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We need the big-picture

Many believers today can’t express the Christian faith. They might be able to recite the sinner’s prayer, their date of baptism, and maybe even some landmark Bible stories.

Before smart phones, they might have rattled off the books of the Bible. But when it comes to grasping the big picture, and relating it back in their own words, they go blank.

Seeing the big picture is crucial to any discipline in life. 

Lawyers don’t just know laws, they understand the legal framework and storied cases that make up the legal system.

A good tour guide doesn’t just offer facts and dates. They know overall context and the sequence of events leading up to the moment of interest.

So what’s the big picture for a Christian? 

What’s the overall theme of the Bible? Is there a thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation?

First, lets look at the bookends to the story – the beginning and the end.

Genesis 1-3: God placed man in a garden filled with delicious fruit trees, and gave him a tent (body) that would live forever. Satan came on the scene. And so did sin.

An angel showed man the exit sign out of the garden, cutting off access to that special fruit tree (called the Tree of Life). As a result, death followed for everyone.

Revelation 20-22: One day (still ahead of us), after a really gruesome battle and a dreary judgment, those life-giving fruit trees will once again appear in a “Garden” called the New Jerusalem—the capital city of Heaven. Finally, man will live forever with God as initially intended.

A wild plan, isn’t it?

That’s the skinny version, using the first and last three chapters of the Bible. But what’s the middle of the story? 


The Seed

When I share the sex talk with my children, I don’t use “birds and bees.” I talk specifically about the “seed.” The seed from a mommy and a daddy, that results in a baby. I’ve found the “seed” a helpful tool when I want to transition to talking about the Bible.

A launch pad for the big-picture Bible discussion is Genesis 3:15.  The verse tells about the seed of a woman that will one day rock the enemy and save the world.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. (NASB)

For 4,000 years this seed worked its way through humanity. Eventually a baby Messiah was born (The Seed).

For a while, the enemy (Satan) harassed the Seed – like a mosquito nipping at the heels. This minor distraction seemed monumental – The Seed was arrested, rebuked and died a brutal cross crucifixion, the kind reserved for the worst of criminals.

But this humiliating treatment would be nothing compared to the eventual fate of the enemy.

It’s a grander story than could be scripted by any Hollywood sci-fi movie.


Building a narrative

So back to our question: What is the Bible about? What is this big picture that can help us in understanding the Bible?

The Bible is about the journey of The Seed

  • that travels through 4,000 years, 
  • consisting of roughly 64 generations, 
  • organized around key “resets”,
  • focused on 2 resurrection events,
  • which set up 1 final climactic, redemptive event…. the recreation of the Heavens and the Earth

Let’s break it down.

4,000 Years: God gives us the data to calculate a Biblical timeline. Third graders can chart the timeline from Adam to Noah’s flood with a calculator, some paper, and the text from Genesis 5. (It’s roughly 1,650 years.) From Genesis 11, we can calculate the period from Noah to Abraham (roughly 350 years).

That’s 2,000 years – half of the 4,000-year history of the Old Testament era. The Bible provides key dating references to help map out the rest of history leading to the birth of Christ.

Roughly 64 Generations: I like to ask youth, “How many great, great, great grandfathers does it take to trace the “seed” from Adam and Eve, to Jesus Christ? (A very smart student might answer the question with a question: “Do you mean through Mary? or Joseph?”)

The Gospel of Luke traces the genealogy from Adam to Mary in 76 generations. Matthew’s Gospel builds a partial genealogy from Abraham to Joseph. (Bible scholars note roughly 64 generations from Adam to Joseph).

The biblical accounts are there to link The Seed from Genesis 3:15 to John 3:16. Consider these ways various Bible accounts help us understand the role of The Seed.

