What can you do in 30 minutes? How much can you read? How much TV can you watch? How many projects can you start and finish? How many calls can you return? Suppose you had 30 minutes. Could you tell the story of the Bible in a half-hour?
Most of us would have a hard time doing that. After all, the Bible is big book. The numbers are staggering. 66 books written by 40 authors in three languages over 1500 years. Over 1100 chapters. Over 31,000 verses. Over 800,000 words.
Would it be possible to tell the story of the Bible in one message? That’s our goal. Buckle up because we’re going to start in Genesis and end in Revelation and see if we cover the whole book in one message. Here is the story of the Bible, told in six acts.
Act 1: God Creates Everything.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In 6 days God made everything. On the 7th day he rested. That’s Genesis 1.
Genesis 2 tells us about Adam and Eve. God created Adam out of the dust of the ground and placed him in the Garden. Then he fashioned Eve from a rib taken from Adam’s side. He presented Eve to Adam who was very pleased indeed. The two became one flesh. They were naked and they were not ashamed.
Act 2: Man Rebels Against God
The serpent appears to Eve and deceives her. She eats the fruit, gives it to Adam, and he eats. Eve ate the fruit because she was deceived by the serpent. Adam was not deceived as Eve was. He knew it was wrong but ate the fruit anyway. Therefore God holds him accountable.
“Sin entered the world through one man” (Romans 5:12). This was the decisive moment, the great turning point. Nothing will ever be the same. Suddenly they are ashamed, they try to cover their nakedness. Innocence is gone forever. When confronted by God, Adam makes excuses. “Who told you that you were naked?” “The woman you gave me.” First he blames Eve, then he blames God. Eve blames the serpent.
Judgment comes quickly. They are cast out of the Garden. God clothed them with garments of skin, a sign of his grace. Now they are on their own. The world becomes a very unfriendly place. Cain kills Abel. Civilization spreads. Large cities form. Death is everywhere.
That’s Genesis 4-5
Things go from bad to worse.
In Genesis 6 God intervenes.
The earth had grown corrupt and full of evil. God calls Noah who builds an Ark. When the flood comes covering the whole earth, only 8 people are saved. Thus do we learn of judgment and grace.
Now the line narrows to Noah and his family. After the flood, the three sons of Noah spread out and begin to multiply. Generations come and go. Eventually they build a tower to express their enormous arrogance. God sends the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel. People scatter across the face of the earth.
Act 3: God initiates redemption
Something hugely important happens in Genesis 12.
God calls Abraham. He’s a prosperous, middle-aged, pagan businessman in Ur of the Chaldees. God calls, he responds and becomes the outstanding example of faith in the Bible.
We can divide the whole Old Testament this way:
Genesis 1-11 God creates the human race.
Genesis 12-Malachi 4 God creates the Hebrew race.
Abraham and Sarah have a son–Isaac. Isaac has a son–Jacob. Jacob has many sons, the most important being Joseph. Joseph ends up serving Pharaoh in Egypt. His family follows him there. They number 70 people. God blesses them until the day comes when a Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph. For 400 years the people suffered in bondage until God raised up a deliverer named Moses.
He goes before Pharaoh and says, “Let my people go.” When Pharaoh says, “No!” God sends the 10 plagues. The last one was the death of the firstborn.
So Moses leads the Jews out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, and into the desert. At Mount Sinai God gives the Law, starting with the Ten Commandments.
You can read that in Exodus 20.
At Kadesh-Barnea they sent out 12 men to spy out the land of Canaan. It was a land filled with milk and honey. But because there were giants in the land, 10 of the spies said, “No, we can’t go.” Because the people did not believe God’s promise, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
Then God raised up another leader–Joshua. He leads the people to conquer the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. They divided the land for the twelve tribes.
Then comes the wild period of the Judges where every man did what was right in his own eyes. You know some of them-Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, Samson. The story of Ruth belongs in this period.
God led his people by prophets, priests and judges. But the people wanted a king. So God gave them Saul who started well and ended badly. Then came David whose victory over Goliath made the women sing his praises. But later David’s reign would be tarnished because of his sin with Bathsheba. Then came Solomon, the king who asked God for wisdom. He built the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. But he married foreign women who turned his heart away from God.
