Sixty-six books written by forty or so people over nearly 2,000 years, in two languages and several different genres. Does the Bible sometimes seem like a confusing jumble of books, authors, and stories? How can you begin to read and understand it as a whole? In this excellent overview, Roberts takes a wide-angle view of Scripture, showing how the various parts of the Bible consolidate into one united theme, the kingdom of God, and center on one supreme subject, Jesus Christ and the salvation God offers through him. With this encouraging tool guiding you, you’ll be able to read God’s Word with new confidence and understanding.
As with both his older sisters, Abel’s name, as you probably know, comes from the Bible. His middle name (like Jubilee and Evangeline’s as well) is that of one his great-grandparents. William (more commonly known as “Bill”) is my maternal grandfather.
Abel William is due January, 2020.
Abstract: Abel is the first in the long history of examples of faithful worshipers of God who suffer and die on account of their righteousness. His account reveals to us a God who champions the victimized, avenges evil, and ensures that injustice will not go unanswered. According to the book of Hebrews, Abel is held up as the earliest example of those who put their faith in God and “preserve their souls,” despite all appearances to the contrary (e.g., suffering and death). Christ’s death, however, overshadows Abel’s, as Christ fills the role as the pinnacle righteous one who suffers death. In fact, Christ’s death “speaks a better word than Abel’s.” Whereas Abel’s blood cried out to God for vengeance, Christ’s blood speaks to the satisfaction of God’s just vengeance against unworthy sinners. Additionally, the name Abel matches the word “vanity” in Ecclesiastes. This word, which encapsulates the message of the entire book, describes the futility of looking to the things of this fallen world, and instead redirects our eyes to the fear of the Lord, wherein we can experience lives of true joy.
In scripture, Abel is the second son of Adam and Eve, and the first victim of murder—killed at the hands of his elder brother, Cain (Gen 4:1-16, 25). The name Abel (הֶבֶל, hevel) matches a word most notable for its prolific use as a repeated refrain in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity!”(הֶבֶל, hevel). In its literal sense, this word means breath or vapor. Additionally, at times it comes to describe that which is transitory, fleeting, transient, and ephemeral. In scripture, a character’s name often reflects or conveys something about that individual. This is especially the case in Genesis (e.g., Cain’s name sounds like the Hebrew word for “gotten,” as Eve proclaims, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord”; see also the names of Isaac [=“he laughs”], Jacob [=“he takes by the heel”], Israel [=“he strives with God”], etc.). Although Abel’s name is not explicitly explained in the Genesis narrative, given this phenomenon, many surmise that his name reflects the fleeting, transitory nature of his life. Just as his name indicates, his life would be cut short.
As noted above, the word הֶבֶל (hevel, often translated “Vanity”) plays a central role in the message of Ecclesiastes. It is the Preacher’s (Qohelet) refrain—“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!—and it both introduces (1:2) and closes out the book (12:8). All in all, it occurs a total of 38 times in Ecclesiastes. In short, one might say that the word הֶבֶל (hevel) summarizes the entire message of Ecclesiastes: vanity!
I just realized that one of my favorite, introductory books tracing the overarching storyline of scripture now has an accompanying video course.
The following video series, by Vaughan Roberts, is based on his short, incredibly well-done, and very accessible God’s Big Picture. This book sets out to trace the Bible’s overarching plotline, and show how all of scripture leads us to Christ.
As I did for Jubilee, I wanted to write a brief explanation of the meaning of Evangeline’s name.
As with Jubilee, her name comes from the Bible (although — not intentional — neither name is used as a name in the Bible). Her middle name (like Jubilee’s middle name, Helen) is after one of her great-grandmothers. Alice (more commonly known as “Busia”) is Ann’s maternal grandmother.
Evangeline Alice is due March 24th, 2019.
Abstract: The name Evangeline comes from the Biblical word “gospel,” meaning “good news” or “good message.” The Christian gospel – the message at the very heart of Christianity, and the essence of our faith – is that God has accomplished our salvation and is restoring his reign (“the kingdom of God”) in and through Jesus Christ. At the center of this message – the gospel – is Christ’s death and resurrection. On the cross, Christ bore the full weight of sin for all those who trust in him for deliverance. And in his resurrection, Christ defeated death, achieving new life for his people. This is certainly good news! It is by faith in this message that one experiences salvation.
The name Evangeline derives from the Latin word evangel, which has its origin in the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion), frequently translated into English as “gospel” or “good news.” As a verb (εὐαγγελίζω – euangelizo), the word form means “to herald, proclaim, or preach the gospel,” from which we derive our word “evangelism” or “to evangelize” (lit. “gospeling” or “to gospel”).
From what we can tell, the word has its origins in the realm of military victories. So we read of messengers (“evangelists”) being sent from battle to return and report (“evangelize”) the good news (“gospel”) of an army’s victory. Or, for instance, in the first-century b.c. Priene Inscription from Asia Minor, the empower Augustus is described as a “savior” for ending wars and on account of the peace he brought to the region. Consequently, his birth is lauded with great expectation and hope, heralded as “gospel” (“good news”) for the world.
In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint or LXX), Isaiah notably uses this word to describe the coming restoration that God has in store for his people. So, in Isaiah chapter 40, after twenty-seven nonstop chapters outlining God’s judgment of the nations (Isa 13-39), relief finally breaks through with God’s announcement, “Prepare the way of the LORD!” (Isa 40:3). God is coming, and he’s bringing salvation with him! Now go out and proclaim it (lit. “evangelize”; Isa 40:9).
