Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Getting the Big Picture

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27 (emphasis added)

When I first read through the Bible, I didn't begin too badly. Genesis was exciting because I remembered my Sunday school stories. But I began to get bogged down once the Israelites entered the wilderness. All those intricate details about the tabernacle, sacrifices, and laws were difficult to understand and seemed repetitious. When I managed to get out of the wilderness and into the promised land, I encountered long lists of names I couldn't pronounce and stories of one bad person after another. I didn't fare too well with the prophets as I was never quite sure who they were speaking to and what they were trying to say. It was a relief to reach the familiar territory of the New Testament, but it seemed like a separate book and disconnected from all that had gone before. 

If I summarized what I thought of the Bible after one reading, it would have been this:

Old Testament - Some exciting stories interspersed with a lot of confusing stuff.
New Testament - Hooray! Now I get to read about Jesus.

I was a kid when I first read the Bible, so maybe I should cut myself some slack. But I've read it as an adult and had pretty much the same idea.

But I was wrong. The Bible isn't a disjointed collection of 66 disparate books. It's 66 Holy-Spirit inspired contributions that make up one story - God's story. A story about Himself, His purpose, and how that purpose has been completed in His Son, Jesus. It unfolds His plan of redemption in human history through the promise of a Redeemer on the heels of the fall, the preparation for His coming and its fulfillment in the fullness of time, His finished work on the cross, and the culmination of all things when He comes again.

Getting a glimpse of the big picture has changed my attitude towards the Bible. It's become more than a collection of moral fables or a repository of uplifting thoughts to jump start the day. I can meet God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit between the pages of this book. I get to know Him, His character, and His ways. I read of His promises not only to people in the past but to me today - words that give life and change lives.

This is a book unlike any other book.

Search the Scriptures, my reader, with a view of seeing and knowing more of your Redeemer, compared with whom nothing else is worth knowing or making known.
Love your Bible, because it testifies of Jesus; because it unfolds a great Savior, an almighty Redeemer; because it reveals the glory of a sin pardoning God, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Aim to unravel Jesus in the types, to grasp Him amid the shadows, to trace Him through the predictions of the prophet, the records of the evangelist, and the letters of the apostles.
All speak of, and all lead to Jesus!  ~ Octavius Winslow
Here are some resources that may help you get the big picture:

According to the Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy, IVP Academic, 2002. 

Bible Overview by Steve Levy, Christian Focus 2008. 

66 Books, One Story: A Guide to Every Book of the Bible by Paul Reynolds, Christian Focus, 2013.

Addendum: How could I forget this one?

The God Who is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story by D.A. Carson, Baker Book House, 2010.


  1. So helpful, Persis. Thank you!

  2. Awesome post Persis! I remember when Robert threw away his expensive box of sermon illustration cards and started using Old Testament examples to illustrate the New - all I could say was wow! "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction" Rm 15:4

  3. Thanks, sisters.

    Diane, isn't it beautiful how the whole Bible is woven together?