That’s 1 Kings 11.
Meanwhile the priests offered sacrifices day after day, year after year. A river of blood flowed from the altar. High priests came and went. After Solomon’s death the nation split into two parts. The northern ten tribes were led by a long string of evil kings. They were taken into captivity in 722 B.C. The southern two tribes had a few good kings. They lasted until 586 BC when the Babylonians took them into captivity.
The prophets brought God’s message of warning and hope. Isaiah spoke of a suffering servant. Jeremiah wept for his people. Daniel explained the handwriting on the wall.
The people of God languished in exile for 70 long years. It was a hard, humiliating time for the Jews.
Finally God raised up two key men. The first was Zerubbabel who led a small group back to Jerusalem at the end of the 70 years. In 445 B.C. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem. Sometime after that Malachi the prophet gave his message from the Lord.
The Old Testament closes with a sense of longing and expectation. Promises had been made. The prophets had spoken. The people were waiting. What would God do?
Act 4: God Accomplishes Redemption
In a mostly unlikely way, In a most unlikely place, When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary.
Not just any baby. But the seed of the woman, the son of David, the one whose name is Immanuel, God with us.
Shepherds glorified him. Angels announced him. The Magi brought him gifts.
The angel told Joseph, “Call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
He was baptized by John, tempted by the devil, misunderstood by the religious leaders, feared by some, hated by others, but the common people heard him gladly.
He was full of grace and truth. He was the fullness of God in bodily form.
The Bible says he went around doing good. He causes the blind to see, makes the deaf to hear, casts out demons, heals the sick and raises the dead. He invites all the weary to come to him for rest.
He teaches God’s law, embodies God’s love, and fulfills God’s promises. He preaches to the masses. He speaks in parables. He is a friend of sinners everywhere.
Repeatedly he tells the 12 that he will be betrayed into the hands of sinful men who will beat him and then crucify him. He tells them that after three days he will rise from the dead. They do not understand.
In the Garden of Gethsemane he prays in agony. Judas betrays him. Peter denies him. The disciples abandon him. Caiaphas accuses him. Herod mocks him. The soldiers beat him. Pilate condemns him to death.
He is crucified between two criminals. He cried out, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” And, “It is finished.” Finally, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” Then he breathed his last breath.
He was buried in a borrowed tomb. One day he was dead. Two days he was dead. But on the third day . . .
Two women went to the tomb to anoint his dead body. They found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. An angel said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!” (Luke 24:5-6).
The word began to spread. “He’s alive!” Over 40 days Jesus appeared to his disciples many times. His message is . . . “God is glorified. I am alive. Redemption is accomplished.”
“Go and tell everyone!” Then he ascended into heaven.
Act 5: God gives birth to the church.
For ten days the disciples waited and prayed.
That’s Acts 1.
On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came in great power. With the sound of a rushing wind. With tongues of fire. The disciples speak in foreign languages they did not know. Peter preaches and 3000 are saved in one day. The church is born in Jerusalem and grows amid much opposition. The message spreads throughout Judea and Samaria. Then to Galilee.
It moves across the Roman Empire as Peter, Paul and the other disciples preach the Good News. The church faces growing opposition and rising heresy. There are troubles on every hand.
James writes. Paul writes. Peter writes. John writes. The New Testament is completed.
So the Word of the Lord spread, the disciples multiplied, and the church grew. Even in the face of intense opposition, the first Christians proclaimed this message: Jesus is Lord! He is risen from the dead!
They said to anyone would listen, “If you will repent and believe the gospel, Jesus will give you power over sin, over death, over hell, and over the world, the flesh and the devil.” Jesus Christ is Lord!
Act 6: God completes redemption
If you go all the way to the end of the New Testament, to the book of Revelation, there we find pictured the final act of history–the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.
It begins this way: “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.”
If it was soon 2000 years ago, how much longer can it be?
Jesus Christ is coming again! That’s an amazing thought. Magnificent! Thrilling! Unbelievable!
Acts 1:11 says that “this same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
“This same Jesus.” Not someone like Jesus. Not a group of Jesus scholars. But Jesus himself is coming again.
