As you know, I’m taking the Perspectives class at my church. Our readings this last week dealt with the idea that instead of seeing the Bible as a collection of a bunch of different stories, we should see it as one whole story- the story of God revealing Himself to people, giving them the privilege of taking His name to the nations, and seeking worshippers from every nation. Throughout the entire Bible this theme can be seen.
God called Abraham in Genesis 12, saying that He would bless Abraham but that Abraham would also be a blessing. God’s gracious blessing was to go out to the other nations through the people who would come from Abraham, the nation of Israel. God chose the people of Israel to be a witness of His name to all of the peoples around them.
When Solomon built the temple, he prayed that it would be a place for people to come to learn more about God. 2 Chronicles 6:32-33 records part of Solomon’s prayer of dedication: “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm- when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name” (NIV).
Many times in the Psalms, the idea of the peoples giving praise to God comes out. Psalm 67 is just one example: “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth” (verses 3-4, NIV).
Skipping way ahead to the end of the Bible, Revelation gives us a beautiful picture of the “end” of the story, when God reigns with His people who have believed in His name and who will worship Him for eternity.
The idea of this theme weaving it’s way and encompassing the whole Bible has been on my heart as I’ve tried to ponder and comprehend it all. I just want to share one particular way this has really struck me. I have been reading through the Bible in the Message version in this new year, and I have been in the book of Leviticus lately. I was really struggling to understand why the book was in the Bible, what significance some of the rules and regulations had for me, and how this fit in with the idea of God’s plan for His creation. I have always heard that we learn that God cares about details, and I think that’s true, but it seemed like there should be more than that. This morning I read the following in chapter twenty two, verses thirty-two and thirty-three: “Don’t desecrate my holy name. I insist on being treated with holy reverence among the people of Israel. I am God who makes you holy and brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am God” (The Message). So God gave these specific rules to the Israelites in order for them to be set apart and holy. Set apart from what? The nations around them, who probably were practicing many of the sinful things that God forbid the Israelites from doing. They were to be different from the nations around them in order to honor God’s name, but also by setting themselves apart they were to set an example for the other nations and draw them to knowing God themselves. Even the laws that seem meaningless to me had the ultimate purpose of the fame of the Lord and the saving of the nations.
I’m not sure I have this all figured out yet, but I guess that is part of the journey! Please feel free to share your own thoughts and check back in for more of mine.