Reading the Bible seems easy enough, doesn’t it?
Reading the Bible seems easy enough until you find yourself knee-deep in a genealogical list of seemingly unpronounceable names, waist-deep in Levitical laws, chest-deep in the sacrifices and imagery of the temple, neck-deep in the perplexing visions of prophets such as Ezekiel or Daniel, and in-over-your-head with St. John’s visions in Revelation. Let’s be honest. The Bible can be very difficult to understand and rather incomprehensible at times. When reading it, you might even find yourself wondering, “What does any of this have to do with what I previously read?” and “What does this have to do with my daily life?”
To these two questions, you, dear reader, can remember two vital things: First, the Bible is not written specifically for you and your daily life. Second, every narrative, every unpronounceable name, every place, every law, every sacrifice, and every vision recorded in the Bible is like a little piece of a jigsaw puzzle that ultimately connects to form a breathtakingly beautiful picture or, in this case, story.
The Connection between the Bible and Our Lives
The first thing to remember might seem a bit shocking and perhaps a little harsh. That’s because we are accustomed to taking people, places, events, activities, even the Bible and the Church and asking, “How does this piece of the puzzle fit into my life?” The reality, however, is that when it comes to the Bible and even the Church, this puzzle existed long before we ever entered the picture. When it comes to the Bible and even the Church, we would do well to remember Paul’s words, “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). The truth is that this puzzle is not about you or me. We are not at the center of it. We are not the breathtakingly beautiful image depicted there. Our lives are simply one small piece of the larger puzzle, or historical biblical story, that spans from Genesis to Revelation and centers on the person and work of Jesus.
Jesus Himself explains this to Cleopas and the other disciple on the way to Emmaus when he says, “ ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25–27). It’s also why the apostle John says, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). This story, God’s story, is all about Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return, so we may be reconciled to God and have eternal life with our eternal Lord. It is all about divine presence, or God dwelling with His people.
The Full Story of the Bible
Knowing this not only allows you to see the second vital thing to remember when reading the Bible but also allows you to connect the pieces of this story together. We now see how God created everything, including Adam and his wife, and dwelled with them in the Garden of Eden. We see humanity being ousted from the land where God dwelled with them, because of their sin. We see God’s promise to send a child to crush the head of the serpent and restore His people to His presence. In fact, the genealogical lists, Levitical laws, patriarchs, prophets, sacrifices, and imagery—indeed the entire Old Testament—is spent answering this question: “Where is the promised child who is going to crush the serpent’s head and restore to us the presence of God?” And then comes the resounding climactic answer of the New Testament: “Here is the promised child, Jesus (God in the flesh), who has crushed the head of the serpent on the cross and in the empty tomb! And though He has ascended to the Father, He has still promised to be with us always, even in 2023, and unto that great and glorious day of the resurrection when He will return to take us to be with Him!”
I know that was a lot to take in and piece together in one short article. But hopefully these thoughts will help you start to connect God’s story and see your place in it.
For a more detailed walkthrough of God’s breathtakingly beautiful story of salvation for us in Jesus Christ, pick up a copy of Life in Christ: Rooted, Woven, and Grafted into God’s Story.