Last year, 2013, I started a blog series, The Gospel in the Old Testament, intent on discovering and sharing the good news that the Good News (Gospel) is found, not as a new idea for the New Testament, but is in fact evident throughout the the Old Testament. And this is not just a few random verses fulfilled in the birth and death of Jesus. It is the story line of the Bible.
God’s Story starts with creation and is soon followed by sin and separation between God and his image bearers (Genesis 1-3). But starting in Genesis 3, God’s story of rescue for his image bearers is the theme all the way through the Bible until it finds resolution in the new heavens and new earth, Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1. I don’t mean that God and God’s Story starts and ends, fully enclosed in the Bible. No at all! God is the alpha and the omega with no beginning and no end. Beginning and ending refer to God’s rescue story as revealed in the Bible, which does come to glorious resolution. In this sense, the Bible is not circular, but linear – History is going somewhere and it will arrive at the destination.
But do we see God’s Story when we read the Bible? Or do we only see the shorter stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Daniel, Jesus, Peter and Paul? And as we read these stories, do we get beyond simple moral lessons that show us how to live and be better persons? Do we see how each story fits in the larger story?
Sadly, this larger story is lost by the way we read the Bible, a verse, a few verses or a chapter at a time without seeing the link to the larger story. This leads us to think of the Bible as a random collection of books, stories, poems, and sayings to help get us through the day. That is like noting the beautiful leaves that fall from the tree, but failing to see the tree from which they all come and the inter-connectedness of it all.
I am so concerned about this that In a recent sermon I told my hearers that if they use a daily devotional with a verse and a story, they should throw it in the trash and start reading the Bible. I expected some feedback, maybe a little anger from my counsel but none came my way. Did they not hear? Was I preaching to the proverbial choir? Are we so caught up in what some call Moral Therapeutic Deism that it doesn’t even make sense? Is our view of God so limited that we can’t see beyond “how God might help me feel better today” to the bigger picture of God’s kingdom?
So far, I’ve posted The Gospel of … on all the books of the Old Testament from Genesis through Song of Solomon with the exception of Psalms. Now, it’s time to tackle the prophets, the seventeen neglected books from Isaiah through Malachi. Maybe you’ve never read these books before. There is no better time to start. Don’t give up. Note the various themes. Read out loud to yourself to slow your pace and increase your comprehension.
And ask yourself as you read – How does this illustrate, prophesy or relate to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I hope you will join me as I search out the Gospel in the prophets.
Note: This blog series has been coordinated with a Bible reading plan for Faith Church Indianapolis using the plan designed by Robert Murray M’Cheyne and revised by D. A. Carson. We are currently in Year Two, using this reading guide.