Summary: In today’s lesson we discover the plot of the Bible, because knowing the plot of the Bible, gives us a better understanding of the Bible’s context so that we can discover personal change.
As I said in the last lesson, the purpose of this series is to help us discover how to read and study the Bible. Last time our lesson was the on the purpose of Bible study. And we came to the conclusion that the ultimate purpose of Bible study is personal change for the glory of God. And I hope you remembered that last week as you dug into the Word.
Today we are going to discover the plot of the Bible.
This is because knowing the plot of the Bible gives us a better understanding of the Bible’s context.
I cannot tell you how many times I have learned the power of context when understanding anything, not just the Bible.
For example, many of us know that coaching a sport can be a challenging task because often there are so many dimensions to understanding a particular sport. For example in baseball, there is a base stealing strategy, hitting strategy, pitching strategy, and a position strategy. And because it has so many complexities one approach to coaching is to coach using a philosophy some call whole-part-whole. This approach applied to a baseball team would mean to teach players the goal of a game against their opponent. Then breaking the team up into parts, and then having them walk through a game or maybe practice at game speed to understand how all the components, positions, and strategies fit together during the game. Often this helps players synthesize the parts, their position, and how to best win given a particular opponent.
Often when it comes to reading the Bible we think just jumping in at the beginning is the right thing to do. But like baseball, we have some things to learn. What is often helpful is gaining an overview of the plot so we can understand how the 66 individual books fit together which leads to a fuller understanding.
Our goal in today’s lesson is to discover the plot of the Bible with the outcome of better understanding the story, and thus experiencing greater personal change.
There are some amazing stories in the Bible. Each of the ones you recalled make some fantastic points and probably have had a profound impact on your life. One of my favorites is the story of the prodigal son, which tells the story of two disobedient sons. One disobedient in his self-centeredness and the other disobedient in his self-righteousness. And the reason why this story has so impacted me is that I have seen myself in both of these sons. At one point in my life very self-centered and at another time very self-righteous and I am still working this out in many ways as I journey with Christ.
But what if I suggested to you today that the Bible, while it is composed of many stories told one story that connected them all? What if the bible was about one story unfolding down through time?
In your handbook, you will notice a cycle and a timeline. I put this here because I think it helps you have at least a preliminary understanding of what is happening in the Bible.
But over your life, as you take the time to dig in, there is all kind of neat stuff in the Bible that helps a reader understand the context. Notice that in the quote from A.T. Pierson he has found 12 symbols that refer to the scripture in the bible. Imagery like bread, fire, gold, hammer, honey, etc. that shape the readers thinking about the Bible. But rather than look too closely at the parts let’s discover the plot.
So turn with me to the next page of your handbook.
On this page, you will see an outline of the plot of the Bible. While this page is going to leave out a lot of detail, it will give you a general understanding of the whole plot and how some of the parts come together.
Let quickly fly through what you see on the page:
CREATION = Creation of Man & Woman | Creation of Land, Seed, & Blessing | Moral Instruction | Sin
FOREFATHERS = Abraham & Sarah | Promise of Land, Seed, & Blessing | Isaac | Jacob | Joseph | Migration to Egypt
TRAVEL = 400 years | Israelites grow to 2-3 million | Moses whose life is broken down into 3 periods of 40 years each | Culminating in a confrontation with Pharoah - Passover | The Law at Sinai | Sacrificial System | Tabernacle | Moses’ Death
PROMISED LAND = Joshua | Conquering the Promised Land
JUDGES = 7 x Turning from God | Oppression | Call to God | Repentance | Restoration | Samuel Last Judge – Saul First King
THREE KINGS = Saul - People’s King | David - God’s King | Solomon - King That Builds the Temple