A murder mystery opens with a “teaser” about what’s to come, gradually feeds us intriguing clues, but makes us wait to see how the pieces will fall into place. So with the bible. It opens with “teasers” that draw us in, gradually fills in the details, and finally brings us to a grand conclusion where every loose end is resolved. Genesis 1-4 is the “teaser” section of scripture. There God introduces the clues – His themes – that He’ll develop through the rest of the bible.
God seems to tell 1000 unrelated stories, but that’s not true. God tells very few stories. Instead, He tells the same stories again and again, varying the settings and characters but never varying the themes He wants to emphasize. Once you learn to think thematically, God’s repetitive themes will pop off of page after biblical page, and you’ll find the bible suddenly less confusing, more fascinating, and amazingly consistent.
The themes that permeate the bible are embedded in stories, and we’ll miss them if we read too quickly. So when you read the bible take a step back, look for God’s themes, and notice if He’s re-mentioning an idea. As I said, God doesn’t tell many stories; He tells the same few stories … again and again. Each repetition fills in more facts and increases our understanding of what He wants us to know.
God doesn’t tell that many stories; He tells the same few stories again and again. His stories show us His heart.
Themes rank way up there when it comes to understanding the bible – they form the structure around which the rest of scripture is organized. Themes rank even higher when it comes to understanding God, for themes teach us about God’s character. How so? God (as do we) repeats what He values. His themes introduce us to His heart.
Below are a few of the themes that thread through the pages of the bible. Please let me know if there are particular themes you’ve noticed that you’d like me to explore in the future. Thanks.
- The cross … Will the murderer get away with his crime?
- Hope … Will God’s promises come true?
- Slavery … Will God set me free?
- Victory … Will good win over evil?
God Writes a Murder Mystery (Thinking Thematically)
© Lynne Fox, 2015