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God’s Big Story

In the beginning, God created.


His words, spoken into the nothingness, formed everything
we know.
Light.
Sky.
Seas.
Land.
Plants.
Trees.
Sun.
Moon.
Stars.
Planets.
Fish.
Birds.
Whales.
Cattle.
Bears.
Camels.
Dinosaurs.

Man.

In six days, God spoke everything we know into being. God


is a God who creates. He is a God who loves relationship.
He created one man from the dust of the earth, breathed the
breath of life into him, and gave him a mandate to rule over
this newly created world, to care for it, to reveal God’s glory
embedded into every corner of it.

The man couldn’t do it alone – and that was no accident.

God took one of the man’s ribs and formed his perfect
counterpart – woman. She was his divinely appointed helper.
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With her, they would rule this earth and fill it with more men
and women.

For everything was created to reproduce after its own kind.

And humankind was the most unique of all. Humanity was


not just spoken into existence as the rest of the universe had
been. Humanity was formed by the hand of God and given
life from His breath. Humanity was made not only to display
the splendor of their Creator God, but to commune with Him,
to know Him in relationship.

Humanity was formed in His image – the “image” they bore


was not a physical one, as the God who created them was not
a physical being. Rather, man and woman bore His likeness
in attributes that were smaller shadows of His divine ones.

As their Creator, mankind was creative and able to create;


their creation was not out of nothing, they didn’t create by
speaking, but in a smaller way, they could use ingenuity and
creativity and make things out of the materials around them.
• The Creator was all-knowing, and humanity could know,
learn, reason.
• The Creator was righteous and just, and man and woman
had a conscience and a sense of justice.
• The Creator was sovereign over everything, and humanity
had a will and was given responsibilities.
• The Creator was loving, and the man and woman had the
capacity to love and be loved.
• The Creator was all-knowing, and He created humanity
with minds, imaginations, and the ability to use reason and
logic.
• The Creator was all-powerful, and man and woman had
power over their domains and the ability to influence the
world.

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• The Creator was eternal – He had no beginning, He has no
ending – and humanity is immortal – they had a
beginning, but they were given immortal souls.

For a short while, everything was perfect. The man called


Adam and the woman named Eve lived in a flawless garden,
in a perfect relationship, and had access to and relationship
with the God who made them.

There was one thing in the universe that was not flawless. Of
the legions of angels God had also created, there was one who
was not content with his status as a created being, lower than
his Creator. He wished to take God’s place. He was cast out
of heaven along with the other angels who followed him.
And so began the great battle between God and his enemy,
known as the devil or Satan.

Satan, in the form of a serpent, approached the woman and


convinced her to rebel against God, to do the one thing she
had been prohibited to do – eat from the Tree of Knowledge
of Good and Evil. Did God really say you shall not eat from
this tree? You will not surely die, you will be like God,
knowing good and evil… the words hissed in Eve’s ear and
suddenly she doubted. She doubted God’s word. She
doubted God’s intentions. She doubted the truth of what He
said.

As the man and woman tasted that forbidden fruit, they died.
Not physically. They died spiritually. Their souls were now
tainted by evil. They could no longer have a relationship with
God, for He was holy. They could no longer have a perfect
relationship with one another, for they had become sinful.
They were filled with shame and tried to cover themselves
and hide from God’s presence.

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In response to their sin and rebellion, God said that the
physical world would mirror the spiritual death and rebellion
they had brought on themselves. They would experience
physical pain, suffering, and death. The created world, once
flawless, would now be filled with death, decay, disorder,
destruction. Their relationship would be distorted and broken.

Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden and banned from
the presence of their holy and perfect Creator. For sin and
holiness cannot coexist. But they did not leave the garden
without hope – for God promised them that one day Someone
would come who would crush the serpent and make
everything right again.

Time went on. People multiplied on the earth. But as people


multiplied and spread, so the disease of sin and rebellion
spread and intensified. Eventually only one man named
Noah, along with his family, was faithful to follow God and
believed that He was holy and His words were true. Men
were so sinful that every thought in their heads, every
intention of their hearts, was filled with evil.

