The Redemptive Story: A Guide to Reading the Bible (Part 2)

In my last post I compared the birth and growth of the nation of Israel to the development of a child.  Israel was born, grew into power and influence, became corrupted, and was conquered by rival nations.  Sadly, by the end of the Old Testament history, the political nation of Israel was no more.

What was that all about?  It seems a disappointing end to a story that spanned almost two thousand years.

Ah, but it was not the end of the story. 

The Old Testament ends on a forward-looking note with the Jewish people anticipating the coming of a Messiah.  The prophets had spoken of One who would “…preach the good news to the poor…bind up the brokenhearted…proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the years of the Lord’s favor…” (Isaiah 61:1-2).

They waited for hundreds of years.

Scrolls in a Synagogue in Nazareth

Then, one day, in a synagogue in Nazareth during the days of the Roman Empire, Jesus read the above words from Isaiah, “rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.   The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:20-21)

And so Jesus announced that the long-awaited Messiah was among them and that the next chapter of God’s story had begun.  The Bible is a story of redemption, and even though the nation of Israel failed, God brought the promised Messiah and our Savior, Jesus, out of the Jewish people who still faithfully followed the Lord.

The life of Jesus Christ was the  climax of God’s redemptive plan, a pivotal moment in history, the defeat of the kingdom of darkness and the initiation of the Kingdom of God, the paradigm shattering sacrifice of the Son of God for the sins of the world.

The over-arching narrative of the Bible includes repeated works of redemption.  Look for a few of them in the following high level outline of the Bible:

  1. Perfect Creation (Genesis  1-2)
  2. The Fall  (Genesis 3)
  3. The world gets wildly messed up and is destroyed by a massive flood (Genesis 4-11)
  4. Out of the one family left after the flood, the world is re-populated and God chooses one man, Abraham, through whom he creates a community of his people.   Eventually, the nation of Israel rejects God and is destroyed.  (Genesis 12-Malachi 4)
  5. Out of the Jewish people still following God, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, enters human history as a baby, lives in Galilee, works in his father’s carpentry shop, and then travels the area teaching, preaching and performing miracles.  Then, unbelievably,  he is crucified, dies and is buried.  Even more astonishing is his resurrection three days later.  (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)  Jesus lives.
  6. Out of the followers of Jesus infused with power by the Holy Spirit, God creates a community of people to follow Him, the Church (Acts – Jude)
  7. The world gets messed up again and is judged and destroyed.  (Revelation 1-20)
  8. God makes everything new, and this time it’s forever.  (Revelation 21-22)

When we experience loss, failure, sin, disappointment and sorrow, as we will in this messed up world, we need not lose hope.  God is still in the business of redemption. 

Jesus is our Redeemer.  He is the story.

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” Job 19:25

8 thoughts on “The Redemptive Story: A Guide to Reading the Bible (Part 2)

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  1. These last 2 posts have been a wonderfully written short course in biblical history. Thank you! I love the way it makes me picture an unbroken ribbon running through Scripture all the way from Genesis to Revelation, holding the story together. And of course you identify that “holder” as Jesus Christ. Thanks for the effort you made to put this story on cyber-paper for the rest of us to read. Well done.

  2. Thank you for these words, Judy.
    Part of what I love about going to sleep each night is that is does feel like the end of something. And I think, as humans, we need ends. I try and imagine a world where I am constantly awake and my head spins. One day, yes, but not in this human body. When I wake, I am renewed because I know His mercy has been made new and that I have another chance, starting from scratch. He doesn’t hold the sins of yesterday over my head.

    ~ Cara

    1. I have had the same thoughts, Cara. I’m exhausted at the idea of endless days. (I really love the moment every night when I get into bed, open my book, and wait for my eyes to close:) But God says that we will enter HIS rest – maybe we will experience a constant wakeful rest. Imagining what that might be like…

  3. I know, so personally and joyfully, that He’s still in the redemption business–I still pinch myself, in the middle of ordinary days, amazed again at the extraordinary miracle He did for and in me. I didn’t know how very much He loved me–and I’ll probably never get over that He does. It’s too wonderful. God bless you, Judy–love, sis Caddo

    1. Hi Caddo,
      “Too wonderful” is an excellent phrase to express the love of God for us! PInching myself too:) Blessings to you today, Caddo. Love, sis Judy

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