If you asked Christians “What is the Bible?” you would probably get many varied answers. The answers probably would include some of the following: God’s Word, Inspirational, a group of books, a group of stories, or even instructions for eternal life. All of these are correct but none of them completely describes the Bible as a complete singular work, which it is.
Have you ever stood back and looked at the Bible to see its story, in its entirety? In its most simplistic form there is a theme that is true from Genesis all the way to Revelation. It is a single story composed of many small stories. These small stories are just small parts of the central theme. That theme becomes apparent when you don’t use a magnifying glass to look at all the smaller internal stories and you take the time to look at the “big picture”. If you look at the Bible as one long story you can see there is one main theme that runs from its beginning, to its end.
I believe that for anyone to truly understand and to truly apply the Bible story to one’s life they need to know that main theme. The theme is why the Bible was written and why all the events happened. Without the theme there is no need for the Bible or any of its stories. I think if one sees that theme, then one can better put all the events and lessons into prospective.
That main theme or premise of the Bible is that of a parent raising and guiding their child, from the child’s infancy all the way to the child’s death. It is a parental record of mankind’s growth to maturity. In the Garden of Eden mankind was an infant and God provided for all his needs, but mankind disobeyed the parent and took what was not appropriate for an infant. He ate of the tree of knowledge before he was ready to do so and as such was punished for his disobedience. The parent, God, did what any parent does when a child gets into something inappropriate for their child. He removes the item from the child’s reach, so God removed man from the proximity of the temptation. He expelled man from the Garden making the tree inaccessible to the child.
Man is thrown out into the world to learn and experience life. Just like a parent, God allows man to walk on his own feet. He allows man to fall and pull himself up, to fail and succeed. Man sins repeatedly and God punishes him repeatedly, just like any parent would do for any child that repeatedly disobeyed. God was teaching man, what was acceptable and what was not. Just like a child who develops the knowledge of what is right and wrong, through life’s experiences man was learning the same thing.
Mankind gradually grows up one step at a time and just like a child he grows in knowledge. His knowledge grows and grows till he thinks he knows as much as his parent. He becomes more and more disobedient and God grows tired of the disobedience, just like any parent would. God even regrets having the child at times but he never wavers in his parental duties of teaching through reward and punishment. God also never wavers in his love for his child.
Some men gradually learn God’s life lessons, while others refuse to learn, just like some children are unruly and others are obedient. Because of obedient actions, God develops favorites among his children just like human parents do. God rewards his obedient children and severally punishes the disobedient ones. God grows to favor the Israelites because of their father’s righteousness and he rewards him and them. They are protected and given a homeland to call their own and he continues this as long as they are obedient.
God continues to teach mankind how to be a better species. Just like a parent teaches their children, God teaches mankind through age appropriate lessons. A parent can’t teach adult lessons to a toddler and a parent can’t teach toddler lessons to teenagers. God has to bring mankind around one lesson at a time, as mankind matures so do the lessons. The key to his lessons is always the timing. Throughout the Bible God times his lessons to mankind’s progression in morality and spirituality making them “age appropriate”.
God can’t expect early man to comprehend advanced spiritual concepts without first teaching mankind what a spiritual concept is. God does this in a slow methodical way over the centuries. Mankind very slowly matures and reaches higher levels of enlightenment and as he does, God feeds him more mature concepts in spirituality and morality. Just like a parent helps a child to mature, God helps and guides man to mature.
Just like a teenager, man reaches a level where he thinks he knows it all and that he no longer needs God. God, like any good parent, allows man to keep his self esteem all the while watching and waiting for the failure. God always allows man to fail or succeed in order for him to learn.
As man reaches the brink of adulthood, God knows that man needs a higher goal to keep him on the straight and narrow moral road. God gives him the ultimate example of morality. He gives Jesus as a sacrifice for man’s imperfections. God showed that He loves mankind by allowing mankind to brutally handle and kill Jesus. God uses Jesus’ life and death to show what is expected of mankind spiritually and physically.
Jesus gave us the example and now we are expected to step up and meet the example the best we can. God knows we are imperfect and he knows we can only fail over and over again, but he has a forgiving heart for those who have a sincere heart. He also has an unforgiving heart for those who are insincere. Just like a parent, God knows that his job as a teacher is done because the child is no longer a child but considered an adult. Mankind is now totally accountable for his own actions and his own future.
I put it to you that the Bible is in its simplicity, is nothing more than a story of a parent trying to educate its children from their infancy to their adulthood. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that the Bible is “just” a simple story because it is a lot more complicated than any other document in history. I’m just saying that the Bible in all its complexity can be looked at in so many ways and just one of those ways is, as God’s parental record of mankind’s childhood.
But of course mankind must ask itself have we reached maturity or are we just fooling ourselves? I’m sure God has quite a few more lessons to teach us. Children always think they are grown up before they really are and mankind is still a child in God’s eyes. The best we can do is act like we are mature and be obedient. So as one of his children I can only hope I have grown up enough and learned enough to be one of his favorites. How about you? BJMJr
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