God loves stories, which is probably why most of the Bible is made up of parables and other kinds of stories. So what is the purpose of all these stories? Are they just interesting Sunday School lessons for children? No. Everything in the Bible is written for you. This is what the Apostle Paul refers to when he says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4,)
Themes and chords
By learning to faithfully read the stories that God wrote and understanding how God writes them, you can understand how God is writing your story. In other words, you learn to read the story that God is writing in the present by reading the stories that God has written in the past. So, when you do not have answers for those trials or questions (good or bad), the stories of Noah, Joseph, David, Daniel and Esther will give you insight into your own story so that you can respond appropriately.
Say you start to get immersed in the work of a particular author, singer or movie director you like. Soon, you recognize their patterns and preferences. It works the same way with God. He does not have just one theme, he has several favorite themes. Testing and deliverance come to mind; sometimes he will bring his people to the edge of the cliff and deliver them at the final moment.
Testing and deliverance
When Abraham offered up Isaac, God waited until the last minute. He did not stop Abraham in his tracks after he saddled his donkeys and headed out the door. God did not even deliver Abraham after his three-day journey to the mountain. Nor did he deliver Abraham at the top of the mountain or when he laid Isaac on the altar. At the last second, God delivered Abraham right before Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac. Then he finally provided a ram and said, “So Abraham called that place, The LORD will provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mount of the LORD it will be provided’” (Genesis 22:14, NIV). Notice, it became a saying in Israel. God established the reputation that he will deliver you. God’s people learned their own story through the story of Abraham. God will test your faith, but at the last minute he will deliver you.
God loves “Just-in-Time Deliveries.” God brought the Israelites to the edge of the Red Sea with the Egyptian armies bearing down. Then, just in time, God parted the sea. What is your “Red Sea” that needs to be parted? What is your “Mount” that God will deliver you on? Hold fast. Keep believing. God will deliver you, even if it is at the very last second. How did Abraham persevere in faith? He trusted God’s promises that “through Isaac your offspring will be named.” Abraham believed that God would even raise Isaac from the dead rather than break his own promise. Often God will command you to do something that looks like it goes contrary to his promises. Keep believing. We want to see God do the miraculous in our life, but how can we if we don’t expect him to surprise us in the way he does it? God wants us to walk by faith and put ourselves in a situation where he has to deliver us. Unfortunately, Christians often miss out on the deliverance that was right around the corner by failing under temptation or turning back in fear.
Trials and faith
Over and over, the Bible continues to point out that your trials are not meaningless or pointless. The things that seem to come out of nowhere, are in fact, coming from somewhere. Every aspect of your life is under God’s sovereign control. That’s good news! Because remember, God is absolutely perfect!
God is supremely and only good. Think about the story of Job. God allowed Satan to bring suffering into Job’s life, but was in complete control the whole time and delivered Job in the end. God does not directly cause evil, but he does allow it and transforms it for your good. Think about the cross. At the cross you see the evil of man and the sovereignty of God bringing about the greatest deliverance known to man. The cross and resurrection of Jesus is his story, and it reminds us that God is in control of our story. Remember, God is not the author of sin, but he is the author of our story. God tells us not to be anxious about anything, to fear nothing, and he tells us to be patient in tribulation. Why? Because he knows the end of the story, which is complete deliverance. Your eternal salvation is in God’s hands and so is your present situation. Trust God and watch the sea part. Trust God and walk up the mountain with faith in your heart.