Once upon a time, a father took his young son and daughter to the local parade. They lived in a small town, and as is typical with small-town parades, it included the volunteer fire department with their big, red ladder truck, an ambulance, and even some local farmers with their tractors, hay wagons, and a milk delivery truck. The parade also featured the high school band with the cheerleaders and color guard, and the local ballet school with lots of little girls dancing down the main street in their colorful dresses.
When the kids returned home, they couldn’t wait to tell their mom all about the parade. The little girl was the first to speak, and the words spilled out about the beautiful girls, their colorful costumes, and all the talented dancers. But all the little boy could talk about was the firemen, their big truck, and all the farm equipment. Eventually Dad broke in and laughingly remarked, “Wow, if I didn’t know any better, I would think that you kids attended two completely different parades!”
Although the kids attended the same parade, they experienced it completely differently, as if there were two entirely different events. Why was that? Because their focus—their personal perspectives—were completely different. The one parade was composed of many parts, and whenever we focus on the parts instead of the whole, we can lose the sense of the event as a whole. In other words, our perspective affects our experience.
The fundamental themes
Of course there is only one Bible, but our experience of it can be greatly affected by our perspective when reading it. Many people who read the Bible lose sight of the greater story that is being told and, like the kids and the parade, they end up developing a distorted view of it.
The Bible is a story centered on the theme of God’s rulership over His creation. It also portrays His love for mankind, with a plot that involves a war between good and evil. As we read about the many people, places, and events, we must keep these fundamental aspects of the story in mind so that we stay on the path and don’t get lost in the weeds.
The Sovereign Ruler
The Bible begins with the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God is the first player to set foot on the stage, and He is the central One moving behind the history of mankind. God’s supremacy is the central theme of creation. He is the Creator of everything, and as such He is ruler over all. He is the King, and all His creation is His domain—also referred to as His King-dom.
The story of the Bible portrays how man betrayed the King, committing treason by disobeying Him. Man’s act of rebellion against the King resulted in the corruption of the creation, and the Bible is the story of how God is bringing about His plan for the restoration of all creation back under His rightful rulership.
God’s love is a central element that is concurrent with the theme of His rulership. He tells us that a primary feature of His character is love; that it was because of this love that He created man; and that this love is the reason He fights for the restoration of His relationship with mankind. Love is part of the very fabric of creation, a thread entwined through all the forces of nature. It’s God’s love demonstrated through His faithfulness and grace that provides for all of mankind’s needs.
Good and Evil
Another fundamental concept that will help us to understand the Bible is the recurrent theme of good and evil and the ever-present battle that rages between them. At various stages in His creative process, God surveyed what He did and declared it to be “very good.” Thus, “good” is simply that which exists according to His intended order, and “evil” isn’t some nebulous black force; it is anything existing contrary to or outside of the way God intended things to be. God set the creation up according to a certain structure, a hierarchy, and “evil” is anything which rebels against or exists contrary to that order.
Quite simply, the Bible is the story of God as the Sovereign over His creation, the Supreme Ruler who is driven by love and is working to destroy evil and restore His creation to its original state of goodness.
(This article was taken from Dan Gallagher’s book “Learning to Enjoy the Bible“)