  • Why did God save one man’s family (Noah) from the flood? [Answer: To keep The Seed alive]
  • What’s so significant about Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac [Answer: that meant killing the path of The Seed that would lead to Christ]
  • Why the weird story of Judah having intercourse with his daughter-in-law Tamar who posed as a prostitute [Answer: she carries The Seed in the line of Christ – shocking, huh?]
  • What’s so special about the story of Ruth? [Answer: she marries Boaz, the great grandfather to King David—an ancestor to Christ]
  • What’s up with the run-down of all the bad—and occasional good—kings in Kings and Chronicles. [Answer: many of the kings are carrying The Seed into the future]

The Bible is the history of all the birth certificates of each generation from Adam to Christ. 

“Reset” Events: Throughout Bible history, there were key moments (or seasons) when God intervened in supernatural ways to keep the Seed on track. These interventions served as “resets” – or pivot points – to alter the path of the Seed for it’s protection and ultimate survival.

Often these reset moments were marked by a special conversation from God. Below are some examples:

  1. God speaks to Satan in the garden, in the presence of Adam and Eve.

After Adam and Even ate the forbidden fruit, man was flawed and death entered the scene. But God had a solution, telling Satan, “Game on! Your fate is sealed. I’m going to crush you… with a special seed.” (Jeff’s paraphrase)

  1. God speaks to Noah of plans to destroy the earth by flood.

Angels were procreating with humans. (No kidding—you can read about it in Genesis 6). Essentially the human race was contaminated with angelic seed. So God started over with a single family.

  1. God speaks to Abraham of plans to give him and his wife, Sarah, a son.

As wickedness spread across the earth again, the line of The Seed was once again at risk. So God launched a new nation (called Israel) and a safer path for routing The Seed.

  1. God speaks to Moses of plans to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt.

The Israelites found themselves in slavery. To protect the Seed, God rescued them from slavery and separated them from their enemies. He established a new order for this new nation by which to live (i.e. new laws, new land, new government, new tabernacle, new code of worship, etc.).

  1. God speaks to David of plans to establish a “forever kingdom” through his line of kings.

As Israel gained military dominance under King David, God blessed David and promised that his kingdom would endure forever. Later when David’s son Solomon turned from God, the kingdom of Israel split and ultimately both resulting kingdoms went into exile. Still, God honored the Davidic covenant and the Seed remained safe.

  1. God tells the virgin, Mary, that she will have a child.

Instead of a seed from a man, it would be a Holy Spirit Seed. Finally, the 2ndAdam! (Jesus was born a baby, grew up as a child, walked the earth as a perfect man, and offered himself as a sacrifice to God.)

Two resurrection events: these climactic, resurrection events are integral to the overall biblical narrative.

  1. The resurrection of Christ: Jesus, the ultimate arrival in The Seed journey, came to earth to be sacrificed as the Lamb of God. The purpose of his sacrifice was to redeem fallen man. Three days after his cross crucifixion, Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
  2. The resurrection of the dead: one day in the future, all the dead (and those living at the time) will be resurrected in a new body. Those names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will have eternal life. Those names not written in the Lamb’s Book will experience eternal judgment in the lake of fire.


The Final Act: Renewal of the Heavens and Earth – Like the resurrection of the saints, this event lies ahead of us and follows the final judgment and destruction of Satan, his angels, and all those whose names are not written in the Book of Life.

The New Heavens will have as its focus, the New Jerusalem. This New Jerusalem will be a massive city, with elaborate gates of pearls, streets of gold, a river lined with fruit trees, and a wide range of activity being engaged by its inhabitants (worship, travel, reigning, serving, commanding, etc.)


One more time:

The Bible is about the journey of The Seed,

  • that travels through 4,000 years,
  • consisting of roughly 64 generations,
  • organized around 6 key “reset” events,
  • focused on 2 resurrection events,
  • which set up 1 final climactic, redemptive event…. the recreation of the Heavens and the Earth.


 That’s the Bible’s Big Picture! 

As you read through God’s word, keep this narrative in view. It will help you to make sense of the Bible.


Ways to Read (and Listen)

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