God’s Big Picture Unit 1: The Pattern of the Kingdom (Genesis 1-2)

God’s Big Picture Unit 1: The Pattern of the Kingdom (Genesis 1-2)


– One book that’s changed the world like no
other – One story within- of a kingdom created,
ruined then made new – And one person to whom it all points- Jesus
Christ This… is God’s Big Picture –GOD’S BIG PICTURE- BIBLE OVERVIEW COURSE-
THE PATTERN OF THE KINGDOM UNIT1 — So we start with the Bible.
This book has had a deeper impact on human history than any other:
– It has inspired great works of art and literature, – shaped whole cultures
– and still today leads vast numbers to give their lives to Jesus Christ. And yet many people, even Christians, know
little about what’s in it. We may have our favourite passages, but, for many of us, much
of Scripture remains uncharted territory, especially the Old Testament. My ambitious aim with ‘God’s Big Picture’
is to give you an overview of the whole Bible, so you can see how it all fits together. And
my longing is that it will help you grow in knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ:
the one to whom it all points. The course consists of 9 units, each with
a talk and short bible study. To get the most out of it I’d recommend you do both. You can
get all units for free, including videos of the talks and the full printable bible studies
at clayton.tvand godsbigpicture.co.uk –The Bible: one book- So… we start with the conviction that the
Bible is one book. This is foundational. Of course it’s true
that there are 66 books in the Bible – written by about 40 human authors over nearly 2000
years and divided into two sections: the Old Testament (written in Hebrew) and the New
Testament (in Greek.) And yet, fundamentally the Bible is just one
book, written by one author, with one main subject and one great story. So first let’s look at the fact that there
is one Supreme author of the Bible: God. As the apostle Paul wrote, “All Scripture is
God-breathed”. That doesn’t mean that God dictated it and the human authors simply wrote
down what they received. No, their books bear the marks of their different personalities
and styles of writing. But God ensured by his Spirit that they wrote exactly what he
wanted them to write. Second there is one overarching subject that
binds the whole Bible together: Jesus Christ. After his resurrection Jesus met two believers
on the road to Emmaus and led them in a Bible study. Luke tells us:
“Beginning with Moses and all the prophets [that’s the Old Testament]… [Jesus] explained
to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Now some Christians seem to believe that God
decided to send Jesus to earth only after his first plan hadn’t worked. His original
idea, ‘Plan A’, was, they think, to give people an opportunity to become his people by obeying
his law. They failed, so only then did he come up with a different plan: ‘Plan B’ to
save people by grace through Jesus. But nothing could be further from the truth.
God had always planned to send Jesus. The whole Bible points to him from beginning to
end. In the Old Testament God promises the future coming of Jesus and points forward
to him. And in the New Testament God proclaims Jesus as the fulfilment of these promises. So, the Bible has one supreme author (God)
and one overarching subject (Jesus Christ). And third, the bible is one story. The fact
that the Bible is one book has big implications for the way we read it. It’s all part of one
story about God’s plan to save the world through Jesus, so we always need to read any individual
section in the light of the whole, or else it won’t make sense. Think of a murder mystery. If I tear it in
two and give the beginning to one friend and the end to another, both will be frustrated.
The first knows who dies and how, but has no idea who committed the crime. The second
reads that “the butler did it”, but doesn’t know what he did. Both parts must be read
together. The same is true of the Bible. The Old Testament on its own is an unfinished
story; a promise without a fulfilment. And the New Testament proclaims this fulfilment
in ways that only make sense if we know what’s come before. What does it mean that Jesus
is the Christ, the Passover lamb, or the Son of David? The answers are all found in the
Old Testament. –THE KINGDOM OF GOD- The next big idea in this course that I want
to introduce is the ‘Kingdom of God’. We’ll keep coming back to this. God’s kingdom was
the chief focus of Jesus’ teaching and it’s a binding theme that we can see throughout
the Bible. In taking this as the lens through which we look at scripture I’m following the
lead of Graeme Goldsworthy in his book “Gospel and Kingdom”. He defines the kingdom as
“God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and enjoying his blessing”. Right at the start that’s what we see in the
Garden of Eden, but then human beings disobey God and everything is spoilt. But, the kingdom
isn’t lost forever because, in his great love, God promises to put things right again and
re-establish his kingdom on earth. And the rest of the Bible tells the story of the fulfilment
of that promise: partially in Israel in the Old Testament period, and then perfectly through
Jesus Christ. This plan of salvation will only finally be complete when Jesus returns
at the end of time. So, I’ve divided the Bible into 8 sections:
the pattern, the perished, the promised, the partial,
the prophesied, the present, the proclaimed and the perfected kingdom.
These are the main periods in God’s unfolding plan to restore his kingdom. In the course
of this series we’ll look at each in turn and we begin now with “The Pattern of the
