It’s super weird. My wife is literally growing a person… Sometime in the next 10 weeks-ish, we’ll be parents of a little boy who we will care for and nurture for years to come. I read a thing about babies, and their development and why they cry and everything seems like the biggest deal ever. Because to them, EVERYTHING is the biggest deal ever.
Everything is new. Every bad thing they feel is literally the worst thing they’ve ever felt. Likewise, with the good! Absolutely every experience is a new thing, and they don't have the comprehension of being able to bring themselves out of the ‘now’ and see what might be.
Baby pooped their pants? “That’s uncomfortable, Imma cry.”
Clean nappy? “I’m good.”
Feelings of hunger? “I’m hurting and I don’t know why. Imma cry.”
Being fed and held by their parent. “I’m good.”
Something preventing them from sleeping? “I don't know what this feeling is, but I don't like it. Imma cry.”
Swaddled, lying down and toasty warm. “I’m good… For now…”
They experience joy, pain, discomfort, laughter, happiness, tiredness, comfort and a plethora of other positive and negative experiences that sum up life as a baby. And they experience it all in the present.
Eventually they learn, though, that if they cry, Mum or Dad will be there. That whatever situation/experience they’re going through will be fixed by these ‘Parents’ and that they’ll start feeling better. Except of course when things don’t...
We’re taught that God is like a Parent, a good parent who knows what’s best for us and is there whenever we cry out. But sometimes we cry out, and there isn’t a response. Sometimes we cry out, and things don’t start getting better.
God knows that sometimes we need to just cry. He also knows exactly what’s going on in our situation, and while there appears to be no response, I believe God is working in the background, quietly but surely.
Romans 8:28 gives us this promise; “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Much the same way that I am going to take care of this child of mine, I know that God will take care of us. In the darkness, in the light, in the good times and the bad. He knows when our ‘nappies’ are full and need changing, and when we need to be held and comforted.
I am a total geek: a Harry Potter geek, a Marvel geek, a Lord of the Rings geek, and a Bible geek.
One of the things I love about all four of those things is the detailed storyline that they have, but I have found that sometimes we struggle to find the storyline of the Bible beneath all the words. We know some of the individual stories, like David and Goliath, but not how they all fit together.
If this is something that you struggle with, I hope this will help.
Before the beginning of time, there was the Godhead, which was made up of the Father, Jesus and Spirit; and “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). Then He planted a garden on earth and placed there the humans He had created to be His representatives. These humans, Adam and Eve, lived in Eden in relationship with God and took care of it. (Gen 2:1-25).
Around this time, one of God's angels, Lucifer, rebelled because he wanted more power and was cast out of heaven. (Ezekiel 28:13-19). God had given Adam and Eve all dominion over the earth, and Lucifer manipulated them into giving him that dominion, placing the entire earth under his control. In doing so, Adam and Eve sinned against God and damaged their relationships with God, with each other, and with the creation they had been instructed to care for. Because of their sin, they realised that they were naked and felt shame for the first time. God judged them for their sin, banishing them from Eden, but in His grace, He gave them clothing to cover their shame. (Gen 3:1-24).
Because of Satan's dominion over the earth, God's creation was corrupted. Despite God's mercy, once out of Eden, Adam and Eve and their descendants continued to disobey, and each generation continued to distance themselves from God. Sixteen hundred years later, the descendants of Adam and Eve had become so wicked that God regretted having created them. He sent a great flood that killed all humanity except for the family of a righteous man named Noah. (Gen 6:1-8-22). But humanity continued to sin against God. Four hundred years later they attempted to build a tower high enough to force heaven and earth to intersect. In response, God rebuked them for their arrogance and scattered them across the earth. (Gen 11:1-9).
Instead of disowning the wicked and rebellious human race, God chose a man named Abraham, through whose descendants He promised to save humanity from their cycle of sin. God made a covenant with Abraham and promised him that his descendants would be a great nation and that the entire world would be blessed through them. God also promised Abraham that the land of the Canaanites would one day be given to Abraham's descendants. (Gen 12:1-3). In return, Abraham dedicated himself and his descendants to God, promising that they would always acknowledge Him as their God. (Gen 17:1-27).
