What is the Redemptive-Historical Context?
Followers of Jesus cannot read the Bible without understanding that he is the climax of the Bible’s Story and that the Old Testament points ahead to Jesus as the fulfillment of all the types and promises of Scripture. Jesus himself instructed us to read the Bible this way (see Luke 24:25-27; 44-48).
WHAT IS THE STORYLINE OF THE BIBLE?
If Jesus is the climax of the Bible’s storyline, what is the plot and how does it unfold? Here is one suggested way to understand the narrative arc of the Bible’s story:
Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration
- Creation (Gen. 1-2): “It was good”
- Fall (Gen. 3): Sin and destruction enter the world
- Redemption (Gen 3.15 – Revelation): God’s pursuit to redeem a people
- Restoration (Revelation 21-22): Final redemption and restoration of all things
In his book From Creation to New Creation, Tim Chester states that the Bible is a story of God’s salvation centering upon three core elements that can be discerned as early as Genesis 12 with God’s call of Abram: (1) A people who know God (Genesis 12:2), (2) a land of blessing (Genesis 12:7) and (3) a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:3). He then adds a fourth element which he believes is another key to understanding God’s promises throughout the Bible: A King and a Kingdom. Even this promise goes back to Abraham, for in Genesis 17:6 God says to him that “I will make nations of you and kings will come from you.” In the remainder of the book, Chester takes these four elements and considers them through a timeline or framework of the Bible which includes the following elements: creation, fall, Abraham, Israel, decline into exile, prophecy, Jesus, the church, and the new creation.
As a summary of Chester’s thoughts above, consider this lens when reading any portion of Scripture: God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s reign, as a blessing to the nations. Presently, God’s people are Jews and Gentiles who declare their allegiance to Jesus scattered throughout the world in various churches and communities, but ultimately awaiting the New Heavens and the New Earth. They are under Jesus’ reign but understand that the Kingdom of God will finally be consummated when Jesus returns. Meanwhile, we are called to be a blessing to the nations as we spread the good news of Jesus both locally and globally.
The Bible is ultimately a single Story of redemption with Jesus as the Hero and Redeemer. All the prophets, priests, and kings of the Old Testament ultimately point to Jesus, the Prophet, the Priest, and the King. As the author of Hebrews claims throughout the book, Jesus is greater than the angels, the greater Moses, the greater Joshua, the greater high priest, and the greater sacrifice. Jesus himself points out that with his presence and ministry, something greater than the temple (Matt. 12:6), greater than Jonah (Matt. 12:41), and greater than Solomon (Matt. 12:42) is among them.
From creation to the new creation, God is redeeming the world through His Son and making all things new. How can you participate with God and play your part in His Unfolding Story?