Kingdom”. –THE PATTERN OF THE KINGDOM- In Genesis 1 and 2 we’re given a magnificent
picture of how the world was designed to be. This is the pattern of the kingdom: God’s
people living in God’s place under God’s rule and enjoying his blessing. And it starts with creation.
The Bible begins with the declaration: “In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth”. So God alone is eternal. There’s never been a time when God (Father, Son and
Holy Spirit) did not exist. Then he just said the word and the universe came into being
out of nothing. Bible believing Christians differ over whether Genesis 1 should be read
as poetry or as a literal account, but all agree that God created everything that exists
and so he’s the rightful ruler over everything. The writer of Genesis comments:
“God saw all that he had made and it was very good” . Matter matters because God made it.
He’s not just concerned with our souls, but with our bodies and the whole material world
as well. On the sixth and final day of creation we’re
told that: “God created mankind in his own image, in
the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”. That means that every
single one of us, male and female, young and old, whatever our abilities and social background,
have great dignity, as those who’ve been set apart from the rest of the created order.
God told mankind to “fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the
fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the
ground”. That’s certainly not an excuse for abusing
the environment. Far from it! We are God’s stewards, entrusted with the care of his precious
creation. Now the climax of the account of creation
comes at the start of Genesis 2, with the description:
‘so on the seventh day he [God] rested from all his work’. All the other days end with
the words: “And there was evening and there was morning – the first day, the second day…”
and so on. But no such end to the seventh day is recorded. It continues. And in a sense,
God has rested ever since. That doesn’t mean he’s not working. He continues to sustain
his creation (without him everything would fall apart). But he rested from his work of
creation. And he wants human beings to rest with him, enjoying his perfect creation in
that seventh day. Genesis 2:4-25 goes on to show us what that
looks like. It provides us with a second account of creation, not contradicting, but complementing
the first, with the focus very much on humanity. God’s design for the world is described: here
is “the pattern of the kingdom”, marked by a wonderful series of perfect relationships. –PERFECT RELATIONSHIPS– The first perfect relationship is between
God and human beings. He lovingly places Adam in a garden and provides for all his needs,
including the creation of woman to be his helper and companion. Adam and Eve are given
great responsibility, but God remains in charge. His rule isn’t oppressive; it’s for their
good. He issues just one prohibition, which is designed to protect them:
“you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you
will surely die”. The relationship of the man and the woman
is also perfect: “The man and his wife were both naked and
they felt no shame”. They enjoy complete intimacy without fear
or guilt. Just imagine it. And the relationship between human beings
and the created order is perfect too. They obey God’s instructions in Genesis 2:15 both
to “work” the land and “take care of it”. Under their oversight all God’s creation works
together in harmony to bring glory to him- it’s an idyllic panorama. So, in Genesis 2 we see this series of perfect
relationships- how everything was meant to be. Here we find how our theme of God’s kingdom
was set up: The pattern of the Kingdom – God’s people- Adam and Eve, living in God’s place-
the garden of Eden, under God’s rule and enjoying the blessing of perfect relationships. If only it was still like that….
Sadly it’s not long before everything is spoilt by human sin as we’ll see in our next study,
the Perished Kingdom. But we can take heart because this pattern
of the Kingdom isn’t lost for good. From the very beginning, God has been at work to re-establish
his perfect kingdom and call a people back to the wonderful rest of that seventh day… … And that is the big picture of the bible
that we’ll be tracing through the rest of our course.

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  1. I've only just come across this as I've just begun seeking faith after a very long absence. I'm speechless! Where to start? Is this a serious explanation of the Bible and its contents? Who said the words are "God breathed"? That's just the biggest cop out and a get out of gaol card for anything remotely challenging to the contents. How you can glibly speak about creation without even mentioning evolution, even if that gets mentioned later, is a huge error imo.
    Many scholars see the Bible as a collection of books from a variety of authors, covering a range of time periods and having many different views. there are also many books that were of equal importance in the 1st century which were for political expediency left out.
    I'm so frustrated by this 10 minute nursery story that I think I'll just forget about the rest of the content. I did an online Alpha course that was recommended by my old C of E church as a way of getting back faith and I thought that was grossly oversimplified but I can see that it's a common theme in teachings across the church if your efforts are anything to go by.

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