+ WATCH “The Covenants” from the Bible Project
+ PRAY for open hearts and minds, especially yours.
+ READ Ephesians 2-3 (ESV)
If there’s one thing that always strikes me about the Big Picture of the Bible, it’s just how BIG of a story we’re talking about. Just think about it: this is the story of the cosmos, of humanity, of an eternal God who has always been and always will be. Or think about the Bible itself: 66 individual books written over 1,500 years by 40 or so different authors. On one hand that might seem a bit overwhelming; that’s lots of years and lots of faces and lots of events to think about. But on the other hand, when you take a step back from each of those books, you begin to see a single story taking shape—a story of truly cosmic proportions, one that involves every thing and every one. And it all comes down to this: God became flesh.
To see what I mean, try this out: open a Bible and turn to its table of contents. You’ll notice that most of the books are listed under the heading, “The Old Testament,” and several others are listed under another heading, “The New Testament.” What you won’t see on that page, though, is what connects those two sections. The hinge upon which these testaments turn is the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Remember what Paul said to the Colossians: “in him all things hold together.” Now listen to what he wrote to a sister-church around that same time, about how they saw the Old Testament:
… remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:12-16)
When you’re trying to remember the Big Picture of the Bible, that word “covenants” is extremely important. Because it describes those times in human history when God steps out in his gracious love and calls a person into a relationship with him. And just like any good story, the best parts echo throughout its later chapters. So we see God covenanting with Adam and Noah, and Abraham and Jacob (the father of the nation of Israel), and then a guy named David. That’s what these are: “covenants of promise”—each one building on the others to brings everything together in the Promise. Catch that? Many covenants, one promise.
And that promise is fulfilled in one man: Jesus. His very name means deliverance, the putting-back-together of what we unraveled. He is the one who says, “Your mess is mine,” and then dies to prove it. And that’s where the mystery becomes really good news. God knows even better than we do just how wrong we really are. He could have looked down at the mess we made of things and ended it all right there. But that’s simply not who God is. And we know who he is because we’ve known his Son. And in Christ, we hear the gospel call, “Follow me.”
+ ASK Three Big Questions
+ DIG DEEPER with slides for group discussion.