Sometimes I get so narrowly focused on a passage or theme of Scripture, or just “stuff” in my life, that I forget the larger picture of Scripture and the grand plan and movement of God believers are a part of. It is so easy to get down, slip in to a rut, entertain negative expectations, and to lose the divine sense of purpose and urgency the BIG picture gives us.
I was struck recently with an overview of the Bible through Arthur Glasser’s book Announcing the Kingdom. His words, and some things God showed me as I reflected on them, really blessed me. Here it is, in a nutshell:
One: Genesis 1–11 give us a “universal” or wide view picture. They deal with Creation, the Fall, the spread of men (and wickedness), the global judgement on all men through the Flood. They end with the disobedience of men resulting in God scattering them and confusing their language at Babel. These chapters deal with the full population of men (said generically to include women and children as well).
Two: While men are clearly scattering and populating the world from then on, Genesis 12 through the end of Acts 1 basically ignore the rest of the world and focus, simply, on one narrow line. Beginning with Abraham we see the Bible following God’s work of preparing a people for restoring God with the people of the world. We follow the line through Abraham, into Egypt, back in to the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, through the captivity, and in to Jesus who declares both the presence, and the future full fulfillment, of the Kingdom of God. Through Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He destroys the devil’s two greatest weapons (death, and our guilt).
But, even through this narrow focus of the bulk of the Bible which basically ignores the rest of the world, God is working His plan to redeem the fallen people of the world. Even with Abraham His promise was that through Abraham’s line all the nations of the world would be blessed, and this theme and thread are woven throughout.
Three: Then comes Acts, chapter 2, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit prophesied in Joel that would be poured out on ALL flesh (we suddenly explode again to a wide, non-Israel centered view). With this outpouring the disciples receive the power from on high God promises them to enable them in His mission which He gives them . . . to go in to all the WORLD and make disciples. This is the world that was scattered at Babel and whose language was confused. It is significant, I believe, that this anointing for God’s global mission was accompanied by the disciples speaking in tongues and people from many different languages each heard the same Gospel! Shortly thereafter the Jew goes to the Gentile, and all the scattered world becomes invited to join in the “nation” of God’s people. It is Babel in reverse, and it catapults us out of the narrow focus of the line of Israel, then Christ, and back in to a wide view in which we see and focus on the scope of God’s majestic, sweeping, powerful invasion of earth to bring back a prodigal race to Him.
So the Bible goes from wide, to narrow, and then explodes back to wide—and at each end of it, like bookends, we find a place where God’s will is done perfectly, free of sin’s tarnish. They are the Garden in the beginning, and Heaven and the New Earth at the end (with Jesus, in the "middle," modeling it for us and telling us to pray for it). In this time in between, as light and darkness battle, as Kingship over individual hearts is decided, we are called of God to be His hands and feet, His soldiers and ambassadors, and the power of attorney’s for His name. We are the ones to walk in His place; anointed of the same Spirit that anointed Him; taking His mission and call to the ends of the earth; modeling His love and power; being a light among the darkness, and partakers in a huge, awe-inspiring, sacrificial, mind blowing, purpose inspiring, physical and spiritual war and mission.
I cringe when I hear Christians say they are bored. We are an integral part in something so breathtaking, and of a scope so large, that the Lord of the Rings pales in comparison to the reality of who God is, who we are in Christ, and what we are privileged to be partakers in.
Why would God use such broken vessels? I don’t know. But He has. And with that I say, “March on! The King is calling!” (And, feel free to remind me of the same when I get bogged down, routine, and lose my sense of direction and purpose—I need that reminder all too often.)