For many when when it comes to reading and studying the Bible in order to gain a better understanding, the old saying is true, “One can’t see the forest for the trees.”
It is easy to get lost in the precise details in Scripture and lose perspective on what the Bible is really about (try reading Leviticus or the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles without a “Big Picture” understanding!). Thus, it is helpful (perhaps necessary is more fitting) to get the “30,000 feet view,” in order to see the Forest!
“The average non-Christian is almost completely ignorant of the contents of the Bible…The knowledge of Christians is often not much better. We all have our favourite passages, but much of Scripture remains uncharted territory, especially the Old Testament. If we are honest, we find it outdated and rather un-Christian at times. What have dietary laws, animal sacrifices and the temple go to do with Jesus Christ? And what about the exodus from Egypt, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the lions’ den? They are great stories, but what relevance have they got for us today?,” so writes Robert Vaughan in his great little book, God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible (p. 14).
Vaughan, leaning on Graeme Goldsworthy’s Gospel and Kingdom (another helpful read but more technical) gives the reader a helpful and understandable, “30,000 feet view,” of the Bible.
His aim is “to help Christians find their way around the Bible and to see how it all holds together and points to Jesus,” (p. 14). Again he writes, “The Bible obviously covers a great deal of ground. But there is one supreme subject that binds it all together: Jesus Christ and the salvation God offers through him. That is true not just of the New Testament but of the Old Testament as well,” (p. 17).
In eight succinct chapters, Vaughan divides the Bible into eight sections, with the Kingdom of God as the binding theme:
The Old Testament
1. The pattern of the kingdom
2. The perished kingdom
3. The promised kingdom
4. The partial kingdom
5. The prophesied kingdom
The New Testament
6. The present kingdom
7. The proclaimed kingdom
8. The perfected kingdom
For any who have read much in Biblical Theology, the task can be quite daunting at times (e.g., Biblical Theology, Vos; Kingdom Prologue, Kline). If you are looking for a great introductory level book that gives you an understandable and yet sound understanding of what the Bible is all about, Vaughan’s book is a great place to begin.
As a bonus, Vaughan has included a study guide at the end of each chapter. So, it is great for small group studies, Sunday School material, etc… I am even using it to teach my children. I heartily recommend it.