As part of a seminar at New Wine Newark, I offer my summary of the Bible in 500 (or so) words. What would you put in yours? What have I missed?
God created the world in love. By his Spirit and his word, he made all kinds of plants and creatures, the stars in the sky, but as the pinnacle of all he created human beings—male and female in his likeness, as companion to one another, to share his rule.
But the people he had made turned from him and refused to follow his pattern of life. Yet God continued to provide for them—even as their rebellion destroyed their relationships, God’s world, and even each other.
God called Abraham to trust him and know him. Through him God would make a nation who would be a blessing to the whole world. Even as Abraham, and his children, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, struggled to trust God, he provided and protected them, and fulfilled his promise.
The nation sold themselves into debt slavery in Egypt. Oppressed, they cried out to God for deliverance, and he raised up Moses as their leader. Through him, God led them from slavery to freedom in the promised land and gave them the gift of the law to live by. Even as they questioned and complained, God continued to provide for them and protect them.
Joshua led the people to settle the land, though they did not drive out the enemy. As the people turned from God, the nations around oppressed them. They cried out, and God delivered them. Rejecting God’s rule, they asked for a king like the peoples around them—and he anointed Saul, David and Solomon to rule for him. Through them he blessed Israel with wisdom and worship, he established his presence in the temple. By his Spirit, he raised up prophets to call them back to faithfulness. Yet they continued to turn from him and worship others.
He sent empires to take his people captive again—but he could not give them up—his heart would not let him. Through leaders and prophets, he brought his people back to the land and back to the law, restoring the worship of his temple. Yet as they struggled, he sowed in their heart the desire for a new obedience, a new freedom, a new experience of his Spirit—even a new age, a new heavens and earth, through the renewed presence of God with his people.
Anointed by the Spirit, Jesus came proclaiming the longed-for reign of God as king. He healed the sick, delivered the possessed, and proclaimed good news of God’s grace to the poor. He called God’s people back to the true heart of the law, to true worship of God’s presence; he proclaimed forgiveness, freedom from living in the slavery of sin. But the leaders rejected him and had him crucified as a common criminal—just as they had rejected the prophets before him. As before, God turned rejection into redemption, and raised him to life, pouring out his Spirit and forming a renewed people from those who continued to trust and follow. This new life of the Spirit spilled over, beyond the bounds of his people the Jews, so that all the world would know God’s blessing.
Through his people, Jesus continues to heal and bless and call others to life in all its fullness. One day Jesus will return to complete the fulfilment of God’s promise to his people, to renew all creation, and to make real God’s presence forever.
(There is a list of resources to help you see the whole story at the post on Seeing the Big Picture)