Sunday, July 24, 2011
Bird's Eye View of the Bible: Creation, Catastrophe and Patriarchs
The aim of this next blog series is to orientate you to an overview of the major themes and message of the Bible. We will begin by noting the Old Testament’s value and contents, as well as its relationship to the New Testament. It has been well said that the New testament in the Old is concealed, and the Old Testament in the New is revealed. Both parts of the Bible find their focal point in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Before we can get into all those things, we first of all need to get into our minds, and hearts the 10 themes of the Old Testament. These themes will help us to get our bearings as we approach the major sections of this vital part of the Bible. Today's blog will focus upon the first three of those themes.
Theme One: Beginnings
So where do we begin? Thankfully, the Lord has given to us the book of Genesis. In the Hebrew language the book of Genesis is called by the name “beroshith”, which simply means “beginning”. One pastor friend of mine has noted that Genesis contains in seed form the beginning of every major doctrine and teaching that we will encounter in the scripture. Genesis covers the beginning of the universe, our solar system, our planet, life, humanity, worship, sin, blood sacrifice, salvation, government, science, art, language, culture – all within the first 11 chapters! This is but a sample of this first but critically important theme – Beginnings.
Theme Two: Catastrophe
More than one Bible scholar has noted that Scripture records three historical, global curses: The Fall, the Flood and Babel. For the second theme then we will assign the name “catastrophe”. The Fall of man into sin represents the greatest catastrophe, with the cross as the remedy. The Fall had a particular fallout: Cain murdering Abel, and a Universal Fallout: death through all generations.
The second catastrophe, the Flood, represents the most global event recorded in the history of planet earth. Over 500 cultures across the globe have a version of the flood epic that agrees, more or less, with the inspired and inerrant record of Genesis 6-9. No other event, save the cross, had altered history like the flood. As we will see, the flood as an event and as a theme is used to explain the flow of history in the Old Testament and to shed light upon major events in the New Testament. The flood marks the major transitioning point between the pre-flood (antediluvian) world of Adam to Noah to the patriarchal period of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph in Genesis 12-50.
Then finally we see the third catastrophe, the Tower of Babel. This event of rebellion and mankind’s unified attempt to live without God is responsible for the variety of cultures, languages and thousands of world religions in the world today. Since Babel the battle has waged between Revealed Truth from God verses Religious Error inspired by the enemy. In fact, all the so-called gods of Old Testament History and today are referred to in the Bible as demonic in origin (Deuteronomy 32:17; 1 Corinthians 10:20)
Theme Three: Patriarchs
On at least 9 occasions in the Old Testament we find God referring to Himself as the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. As we come into the New Testament, we find the phrase mentioned 5 additional times. Why is it that God identified Himself with these men? In the Ancient world, when any two people made a binding agreement (a covenant), they would take part of one another’s name and insert it in their own, signifying the permanence of their relationship. Clearly God set His affection on these three men and Joseph. Understanding the theme of patriarchs aids in our understanding of the remainder of the Old Testament from Exodus to Malachi.
Tomorrow we will explore more themes in our aim to get a bird's eye view of the Bible.