders to drive out its pagan inhabitants.
After the conquest is the pre-kingdom period of Judges and Ruth. Ruth is a very Godly woman who seeks after God with all of her heart. She is a key descendant in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, a bridge between the time of the judges and the monarchy, and an example of love through loyalty.
Samuel is also an important bridge, not only as two books in the bible, but as a man. He is the last judge and the first prophet to anoint a king. This first king is Saul and he fails. Due to a self seeking heart the kingship is passed to David, a man after God’s own heart.
David then passes this blessing on to his son Solomon. Solomon’s greatest achievement was building the temple, which David was not allowed to build because of his sin. God’s glory inhabited the temple.
His Method: The Law
His Desired Response: “I will follow.”
He wanted, then and now, our obedience to His command. At this time the primary message was “Fear Me (reverence Me). This is what Israel needed for that time and what we still need for today. They were a rebellious and stiff-necked people. This caused the Lord to deal harshly with them at times.
Division, Captivity and Exile
(1 Kings 11 - 2 Chronicles 36)
Solomon’s heart turn’s to pagan idolatry. Upon his demise the kingdom of Israel is divided into two regions:
1. The northern portion of the region becomes the kingdom of Israel. This is comprised of 10 tribes that turn to idolatrous worship.
2. The southern portion is the Kingdom of Judah comprised of two tribes, which stay faithful to God for a season.
In 722 BC the Assyrian kingdom attacks and carries Israel into captivity.
The next world power to come on the scene is Babylon. Babylon conquers Assyria, and in 605 BC attacks Judah. After a series of three attacks, they carry Judah off into captivity.
His Method: Poetry
His Desired Response: Intimacy
God is writing love stories to Israel. His desire is to create intimacy, but Israel rejected Him. So God humbled them and, during their 70 year Babylonian captivity, took them to a place in their walk where they could relearn what it was to have an intimate relationship with Him.
During this time Israel is reflecting on the Psalms. They are listening to God’s poetry and wisdom. Some of these divinely inspired poems are of lament and sorrow with the attitude of, “I’m sorry. I wish things hadn’t turned out this way.
The Return to Israel
(Ezra - Esther)
Babylon was then conquered by Cyrus the Persian. Under the rule of Cyrus, we see three waves of Jews to return to repopulate Israel:
1. Zerubbabel: Leads them back
2. Ezra: Rebuilds the temple
3. Nehemiah: Rebuilds the walls
His Method: Prophecy
His desired response: Repentance
Most of the prophets of the Old Testament had already spoken, lived and died by this time. It wasn’t until their captivity that Israel began to reflect on what God had said through the prophets.
The stage is being
reset. God’s plan is to be silent for approximately 400 years as we
watch the world powers rearrange themselves.
Greece takes over. Their importance and relevance is culture and language.
Rome rises to power. Their importance and relevance is government, stability, and means of transportation for trade and commerce. Under the Greek empire of Alexander, the pieces were united, but were disjointed. Rome connects the pieces and makes them a single, unified commercial machine.
(Matthew - John)
Ties into the theme of God wanting to be with His people. “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God………The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1, 14)
Jesus adopts the tribal framework of the old testament and chooses twelve disciples to carry His word into all the world. “And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them he chose twelve whom He named apostles” (Luke 6:13).
Among these He chose Peter, James and John for a closer deeper walk.
Through His ministry, Jesus:
Taught: “…seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, when He was seated His disciples came to Him…He opened His mouth and taught them…” (Matt. 5:1,2)
Died: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
Arose: “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:6).
Sent: “…Jesus said to them…., Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
Ascended: “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).
His Method: Incarnation
His Desired Response: Restoration of His relationship to Israel and mankind
(Acts - Jude)
The Holy Spirit falls upon the Church and affects Jerusalem.
The Gospel is spread through the scattering of early converts.
Paul continues to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
We currently live in the age of missions: “And this gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14)
(We are rapidly approaching the end of the church age.)
His Method: To communicate through and be lead by His Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.
His Desired Response: A re-established relationship with mankind, by grace through faith.
The End of the Age
The beginning of the end. The next major event on the biblical timeline. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17).
A time of unprecedented, worldwide horrors as detailed in Revelation 6-19. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matt. 24:21)
Jesus returns to settle all accounts and usher in the millennial reign of His kingdom. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matt. 24:30
Jesus receives the title deed for planet, which Satan formerly held. Upon His return Jesus takes control and rules on earth (Literal) thousand year period. “ He laid hold of the dragon , that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound Him for a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:2) “And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4c)
Upon the completion of the millennial reign, non-believers receive final judgment. “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14,15).
Believers receive their new glorified bodies. “Now I saw a new heaven and earth, for the first heaven and first earth had passed away. Also there was no sea…..Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write for these words are true and faithful.” (Rev.21:6-7) “And they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:5b)
His Method: Completion
Eternal communion with the Him. “In
my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have
told you. I go to prepare a
place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come gain, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2,3)
Food For Thought
1. Why is it important to have a big picture perspective of the bible?
2. Having seen the big picture could you walk someone through this?
3. Name one theme you see throughout this study?
4. How does it help your faith to see an overview of scripture?
A verse to remember;
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23, 24)