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Anyone know a good story?

Everyone loves a good story. Stories draw us out of our own world and allow us entrance into another place, maybe into another time, but always into another worldview. It makes little difference if we enter into a story through a book, a movie, or simply a friend's account of what happened on vacation. Stories are transformative.
Joseph Consigned to the Pit, from the Phillip Medhurst Collection.

It's no wonder then that so much of the Bible comes to us in the form of a story. From the opening tale of humanity's beginnings to the future consummation of all things, the Bible, above all else, recounts a story. And, as we will see below, it's a good story, a redemptive story.

The biblical stories also carry meaning to the readers. And here, I'm not talking about what the stories mean, or how to interpret them. No, I mean the biblical stories give us meaning. Real meaning. Meaning to life, meaning to death, meaning to history.

Believers spend too little time reflecting on what they believe about the essential meaning of history. It's considered too philosophical, too vague a question to merit extended discussion. That's a shame. Our view of history connects directly to our beliefs regarding God's sovereignty and it's relation to our responsibility.



Consider, for example, the story of Genesis. The opening book of Scripture recounts a foundational story of the beginning of God's work in the world, man's rebellion, and the beginnings of a plan to overcome the resulting corruption.

The book begins with the creation and ordering of all things. And when God looks at what He made, everywhere he looks, the text tells us, God sees it is "good." Seven times in that first chapter we read that "God saw it was good."

Good is a good thing. Okay, that's obvious, but good means that everything was made right. God intended that life would be pleasant, agreeable, positive. God created with good intentions, and had a good purpose.

The story continues, however, with conflict and drama. Sin and rebellion enter the good creation, and God's intentions appear ruined. God responds with a promise of difficulty, conflict, and pain. But in the midst of the struggle arrives a promise for an offspring, a seed that will counter and defeat the enemy. But the pride and rebellion fomented by the Fall continues to wreak havoc within the good creation. Mother Eve's pride at having achieved her own offspring comes up short when Cain slays Abel in cold, screaming blood. From the eventual flood waters and flood of humanity spreading over the earth, one man, Abram, emerges as the recipient of God's initial promise. This foreign wanderer with a new name, Abraham, will produce a host of offspring and become a blessing to the now-broken creation.

But let's jump to the end of the story. Abraham's tumultuous life leads to 12 great-grandsons, who continue in the tradition started by their forefathers Cain and Abel and attempt to eliminate their younger sibling, in this case Joseph. Selling young Joseph as a slave, however evil that was, ultimately leads to their own redemption when their life is threatened by seven years of famine and Joseph emerges to save them. In the final chapter of the book, the 10 older brothers cautiously approach their now heroic younger sibling and beg for their own lives. Joseph will have none of it, however, because he sees meaning in their actions and a sovereign and loving hand guiding the heart-breaking events that led the family to Egypt.

"You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good," says Joseph. And that brings us back to the beginning of the story. God created all things good. Then came disobedience and since then, man intends evil. The intention of his heart is always bent towards evil. But God has other intentions, good ones. His intentions will ultimately triumph over humankind's evil ones.

We don't see the end yet, because we are still in the midst of the story. While we wait for the ultimate triumph of the offspring (who, in case you missed it, is none other than Jesus the anointed one), we find that history is filled with meaning. Despite current appearances, our evil intent will not win out. God began human history wrapped in good intentions and will complete the story with a good ending. That is the meaning of history.

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