The Bible in 2500 words

In the beginning Yahweh Elohim[1], the One Creator God, spoke the world into being out of nothing[2] over six days[3]. On the first day God created light and darkness, on the second the sky, on the third land and plants, on the fourth the sun, moon and stars, on the fifth sea creatures, and on the sixth land animals and human beings were made. Humanity was made in His image to be a steward[4] of His creation and to live in relationship with Him as part of the Kingdom of God reflected in nature. Rest was a feature of the end of each day and on the seventh day of creation. All that Yahweh had created was deemed to be good[5].

Unfortunately, before long human beings fell under the curse of Yahweh and initiated the decay of creation[6] by succumbing to Satan’s[7] temptation. Adam and Eve were banned from the Garden of Eden and being in the presence of God because they, and thus all humanity, were infected by sin, which is very familiar to all of us but should never be normal. Human behaviour deteriorated even further and murder[8] and mayhem become rife, portraying the spiralling impact of sin as creation decays[9]. Because of the deterioration of human behaviour Yahweh destroyed humanity[10] in a flood, except one righteous man[11] and his family. After the flood human beings multiplied and built a monument to themselves[12] instead of God. Once again Yahweh’s wrath fell and He scattered the people, giving them many languages[13]. However, even in this judgement we see God’s grace abound culminating in the death and resurrection of Christ[14].

After many generations, Yahweh again choose a righteous man, Abram[15]. To Abraham, Yahweh made a promise[16]. He would give him a land and make Abraham a blessing to all nations, beginning with the nation of Israel. This covenant revealed Yahweh’s continuing desire to have a relationship with humanity, one that would bring glory to Yahweh. Abraham’s long awaited son, Isaac, was the first step in the fulfilment of this promise. Through Abraham’s family tree God created a people group[17] that he rescued from famine[18] by sending them to Egypt.

As their years in Egypt went on, the Israelites eventually became a slave nation at the beck and call of the Egyptians. However, even through the years of enslavement, Israel never lost sight of the promise from Yahweh of a deliverer and a promised land.

After approximately four hundred years of slavery[19], Yahweh delivered (redeemed) the Israelites from Egyptian slavery through the leadership of Moses[20] and a series of plagues[21]. The last plague that resulted in the death of all the first born in Egypt not covered by the blood of the lamb saw the beginning of the institution of the Passover meal which foreshadows the deliverance of all people through Jesus, who shed the ultimate blood of the Lamb, enabling God to pass over believers at the last judgement as they are covered by the blood of the Lamb[22].

Once the Israelites had been brought successfully out of Egypt, Yahweh entered into another covenant with them[23], His chosen people, which required them to remain holy and idolatry free by adhering to the Law[24]. Yahweh expected the Israelites to be distinctive from the nations around them. The Law was delivered to the people via Moses who received it at Mount Sinai where the glory of Yahweh was present. As part of the Law, the plans for the Tabernacle where Yahweh’s presence was going to dwell in His creation[25] were provided[26]. However, due to the people’s lack of trust in Yahweh and idolatrous nature, the Israelites were sentenced to wander in the desert for forty years in order to remove the pagan Egyptian slave culture from the nation[27]. Only two of the people originally redeemed from Egypt, Joshua and Caleb[28], entered the Promised Land.

Eventually, following the Yahweh ordained military leadership of Joshua, the children of the redeemed people of Israel[29] entered and conquered the hill country of the land of Canaan[30]. Yahweh was not opposed to fighting for His cause. However, His battle is ultimately a fight against the principalities of darkness[31] which will only have its final resolution on the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. For all the fighting the Israelites failed to purge all the Canaanites and their associated idolatry from the land and once again temptation led the people astray and they fell into idolatry.

Idolatry led Israel to sin against Yahweh so to help restore the people back into relationship with Him, Yahweh appointed a series of judges[32]. Unfortunately, on the death of each judge Israel fell back into sin, including idolatry and a cyclic pattern developed during the life of the Israelites[33] where Israel sinned provoking the anger of Yahweh, Yahweh judged, Israel cried out for deliverance and Yahweh provided a deliverer[34]. These deliverers (judges) included Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. The Deuteronomic cycle is one that we should try to avoid falling into in our own lives. We should especially take time to identify idolatry in our lives for example love of money or hero worship of famous people (be they sports people, scientists or others) and remove it. If we do find ourselves in a Deuteronomic cycle we should repent and request God’s help as well as our community of faith’s help to remain true to Him[35].

