During my Bible College training, a lecturer got us to summarise the whole message of scripture in 1,000 words. It was fantastic fun and something I found very useful. I saw that lecturer again this week and enjoyed once more sitting under his teaching. I’ve put that story here for you to enjoy and as a way of saying thanks to Rod Thompson.
Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God
On the last day of history God makes this proclamation and declares he has kept all of the promises he once made to a man named Abraham. God’s story is thus complete, and through his story he has made himself known.
When it began, God created the heavens and the earth. He shaped them and formed them and placed a man in them. To Adam he makes a promise: do not disobey me or you will surely die. When the man and his wife listen to the lies of a serpent they doubt this promise. God curses them for their disobedience, but promises that one day one will be born of woman who will repay the serpent for his deceit. Soon after, the children of the man and his wife become the first victims of sin and death. Then it all gets worse from there.
God becomes so grieved over his creation that he orders the waters to swallow up the land. But before this happens he saves a remnant of Adam’s line through the work of a righteous man named Noah. Noah is one born of woman, but he is not the one promised from the curse. Neither is his descendant Abraham, although to Abraham and his descendants many more promises are made.
The promises include these 3 incredible things:
- God will make Abraham into a great nation with its own land.
- God will bless the nation and repay anyone who hurts them.
- God will bless all of humanity through them.
God causes Abraham’s family to multiply. Then, as he foretold, Abraham’s people find themselves in a foreign land where they catch the eye of an evil king.
This king has no knowledge of the promise keeping God and tries to obliterate his people by killing their sons. The people cry out to God, and God remembers his promises. He rescues a rescuer named Moses, and through him Yahweh keeps his word. He repays the king for the evil performed against his people, just as he promised Abraham he would. By the killing of the Egyptians’ sons, he rescues his people and leads them out of the land of suffering.
God leads them to a meeting with him on Mt Sinai and makes many promises to them. He calls them a treasured possession; they are unique and set-apart, and will continue like this if they remain faithful to God. In this promise lie the seeds of future blessings and the seeds of future curses. Israel will either be at peace in the land or they will be exiled.
Once Moses dies the people are without strong leadership. They fail to complete their task of overcoming the peoples of the Promised Land. They live amongst them and adopt their customs. In keeping with his promise, God curses them until they repent, and saves them when they cry out. Despite his faithfulness, God’s people fall further from grace and assimilate even more with the nations. It becomes clear that Israel needs a king.
Through a foreign woman named Ruth, God remembers his promises to Abraham and brings forth a godly king named David. David is God’s new rescuer and through him the nations are subdued and peace prevails in the land. Although he is one born of woman, he is not the one referred to in the curse. God promises him that from his body will come one who will build the temple, and one who will remain on the throne for all eternity. Hopes are high for David’s son Solomon.
Solomon does indeed build a temple for God and brings about such blessing for Israel that even the nations become blessed by him. But, in his weakness he shows that he was just a picture of one who is yet to come, and the blessings are stripped from the nation as God’s children fight over the scraps of a divided kingdom.
Every subsequent king rules over a nation whose hearts are further inclined to evil. Many messengers come and call out for repentance, lest the people cause God to remember his promises of curses and exile. The people are stubborn and the kings are fallen, so God judges the land. Fortunately God remembers his promises to Moses and limits the time of exile to 70 years.
God tells a man named Daniel that we must wait for a further 4 centuries before everything Yahweh has promised comes together at last, then a baby is born…
Jesus, called the Messiah, is born of a virgin and heralded by a new Elijah. He becomes what everyone has failed to be: he is the perfect man, able to resist Satan’s temptation; the perfect Israel, able to persevere in the wilderness; the perfect Moses, able to give new law; the perfect prophet, able to perform all miracles; the perfect king; able to conquer his enemies; the perfect priest, able to teach all scripture; the perfect servant, able to suffer in silence; and finally the perfect sacrifice, able to atone for all of the sin in the world and reconcile people with God. God accepts Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus chooses a people and gives his work over to them to complete – but first he sends a helper.
When the Spirit of Christ is poured out on believers, God’s anointed Apostles proclaim his favour in every language. Every blessing becomes available to all nations of the earth. By the will and purpose of God, the message of forgiveness spreads throughout the earth. No nation is untouched and though the people of God suffer many hardships, they are helped to remain faithful.
Before the narrative ends, God gives a picture to a man named John. Just like it was for Daniel, it is a message of the following years. When the people of earth will fight with the people of God and suffering will mark the passage of time. Yet the story has already been told. God keeps his promises and his Son will return. God will create again and everything will be made new. God will once again walk amongst us, and he will be our God and we will be his people.