THE BIG PICTURE
Last fall I had the joy of teaching our Adult Bible Fellowship for 8 weeks on names of God compounded with Jehovah suggested by phrases in the 23rd Psalm. For example, “The Lord is my shepherd” is Jehovah Rohi; and “I shall not want” brings to mind Jehovah Jireh, my provider. I had fun!
I think it wise to follow my 8 weeks of detailed lessons with teachings that give the class a broader perspective. We mustn’t always read Scripture under a microscope; we also need a telescopic view. So when I was invited to teach for 3 weeks in another class, I decided that some overviews might be in order.
As I have traveled in ministering to the body of Christ, I have happily found a healthy hunger to know more about God’s Word. Yet I believe that most Christians actually know more about the Bible than they think they do. The reason is that they study Scripture “through a microscope” and thus have piecemeal knowledge. They need to glimpse “the big picture.”
Sadly some Christians rarely read the Old Testament, thinking it has nothing to do with them. A wise person said: “The New is in the Old contained; the Old is in the New explained.” The stories and characters in the OT are “examples for us” Paul says (I Cor. 10:1-12). OT examples are often referred to as “types” or “shadows” that point to NT truths. In Genesis, for example, Joseph’s rejection by his brothers foreshadows the rejection of Jesus by the Jews (John 1:11), yet he became their Savior. Joseph’s eventual promotion to the office of prime minister of Egypt parallels Christ’s coming exaltation as Lord of all.
As a boy, I read through Hurlburt’s Story of the Bible several times and learned the sweep of Old Testament history; thus as a college freshman, I easily “aced” Introduction to the Old Testament. When we took our grandson Grant with us on a tour to Israel, I had him prepare by reading the narrative passages from Hurlburt’s. I really think that a Bible story book is an excellent way to start serious study of the Scriptures.
Someone has suggested that what the Bible teaches can be expressed in 5 words that all begin with “C”: 1. Creation 2. Covenant 3. Christ 4. Church 5. Consummation. Bible teacher Buell Kazee said that the 3 principle teachings of Scripture are: 1. God alone is holy. 2. Man is sinful, depraved, and lost. 3. Jesus is the only Savior. Thus the only way that a sinful, depraved person can get to God is by virtue of Jesus and His work. Amen!
I encourage people to think that studying the Bible is like putting together a picture puzzle. It really helps to have the box lid to let you know what the finished product will be; and every time you get another piece in place, you begin to see the overall picture emerge.
Ask others what books and methods have helped them learn more of God’s Word. Yes, it requires effort and diligence; but it is well worth it. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Someone has said that “Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of God.” II Timothy 2:15 admonishes us: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” With Paul, let’s determine “that I may know Him…” (Phil. 3:10a) Selah!
Wayne & Ruth