Note: This is Important to Understand!
In a way, the Bible becomes our mentor presenting a series of word pictures and analogies that are interwoven in the stories of the people featured in the Bible. These instructive sketches, present to the reader what God is accomplishing. (Isaiah 28:13) Over and over, these "lessons" portray what He is accomplishing (Hosea 12:9-10). They clearly demonstrate the actions He has taken to restore us into relationship with Him, and, what our choice and responsibilities are.
On this page and a few to follow, I will attempt to hit the highlight events of the Bible, and hopefully, you will start to see a mental image of what is called the "Plan of God." While the image of your understanding may first be dim, further study will enhance the contrast to make the portrait of God's plan more clearly understandable.
The Concept of the Vicarious Sacrifice
Vicarious Definition: - performed, exercised, received, or suffered in place of
another: vicarious sacrifice.
The concept of the vicarious sacrifice is first seen early in Genesis. Adam and Eve had disobeyed God's instructions and as a consequence, they felt naked and afraid of their Creator and they were hiding from Him. They had been told that if they partook of the forbidden tree's fruit, they would die. In fact what died, was the intimate relationship between God and them, it was a spiritual death of separation (Genesis 3:8). God among other things, is life, so, to be separated from Him is spiritual death which has been the condition of all mankind ever since.
Adam and Eve, using their own reasoning and industry to repair the damage in relationship their sin caused, fashioned clothing out of fig leaves to cover their shame (Genesis 3:7). Their new clothes may have worked somewhat, but their fear of God because of their sin, was still there. Incidentally, this is the first man-made religion, religious actions based on what they thought was right. Over the years, many more man-made religions would be invented, always offering something different than what God has offered.
God didn't say much about Adam and Eve's new clothes but, as a result of their sin, innocent animals were killed (the first shed blood and death in the garden,) and then appropriate coverings were made for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21).
Their sin caused a change not only in relationship, something changed within them. Before their act of rebellion, they only knew and understood good, now in rebellion, they opened up a new operating area in their hearts and minds. The knowledge of good and evil.
No longer would they dwell in the presence of God in the "Garden of God" where all life flourished. Now, they were banished to a realm where both "good and evil" existed in all its forms. Now, instead of only one prohibition, (not eating from the specified tree,) they would live in a world where good and evil choices were everywhere, all the time.
Another thought: one of the things God is doing, is rooting out rebels. No doubt back in the day, there were some that would think and say that the prescribed sacrifices "were stupid." by doing that instead of cooperating with God's instruction,
Rev 21:3 (hover to see) - This seemingly obscure verse found near the end of the last book of the Bible, is what I would rate as the second most significant. This verse reveals "the purpose for everything," including your life, and mine. It clearly states the expected purpose of life, which is God's project to enlarge His loving eternal family. From the start, the project certainly looked a bit halting, but, with a bit more information and consideration, His methods prove to be way beyond sheer genius.
Some have said: "Why didn't God just make us to love him? " I'll answer with a question. If you bought a robot that was perfectly obedient to your every instruction and command and it even said "I love you" on occasion, would you feel loved? I would bet that you would answer, NO, that you would not feel loved for the following reason. In order for love to exist, the ability "to not love" has to also exist, otherwise, what is seen as love, (a freewill expression of the will and heart,) is only indentured service, love-prostitution, or outright slavery.
There is another angle to this, Genesis says that God created mankind "in His image." This involves so much more than what we look like, a shortlist includes our ability to think, reason, consider, design and build, appreciate, and of course, love. If God would have chosen to make people inferior to him, how good could that fellowship ever be?
My wife and I have a Pug dog, Lily, who we love and would be upset if anything happened to her. Why? Short of Lily saying that she "loves us," she exhibits many characteristics of love. She is happy to see us, wants to be where we are, she is not satisfied with just lying in bed near us, she needs to be touching us. And, within her ability, she nearly always tries to please us. But in all this, would she, or a house full of perfect Pugs be a suitable replacement for our children? No. Because there is just too much difference between our intellect and abilities and theirs.
(Hover over the Scripture to see it)
In Genesis 5:5-28, there is a list of the genealogy from Adam to Noah. In Hebrew, names usually mean things and often, the name meanings usually have of relationship to the subject that the scripture section is addressing. When the meanings of the names in this scripture are strung together, in the same order as written in the scripture, the sentence contains a startling message.
If we string it together, here is the result:
Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching, (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.
And that my friends, is the Gospel of Christ in a "nutshell" in a code contained in Genesis.
To read a lot more about this, Click Here.
The Story Continues:
God's Amazing Promises to Abraham - Gen. 11:26-32
In this passage, we learn about the patriarch of the Jews, Abram, which means "exalted father." Later, God renamed him to Abraham, which means: "father of many" (Gen 17:5). We also learn that Abram was Lot's brother, (the same "Lot" involved in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah) . We also see that Abram's wife, Sarai was barren, and unable to have children.
