Two Words That Summarize the Entire Bible
A few days ago, I said that you and I are at risk of becoming too familiar with the Bible and the stories in it. I think there's another area where you and I are at risk in our Christian faith:
We read the Bible too quickly.
We need to slow down and pay attention to every single word, because there are words and phrases that tell huge stories. If we breeze by them, we could miss something powerful that the Lord is trying to teach us.
There are two words from the book of Jonah that summarize the entire biblical narrative.
If you're feeling discouraged, if you're struggling in your faith, if the lies of the Enemy have gotten to your soul - you need to listen to these two words.
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah,” what does it say next? “The second time.” That’s a summary of the entire biblical story. Everything in the entire biblical story, from Genesis to Revelation, is in those two words: second time. Think about this. Adam and Eve in an act of outrageous, self-oriented rebellion against God, disobeyed him. And, yes, they faced the consequences from the disobedience, but God’s immediate response if you read the rest of Genesis 3 as well, “I’m going to fix this.” His immediate response is, “This is not going to be the end of the story. There’s going to be a second time. And I’m going to send a second Adam. And he will stand in the place where the first Adam stood, and that second Adam is going to face the tempter again, but that second Adam won’t disobey. He’ll obey. And I’m sending that second Adam for you so you will have a second time.”
Everything that God did, all of those weird stories in the Old Testament, all of that lapping of history, was marching the world to the right moment when the second Adam would come and he would radically alter the narrative. You could literally write an entire book on those two words. And listen, the fact that second time is in your Bible is God’s grace for you. Because God wants you to understand: there is no finality of action that can’t be turned around by the glory of God’s grace. Did you hear what I said? There is no finality of human decision, behavior, or action that can’t be turned around by the grace of Jesus. Praise him, praise him, praise him. If that doesn’t excite you, you are seriously comatose.
I mean, this is the stuff that gets me up in the morning. Because I’m a bit of a bean-head. There are times when I can be so incredibly impatient. There are times when I can be so full of myself. I will confess. There are times when I debate, that’s a nice word for “argue,” with my wife, when I know she’s right, and I just don’t want to admit it. And I’ll go through the whole process of arguing with her, knowing at the end I’m going to have to say, “I’m sorry for talking to you that way. You were right.” That’s how stubborn I can be.
And so, can we seriously look at ourselves, who we are, and say, “I have independently in myself all the potential I need to be what I’m supposed to be and do what I’m supposed to do.” There’s no way you can honestly know yourself and say that. I mean think about it. How many of you would be quite comfortable with me playing a public recording of everything you said in the last two months? I mean, let’s be serious here. How many of you would love for me to scroll your thoughts on a PowerPoint screen over the last month? I mean there are moments when we could show you your video and you would be drop dead embarrassed. You’d say, “Seriously, I did that? I can’t believe it.”
And that’s why the hope of the universe is in those two words: second time. Jesus came so we would have a second time. I love this. The story of the Bible is all about fresh starts and new beginnings. And don’t you listen to the lies of the enemy when he whispers in your ear, “You’re done. This is the big one. You’re not going to come back from this.” It’s a filthy, horrible, spiritually paralyzing lie. It’s amazing to me that God has any patience with Jonah at all. This is the Lord Almighty. This is the one who sits on the throne of the universe. This is the one who actually holds Jonah’s body together. It’s his sovereign glory that keeps him having any kind of sanity. He is literally—every breath is being sustained by the one that he shook his fist to and says, “There’s no way I’m going to do what you want me to do.” And he tries his best to go to the other end of the universe.
It’s stunning that God would say to that man, “I’m going to give you another chance.” I will tell you, I don’t have that character in me. I wish I did. There are moments when I’m just tired of it and I say, “I’m done. I’m done with your mess. I don’t want to deal with it anymore.” It’s never done. God doesn’t have a border, you cross it and there’s no more grace for you. Praise him for that. That means there’s no human being so broken, there’s no sin so deep and great that it lives outside of the restoring second chance, fresh starts, new beginnings grace of the Lord. I got to get off these two words or I’m going to be in trouble. Just don’t get me started.
It’s the heart of the Biblical story. You can turn from that sin that’s got you down. You can break the power of addiction. You can restore that disastrous relationship. Now because you have anything in you, but because God has glory inside of him. That’s it.