The Main Themes of Scripture
How do you get from London to Edinburgh? Even if you’ve never visited either city, you’ll likely know that there’s more than one answer to the question. Plug the destinations into a maps program and you’ll be offered a host of routes, and even those will be just the major ones. In reality, there are thousands of connections between the two capitals, an almost endless number of ways you can travel between them. Of course, some are more obvious than others, the large motorways cutting a clearer trail than the winding country roads. But the point remains: there are many ways to make the journey.
When it comes to Scripture, what links Genesis to Revelation? We know that the Bible is one book, giving a coherent, unified message. It is, ultimately, the product of one Author, revealing one way of salvation to mankind. But is there only one theme that binds the Bible together? The answer, surely, is no. Just as on any other journey, there are multiple paths we might follow as we trace God’s great redemption story. To change the image, Scripture is a book woven together by many threads, a rope of many intertwining cords. To search for “the one theme” of the Bible is a pointless exercise; rather, we can enjoy discovering dozens, perhaps hundreds, of different melodies that combine to create the final symphony.
Let’s consider some of the major roads. It’s sometimes noted that the Bible nowhere uses that common evangelical phrase “relationship with God.” This is not, of course, because there is no relationship with God. Rather, the Bible’s word for that bond between Jesus and His people is covenant. Unsurprisingly, therefore, covenant is a major road through the pages of Scripture. Beginning in the garden of Eden, God entered into a covenant with Adam. Although the explicit word covenant doesn’t appear in the text of Genesis 2, all the elements that make up a covenant are there: the two parties (God and Adam), the terms of the relationship (wholehearted obedience, expressed in the command not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), penalties if the covenant is breached (death), and rewards if it is kept (eternal life, symbolized by the Tree of Life; Gen. 3:22). Indeed, Hosea later refers to this arrangement as a covenant (Hos. 6:7).