When we come to the pages of the New Testament, we find that the New Testament authors appropriate this word to describe the mission of Jesus and what he’s come to do. So, for example, in the opening words of Mark’s gospel we read, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). And immediately following, Mark casts John the Baptist as the eschatological (end time) figure who, citing the words of Isaiah, is preparing the way for this LORD (Mk 1:2-3; cf. Isa 40:1-5).
In other words, Mark intends for us to understand the mission of Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies – the content of which is the “good news” (gospel) of which Isaiah spoke. Mark intends these Isaianic promises to set the “categories of expectation,” if you will, for who we understand Jesus to be and what he’s come to do. Jesus has come to reinstate God’s kingdom, to accomplish the good news (gospel) about the arrival of God’s kingdom through Jesus (Mk 1:14-15; see the expression “good news of the kingdom” – Mt 4:23; 9:35; Lk 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; Acts 8:12; 20:24-25). So too, in Luke 4, Jesus presents himself as the Servant of the LORD from Isaiah 61 who, anointed with God’s Spirit, has come to “bring good news (gospel)” to those in need (Lk 4:18; cf. Isa 61:1).
The “gospel,” in short, is the favorable report (“good message”) of the rescue and restoration wrought by Christ in accordance with his redemptive mission. It is God’s message, a message with its origin in God himself (“the gospel of God,” see Rom 1:1; 15:16; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thes 2:2, 8-9; cf. Gal 1:11-12), concerning Christ (“the gospel of Christ,” see Mk 1:1; Acts 8:35; Rom 1:1-4; 10:17; 15:20; 16:25; 1 Cor 9:12; 2 Cor 4:4-5; 9:13; 10:14; Gal 1:7; Eph 3:8; Phil 1:12-18; 1:27; 1 Thes 3:2; 2 Thes 1:8; 2 Tim 1:8; 2:8), anticipated in the Old Testament (Rom 1:2; 16:25-26; 1 Cor 15:3-4), and characterized by grace (Acts 20:24; Col 1:5-6). It is called “the word of truth” (Eph 1:13; Col 1:5) and a “message of peace” (Acts 10:36; Eph 6:15), and is the ground of our hope (Col 1:23). At its heart, it is a message of salvation (Eph 1:13)– that is, (1) its message details the accomplishment of our salvation in the life and ministry of Christ; and (2) it is a conduit of salvation – i.e., when believed it results in the salvation of its hearers. As Paul says in Romans 1:16, it is the “power of God resulting in the salvation of everyone who believes” (cf. 1 Cor 1:18; 15:1-2; 2 Thes 2:13-14).
As such, the early Christian tradition understandably came to call the church’s written records of Jesus’ life and ministry as “gospels” (i.e., “the gospel according to,” or as told by, “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John”). In other words, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are four complementary “tellings” of the one gospel (see e.g., Mk 1:1). They tell us the story of Jesus, which is the story of the gospel. They are the gospel in narrative form.
And as each of these gospel accounts centers on the last week of Christ’s life, and with it, his death and resurrection, it comes as no surprise then that, when we come to the New Testament’s epistles, the gospel message is summarized in the cross and resurrection. Christ’s sin-substituting death and death-defeating resurrection are at the heart – the center – of the gospel. In fact, we might describe them as the very essence of the gospel (Acts 17:18; 1 Cor 1:17). Paul summarizes the gospel for us in 1 Corinthians 15:
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the gospel, which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, and by which you are also being saved…. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…. (1 Cor 15:1-4)
The following was created for use at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission as a resource for the men in the New Journey recovery program. Download a PDF version here.
Creation (Genesis 1-2) – God creates the world. In this we see what God intended for his creation: God’s people (Adam and Eve), in God’s place (the Garden of Eden), under his loving rule, experiencing his presence.
The fall (Genesis 3-6:8) – Adam and Eve sin, and humanity enters into a state of rebellion. They experience God’s curse of judgment and death. God’s original intent for creation is lost.
The flood | Noahic Covenant (Genesis 6:9-11:26) – God judges the world with a flood, but saves Noah and his family. God makes a covenant with Noah and creation that, despite humanity’s rebellion, he will not ultimately destroy his creation. This anticipates that God must have a rescue mission planned for his creation.
The patriarchs | Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 11:27-50:26) – Here we start to see the details of God’s rescue mission.
God chooses Abraham and makes a covenant with him. In this covenant, God promises to remake his creation: a new people (Abraham’s offspring, a new humanity), in a new place (the Promised Land, a new “Garden of Eden”), under his loving rule, experiencing his presence.
These promises are passed down to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and then Isaac’s son, Jacob (or Israel).
The Exodus (Exodus 1-18) – Abraham’s descendants find themselves in Egypt after God uses Jacob’s son, Joseph, to save the world from a famine.However, after some time, a new Pharaoh takes the throne and starts oppressing and enslaving Abraham’s people. God’s promises to Abraham feel far from true. But God acts on his promises to Abraham by raising up Moses, delivering his people from Egypt, and judging their enemies.
However, after some time, a new Pharaoh takes the throne and starts oppressing and enslaving Abraham’s people. God’s promises to Abraham feel far from true. But God acts on his promises to Abraham by raising up Moses, delivering his people from Egypt, and judging their enemies.
Here we see that God’s rescue mission to remake his creation involves deliverance from things that oppose it.