A Grand Confection

God's Word doesn't crumble under close inspection—it rises to the occasion every time.

My granddaughter Katie loves to bake. But whenever she gets all the ingredients out, her younger brother invariably sidles up to her and asks, “Can I have a taste?” To keep him at bay, she teasingly asks, “Would you like two fresh eggs?” Naturally he will have none of it. She continues, “How about some flour, or a teaspoon of vanilla? Again, he knows better than to take her up on the offer. He wants cake.

The same approach is needed in handling Scripture: In order to see the whole picture of God’s plan, we can’t take the parts on their own. We need to understand the unity of the Bible to fully appreciate each element.

It’s difficult to speak of Scripture as having a definite “center” today, because our world likes to believe there is no such thing as absolute truth. Yet, contrary to the general (and incorrect) consensus of the moment, the way in which Scripture came together is the strongest argument for the unity and sureness of the Bible (the beautiful and completed cake, if you will). Moreover, since Scripture comes from the heart and mind of God, we can presume He has a purpose, a unifying concept that gives the Bible structure and provides it a grand conclusion.

In order to see the whole picture of God’s plan, we can’t take the parts on their own. We need to understand the unity of the Bible to fully appreciate each element.

From the human point of view, such a prospect—obtaining a single plan from a book that involved some 39 to 40 writers who wrote in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) to create 66 different books on three separate continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe)—seems impossible. In addition, a book written over a span of approximately 1,500 years by writers who, for the most part, didn’t know each other, should have had very little chance of maintaining continuity. Yet that’s exactly what the Bible proves to be: one continuous story. In fact, we’re instructed in 1 Corinthians 2:13 that these various writers were taught in words by the Holy Spirit as they wrote. Thus, there was a living assimilation between the writers’ backgrounds, gifts, vocabulary, and experiences and what the Spirit “taught” them as they wrote—making the seemingly impossible possible.  

Though the Bible has many lessons to teach us, there’s a core truth around which everything else is built. I believe the apostle Paul best articulated it when he was on trial for his life in Acts 26:6-7: “And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews” (emphasis added).

In his appeal to King Agrippa, Paul didn’t cite a number of predictions scattered throughout the Old Testament. Instead, he saw the whole of Scripture encapsulated in “the promise” and recognized it as a certainty, for the definite article “the” was almost always included. Moreover, it wasn’t plural but usually a singular “promise”—the one definite covenant made between God and man that found fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, who died, was buried, and rose again.

A book written over a span of 1,500 years should have had very little chance of maintaining continuity. Yet the Bible proves to be one continuous story.

The New Testament uses the term “promise” more than 40 times as a way of both summarizing what God had done before Christ and anticipating what He would do after His Son’s incarnation. Hebrews 6:13-14 equates this definite, singular promise with the one God made with Abraham. Paul argued the same in Romans 4:13-14, declaring that Abraham received the promise: He would be heir of the world, and this would come not by his works but by faith.

The promise is the plan of God, first declared to Eve about a coming “seed” (Gen. 3:15). Then it was revealed to Shem that God would “dwell” with mortals; then to Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth “[would] be blessed;” and finally to David that his kingdom would last forever, for this would be the “instruction for all humanity” (Gen. 9:27, Gen. 12:3,  2 Sam. 7:16-19 NLT, alternate translation).

It is clear that this promise-plan of God would center on the “seed of the woman” of Genesis 3:15—one who would be no less than Jesus the Messiah. He not only would be a transcendent Lord but would also live in the midst of His people. He’d be given a throne, and His reign would never end. Moreover, it would be by belief in Him alone that every human on planet earth could be saved and blessed for all eternity. In turn, God would give Abraham’s seed a permanent place on earth in Israel. They would be His people, and He would be their God.

Sadly, however, some wrongly believe that the promises made to Abraham and his seed ended because of their unbelief and continued obstinacy. Such people would argue that those same promises now belong to the believing church—that Israel has lost her position of blessing, her right to the land of promise, and her key place in the events established by our Lord.

Such a conclusion, however, misses the point that when God made His promise and “cut” the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3 and Genesis 15:1-6, it was God alone who passed between the halved animals and obligated Himself to fulfill the vow He made. Abraham did not, and so the longevity of this promise had nothing to do with his faithfulness.

God cannot and will not lie. He will fulfill the word He pledged in Genesis 15. That is the beating heart of Scripture. And as long as the sun and the moon are still shining, so shall the promise-plan of God endure.

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13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

6 And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers;

7 the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews.

13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,

14 saying, I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU."

13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.

14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;

15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."

27 May God enlarge Japheth, And let him dwell in the tents of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant."

3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."'"

17 In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.

18 Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?

19 And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord GOD, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future. And this is the custom of man, O Lord GOD.

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great."

2 Abram said, O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"

3 And Abram said, Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir."

4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir."

5 And He took him outside and said, Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, So shall your descendants be."

6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

7 And He said to him, I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it."

8 He said, O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?"

9 So He said to him, Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon."

10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds.

11 The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.

13 God said to Abram, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.

14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.

15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.

16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete."

17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.

18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite

20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim

21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite."

2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;

3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great."

2 Abram said, O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"

3 And Abram said, Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir."

4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir."

5 And He took him outside and said, Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, So shall your descendants be."

6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

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