How would you describe the bible (Honestly!)? Intimidating? Confusing? Irrelevant? What if you had a lens that helped unlock the power in every passage? In this series we will be exploring the DNA of the Bible; the two simple, interwoven threads that carry God’s message throughout the bible from start to finish: Covenant and Kingdom-this week is the synopsis of the series with a study tool.
If you want a study tool to go along with the podcast, see Lift Notes here:
The Bible has a DNA. If we step back and look at the big picture of the bible there are some clear and simple themes that run throughout. The two grand themes that are like tightly woven, interconnected threads that carry the message of God throughout the whole bible are: covenant and kingdom.
Covenant is a relational commitment by two parties to sacrifice their old identity in order take on a new shared identity with another person. Everything that each one has is shared with the other and the two become so relationally close they are seen as one.
The message of the bible is that God has initiated a covenant relationship with humanity which culminates in Jesus, who has sacrificially taken on our identity (sin) before the Father, so that humanity can share in his identity (Sonship, perfection) before the father and share in the relational intimacy that the Son and the Father have together (oneness).
Out of the relational intimacy and identity that comes from this covenant flows the responsibility and the authority to represent the Father we are in relationship with and the privilege to rule on his behalf in order to see his Kingdom brought to earth.
Covenant has to do with:
- Relationship: Above all else, we are made for relationship with God
- Identity: Who are you in God’s eyes?
Kingdom has to do with:
- Responsibility: What are you called to do?
- Representation: How do you represent the Father?
- Rule: How do you rule on behalf of the King?
Covenant and Kingdom (There is a flow!)
Relationship leads to Responsibility
Out of Identity flows Authority to Represent and Rule
Being in Relationship with God flows into Doing something for God
(For Church) being a Community flows into doing Mission.
Questions to ask when reading a passage…
Is this passage mainly about Covenant? If so, then the passage will reveal more about our relationship with God-more of who God is and more of who we are in God’s eyes and how God wants to relate with us.
Is it about Kingdom? If it is about Kingdom it will have things about being called to “do something for God” or it will reveal more of God as king or how we are called to represent him in the world or rule on his behalf in order to bring his kingdom to earth.
Some highlights of God’s Story of Covenant and Kingdom
Creation-Relationship and Identity: God created humanity in his “image” and “likeness” as the crowning creation called it “very good”, and “walked” with humans in the garden, and setup the seventh day as a “rest” in order to be in relationship together. Out of that Relationship and Identity God called humanity, to “rule” the earth on his behalf, and “fill the earth” with the fruit that represents and reflects His image. Genesis 1-3
Abraham-God showed more of the depth of relationship that God wants to have with humanity as he initiated a covenant ceremony with Abraham. The ceremony represented two people sacrificing their old identity in order take on a new shared identity with another person. Everything that each one has is shared with the other and the two become so relationally close they are seen as one. God tested Abraham’s willingness to give up everything but ultimately their relationship became so close that God called Abraham his “friend.” And this covenant pointed ahead to a time when God would sacrifice everything (his son) in order to share everything (eternal life) with us. Genesis 12-22 & Isaiah 41:8
Joseph-Joseph’s life powerfully illustrates the bible’s DNA strand of Kingdom: that we are called to rule and represent on God’s behalf. But the path to kingdom authority is through personal humility. So, God prepares Joseph to rule on His behalf through the humbling of hard times. In the end, He is made 2nd in command over Egypt and rules on God’s behalf in order to save the people. Genesis 37-50
Moses-Moses had a deep sense of inadequacy and a crisis of identity, fleeing from his fears and foes, hiding in the desert. But God initiates relationship with Him and as he goes deep with the Lord his identity strengthens and so does his authority to represent God before Pharaoh and lead God’s people. Exodus 3-33
Other Key books in the Old Testament, & The Gospels of the Life of Jesus…
Ten Commandments and the books of the Law-Flowing out of the relationship as God’s children, comes the responsibility to represent the Holy God they are in relationship with.
1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles and Psalms-reflect David’s intimate relationship with the Lord and how this identity prepared him to rule on God’s behalf.
Esther-God prepares Esther to rule (kingdom) on his behalf in order to save His people.
Isaiah-looks forwards to the Messiah who will usher in the new Kingdom
Jeremiah-God’s call for his people to return to covenant relationship with Him
Ezekiel-God fortells the promise of a “new covenant” written on people’s heart.
Daniel-God’s kingdom rule advancing on earth, above all earthly kings.
Hosea-God’s covenant relationship with a wayward people
Joel-Joel forsees a world of God’s kingdom advancing
Amos-God’s desire to see his kingdom of justice and righteousness on earth
Habakkuk-God’s covenant relationship remains faithful even when he seems absent
Matthew, Mark & Luke-Jesus embodies the Kingdom rule of God on earth and invites his followers to do the same. John-Jesus models the fullness of the covenant relationship that humanity is made for and invites his followers into it.
Jesus.-“This is my body given for you…This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:19-20 The whole perfect life of Jesus, along with his death and resurrection is a covenant, in which God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become right with God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 Jesus took on our identity (sinful humanity) and sacrificed everything he has, (his life in our place), so that we might share in his identity before the father (perfect Son) and become one with him (in relationship). When we put our trust in Jesus, then the ultimate answer to “who am I in God’s eyes?” is: “You are my beloved child; with whom I am well pleased.” Romans 8:14-17, Matthew 3:13-4:1
The Church-God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body. Ephesians 1:23 In the new covenant there is a oneness of relationship with Jesus that is personal and intimate but there is also a corporate oneness so deep and inseparable that its called a body. The church isn’t a separate identity that forms something for Christ, we form something with Christ. As a church we’ve been purchased by Jesus to become a body of people that experiences the fruit of the Spirit in community life together and then moves out into God’s mission in the world to bring the Kingdom.
Heaven-Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them…I will be their God and they will be my children. Revelation 21:1–7 The consummation of God’s story is when God gathers all his children (identity) to live in direct fellowship with Him, forever (relationship). Yet even in heaven, humanity is restored to its full created potential and will rule on God’s behalf over the new earth in the kingdom come. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10
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