Understanding how all the varied parts of Scripture tie together in the promise of redemption through Jesus Christ is an essential remedy to Bible ignorance. In his book, God’s Big Picture, Vaughan Roberts tells the following story.
A police inspector went to visit a primary school, where he was asked to take a Scripture class. He began by asking, Who knocked down the walls of Jericho?’ There was a long silence as the children shuffled nervously on their seats. Eventually, a little lad put up his hand and said, ‘Please sir, my name is Bruce Jones. I don’t know who did it but it wasn’t me.
The policeman thought that reply very cheeky, so he reported the incident to the headmaster. After a pause the headmaster replied, ‘I know Bruce Jones; he’s an honest chap. If he said he didn’t do it, then he didn’t.’
The inspector was exasperated. The headmaster was either rude or very ignorant. The inspector wrote to the Department of Education to complain, and received this response: Dear Sir, We are sorry to hear about the walls of Jericho and that nobody has admitted causing the damage. If you send us an estimate we will see what we can do about the cost.’
It is a silly story, and it is probably not true, but it does make a point. A few decades ago everyone would have known about Joshua and the walls of Jericho. A large proportion of children went to Sunday school, and the rest still received a grounding in the main stories of the Bible in class. But those days are gone. I mentioned the prodigal son to an Oxford student recently. He looked blankly at me. The average non-Christian is almost completely ignorant of the contents of the Bible. It remains the world’s best-selling book; one and a quarter million copies are sold in the UK alone every year. But although many have a copy on their shelves, very few ever read it.
The knowledge of Christians is often not much better. We all have our favorite passages, but much of Scripture remains uncharted territory, especially the Old Testament. If we are honest, we find it outdated and rather un-Christian at times. What have dietary laws, animal sacrifices and the temple got to do with Jesus Christ? And what about the exodus from Egypt, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the lion’s den? They are great stories, but what relevance have they got for us today? I hope this book will answer those questions, or at least give you a frame work that will enable you to answer them for yourself. Its aim is to help Christians to find their way around the Bible and to see how it all holds together and points us to Jesus.
This lengthy quote is from God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts. If you want to grow in your knowledge of the Bible, this would be a good book to read in the coming year.