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Why Read The Bible? – Part 9

The Bible is actually one continuous narrative, from the story of creation to the story of Jesus’ future return at the end of time – within which there are smaller, pivotal stories that make up the basic structure of the one big storyline.

Genesis 1 is the foundational chapter for the entire Bible. It not only tells us how everything started, but it establishes the basic teaching on who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. It should turn our eyes up toward the heavens, marveling at the majesty of God.

In the sixth day of creation we learn that people are the apex of God’s plan, stamped in His own image. This is the source of human dignity, and it is why we pursue spiritual growth, so we will look more like God.

By Genesis 3 we learn how Adam and Eve sinned, how their sin broke the relationship with God for them and for all people, and God’s promise of a redeemer.

The Flood is not just a pretty children’s story. It shows God’s anger against our sin, and yet also shows that he is a redeeming God. Like Noah, it challenges us to step out in faith.

One man, Abraham, is part of the fulfillment of the promise God made in the Garden to redeem humanity. Abraham must do two things: believe, and act on that belief. When he does, God makes an eternal covenant with him and with all his descendants, Israel and the church. We too must follow the pattern of our father: believe, and act on that belief.

The stories of Abraham’s family including Isaac, Jacob and Esau teach us much about the human condition and more about God’s plan for humanity.

The story of Joseph is an account of God’s faithfulness to his promises to Abraham, his all-powerful omnipotence and his all-knowing omniscience. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, but God worked through their evil to accomplish good – the salvation of the entire nation of Abraham’s descendants. We too are called to faith in God’s promises.

In Exodus we hear of God’s salvation of the Israelite nation. The Egyptians had enslaved them, but through Moses God punished the Egyptians with ten plagues and secured the Israelite’s freedom. God is faithful to his promises.

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) are not just rules to follow, but they give form and structure to how our love for God should manifest itself in how we treat God and others.

Moses wants to see God. Exodus 33 contains the account of how God could not let Moses see him or Moses would have died; but he does allow Moses to see the back of his glory. This is the essence of Christianity: a desire to see God. After all, God created us to have fellowship with us. We were created for community with Him.

The book of Leviticus is consumed with the holiness of God – that He is separate from all sin. The sacrificial system teaches us that sin violates God’s rules, which exacts the high cost of death.  But Leviticus also teaches us that God forgives, that a sacrifice with repentance can pay the penalty of our sin, and in so doing prepares us for the cross of Jesus.

In Deuteronomy: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” calls us to rigorous monotheism in which we refuse to worship idols of any shape.

The book of Judges shows the necessity of covenant renewal, how each generation must decide for itself if it will follow God. Once the Israelites were given the Promised Land, for the most part they failed to renew the covenant and failed to receive the blessings from God. The same is true of our own families.

Israel was supposed to be a theocracy, a kingdom ruled by God. I Samuel tells of the shift from the nation being ruled by Judges to that of a king and so the people’s desire for a king was a rejection of God. Saul, the first king, did not learn the lesson that God is still king, and what matters for us is to remain faithful. Unfortunately, many people make the same mistake as Saul.

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