Israel then cried out for a King to which Yahweh responded by appointing Saul[36]. Unfortunately, Saul failed to remain faithful to God and led Israel into idolatry again. Therefore, Yahweh removed his favour from Saul and anointed David, a man after Yahweh’s own heart[37], as his successor. David, a descendent of Abraham, completed the work of conquering the land of Canaan bringing the Promised Land fully into the chosen peoples hands, and through his descendants birthed the Messiah, the ultimate fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant.

As part of this final capture of the land David captured the Canaanite stronghold of the city that became known as Jerusalem[38]. Jerusalem soon became the centre of the nation, as well as being the geographic centre of the ancient near East. It was in Jerusalem that Solomon, a man of great wisdom and the son of David, built the temple[39] and for the first time Yahweh had a permanent dwelling place on earth in the Holy of Holies where His glory was veiled from all, except the high priest on one day of the year, by a partition[40].

Under the kingship of David and the early rule of Solomon the nation of Israel prospered but subsequent generations squabbled and divided the kingdom in two, the Northern (ten tribes of Israel) and Southern Kingdoms (Judah and Benjamin)[41]. The northern kingdom rejected the lineage of David as rulers of their nation and setup a new capital at Samaria. The northern kingdom was plagued by evil kings and consequently sinned mightily against Yahweh. His judgement finally fell, despite numerous prophets’ warnings to repent, and the people of the northern kingdom were scattered and integrated into the Assyrian people[42]. Yahweh had removed them out of his sight[43]. The southern kingdom had a mixed bag of kings, some good and some bad. However, Yahweh’s judgment eventually fell on them too for their unfaithfulness and they were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. The actions of the monarchs ended up with both Kingdoms of Israel falling under God’s Judgement. Therefore, today we should pray for the leaders of all nations asking that they may come to know Jesus so they and their people are not judged according to their sins[44]. For some, such as Daniel, captivity meant holding high ranking positions in the Babylonian court. However, these positions did not come without a cost when their holders chose to honour Yahweh and not people[45]. We need to be prepared to pay this cost in our own lives today as we honour God through our labours[46] as well as through the care and nurture of our bodies[47].

Despite captivity, Yahweh did not leave Israel without hope, nor did He break His covenant with His people. During the Exile the tone of prophecy from Yahweh turned to encouragement. He promised that a remnant would return to the land[48] and they eventually did after almost seventy years of captivity. Yahweh turned Cyrus’[49] heart towards Him and he released the Israelites so they could return to their land[50]. On their return they read the Law, celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles[51], took part in a community confession and renewed their commitment to the covenant. The returning remnant also rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple but it never returned to its former glory[52].

Many Israelites did not return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city or the temple. They became known as the Diaspora. Even though they remained apart from the land they were still blessed by Yahweh’s provision as can be seen in the story of Esther, the Queen of Persia[53].

Following the conclusion of the Old Testament approximately four hundred years passed where the people of Israel lived in anticipation of the Messiah. Unfortunately, due to political and religious oppression of the Jews under the rule of the Greek and Roman Empires the Israelites developed a view of a Messiah that was distorted and vastly different to the plans of Yahweh and His prophecies. They wanted a military ruler who would free them from the Roman Empire’s yoke of oppression and destroy all things (including people) non-Jewish.

The intertestamental period was broken with the conception of John the Baptist who was to go on to proclaim the way of the Lord and coming of the Messiah[54].

Jesus, the Messiah, conceived of a virgin, and a descendant of David and Abraham[55] was born in Bethlehem[56] and called Immanuel, God with us[57]. In His conception, birth, life, death and resurrection Jesus overshadowed all that had come before. He became the fulfilment of the old covenant, the prophecies and the promises to Abraham[58] and David – the perfect sacrifice to redeem us from the Law[59] and bring us into a new covenant with God[60].

Redemption through Jesus, came about by God using the evil inclinations of humans to fulfil His will. The trial, beatings and crucifixion of Jesus were part of God’s plan of redemption from the very start of time. They replaced the perishing Passover lamb[61] sacrificed each year in remembrance, with an eternal Passover Lamb whose blood can cleanse us from all our sin and restore us into true relationship[62] with God[63]. Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all time, He was God’s promised salvation.

Jesus’ death saw the temple curtain that separated all people from the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, torn from top to bottom enabling us to come into the very presence of God without judgement falling on us[64].

