Introducing the Themes of the Bible

Derek Ouellette —  January 10, 2010

Welcome to the first edition of 90 Seconds Sunday. This is the place where I will share a brief reflection from reading the bible this past week as a part of the 90 Days Challenge.

If you have taken part of this challenge, share your thoughts below.

Introduction to the Themes of the Bible:

For as often as I read the Pentateuch, I never realized until it was pointed out to me how imperative the themes introduced here are to understanding the rest of the biblical text.

These themes are:

  • Land/Exile
  • Blessing/Curse
  • Grace/Works
  • Relationship/Alienation
  • Life/Death
  • Faithfulness/Unfaithfulness
  • Worship/Idolatry

Land: Eden/Palestine/Heavenly Places/New Earth

Exile: From Eden/From Palestine/Worldliness/Outer Darkness

Here’s how I think these motifs work together…

Positive Side of the Biblical Themes:

  • To be in the Land is to be in Relationship with God, which is where Life is – to be Alive to God (it’s all about relationship).
  • To know God (relational knowledge) is to be in the Blessings of God. So to be in the Land is to be in the Blessings of God.
  • We are always brought into the Land by Grace – neither Adam nor Israel did anything to earn entrance into the Land.
  • There is only one God to be Worshipped in that Land.
  • An act of Worship to God is an act of Faithfulness.

Negative Side of the Biblical Themes:

  • Unfaithfulness to God is an act of Idolatry – a rejection of the Worship of God in favor of the worship of another, usually one’s self.
  • Since another cannot be worshipped in Gods’ Land (“there was only enough room in Eden for one God, and Adam simply didn’t measure up”), Idolatry results in Exile.
  • Since to be in the Presence of God in the Land is to be in the Blessings of God, to be in Exile is to be in the Curse.
  • Since to be in the Land is to be in the Relationship with God, to be in Exile is to be Alienated to God.
  • Since to be in Relationship with God is to be Alive to God, to be in Alienation to God is to be Dead Dead to God.
  • Since to be in the Land of God is where the divine Rest is, to be outside the “Rest” of God is to be in “Work“, to strive in vain.

The Cross is the Great Reversal of God’s Story: Christ came to restore the positive themes found in Eden by his Life, the Cross and his Resurrection – to those who would believe.

As you continue to journey through the bible it is crucial, in my opinion, to keep these major motifs in mind, to use them as a framework while forming your doctrines and theology.

Even as you read through the prophets and poetry literature, the Gospels, the Pauline Epistles and even the Apocalypse’, remember that these themes are the key components which form the backdrop of “why” and “what” the inspired authors wrote.

And that is what I mean when I say that the scriptures beg to be read as a story, because the story found here forms the backdrop to the rest of the literary genre throughout the scriptures. Understanding the Story helps to understand everything else.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Derek Ouellette

    Okay, this post took longer then 90 seconds.