God decided to wipe the earth clean and start fresh with
Noah’s family – the Truth of God’s Word and promise had to
be protected and passed on. So, God commanded Noah to
build an ark to protect his family and two of every kind of
animal – enough to start over when the flood was ended.

Every other person and animal on the face of the earth was
washed away in the global flood. The tops of the highest
mountains were covered. The entire earth was covered with
water, with one tiny boat floating in the midst.

Sin and holiness cannot coexist.

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After the waters receded, Noah and his family came down
from the ark. They worshipped God and thanked Him for His
provision and protection through the great flood. God
commanded them to fill the earth and subdue it, just as He
had commanded Adam and Eve generations before. They
started over.

Even though Noah and his family were followers of God, the
generations that followed largely were not. They did not fill
the earth as God had commanded. They banded together.
They began to build a city with a tower that would reach to
the heavens. They sought to make themselves famous and
great and secure – rather than making God’s story known in
the earth, they wanted to leave a monument to their own
greatness.

In response to their rebellion, God confused their speech – He


caused this group of people who had previously all spoken
one language, to be split into smaller groups with different
languages. They could no longer live in one community, and
they were scattered over the earth – just as God had originally
commanded.

There were not many who followed after God. But one day,
God spoke to one man by the name of Abram [whose name
God later changed to Abraham]. He told Abram to leave his
country and his people and go to a new land that God would
show him. He promised to make Abram’s descendents into a
great nation. He promised them a land of their own. And He
promised that through Abram’s family, all of the world would
be blessed. In other words – the “Someone” God had
promised to Adam and Eve, the One who would crush the
serpent and make everything right again, would come through
the family of Abraham!

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After many years of waiting, Abraham had a son named
Isaac. God re-iterated his promises of a great nation, land,
and the promised “Someone” to Isaac. Isaac had two sons,
Jacob and Esau – God chose Jacob (who was later known as
Israel) as the one through whom He would continue His
blessing and promises. None of these people were flawless in
their journey of faith in God – all were still sinful, just like
the rest of humanity. This fact is well illustrated in the family
of Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons through four women;
dysfunctional does not even begin to describe it! Eventually
he became a true believer in and follower of God, but in the
meantime he made terrible choices and showed extreme
favoritism to one of his children, which left lasting marks on
the family.

Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, was not surprisingly hated by his


older brothers. One day they conspired against him, sold him
into slavery in Egypt, and told their father that wild animals
had killed him. God continued to bless Joseph and eventually
he went from slave to the second in command under Pharaoh.
When a severe famine hit the land, it was the careful
management of Joseph that allowed the people of Egypt, and
ultimately his own family, to survive.

The family God had chosen to tell His story to the world, the
family through whom He would unfold His plan of
redemption, the family of the “Someone” who would
someday crush the serpent and make everything right again,
was now living in Egypt and were known as the Hebrews.
They were multiplying and flourishing under God’s blessing,
but they eventually became threatening to a later Pharaoh
who did not know of Joseph. God’s chosen people were
enslaved and cruelly oppressed. The Pharaoh even ordered
that the baby boys be thrown into the Nile river.

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God spared the life of a small Hebrew baby by the name of
Moses who was, amazingly enough, protected and raised by
Pharaoh’s own daughter. Eventually God used Moses to
bring His chosen people out of Egypt. The Pharaoh was
unwilling to let his slave force go free, but after a series of
plagues against the land, people, and false gods of Egypt,
Pharaoh relented.

The Hebrew people walked out of Egypt and into the


wilderness. When Pharaoh’s army pursued them, God parted
the Red Sea and allowed them to walk across on dry land.
When they were hungry, God made bread flakes known as
manna appear every morning on the ground like dew. When
they were thirsty, God provided water from rocks! He loved
His people, even when they turned their backs on Him, as
they often did.

God instructed Moses and the Israelites (another name for the
Hebrews, as they were descendants of Jacob, also known as
Israel) about who He was and what He expected of His
people. Because God is holy, the people must be holy. He
gave them ten great commandments that formed a basic
understanding of God’s definition of right and wrong – each
law was based on His own nature and the relationship He
desired with His people.
• There was only one true God – nothing and no one else
was to take His place.
• There were to be no idols of false gods or physical
representations of God – God had created the entire
universe, all of mankind. He was the only true God, and
the only authorized “images” of God were the people He
created.
• Because God is holy, His name was to be revered and
used with respect.