Three days after his crucifixion Jesus physically rose from the dead, defeating death[65] and giving us a glimpse of what our resurrection body will look like. With Jesus’ resurrection He proved His word reliable, He rebuilt the temple[66] and the Kingdom of God began[67]. Without the resurrection our faith is useless[68].

Before His ascension Jesus left us with the Great Commission[69] which we live to fulfil before the final revelation of the Kingdom[70]. The ascension brought Jesus’ earthly mission to a successful end. Upon His ascension Jesus went to prepare a place for us in His Father’s House[71]. Furthermore, Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God, on the throne above all the world[72].

Not long after Jesus’ physical presence on earth ended, the Helper[73] promised by Jesus’, came[74] at Pentecost[75]. Through the Holy Spirit we see the first fruit of the coming Kingdom of God[76] and a covenantal renewal between God and mankind. The Holy Spirit is still present with us today and is revealed through the fruit[77] and gifts[78] of the Spirit.

In the presence of the Holy Spirit the Good News was preached in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth[79], building the church and fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham to make Him a blessing to Israel and then all nations[80]. The spreading of the Gospel was not without trials and tribulation and many Christians were persecuted[81] as a result of obeying God and not man[82]. Persecution as a result of sharing the Gospel is not restricted to biblical times, it still happens today and we have a duty to raise the people who are experiencing it to God in prayer asking for strength so that they may remain strong in the Lord. We should also not be afraid of persecution because it means that we are living in the light of God rather than man. However, we need to be able to recognise true persecution and distinguish it from something that just makes us uncomfortable about our faith.

The spreading of the Gospel, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, brought Jew and Gentile alike to God, enabling Gentiles to be grafted into the people of God[83]. Perhaps the most influential person we see bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles is Paul, previously known as Saul and persecutor of the early Christians[84]. Paul went on a number of well documented mission trips that resulted in many coming to the Lord. He also wrote a number of letters to churches[85] that, in conjunction with the other New Testament epistles, provide us with useful guidance on how to live our Christian lives today both as the church or body of Christ[86] as well as individually. Included in these letters are examples of discipleship that we should follow[87] which in turn enables us to fulfil the Great Commission[88] and to make disciples of all nations.

At the end of time, the work and persecution of God’s people will not be in vain because Jesus will come again in triumph displaying His glory as the Lord of Lord and King of Kings[89], separating that which is holy from that which is not[90] and banishing evil from the face of the earth[91], thus heralding the end of human history as we know it. Creation will be fully restored and the bondage of decay[92] (a result of the original sin) will be stripped away. A New Jerusalem will become the throne room of God, where there will be no more pain and suffering[93] and God’s glory will light the way[94]. The fullness of the Kingdom of God[95] awaits us in the New Jerusalem, a city where people are living in true fellowship and interdependence as well as in unbroken communion with God[96].

Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
Revelation 22:20b – 21

Footnotes

[1] The Divine Redeemer, C.G. Bartholomew and M.W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004, 29-30.

[2] Ex nihilo

[3] Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26.

[4] Something which should continue today as we live in a healthy interdependence with creation, C. Plantinga Jr., Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002, 31.

[5] Genesis 1: 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31.

[6] Romans 8:19-23.

[7] Personified by the serpent in Eden

[8] Genesis 4: 8-16

[9] Romans 8:19-23

[10] A most of creation

[11] Noah, Genesis 7:1.

[12] The tower of Babel

[13] Genesis 11:9.

[14] Learning Guide Biblical Theology, Auckland: Laidlaw College, 2013, CD-Rom, 38.

[15] Abram was renamed by God as Abraham – exalted father, Genesis 17:5.

[16] Covenant

[17] That eventually became known as the nation of Israel.

[18] Israel was provided for and redeemed, God used a series of horrible events in Joseph’s life to bring about this redemption.

[19] Genesis 15:13, Exodus 12:40-41

[20] Whose birth and life mirror Jesus’ in a number of ways, such as Pharaoh killing boys under the age of two being mirrored by Herod killing boy under the age of two following the birth of Jesus.

[21] From Israel’s perspective these plagues could be considered miracles from God who is outside of creation, and the origin of impossible.

[22] 1 Peter 1: 17-19, Revelation 12:10-11

[23] Commonly referred to as the Mosaic Covenant

[24] Exodus 20:1-17

[25] Foreshadowing Gods presence in the Recreation.

[26] Exodus 29:45-46

[27] Numbers 14:1-35

[28] Numbers 14:21-24, 30, Numbers 32:12.