Coming soon to Dallas. Coming soon to London. Coming soon to Beijing. Coming soon to Buenos Aires. Coming soon to Chicago. Coming soon to a city, a town, a village, a street, a home near you. And when he comes the second time, it will not be as Savior. It will be as judge.
He came the first time as the Lamb of God. He comes again as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
When Christ finally appears the second time, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The best is yet to come.
No wonder the Bible ends with these words: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20-21).
That is the Bible.
God creates man.
God initiates redemption.
God accomplishes redemption.
God gives birth to the church.
God completes redemption.
If we imagine the Bible as a great sanctuary and every book in the Bible as a seat in the sanctuary, then we can say wherever you go in the Bible, you’ve got a great view because you can see Jesus everywhere.
In Genesis he’s the Seed of the Woman.
In Exodus he’s the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus he’s the Scapegoat.
In Numbers he’s the Serpent lifted up in the Wilderness.
In Deuteronomy he’s the Cities of Refuge.
In Joshua he’s the Scarlet thread on Rahab’s house.
In Judges he’s the Perfect Judge.
In Ruth he’s the Kinsman Redeemer.
In I Samuel he’s the Trusted Prophet.
In 2 Samuel he’s the True Son of David.
In 1 Kings he’s the Promise Keeper.
In 2 Kings he’s the Jealous God.
In 1 Chronicles he’s our Reigning King.
In 2 Chronicles he’s our Deliverer.
In Ezra he’s the Faithful Scribe.
In Nehemiah he’s the Rebuilder of Broken Walls.
In Esther he’s Mordecai at the Gate.
In Job he’s My Redeemer Who Lives Today.
In Psalms he’s the Lord who is my Shepherd.
In Proverbs he’s our Wisdom.
In Ecclesiastes he’s our True Satisfaction.
In Song of Solomon he’s the Beautiful Bridegroom.
In Isaiah he’s the Suffering Servant.
In Jeremiah he’s the Righteous Branch.
In Lamentations he’s the Weeping Prophet.
In Ezekiel he’s the Son of Man.
In Daniel he’s the Fourth Man in the Furnace.
In Hosea he’s the Faithful Husband.
In Joel he’s the One Who Restores.
In Amos he’s the Burden Bearer.
In Obadiah he’s the Mighty Judge.
In Jonah he’s the Foreign Missionary.
In Micah he’s our Peace.
In Nahum he’s the Avenger.
In Habakkuk he’s the Lord in His Holy Temple.
In Zephaniah he’s the Lord Mighty to Save.
In Haggai he’s the Lord of Hosts.
In Zechariah he’s the Fountain of Cleansing.
In Malachi he’s the Sun of Righteousness.
In Matthew he’s the Promised Messiah.
In Mark he’s the Faithful Servant.
In Luke he’s Friend of Sinners.
In John he’s the Son of God.
In Acts he’s the Ascended Lord.
In Romans he’s the Justifier.
In 1 Corinthians he’s our Righteousness.
In 2 Corinthians he’s the God of All Comfort.
In Galatians he’s the Redeemer from the Curse of the Law.
In Ephesians he’s the Head of the Church.
In Philippians he’s the All-Sufficient Christ.
In Colossians he’s the Fullness of God.
In 1 Thessalonians he’s the Lord Coming Down from Heaven.
In 2 Thessalonians he’s the Judge coming with Blazing Fire.
In 1 Timothy he’s our Mediator.
In 2 Timothy he’s our Master.
In Titus he’s the Blessed Hope.
In Philemon he’s the One Who Paid Our Debt.
In Hebrews he’s Our Great High Priest.
In James he’s the Judge Standing at the Door.
In 1 Peter he’s the Chief Shepherd.
In 2 Peter he’s the Morning Star.
In 1 John he’s the Word of Life.
In 2 John he’s the Son of the Father.
In 3 John he’s the Truth.
In Jude he’s the Lord Coming with countless thousands of his saints.
In Revelation he’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
He’s the Theme of the Bible. The whole book is about him. If you know the Bible but you don’t know Jesus, you’ve missed the whole point. Of his kingdom there will be no end. He shall reign forever and ever and ever.
King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah! Amen.