In order to accurately interpret Scripture, it is important that we do not view it as simply an assortment of unrelated pieces; we must have an understanding of the overarching storyline of the Bible. What is the overarching storyline of the entire Bible? Rob Green says it this way: “God is in the process of bringing Himself glory through the entire created order, most importantly by creating a group of visible representatives of the invisible God who will testify of His greatness and seek to win converts. God will ultimately raise His people to rule with Him and to enjoy Him for all eternity.” 1 Scripture is the story of a big, creative, all-powerful God who reveals His process of redeeming a people for His own glory. These people will enjoy Him for all eternity as recipients of His never-ending love and kindness. The center of all revelation is God. As believers, we are in the story, but we are not the main focus. Our primary focus is on being His creatures for the display of His great character as He rescues us from the eternity that we deserve.
Old Testament narratives make much more sense with the storyline of the Bible in mind. Many times we are guilty of reading historical accounts and thinking they are given for our current day living instruction, when often they are simply revealing who God is and His majesty as He moves the story of redemption along. Without this understanding, many have labored to find all sorts of instructions for daily living from places in Scripture that have little to do with our living today.
The degree to which a passage of Scripture is instructive for us does not in any way alter its importance. Paul clearly tells us that all of Scripture is important in 2 Timothy 3:16. It is all for our instruction on some level, for our understanding, but not all equally instructive regarding imperatives for daily life. Commands for Israel are not automatically commands for us today. The Old Testament is full of blessings and curses which were for Israel. The New Testament is full of grace, with imperatives being given so we can obey them out of love for Christ.
One example of the importance of knowing where a passage is in the plot line of the Bible can be found in God’s instruction to Israel regarding dietary laws. These commands were given to Israel because God had chosen them to be separate or holy unto Himself. These regulations gave strict rules for both preparation and consumption of food. Their design was specific: to maintain Israel’s status as a people belonging to God. God commanded that His laws be followed. These laws were given to direct their understanding toward the need for a Savior. When Christ came, the Law was fulfilled, and grace was given through Christ for all who would believe. Dietary laws were no longer necessary after the coming of Christ. If dietary requirements were given after the coming of Christ to the church, then we would be obligated to obey them.
This is just one example of why knowing where an account, teaching, or instruction is found in Scripture is important for living today. It would be unnecessarily burdensome for believers to teach that these laws must be followed today because God commanded Israel to follow them before the New Covenant ministry of Christ. As stewards of the Word of God, we must carefully discern where a passage falls within God’s story of redemption in order to accurately convey truth to others.
- “Plot Line of Old Testament/Use of Old Testament” ↩