About God’s Word, “It is a very long story, with a complicated plot; and we are not, perhaps, very attentive readers.” –C.S. Lewis, Miracles
“The mission was already under way before there was a church. There was a mission of God before there was a people of God. God is on a mission. The mission is already under way in the Garden. God didn’t lose Adam, but God is always coming, always seeking. People aren’t seekers, God is. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. As the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends us. We get to participate in what God is doing, His mission.” Carman Fowler
The Bible contains 66 books, filled with history, poetry, letters and stories. Seldom do we see that there is a theme, a plot running through these books. We study book by book; rarely look at it as a single book. Forty authors, over 1500 years. And while we know the ONE author, we don’t treat any other book like the Bible.
Genesis 1-11 covers the creation of the world and the first humans, Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were to reflect God’s character (made in His image) and as such were to be God’s representative of His rule over all creation bringing about this new creation’s potential through their rule.
By the time we reach chapter 3, we see man’s fall from grace and banishment from the Garden of Eden. From this point on, there is a spiral downward because of sin. Chapter 4 tells us Cain kills his brother Abel, and the story of Noah and the flood follows in chapters 6-9. The story of the tower of Babel is covered in chapter 10-11. In all these stories we see sin, God’s judgment and the hope of redemption. This is a theme we will see repeated throughout the rest of scripture.
God gives us insight to the plot of the book in Genesis 3:15. After God tells the serpent and Adam and Eve about how life is about to change, He says this, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” In this short verse God gives Satan a picture of his end, and the hope of redemption to Adam and Eve. You have the conclusion of the book pictured here in the beginning of the book.
Have you ever wondered how the Tower of Babel story fits into this theme? I have always thought that this story was just a great example of the pride of building a tower to man’s glory and not God’s. But I think that the real answer is their statement of their own intent. “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). God’s intent and purpose for man in the beginning was: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” (Genesis 1:28). God’s purpose and intent was for His image and His glory to be spread over all the earth, so God introduced the variety of languages causing the development of nations over all the earth. Genesis chapter 10 gives the genealogy of the descendants of Noah. Note verse 32, “These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.”
In the same way that Shem was given as a replacement for Abel, God is continuing to orchestrate His rescue story and purpose. God, by confusing and creating multiple languages, also created all the nations. In Chapter 12 God makes a promise to Abraham that through his descendants he would bless all nations (ethna-nations), same term used by Jesus in the Great Commission). The rest of the book is about God carrying out His redemptive purpose. It is the context of the rest of the Bible.
Psalm 67:1-5, May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
5Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
See also Psalm 72:17, 19; Psalm 96; Psalm 113:3; Isaiah 56:7.
If you miss the themes in the plot, you will only apply these things to yourself. We would never do that with any other book.
Illustration: God chooses Israel to be His people. Why?
Exodus 19:1-5 They were His people because of His love for the nations.
In I Peter 2:9ff, he uses four phrases from the Mosaic covenant. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” It was their (Israel’s) purpose and it is now our purpose.
We were not just saved to go to heaven; we are saved to be part of God’s mission for our neighbors and the nations of the world.
Look closely at the prayer of Jesus as He prepares the disciples for a future without Him.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:20-23. The unity or oneness here is not perfection in doctrine, but perfection in following God’s purpose, design and intent that the nations would come to know Him and worship Him.
Mission is not just something for “others” to do; it is our purpose for existence. If we are not actively involved in His mission, we are living in disobedience. Some of the most sobering words to me in scripture about what it means to be a disciple of Christ are found in II Corinthians 5:14-15, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
Guilt motivation will never accomplish the will of God; it must be a relationship. When Christ died for all, and all died to themselves, then the rest of their life is not for themselves, but for Christ.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
This is OUR reason for existence. So, how are we doing? That we will look at next time.