The Bible is the perfect storybook. Its stories involve tragedy, comedy, love, and epic. It tells tales of sin, death, war, slavery, martyrdom, and crucifixion—but also of life, victory, and resurrection. There are heroes and villains, plots and subplots. The Bible is a collection of books from many authors, spanning over 2,000 years. It is written in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), and it communicates its message through the genres of narrative, poetry, proverb, and epistle.
The Bible is made up of many stories, yet it is also one story—the story of God’s redemption of His people. God is always the hero in the story of the Bible. He created man from the dust to bring Him glory, yet man has continually rebelled against Him. But God in His grace and goodness has been redeeming man ever since, restoring man in his relationship with Him and promising to fully redeem His people at the final resurrection.
The Redemption of Israel
God has always reserved a people for Himself. Adam brought sin and misery upon all humanity. And though humans became so wicked that God destroyed them with a flood, He still saved Noah and his family. God then chose a man from Noah’s descendants, Abraham (c. 2100 B.C.), whom He would make into a great nation. Abraham’s descendants became a great and mighty people, the nation of Israel, and they dwelt in the land promised to Abraham. This was the land of Canaan, east of the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel continually rebelled against God, but God continued to redeem them. He raised up leaders to help Israel and turn them from sin, such as Moses, Joshua, the judges, and the prophets. Sometimes Israel would repent, but more often than not, Israel would continue to rebel. When Israel was enslaved by the Egyptians, God delivered them by the hand of Moses (1446 B.C). But Israel did not trust God, and God made them wander in the wilderness for 40 years before they entered Canaan. After Israel entered Canaan, they were oppressed by the surrounding nations in Canaan. God then delivered them by the rule of the judges (1375–1050 B.C.). God later gave Israel kings to lead them, but most of them led Israel astray. God continually sent prophets to rebuke Israel, but Israel would not listen to them.
Enough was enough. So God did what He said He would do—He gave Israel over to judgment. After King Solomon died (David’s son), Israel was split into the two kingdoms of northern Israel and southern Judah (931 B.C.). The nation of Assyria destroyed northern Israel in 722 B.C., and northern Israel would never be heard from again. The nation of Babylon took southern Judah into captivity in 586 B.C., leaving God’s people to wonder if the Lord had abandoned them. But in 539 B.C., King Cyrus of Persia defeated the Babylonians, and he released Judah from captivity. Judah returned to Canaan in waves, beginning in 538 B.C. This restored nation of Israel would survive until 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple (just as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24).
The Coming of Christ
But Israel was not an end in itself. The people of Israel were chosen so that God could send a man to save God’s people. This man would be a true Israelite—a righteous man who was of the offspring of Abraham and in the lineage of King David. But this man, Jesus Christ (Christ means Messiah, “anointed one”), was also the Son of God. Jesus was born in Bethlehem in 5 B.C. He was of the tribe of Judah, and He was born to a virgin woman, Mary. Jesus was a prophet of God who taught God’s Word to His disciples and proclaimed God’s kingdom to Israel. Jesus was a man, but He was also God.
Yet Jesus was rejected by the leaders of Israel. The Jewish leaders handed Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified, and in 33 A.D., Jesus was killed on a cross—but death could not hold Him down. Jesus was raised from the dead by God the Father three days later. He appeared to His disciples, and then He ascended to heaven 50 days later (and He is still there reigning as King). Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of man. He was the spotless lamb foreshadowed in the Levitical sacrificial system, the God-man who would wash away our sins. He was not only a prophet but the great high priest who brings us to the Father. He was also the King of Israel, who reigns over His people and over the nations. He thus fulfills all three Old Testament offices (prophet, priest, king).
The whole Bible is therefore a story about Christ. It is a beautiful story of Christ’s work to save His people, and that includes us who believe in Him. We should not be surprised that the story is beautiful because it comes from God Himself, the author of creation. God gave us these stories, as He breathed them out through the human authors of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible points to Christ from its very beginning, and the stories of the Bible all find their fulfillment in Him. We read these stories so that we may see the beauty of Christ and grow in our faith in Him. We want to know the Bible that we may know Him more.