Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Puzzle and Picture of Scripture

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. ~Genesis 3:15

Have you ever been studying the Bible and felt that it was one big puzzle? You read a passage and then become frustrated and scratch your head just to what it means. You drudge through the seemingly never ending hard to pronounce list of names in those numerous genealogies or muster the exhaustive and extensive details of how the tabernacle or Temple should be build and wonder just what is the point. You know that All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16) but you struggle with how that passage fits with the others or what it has been intended to teach you. You wind up with all of these puzzle pieces without any idea how they all fit together. When you put together any puzzle, you need to look at the picture on the top of the box to understand each piece’s meaning and how they fit together in light of the painting. The same can be said of Scripture. To understand each individual puzzle piece that we encounter, we need to first recognize the overarching picture of the Bible. We find that picture in one verse, Genesis 3:15.

In the midst of announcing specific judgments, God provides hope in a precious promise. Adam and Eve have just committed cosmic treason by disobeying God’s clear command not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent had talked Eve into the treacherous act and her husband, Adam, followed suit. Now God delivers punishment to each of the participants in the great sin. While cursing the serpent, God states that there will be enmity between his seed and the seed of the woman. Basically, that the descendants of the serpent and the descendants of the woman will not get along but constantly be at odds with one another. In fact, one of these seeds or descendants of the woman will bruise the serpent on the head. The idea is that of a crushing defeat; a knock out in a boxing match. The serpent will bruise the seed on the heel but will not be successful in defeating him. A bruised heel can be recovered from but a bruised head cannot. Thus, God promises one who will be born of a woman who will completely defeat the serpent, who is Satan himself (Revelation 12:9).

This one verse serves as the picture of the entire Bible. It would be what you would see on the top of the box of the puzzle. The One who serves as the Savior of His people by defeating Satan and the powers of sin and death that he holds. All of Scripture basically serves as the unfolding of this promise. It can be described as the thesis or purpose statement for the entire Bible. The Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) and the historical books reveal God’s working to bring this seed through the chosen lineage as well as providing previews of the salvation that the seed will accomplish through dying in the place of those who will trust in Him. The tedious genealogies trace the seed’s coming and the numerous animal sacrifices indicated that someone would die in the place of the people for their sins. The Law points to the need of the seed since it reveals that none of us are perfect and thus cannot save ourselves since we all fall short of it. The prophets provide further information regarding the seed’s birth and work indicating that He will be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and be God Himself (Isaiah 9:6). The Gospels and New Testament letters reveals this seed to have arrived and be named Jesus (Matthew 1:1-16, 21; Galatians 4:4-5) and show how He defeated the serpent through His death on the cross and bodily resurrection. They also indicate the change that the seed brings when one truly has embraced Him and trusted in Him and His work for their salvation.

So the next time that you are perplexed trying to make sense of a certain passage of Scripture that you are studying, consider how it contributes to the greater picture of God’s salvation through Christ and His death on the cross. The intended meaning may then become clear. You may see how the puzzle indeed fits after looking at the top of the box.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

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