The children in your life probably know many of the stories in the Bible. They are likely acquainted with Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David, and been taught to apply the stories to their own lives: “Trust God like David did when he killed the giant,” for instance, or “Don’t disobey like David did when he had Uriah killed.” And there’s nothing wrong with using the Bible’s stories like this, because God intended for them to serve as examples for us (1 Corinthians 10:6).
But the Bible is more than a collection of individual stories with heroes to imitate or villains to avoid imitating. It is one big story comprised of all the smaller stories. It’s the story of God’s work of creation; humankind’s fall, bringing with it the corruption of everything; and God’s work to make it all right again.
Do your children know this story, the biggest one? Do they understand how the stories of the Old and New Testament fit together into a grand narrative of a “snake-crushing King” and “destined-to-die Deliverer” who will bring us back to the garden?
Kevin DeYoung’s purpose for writing this book is to give children the whole picture, the one that connects “the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heavens and new earth.” This book started as a Christmas sermon for the families in his church, a sermon written to read like a book. Now, in the Biggest Story, DeYoung's text has been joined with the rich illustrations of Don Clark, illustrations even more evocative (if possible) than the text.
Since it's is an overview of the biblical narrative, the book doesn’t go into the individual stories in detail, but assumes the reader (or listener) already knows them. The child who is familiar with the stories of the Bible, then, will understand more than the one who is unfamiliar with them. But a parent reading aloud can fill in what is missing if a child has questions.
Of course, you can’t tell the big story of the Bible without talking about human sin, and some of the sin included in the Bible is shocking. While he doesn’t minimize sin, DeYoung does explain it in ways that are appropriate for young children. For instance, he writes, “Isaac was sort of a weakling. Jacob was a selfish trickster. And Judah did such dumb stuff, we don’t even want to talk about it.”
The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden is recommended for children aged 5-11, but my 2 and 4 year old grandchildren enjoyed it, too. The illustrations kept the youngest one interested even when he might not understand the story. This would be an excellent Christmas gift for preschool or school aged children.
Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous books.