[29] The slaves brought out of Egypt

[30] All of the land of Canaan had been promised to Abraham’s descendants but at this stage they failed to take the entire land

[31] Ephesians 6:10-17

[32] Saviours or military deliverers

[33] Often called the Deuteronomic cycle by scholars

[34] Bartholomew and Goheen, 86.

[35] Acts 14: 21-22

[36] 1 Samuel 10:1

[37] Acts 13:22

[38] 2 Samuel 5:6-11

[39] 1 Kings 6

[40] A curtain in the Second Temple

[41] 1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10

[42] 2 Kings 17:24-28

[43] 2 Kings 17:18

[44] 1 Timothy 2:1-3

[45] Daniel 3, Daniel 6

[46] 1 Corinthians 10:31

[47] 1 Corinthians 6:19

[48] Micah 2:12, Jeremiah 23:3, Joel 3:5, Obadiah 1:17, Isaiah 10:22

[49] King of Persia, Persia had conquered Babylon

[50] Ezra 1, the Israelites were once again redeemed out of captivity.

[51] Nehemiah 10, Ezra 3:4

[52] Haggai 2:3.

[53] Esther 9:26, Introduction of the Festival of Purim – remembrance for survival

[54] Matthew 3:3, Isaiah 40:3, the home town of David – 1 Samuel 17:12, 15

[55] Matthew 1:1 – 17, Luke 3:23-38, a lineage containing foreigners, misfits and Kings

[56] Micah 5:2

[57] God incarnate

[58] Genesis 12:3, A blessing to all nations

[59] Acts 10:9-16

[60] Isaiah 61:8, Luke 22:20, Hebrews 8:6-8

[61] Exodus 12:1-13

[62] Covenantal relationship

[63] Isaiah 53:5-7, Hebrews 10:10, Revelation 5:6,12

[64] Hebrews 6:19-20, Hebrews 10:19-22, Hebrews 9:24-26

[65] 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

[66] John 2:19-23

[67] Already but not yet, the fullness of the land promised to Israel is seen in the Kingdom of God and recreation

[68] 1 Corinthians 15:14-19

[69] Matthew 28:18 – 20

[70] Bartholomew and Goheen, 207.

[71] John 14:2

[72] Bartholomew and Goheen, 172-173.

[73] The Holy Spirit.

[74] John 14:15-17

[75] Acts 2: 1-13

[76] Romans 8:23

[77] Galatians 5:22-23

[78] 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

[79] In fulfilment of Acts 1:8

[80] Genesis 12:2-3

[81] Philippians 1:12-14

[82] Acts 5:28-29, 2 Timothy3:12

[83] Romans 11:17-18

[84] Redemption is available to all not just those that we deem worthy

[85] More commonly known as some of the books of the New Testament.

[86] 1 Corinthians 12:27

[87] For example 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Timothy 3:10-11

[88] Matthew 28:18-20

[89] Revelation 19:11-16

[90] Revelation 20:11 – 15

[91] Revelation 20: 14

[92] Romans 8:21

[93] Revelation 21:3-4

[94] Revelation 22:5

[95] As seen by King Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted by Daniel in Daniel 2:44

[96] H. Peskett and V. Ramachandra, The Message of Mission. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2003, 268.

Bibliography

The Bible Hub. Last Modified 2015. Accessed 19 April 2015. http://biblehub.com/

The Blue Letter Bible. Last Modified 2015. Accessed 19 April 2015. http://www.blueletterbible.org.

Learning Guide Biblical Theology, Auckland: Laidlaw College, 2013, CD-Rom.

Bartholomew, Craig G., and Michael W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Dockery, D. S., ed., Holman Bible handbook. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1992.

Geisler, N. L., A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003.

Gordan, D. F. and Douglas, S. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Lloyd, Michael. Café Theology: Exploring Love, The Universe and Everything. London: Alpha International, 2005.

Longman III, Tremper and Reid, Daniel G. God is a Warrior. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.

Machouski, Marty. Long Story Short: Ten minute Devotions to draw your family to God. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2010.

Machouski, Marty. Old Story New: Ten minute Devotions to draw your family to God. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2010.

McGrath, A. E., Christian Theology: An Introduction. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2001.

Mead, J. K., Biblical Theology: Issues, Methods, and Themes. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.

Nelson, T. Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.

Peskett, Howard and Ramachandra, Vinoth. The Message of Mission. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2003.

Plantinga Jr., Comelius. Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

 

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