…or at least open the door ajar!
Establishing a big picture perspective of the Bible
One thing surprised me when I started giving Bible talks some 25 to 30 years ago: that people were so interested in brief overviews – and I mean brief! If our topic was a day on of Paul’s letters, for instance, I was concerned that not everybody had the same background. The solution? Create a rather crude human timeline by marching up and down the stage, pausing at a certain spot, asking audience members where Paul, Jesus, John, etc. would be on this imaginary line, or when one of the Gospels might have been written, then wait for them to shout out the answers. Let’s just say the audience didn’t shout so much as rather sheepishly ask if such-and-such was the accurate date.
Don’t misunderstand. These people knew their Bibles and, most importantly, loved and tried to live its message. They just were unsure of how it all hung together. In college I had a professor who used the metaphor of a clothesline, a complete anachronism today for anyone born after 1980 or so! There she would hypothetically ‘pin’ the characters and events to an imaginary rope in order of their appearance in history. It was helpful, and thus, years later, I employed a similar technique.
Most of us are visual learners at least partly, and this turned out to be such an appreciated exercise that I began to do it consistently, always with the response: ‘how did I never understand this basic time frame?!’ Because most of us are turning to the Scriptures not for any historical interest but to feed our spiritual hunger to know God and His Christ. And that’s exactly what our motive should be. But I’ve often seen in my own study and search that the more I understand the historical and geographical settings, for example, the more meaningful the stories, verses and characters become.
We might turn to verses, for instance, but not understand the context of the chapter in which they appear — or what comes before and after that informs that particularly story. Likewise, chapters constitute books and books make up Biblical sections or genres. Pretty soon the Scriptures constitute the most astounding tapestry in which the threads that began centuries before now make up the garments of humility and grace which we want to metaphorically wear. And this greater view is why I’ve been such an advocate of small group Bible study through the years. Each deeper dive fills out a bit more of the Scriptural puzzle that unlocks to guide our lives.
As a result, the historical, political and even geographical context for much of the Bible’s characters and stories are a bit clearer to us – now seen from 30,000’.
New Testament Overview Video
This is the background for a gift from BibleRoads – a New Testament overview video in about thirty minutes, free. We hope many will take advantage of watching it, tell your friends, use it in Sunday School with your iPad or laptop, start a BibleRoads study program with it providing helpful background, etc. The goal is that after getting a clearer sense of the timeline, the books, letters and stories will be more meaningful. Then the real goal – bringing their lessons forward to our lives today – happens with ease and grace.
Enjoy this free video overview by clicking on the image at the top of this post. It’s divided into three parts for ease of viewing if you want to watch it in three ten-minute segments. Or you can watch it all at once if you prefer. Please let us know your response and we hope it whets your appetite for further searching of the Scriptures with our many BibleRoads talks and workbooks.
This particular overview is video, meaning you have maps and slides to aid the audio. It was given prior to an in-depth five day class on three of Paul’s letters at a beautiful ranch in the Colorado Rockies this past winter. All maps shared in this presentation are by Manna Bible Maps – http://www.biblemaps.com/
(***Note: This New Testament Overview video is a great accompaniment to the Bible Roads Overview of the Old Testament. If you have not seen it yet, you can gain access by signing up for our monthly newsletter.)