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• God commanded His people to work six days of the week,
and devote the seventh day to worshipping Him and
resting – to cease from labor and recognize that God is the
source of every good thing.
• God commanded them to honor their parents, for just as
the people were to have a reverent fear of their holy
Creator, they were to respect and honor the authority set
over them by God.
• God is the author of life, and the people were prohibited to
murder.
• God desired a pure and committed relationship with His
people, and marriages were to mirror that. Just as
marriage reflected God’s covenant with His people,
adultery was a reenactment of idolatry – a broken
covenant, forsaking the true and pure relationship for a
lesser, sinful one.
• Stealing, lying, and coveting (desiring something that is
not yours to have) were also prohibited, as God is the one
who gives and takes away. He is the definition of Truth.
He is the definition of goodness. To act in a way that
violates His nature was and is the definition of sin.

He wanted a relationship with them, to live among them. But


they were still a sinful people (no matter how hard they tried
they would still sin) – and sin and holiness cannot coexist.

In order for the people to have a relationship with Him, God


instructed them with great detail to create a large tent of
worship known as the Tabernacle – there, God would dwell
among them. Because of the sin that every person had in
their hearts, including the appointed priests, something had to
pay the price of their rebellion. Blood had to be shed to
temporarily cover their sinfulness and allow them to approach
God’s holiness without being destroyed.

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Thus, animal sacrifice was a focal point of life in the
Tabernacle – for we all deserve death because of our sin. Sin
and holiness cannot coexist. For every transgression, for
every rebellion, something had to die. They would leave the
Tabernacle after offering their sacrifice, go home, and
inevitably fail again. Sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice.
It was the only way to cover their sin and allow them to be
near the Holy One.

After many years of wandering in the desert (their wanderings


were made 40 years longer because of their rebellion against
God), God finally brought them home – to the land that had
been promised to Abraham all those years before. He
strategically placed them on the trade route between all major
civilizations at the time. He did not place them there for their
own prosperity, but that the world would come to their
doorstep, as it were, and that they could tell them the Truth
about who God was and that He wanted a relationship with
them.

The Israelites settled in the land. But all was not well.

Although God had hand-picked these people, although He


had brought them out of slavery, miraculously provided for
them every single day in the wilderness, made a way for them
to know Him, shown them how to live with Him as their God,
and given them the exact land He had promised to their
forefathers… they fell away. They refused to obey Him.
They compromised and followed His commands half-
heartedly or ignored them altogether. They rejected His
leadership and demanded a human king. They worshipped
false gods and built idols and centers of worship to honor
them. They refused to listen even when God sent prophets to
warn them of the consequences they would face for their
rebellion.

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And like a loving parent who allows his child to face the
hardship brought on by his own disobedience, God allowed
His people to be oppressed by their enemies, attacked, and
eventually taken captive and carried into exile because of
their rebellion. Even in their rebellion, even in exile, God
sent His prophets to remind His people of the Truth, to call
them to turn back to Him.

Years went by. A faithful remnant of Jews (a term derived


from the name “Judah,” who was one of the most prominent
sons of Jacob) did return to the land. Some were committed
to following the One True God – they worshipped at the
temple (the permanent replacement, which was rebuilt several
times over the years, for the Tabernacle), they followed God’s
commandments, and they waited… for while they were great
in number, as God had promised Abraham, they had yet to
see the promised “Someone”, the one who would crush the
serpent. They had learned more about this promised One
over the years from different prophecies – He would be from
the tribe of Judah, the line of David (among other things!)

They also expected that when this promised One appeared,


that he would again make them into an independent nation
and finally give them the full allotment of land that had been
promised to their forefathers.

For years God was silent.

And then one day, an angel appeared to a young woman by


the name of Mary.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to
give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called
the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the
throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of
Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – Luke 1:31-33
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The Promised One had come. The One they had expected
from the beginning had arrived. And most people didn’t
realize it. He wasn’t born in a palace and lauded by the rich
and powerful – He was born in a stable and welcomed by
social outcasts and foreigners.

