The Bible is one epic story that tells how God set about to redeem and restore a world that was wrenched from its original purpose and beauty. That’s it.
If you pay attention, you will see evidence of God’s intention throughout the Bible – beginning in Genesis with God’s promise that the offspring of Eve would crush the head of evil and concluding with the wonderful vision of Revelation 21 of “a new Jerusalem coming down from God…like a bride dressed for her husband.”
How do you know it’s a unified story? It’s because of little glimpses of mission throughout the Bible – like when Noah and his family are protected from the flood waters. God was keeping alive God’s original intention regarding the earth. And then there was Abraham in Genesis 12 whom God promised would be a blessing to the whole world.
The story goes on to tell how God gathered a select people, not to cut others out of God’s blessing, but rather to be conduits of God’s purposes to the world. Unfortunately, those chosen people created a members-only club instead of a place where everyone is welcomed.
Captivity in Babylon was the lowest point in Israel’s history: exiled in a foreign land, exiled from their temple, and complete loss of everything that gave them their identity. Yet, the prophetic books are filled with hope about their future.
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot–yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him–the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:1-9.
Time passed before Jesus entered the picture. The Gospel of Mark explodes with the Good News that what Israel had been looking for had finally arrived.
“This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet had written…” Mark wastes no time on birth narratives but zooms straight to Jesus’ first sermon, “The time promised by God has come at last. The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News.” –Mark 1:1-15.
God’s purpose in human history is really quite simple in scope. It is to reclaim the world and reunify humanity. In the beginning creation was meant to be a whole, not divided into tribes, each looking out for the well-being of the Other. The current distress and disunity in our world is widely separated from what God meant us to be. As God told Abraham, “ALL the nations of the world.”
Jesus was the truest and best picture of the love and service for which the world was created.