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Exploring the Story helps you understand and grasp the significance of each chapter in the The Story, an innovative Bible that presents Scripture as a continuous narrative in chronological order. The big picture of God’s redemptive plan comes into focus as you learn about the following elements: Timeline—shows how the events of The Story relate to the rest of history Plot Points—briefly describes the key narrative themes of a passage Cast of Characters—introduces the people featured in the text Chapter ...
Exploring the Story helps you understand and grasp the significance of each chapter in the The Story, an innovative Bible that presents Scripture as a continuous narrative in chronological order. The big picture of God’s redemptive plan comes into focus as you learn about the following elements: Timeline—shows how the events of The Story relate to the rest of history Plot Points—briefly describes the key narrative themes of a passage Cast of Characters—introduces the people featured in the text Chapter Overview—summarizes the corresponding chapter in The Story Discussion Questions—gives ideas for individual or group reflection Section Commentary—presents theological issues, important archaeological discoveries, or launch points for further discussion Small group leaders, pastors, and lay students of the Bible will gain a deeper understanding of God’s life-changing redemptive plan by reading this book alongside The Story.
God, the main character of The Story, is revealed as the absolute sovereign of creation, totally distinct from yet intimately involved with all he has made.
Nature is not simply a collection of random, meaningless matter in motion; it is a carefully crafted revelation of a loving God.
Humanity, made in God's image, occupies a unique role and position in this creation, a place of dignity and responsibility.
Humanity's tragic rebellion against God's command impacts everything.
God has a plan to redeem his fallen creation, giving us a hint of the good news to come in his promise that a descendant of Adam and Eve will crush the serpent.
Throughout the New Testament, the flood story forecasts God's future and final judgment (e.g., Matt. 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27; 2 Peter 2:4-10).
Cast of Characters
Abel. Son of Adam and Eve; younger brother of Cain; a shepherd and devoted worshiper of the Lord; killed by his brother; name means "vanity, breath, vapor."
Adam. First man, made from earth; husband of Eve; like his wife, Eve, made in God's image; tragically disobeyed God's prohibition and affected all of human history; name can mean "man" and is closely related to the Hebrew word for "ground" (adamah).
Cain. Son of Adam and Eve; older brother and murderer of Abel; ancestor of Lamech, who killed indiscriminately (see Gen. 4:23-24); name sounds like the Hebrew for "gotten," conveying the sense of optimism Eve held for his life.
Eve. First woman, made from man; husband of Adam; tempted by Satan in the form of a serpent, disobeyed God's command; name means "living."
God. Creator of all things and central character of The Story; God chose to reveal himself to us through his creation.
Noah. Descendant of Adam and Eve; a "righteous man, blameless among the people of his time" (Gen. 6:9); commanded to build a great boat to save himself and his family from the flood God sent to wipe out everything having "the breath of life" (Gen. 6:17); name sounds like "rest" in Hebrew, expressing his parents' hope that he would help bring rest from the effects of the curse.
Shem, Ham, Japheth. Noah's three sons; called to help "increase in number and fill the earth" (Gen. 9:1) after the flood.
The first nine chapters of Genesis have raised questions throughout church history. What kind of literature are these passages? How do the events described here relate to the theories formed by contemporary scientists and archaeologists? Are the "days" twenty-four-hour segments or ages, long periods of time? Was the flood local, covering the known world, or was it global, covering the entire planet?
These questions are significant. They lead us to think deeply about the purpose of Scripture, and Christians who take Scripture as seriously as Jesus did will not be content simply to write these questions off as "academic." To work toward the answers we seek, it is helpful to begin by reflecting on the central narrative intent of these chapters. For the people of Israel and for us today, they reveal why the world we see and know is the way it is. They help us grasp what it means to be human and the causal forces that shape our lives. These are questions of existence and meaning.
Think about the fall and the disobedience of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The fruit of their rebellion against God is a series of curses, each of which takes a good, God-ordained source of blessing and twists it into a form of heartache—work is now toil, marriage a battle, childbirth a painful ordeal. Consider the flood as well. In this story we see a reversal of God's work in creation as the life and the land that had come from the sea is now covered and destroyed by the waters of chaos and judgment. The stunning beauty and heart-wrenching tragedy of our world is explained and understood through these stories, helping us understand why something good has gone terribly wrong.