They had expected this Promised One to be a political savior.


They expected Him to overthrow the Roman rule they were
under, to restore to them the entire tract of land God had
promised to Abraham, to create social and political peace and
prosperity. He didn’t do that.

He taught from the Scripture. He blessed children. He healed


sick people – sometimes even on the Sabbath, the day of rest!
He had harsh words for the religious leaders who thought that
knowing God was strictly about keeping rules. What made
people the most upset, however, was that He claimed to be
God. To those who did not believe, it was blasphemy.

And so, with hearts full of hatred and anger, they had him
crucified. What they didn’t realize was that Jesus’ death was
part of the plan all along.

Remember, sin and holiness cannot coexist. Fundamentally,


God desired a relationship with the people He created and
loved. Even though God had put the system of sacrifices and
worship at the Temple in place long before, it was
insufficient. People were sinful to the core. No animal
sacrifice was enough to cover their sin once and for all. No
animal sacrifice was enough to truly wash them clean in
God’s sight and allow them to have access to Him – a true
relationship not bound by a physical place, sacrifices, walls,
and curtains.

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And so Jesus came as the Lamb of God – the one perfect
sacrifice. He was fully God, and thus was perfect and sinless,
but He was also completely human and able to suffer and die
on behalf of the people He loved.

They didn’t take His life. He gave it.

But that isn’t the end of the story!

On the third day after His crucifixion, the disciples (the men
who were Jesus’ hand-picked followers) found his tomb
empty! They were confused and dismayed and afraid, but
Jesus came to them Himself and erased all doubt that the
unbelievable was true: Jesus was alive again!

Jesus stayed on the earth for forty days following his


resurrection from the dead. He appeared to many people, and
continued to teach His disciples and prepare them to tell the
world the Truth about Himself.

After Jesus ascended back to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit


of God to the disciples to be with them forever and enable
them to do the great work He left for them. You see, instead
of sending the world to their doorstep, as He had with Israel,
Jesus had commanded His disciples to go and tell the world
about Him, and make more disciples who would follow Jesus.

And so the disciples took the Truth about Jesus Christ (Christ
is a title meaning “anointed One”) to those around them.
When persecution broke out, the believers in Jesus began to
scatter across the entire Roman world. Peter, Paul, and the
other apostles carried the Truth everywhere they went –
teaching the Jews the good news that Jesus was the Promised
One they had been waiting for, teaching the Gentiles (those
who were not Jews) that God had made a way to have a
relationship with Him.
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That was two thousand years ago, but the story isn’t finished
yet.

The Bible tells us that one day, Jesus will return. There is a
seven year time period before Christ’s return to reign known
as the “tribulation.” It will be a terrible time of wars, plagues,
catastrophes, and global unrest that is unmatched throughout
the rest of world history. The Bible also teaches that the
Church, not specific denominations but all who are sincere
followers of God who have trusted in Jesus Christ as the only
one who can save them from their sin, will be “caught up” or
raptured into heaven. While not all Christians agree on the
timing of this event, I believe that the Scriptures indicate that
this will happen at the beginning of the tribulation period.

At the end of this time, Jesus will return to earth. The Bible
says that the nations will mourn over Him – for this time He
is returning to judge the sins of mankind. Like the world-
wide flood in Noah’s time, only those who are true followers
of God, those who have their sin washed away by the
sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf, will be spared from the
destruction of all those who are in rebellion against God.

The serpent will be crushed.


God will restore Israel to a right relationship with Him.
God will give them the land He promised them. They will see
peace.

God keeps His promises.

We don’t know when Jesus will come back. But we do know


that the signs He told us to watch for are all around us. We
believe it will be soon. Are you ready?

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• God loves us and created us to have a
personal relationship with Him. "For
God so loved the world that he gave his one
and only Son, that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life." John
3:16
• Our sin keeps us from having a
personal relationship with God. "... for all
have sinned and fall short of the glory of
God..." Romans 3:23
• Only through Jesus Christ can we
have a personal relationship with God.
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the
righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you
to God." 1 Peter 3:18
• We must personally respond by
trusting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
"Yet to all who received him, to those who
believed in his name, he gave the right to
become children of God..." John 1:12

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