Have you ever noticed how little attention is given to the typical funeral in the Bible? I mean, even the funerals of the really “iconic” biblical figures. Take Moses for example. The record of his death in Deuteronomy 34 essentially reads, “and Moses died in Moab . . . Now Joshua . . . ” This is Moses we’re talking about here—the man God used to deliver Israel, part the Red Sea, and lead Israel for 40 years. He spoke face to face with God (Exodus 33:11)! But instead of a long, beautiful eulogy and a few chapters of reflection on Moses’s life, his passing is mentioned very briefly and the focus quickly shifts to God’s new instrument, Joshua. It’s almost as if the focus of the account is not on Moses; imagine that.
As we read, study, and teach the Bible, whom do we perceive as being the hero of any given account? Is Moses the hero of Exodus? Is David truly the focus in the account of his battle with Goliath? Is Daniel’s faith really the object lesson in the account of Daniel in the lion’s den? Is Samuel the hero of 1 and 2 Samuel (even though he dies in 1 Samuel 25 and again his death is mentioned in passing)? What about Paul? Is he the focus of the majority of the epistles? Of course I could go on ad infinitum.
You know, in a lot of our Bible study materials, Sunday school curricula, and study Bible notes, what tends to be focused on are the people in any given biblical account. What did someone do or not do, and how do we apply that to our lives? Look at David’s faith as he fights Goliath and emulates it. See how Daniel stands strong in a pagan culture and does the same, and so on. Now don’t misunderstand me; I am not saying that those are not valid points, or that there are not many good lessons to be learned and applied throughout biblical history. Of course there are. What I am saying is if we stop there and that is all we see, we are missing the proverbial forest for the trees. We are missing the ultimate heavenly perspective and the one, true Hero of all of history.
The “Scarlet Thread”The historical accounts throughout the Bible are not isolated events unto themselves. Each one is a link in the chain of God’s story of redemption. When biblical accounts are properly understood chronologically, they flow from one to the other consistently and logically, demonstrating God’s sovereign handiwork and the historicity of His Word. Once seen in this light, we can see the “scarlet thread” of the gospel of Christ throughout all of history. This is a term we use in our ABC curriculum. It is the thread that is crimson red from the blood of Christ and is woven through the tapestry of all of history. We see in the beginning that God makes a perfect creation marred by man’s sin and records the first prophecy of the Messiah (Genesis 3:15). We watch as God takes a man named Abraham and turns his family into a nation from which He brings the Messiah. God becomes man, and we see the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ that pays our sin debt. We see the growth of His church, the spread of His gospel, and we receive the promise of His imminent Second Coming! All of history—past, present and future—points to Christ. There is only one Hero in the entirety of history, and His name is Jesus Christ! As we study and teach His Word, it is incumbent upon us to highlight His character, His attributes, and His purposes. He and He alone gets the glory from beginning to end—through every event, every person, and in every way!
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15–20, ESV)
One StoryOnce we embrace this perspective of history, it is then that we better understand our own lives and purpose. Even as Christians, it is altogether too easy to adopt the self-centered mindset that permeates our culture that says life is all about us, that we are the heroes of our own stories, the focus of our own lives, and that God is lucky to have us on His team (If you say that out loud, it sounds even more ridiculous!). But, friends, that simply is not so! Our lives, like all of time and history, are about Him and His kingdom. He is the one who is to receive the glory throughout our lives; only He can accomplish His eternal purposes through the instruments of our lives.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24, ESV)
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8, ESV)
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36, ESV)When Moses died, his body went into the ground, but God’s plan marched on. When Peter and Paul were martyred, their bodies went into the ground, but the gospel marched on. When we die, God’s purposes will not be thwarted. We have the honor and privilege of being part of what God is doing as He works through us when we submit to His will. But make no mistake, God has not hinged any of His kingdom goals on us; it is His power alone that accomplishes His eternal purposes. What a precious and powerful freedom this is in Christ!
History is indeed His story; it’s not Moses’s story or Paul’s story, your story or my story, it is His story alone. There is only one Hero who actually saves the day, and to Him be all glory forever and ever, amen!
For an audience of One,