Why does God take only 2 chapters to describe the creation of the heavens and the earth, and then devote 50 chapters to the description of the tabernacle? Why does God spend only 9 verses reviewing approximately 1500 years of history (Gen. 4:16-24) and then use 14 chapters (Gen. 37-50) to detail the life of Joseph (who was not even in the bloodline to Christ)? Why does God make no mention of many great world leaders throughout history, such as Alexander the Great, and yet dwell upon the lives of men such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

The answer to these questions is found in the purpose of the Bible. The Bible is not a science textbook, as we think about science today. Though, the Bible is certainly a book of science (the word science simply means knowledge). The Bible is not just a history book, though it does contain historical records which are absolutely true and accurate in every detail. The Bible is not a biography of the world’s most famous men and women, though it records the lives of many great men and women of faith. The purpose of the Bible is to reveal the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ! In John 5:39 Jesus told the Jews,

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

Jesus spoke here of the Old Testament Scriptures. Following His resurrection from the dead, Jesus taught His disciples saying,

“These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. Then He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45)

From these passages, we see that the purpose of the Old Testament Scriptures (Genesis to Malachi) was to testify about the Lord Jesus Christ. This explains why so much of the book of Genesis is devoted to the patriarch Joseph; because his life was a type of the life of Christ. Joseph was the beloved of his father who was sent unto his brothers (Gen. 37). He was the rejected servant; hated without a cause (Gen. 37-40). Finally, he became the exalted savior of his own family (Gen. 41-45).

The night before He was to be crucified Jesus told His disciples,

“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth … He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you … When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 14:16-17,2616:13-14)

The New Testament Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit led its writers, also testify concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.

The person (or character) of Jesus Christ never changes (Heb. 13:8). He is the eternal God of glory. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. He is righteousness, life, love, grace, and truth. However, as we study the Bible, we see that the presentation of Christ in the Word changed as God’s different plans and purposes were progressively unfolded throughout time. We must take note of these changes if we hope to understand the Bible.

In the Old Testament Scriptures God dealt primarily with His chosen people, Israel. These Scriptures present Christ in promise, picture (or type), and prophecy as Israel’s coming Messiah, anointed of God as Prophet, Priest, and King.

In the gospel accounts, Christ became a man and came unto His own people, Israel, proclaiming the kingdom of heaven was “at hand.” He proved Himself to be their Messiah and King, but they rejected Him and crucified Him on the cross of Calvary.

During the Acts period, the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus, sent the Holy Spirit into the world, and working through the apostles, the King and Kingdom were officially offered to the nation of Israel (Acts 3:19-21). Once again, Israel, as a nation, rejected God’s offer, and the kingdom was postponed (Heb. 2:8). Following the stoning of Stephen in Acts chapter 7, God raised up a new apostle, Paul, through whom He would reveal a new plan and purpose concerning the church, the body of Christ. This purpose of God remained a mystery (or secret) throughout the ages until God made it known to Paul.

In the epistles of Paul, we find Israel’s kingdom postponed. Their rejected King, the Lord Jesus Christ, is exalted and made Head over all things to the church, which is His body (Eph. 1:22-23). In the early epistles of Paul, written during the Acts period, he mentions the truth of the mystery (I Cor. 212Rom. 1216, I Thess. 4, etc.), but God’s plan and purpose for the church of this present age of grace is not fully revealed by Paul until we come to his later epistles, commonly referred to as the “prison epistles” (Eph. 3, Col. 1).

In the Hebrew epistles (Hebrews through the Revelation), we find God preparing Israel for their coming kingdom and encouraging them to endure patiently until Christ returns to earth to establish it. In the last of these epistles, the book of the Revelation, we see the King returning in power and great glory to judge and to claim His throne. We see His kingdom established upon the earth and we see all promise and prophecy concerning Christ finally fulfilled.

The key thing to remember when we approach the study of the Bible is that it reveals the most wonderful person in the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. When we read and study the Bible we should not concentrate on just filling our minds with history, or prophecy, or even doctrine. It is important to know what the Bible says, but it is even more important to know the One whom the Bible makes known: Christ! When we read, study, and meditate upon the Word of God, let us fill our minds, hearts, and lives with “the excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord” (Phil. 3:8). This is why Paul admonishes us in Colossians 3:16 to,

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

The Bible is a life-giving and a life-changing book, not just because of what it says, but because of the One it makes known to us. “Christ is our life” (Col. 3:4). May we share the same desire the apostle Paul expressed in Philippians 3:10,

“… that I may know Him.”