A few hundred years later, Abraham's descendants, the nation of Israel, were enslaved by Egypt. They lived in slavery until God rescued them through a man named Moses. He then instructed them to build Him a Tabernacle, a place where He could dwell among them. (Exodus 26:1-37). He also commanded them to create the ark of the covenant, a representation of His presence on earth. (Exod 25:10-22). At this time, God gave the Israelites instructions on the best the way to live. He told them He wanted them to be an example to the rest of the nations regarding how to live in community with God. He also told them how they could sacrifice animals to make atonement for their sins. (Leviticus 4:35).
God gave them the land of the Canaanites' to live in, just as He had promised their ancestor Abraham. (Joshua 21:43). But despite having been given a plentiful land by God, the Israelites continued to disobey God. Each time they disobeyed He would punish them, only to relent and rescue them when they cried out for help. Eventually, even the priests of the Tabernacle were taking advantage of their position and stealing from God's sacrifices. (1 Samuel 2:12-17). They also began to try to manipulate God, treating the ark of the covenant as a way to ensure that God would give them victory in any battle they fought. In response, God caused the guilty priests to be killed in a battle and for the ark of the covenant to be captured by their enemies, the Philistines. (1 Sam 4:1-11). The Israelites were devastated because they thought that God had left them. (1 Sam 4:12-22). But God caused the ark to be returned to them within a year. (1 Sam 5:1 - 6:21).
Not long after the ark was returned to Israel, the Israelites disobeyed God yet again, demanding that a king be appointed over them. God gave into their request and appointed a man named Saul to be their king. (1 Sam 8:1-10:27). But Saul also disobeyed God, so God appointed a man named David to be king after Saul. (1 Sam 16:1-13). Once David was crowned king and had built his palace in Jerusalem, he brought the ark of the covenant there and placed it in a tent. David requested he be allowed to build God a Temple, but God told him his son would build it. (2 Sam 6:1-7:17).
David's son, Solomon, did indeed build God a temple, and the glory of God filled his Temple. (1 Kings 8:11). The Temple became the place where the Israelites would come to offer their sacrifices for the atonement for their sins. But the Israelites continued disobeying God; and after Solomon died, the nation of Israel split into two nations known as Israel and Judah. (1 Kgs 12:1-24). Neither nation dedicated themselves to God, and each generation's disobedience was more profound. God warned them through the prophets to stop sinning. He told them that, if they didn't, He would exile them from Israel and Judah and destroy the Temple (Jeremiah 7:3-15), but they didn’t listen. So God's glory left the Temple (Ezekiel 10:1-22), and God did everything He had threatened. Israel and Judah were invaded, and the majority of the inhabitants died by sword, famine, and disease. The few who survived were exiled to the nation of Babylon where they lived in captivity. (2 Kings 25:1-30).
The prophets, who had warned the Israelites of the exile, had also prophesied that God would restore the Israelites to their land (Amos 9:14) and that He would return to Jerusalem. (Malachi 3:1). Forty years after they had been taken into exile, the survivors were allowed to return to Israel. But God's glory didn't return.
Four hundred years later, the Israelites were still ruled by other nations, and God's glory hadn't yet returned to Jerusalem. Around this time, God came to earth in human form as a man named Jesus (John 1:1-17) to defeat Lucifer and regain dominion of earth. He also came to make atonement for humanity's sin once and for all. To do this, Jesus died on the cross. (Romans 5:8-9). When He died, the curtain in the Temple ripped in two, symbolising that humans could once again live in right relationship with God. (Mark 14:38).
Three days later, Jesus came back to life, and when He returned to heaven, God the Spirit came to earth to dwell within His people. (1 Corinthians 6:19). This fulfilled God's promise that His glory would return to Jerusalem. God the Spirit lived in anyone who allowed God to redeem them from their sin and chose to commit to Him. These people became known as Christians. (Acts 11:26).
For thousands of years, Christians convinced more people to become Christians. Finally, God will come to earth and exile Lucifer and everyone who still follows him. (Rev 20:1-15). Then God will re-create the world so that there is nothing still corrupted from Lucifer's rule, and He will come to earth to live in eternal, peaceful relationship with His holy and obedient people. (Rev 21:1-22:21).