In the latest video, Benjamin talked about what we can learn about God from His Word, and one of those things is often sadly overlooked – God has a perfect plan. While the Bible does teach us how we should act and how we can best serve God, its main point is that God has had a purpose for the world from creation to destruction.
The Bible is really just one continuous story!
Yet, so often, we compartmentalize the Bible. Jonah got swallowed by a big fish in this story and Jesus rose from the dead in another story. The two have nothing in common, right?
Well, as I said earlier, it is very important to realize that there are specific lessons that are unique to every history in the Bible. Going back to the example of Jonah, we can learn from his story about the dangers of ignoring commands from God, and we are challenged to think about our own fears in regard to obedience. If you don’t know the story I really encourage you to read it in the book named after the man: Jonah. When you do, think about those applications, but also ask yourself this question: How does this story fit in with God’s overarching plan?
But wait. Before we ask that, we have to understand what God’s overarching plan is. Flip to Genesis in your Bible and read chapters 1 and 2. It says God made a perfect world in which there was absolutely no sin. He created a man and a woman who walked with God perfectly and who were privileged to live in this perfect place. Ok, now read Genesis 3. Those people sinned, changing forever their relationship with the holy God. They were marred and so weren’t allowed into His presence. BUT, God promised a redeemer, one who would pay the debt for the sins of the people, bringing them back into a righteous relationship with the just God. Now, skim through the next few books of the Bible and keep on skimming until you get to the books written by Prophets. These men gave much more information about the coming Redeemer. They told where He would be from and what He would do. The people grew hopeful, but they still had to wait. Finally, in the New Testament, Jesus is born! He was the Promised Redeemer! Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us that He died and took on Himself the wrath of God so that we could have that righteous relationship with God again. (By this point, not only Adam and Eve had sinned, but so had everyone else, as you saw in all of your Old Testament skimmings. Everyone was in desperate need of this salvation.)
Now keep reading through the New Testament. People are being brought into this right relationship with God by accepting Jesus’s payment for their sins, and this is changing the world! But there are still people who reject this idea of salvation, and even Christians are continuing to sin. The world still isn’t even close to the paradise God created. Turning to Revelation, we read the story of how God finally rights the wrong done in the Garden of Eden, how He finally, unquestionably ousts Satan, and how Paradise is brought again for those whose sins have already been paid for by Jesus. For them, the world is made completely right again.
But I didn’t write in there anything about Jonah! So how does he fit into this plan? Well, first, he was one of the prophets that I mentioned, proclaiming to the people who lived before the time of Jesus about the Redeemer who was to come. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Jonah’s life itself pointed people to Jesus. Jesus Himself even said in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jonah’s life was an example of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Jonah was living proof that God knew exactly what His plan of salvation was long before we saw it take place. Even when the people began to feel that the Redeemer would never come, God was bringing about His plan, exactly as He had always intended.
Look again at Genesis 3, when God was telling Adam and Eve about the Redeemer. He said to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” That is a direct reference to the sacrifice that Jesus made and the victory that He gave. God already knew! He never even had to stop and think!
It’s important that while we read the Bible, we first look at some specific application, but we also need to ask, “How does this fit into the big picture?” For example, when Abraham was asked to move from Ur, he was able to become the father of an entirely new group, the Israelites, from which group Jesus would be born. When Nehemiah rebuilt the wall, or when Esther saved the people from destruction, we see God protecting those people so that they would live for generations more.
God doesn’t just throw things together willy-nilly. He loves us enough that He made a plan in which He would have to sacrifice His own Son so that we could be with Him. He cared enough to have it all figured out since before the beginning of the world, since before we had even sinned! And while sometimes it may seem that God had put that plan on hold through the whole middle section of the Bible, as we study with that question in the back of our minds, we can see that our salvation was at the forefront all the way through.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16