God's Word invites us to consider the powerful connections between the original world God created, our disobedience, and our ongoing relationship to God. We are invited to consider how human disobedience has universal implications. Although we often think of our choices as individual decisions that don't impact other people ("If it doesn't hurt anyone else, it's not a problem"), this chapter shows us that the simple act of eating fruit, if done in disobedience to God, can lead to suffering and death—for everyone. The choices and decisions we make in this life are writing a moral drama, and our every deed illustrates how we embrace or reject our Creator God.
One more thing: consider how this chapter reveals God as the supreme storyteller. Unlike a human author who relies on words and print to convey a story, God is enacting a grand narrative in flesh and blood, neutrons and nebulae. Throughout the course of your study, remember who the central character is and what he is saying in this story.
The Creation of All Things (Genesis 1-2)
Just as the Creation story stood against the polytheistic myths of the ancient Near East, today it provides us with an alternative to the materialistic myth of evolution. Much of the current debate between proponents of creation and evolution can be simplified to one question: Where do we come from? If human life is ultimately the product of an unguided, cause and-effect chain reaction stretching back to the Big Bang, then concepts like human rights and moral norms are just code words for majority opinion. If, however, we let the Creation story set the stage of our existence, then we are the product of a powerful, creative God. We are not here by accident, and we ultimately are accountable to the God who put us here. He stands as the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, not us. These worldviews present us with two contrasting answers to the question of our origin and lead to two very different ways to live.
The Tragic Fall (Genesis 3-4)
"What is wrong with the world?" Everyone is trying to answer this question, whether he or she realizes it or not. At some level we all sense that something big is broken. Cosmic scales are waiting to be balanced. We understand what it feels like as we constantly try to change something about ourselves but find that we fail every time. What is wrong with the world? And what is wrong with us? Why are things so "out of joint"?
The story of Genesis 3-4 answers those questions. We read that things are the way they are because humans, at the very beginning, chose to live life on their own terms. Humankind chose independence and rebellion rather than trust and obedience.
Humans constantly try to come to grips with the world we inhabit. On the one hand, we sense that much about this world is good. People are capable of amazing heroism and selfless sacrifice. On the other hand, unspeakable tragedy occurs and horrific evils are committed every day all over the world. The story of the fall tells us why things are this way. The goodness of God's creation could not be wholly destroyed by our sin and rebellion, but until the story is over, we cannot experience the good life God intended apart from the taint of sin and the curse. We live in a fallen world, waiting to be redeemed and made new by the Creator.
The Great Flood (Genesis 6-9)
In the creation story, we saw the Lord separating light from darkness, the waters below from the waters above, and the land from the water. In each case God was refining his creation and crafting the perfect environment for creatures. After setting the stage, God began filling it with life!
In the flood, however, we see a reversal of this process. The heavens rain down. The earth is covered in the waters of chaos. A world teeming with life becomes a global graveyard. Everything with "the breath of life in its nostrils" is destroyed (Gen. 7:22). Later in Scripture the apostle Paul will write that the "wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). In this passage we discover just how true that really is.
1. What words would you use to describe the God who is revealed in the Creation narrative?
2. The story of the fall indicates that every part of God's good creation was fractured by Adam and Eve's rebellion. As you observe our world, what evidence do you see that the world was created to be a good and beautiful place? Where do you see evidence that it is broken by sin?
3. In the flood story, we encounter a God who takes action to prevent the spread of human rebellion and sin by destroying most of his creation. The flood is both an act of judgment and salvation. How do you see these two activities of God reflected in the story? How do these themes differ from the "popular" picture of God that is often presented in this passage?
Excerpted from Exploring the Story by Adam T. Barr Copyright © 2011 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted February 25, 2012
Posted January 20, 2012
it is so nice to grab a cup of coffee and read in this easy to follow book on the Bible. I love that our entire church is reading it together and having discussions. we have all the versions from little kids books with great pictures through the adult books. I highly recommend it. an uncomplicated way to read through the Bible.
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Posted March 8, 2012
We found this a very good supp. to The Story..it the character reference at each chapter is a good help...For our study this is a one to have.
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Posted September 8, 2013
Posted February 28, 2012
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Posted November 22, 2011
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