Last week I was telling you about how I, as a new missionary, learned to communicate with the students at Kamakwie Secondary School. I remember the first night when I went over to meet some of the young men in the dormitory—although they were speaking English, I couldn’t even understand their names. I’ve told people that I was so green in those days that I made the grass look red!
Anyway, as I said last time, I learned that I could help them grasp the message of the Bible by focusing on the people of the Bible. The Old Testament was about Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, etc. The New Testament was about Jesus and those who followed Him. We made banners for the New Testament books and hung them in the classroom. The Gospels gave us four pictures of this Jesus. Acts continued the story after his death, resurrection, and return to the Father. It told about what he, through the Holy Spirit, continued to do in his followers’ lives. The letters explained more about him and the Revelation looked forward to his second coming.
Last week we talked about the “Big Four” in the Old Testament—Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon. The New Testament, however, is about the “Big One.”—Jesus. The “big four” lead us to the “Big One,” who is really the “Big One” in the whole Bible. Let’s look a little at how that happens.
Several years ago Rosa and I went through the Creation Museum near Cincinnati with our oldest grandson, Patrick, and with our dear missionary friends, Chuck and Ruth Pierson. How I remember walking from the hall of Creation to that of Chaos. In the hall of Chaos I saw such pictures of human misery. One felt the consequences of Adam’s sin—the awfully separation from God, the destruction of human harmony through selfish violence, and the disruption of humanity’s relationship with creation. The first eleven chapters of Genesis depict this situation so well.
The First of the “Big Four”—Abraham. But then God came to Abraham (Genesis 12), and promised to redeem humanity and restore fellowship with God, harmony among people, and enjoyment of creation. All of this through him and his family.
The Second of the “Big Four”—Moses. God used Moses, the second of the “big four,” to begin making this restoration a reality by delivering Abraham’s descendants from Egypt. This deliverance “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 5:15 ESV) reestablished their fellowship with God. God confirmed his relationship with them at Sinai and constituted them as a people who would live in harmony under his covenant. Finally, God brought them into the land where they would again, if they were obedient, enjoy the blessings of creation. This was a genuine deliverance, but it was incomplete. Obedience led to a good life, but not eternal life. Their fellowship with God was real but limited. God’s promise did not yet extend to the whole world. Finally, God’s people, beginning right at Sinai (Exodus 32),continually turned away from God into sin.
The Third of the “Big Four”—David. According to 2 Samuel 7, God established King David and his house to “plant” his people. That is, David and his descendents were to direct the people so that they would live in obedience and enjoy the blessings of God’s covenant.
The Fourth of the “Big Four”—Solomon. Under Solomon, David’s son, the people experienced the height of God’s blessing. Solomon’s later reign, however, foreshadowed the history of disobedience that followed. More often than not, David’s children confirmed the people’s habit of disobedience—until the nation was carried away into exile. The prophets began to look forward to great David’s greater Son who would fulfill the mission of David’s house by truly delivering God’s people from their faithlessness.
The BIG ONE—This “Big One” would be the son of David, but He would also be the Son of God—“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”); “you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:23, 21 ESV).