"Cross" is a short word of only five letters, but break it apart and it contains the whole story of the Bible. C.R.O.S.S.—Creation, Redemption, One nation, Separation, Salvation. The story of the Bible is our story, too, and each of these stages helps us get the "big picture" of our life in Christ. Follow the whole series here.
When the explosion rocked the Brussels airport, the reality of evil came home to me. Two of my relatives stood ten feet from the suicide bomber. By God's grace they were saved, but many were not. And terrorists continue to strike. The world as we know it is shaking and the questions won't stop: How can a God of love allow such tragedy? What if I'm next? In whom or what can I trust?
In times like this, simply quoting Bible verses and stories can feel like a crutch. Especially if I try to share them with an unbelieving friend. "Says who?" she might ask. "How do you know?" Or "who's Esther?" (or Job, or David, or whoever I'm using as an example). When my faith is tested, I realize it's not the stories, it's the story, singular, that holds me steady. It's knowing God's plan and his dealings with humanity throughout history ("His-story") that forms a solid context for those individual verses and stories and gives them power in my life.
One thing that's clear when you step back to see the "big picture" of the Bible is that history is not random. It has purpose and a goal that lead to blessing. The opening chapters are anchored in the beginning of time while the end is fixed in eternity. God is there in control at the beginning and God is there in control at the end. The story begins with creation and ends with a new creation. It begins in blessing marred by sin and ends in greater blessing after the defeat of sin. God's arms reach from one end to the other, inviting us in through the center point, which is the Cross. C-R-O-S-S: those letters spell the stages of the journey.
In the beginning, God creates everything in beauty and order and peace. But the first humans rebel, their sin leading to suffering and death. God's promised solution begins with his call to Abraham to follow him in obedient faith. Through Abraham's descendants, God will bless the world.
Abraham's descendants move to Egypt and fall into slavery. Through Moses, he sends plagues on Egypt and makes a path through the Red Sea, bringing his people through to safety.
Now they must learn to trust the God who saved them. God forms a covenant with them and gives them his Law, making them a nation—his nation. They conquer the Promised Land, but they are not faithful to the covenant. They go through cycles in which they sin and turn to other gods and then repent. God raises judges to save them. Israel asks for a king and God gives them Saul, then David. God promises David that his dynasty will continue forever.
After David's son Solomon dies, the kingdom splits in two. The people continue to spend their love on other gods and put their trust in other nations. God gives the northern kingdom over to their lovers—and Israel is conquered and scattered. Later, God allows Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and take the people of the southern kingdom into exile. Eventually some of those exiles return, but they continue to live under foreign rule.
With the New Testament comes a new beginning. God again starts with a couple—but instead of a man and wife, it's a mother and her son, Mary the new Eve and Jesus the Second Adam. Jesus dies on the cross, paying the penalty for the broken covenant—freeing us from slavery to sin—then rises and defeats death and the devil. He sends his Spirit to help his new covenant people prepare for the new creation that is to come, when his victory will be complete and death will be no more.
In the end: this story is our story! Read it and discover God's faithful love, even when we are faithless. Learn how he rescues us from trouble; guides us when we we're lost; teaches us when we don't have a clue. Read it to know that you can trust him even when the world seems to be falling apart and it looks as though evil has the upper hand. The war has been won; the end is sure. The cross was made the door to blessing.
Want to learn more about the "big picture" of Scripture? Try this 90-day reading checklist on 14 narrative books of the Bible that together give the "big picture."
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