I have a very old suitcase in the attic, stuffed with pictures. In one of those pictures, taken around 1902, I find my grandfather – my dad’s dad – at thirteen-years-old, sitting on a horse. In another, I find my mother at twenty-three, posing in front of a palm tree in a skimpy (for 1950) bathing suit. Then there are pictures of my brother and me in our infancy and childhood. There are also pictures of people I have never met and whose names I don’t know. The photographs are in no discernible order. Some are from a hundred years ago, some are much more recent.
Many people come to the Bible the way I go to that suitcase. They rummage through it, looking for anything interesting or anyone they might recognize. They see no order in it, no connecting links. They treat the Bible like a jumble of unrelated snapshots – one theological, one moral, another liturgical. But the Bible is much more like a 360-degree, long-exposure shot that provides a unified picture of God as he pursues his purposes in the world.
When we explore the Scriptures with a wide-angle lens, we discover that the Bible – from Genesis to Revelation – tells one story. Its pages unfold to reveal various aspects of an enormous panorama, too large to take in at a single setting – or a hundred settings. Whenever we open the book and turn the pages, we find that the picture extends further than we had imagined, from Creation to New Creation, from the Beginning to an Ending that never ends.