In Genesis 12:1-5, God instructed Abraham to move from his birthplace to Canaan, where the Canaanites lived. Also in this passage, God makes four promises to Abraham.
1. That Abraham would be the patriarch of a great nation, Israel.
2. God would bless those that bless Abraham's offspring.
3. God would curse those that cursed Abraham's offspring.
4. That Abraham's offspring would be a blessing to the entire world.
God's promise to Abraham was reconfirmed in Genesis 13:14-17.
Genesis 15:1-6, Here, God's promise is stated again. In Gen 15:3, Abraham is proposing that one of his servants born in his house will be his heir because of his wife being incapable of producing offspring. In Gen 15:4, God said that Abraham's offspring would come from his own body.
(Hover over the Scriptures to see them)
First a couple of concepts: The words, "trust" and "faith" are interchangeable. Where the word "faith" can be a bit abstruse, "trust" couldn't be clearer and it is a good practice to think "trust," when you hear the word, "faith."
"Righteous" = being seen and accepted by God, as being completely sinless.
The Landmark Verse: Genesis 15:6, "And he, (Abraham) believed, (trusted) in the Lord and He, (God) accounted it to him (Abraham) for righteousness."
The Theme of Trusting God is Throughout the Scriptures. Here are but a few examples"
A glimpse ahead - Lessons about individuals trusting God are written in the Bible over and over. The reason that "trust" is such a big issue, is that salvation (eternal life with the God that created you,) is obtained by trusting in the only provision of salvation (without modification) that God has offered. Namely, the vicarious sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. John 3:16.
Abraham's Story Continues:
Another, "Man-made" Modification to God's Plan
Genesis 16 -Because of Abraham's wife Sarai's barren status and Abraham's great age, Sarai came up with a idea; modifying what God had said, and second-guessing His plan. She offered her handmaid, Hagar to Abraham and through that union, Ishmael, the patriarch of the Arab people, was born complete with an ominous prophecy that seems to be true even today with his succeeding generations. (Gen 16:12).
Genesis 17:15-22 - Earlier in chapter 17, God restated his promise to Abraham then, here, God explains that Sarai, now renamed Sarah by God, was going to have a baby boy. In verse 21, God says that His covenant would be established with Isaac, and not Ishmael. In Genesis 22:2 and Gen 22:12 as well as Gen 22:16, God calls Isaac, Abraham's "only son."
The Lessons for us:
Abraham's Story Continues:
A Special "Miracle" Son and a Horrifying Request
Genesis 22:1-3 - Time has gone by, and now Isaac, is a young man and God tells Abraham to do something so horrifying, it is difficult to believe. For Abraham to take Isaac, (whom Abraham loved,) to a special place and kill and offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham's response is to "split wood and saddle up." In this section, (Genesis 22:4-8) three days later, Abraham and his son separate from the others and Abraham shows his trust in God by telling them that, "I and the lad will go yonder and worship and come again to you." In verse 7, Isaac asks "where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Again showing his trust in God, Abraham answers "And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together."
Don't miss this: the animal God provided Abraham, was not a "lamb" as Isaac inquired, it was a "ram." The "lamb" would be provided by God at a future date. Remember, that in John 1:29, Jesus is called by John the Baptist, the "Lamb of God."
Genesis 22:9-13 - In this section, Abraham arrived to the "special place " that God had showed him, and Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac. As he was getting ready to plunge the knife ending Isaac’s life, the Angel of the Lord called Abraham and said STOP! The test was complete and Abraham passed, he fully trusted God.
(Hover over the Scriptures to see them)
This story is a type, a lesson about another Father, that would offer His "Only Son" as a sacrifice at the special place that He showed Abraham. It would seem that Abraham knew he was acting out a story, by him naming the place where this happened: "In the Mount of the LORD it shall (future tense,) be provided." Gen 22:14.
But the naming of the place is not all, the actual story shares a lot of parallels, to the story of Jesus and Isaac:
A glimpse ahead - Lessons about individuals trusting God are written in the Bible over and over. The reason that "trust" is such a big issue, is that salvation (eternal life with the God that created you) is obtained by trusting in the only provision of salvation (without modification) that God has offered. namely, the vicarious sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. John 3:16.
The Lessons for us:
How would you describe the Bible's message?
Keith, I have tried to read the Bible but I just can't seem to make sense of it? Is there something that can help?
The books of the Bible were written in a completely different culture and languages, at least 2,000 years ago. Sometimes, people even pick some of the most difficult Bible books to start in. In light of all this, it is no wonder that there is difficulty sometimes making sense of some of the stories and idioms, and lessons. This is especially true in the book of Revelation which is full of idioms and symbolism.