As I was lying in bed one early morning, not too long ago, my mind recalled the passage from Revelation 21 where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” I was probably thinking about it because I was forming the seed thoughts that would become this series of articles. But, what struck me there in the wee hours before sunrise, was the promise to make “all things new.” It struck me that he did not say he was making “all new things.” I’m sure that does not come as a shocking revelation to anyone. But for me, in that quiet moment, it served as a confirmation of sorts for the thoughts I have been ruminating on for several years, and why I decided to write these things down (with a little help from my friends).
The title for this series of articles is taken from Isaiah 43. In that passage God uses language that was reminiscent of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. He speaks of making a way through the sea, and drawing in and destroying the horse and the chariot. But right in the middle he says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” So he brings to mind a defining moment in the history of the people but tells them that is not what he is talking about. He is going to do something like that, but something that is new.
Maybe one thing we should understand from that is that the way God is using Story, and the way history unfolds, is that “everything old is new again.” When we see God moving, it is often in ways he has moved before. The story he has told is the story he is telling. And even with the telling and retelling, we still need help to understand.
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus had to go no further than the scriptures to tell the story that his two disciples already knew so well. He needed only show them how and where the Messiah (Christ) fit into the story of their people – how his suffering, death, and resurrection was what they had been waiting for all along. The disciples walked away from that encounter with increased knowledge and deeper understanding of the scriptures that they had been taught all of their lives. When Jesus revealed his identity and disappeared from their sight they said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he opened to us the scriptures?” Then they literally ran all the way back to Jerusalem to tell everyone that Jesus was alive and what he said to them. Their new knowledge led them to confess and to share and to worship this Jesus who they loved – they knew him better.
Like that encounter with Jesus, the purpose of this series of articles is threefold, to be biblical, educational, and devotional.
I believe in the power of story. Nothing captures the human imagination like a story. Human history is a story, and it is also a story of stories. Story is how we communicate. It is how we record and retell our past and how we relate current events. Our memories are filled with our own stories just waiting for a smell or a taste or an image to release them to be remembered and retold (just ask my teenage grand-daughter who seems to have heard all of my stories and is quick to let me know that she’s “already heard that one.”). Those stories are powerfully evocative – sometimes good and sometimes not-so-good. Every story is the weaving together of many stories. Whether it is as a species, or a nation, or a community, or a family, or an individual, we are involved in the telling of a story of stories.
The Bible is such a story. It is the weaving together of a thousand stories where God himself is the Storyteller. We find the story of God in the Bible. But to be more precise, we find the story of God dealing with mankind in the Bible – the story of the Maker’s dealings with what he has made. It is the unfolding revelation of God about himself and about us. It is the story that our Creator wanted to tell us. It is the story that he wants us to know, so much so that he captured it in a book (greek word for book is biblia).
In this series of articles, we will be taking a Biblical theological approach, attempting to capture pieces of the story and fitting them into the bigger, broader story presented to us in the Bible. At the center of each article will be the one story God has always been telling. It is the story of Jesus, and it begins before he was ever known by that name. We’ll be focusing on the telling of a New story that was woven into the pages of an Old story. And if we are correct in our supposition and have done our research well, we are going to find (spoiler alert) that our Maker has been telling us this same story all along – one grand story worth every word it takes to tell.
I love the Bible. I love reading it and I love reading books about it. There are men and women who have devoted their entire professional lives to the study of one single book, or portion of a book, of the Bible. You can wade safely in the shallows of the Bible or you can dive ever deeper into its depths. Its treasures are inexhaustible. As soon as you think you’ve got something figured out, a new sliver of light will hit it and you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. Sometimes our understanding is transformed, sometimes it is broadened, and sometimes it is confirmed.
I hope that as we walk through this series, you will learn a lot about this story God has captured for us in his book. We’ll be moving back and forth between the Old Testament and the New. We’ll learn again and again of the faithfulness of our Maker. But more than anything else, I hope that you will come to love the hero at the center of this story.
Which brings us to our final purpose in writing this series…I hope that it will be…
The Apostle Paul wrote:
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
Please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say. I believe that any time which we put into study and learning is time not wasted. That goes double for the time we put into studying the Word of God—we will be changed for the good for the time spent studying the Bible. But…at the end of the day, does it really matter how much bible knowledge we have stuffed into our heads if we miss the point of the story that the Bible is telling?
I hope that through this series of articles we will all hear the story again in new and vivid ways. This story is the telling of one who would come, and in his coming the Storyteller himself steps out of the pages of the story and into the world he has made.
We’re taking this time to tell these stories out of the Story so that you might know the Storyteller – that is the reason he wrote it down in the first place.
I also want to take one moment to thank the three other people who will be writing these articles along with me. All three are devoted followers of Jesus and all three of them are students of his Word. To David Faith, Katy Vickers and Remington Vickers, thank you for the time you took out of your schedules and the energy and diligence you put into this effort. You are a help and a blessing to me, but, more importantly, your willingness to do this for our people – the Body of Christ among us – is a gift. Thank you.
Author: Jerry Costolo