(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version 1984, unless otherwise stated.)
FOCUS: The Bible can be divided into three segments: THE BEGINNING (before “separation from God” — also known as “SIN”), THE MIDDLE (during separation from God), and THE NEW BEGINNING (God and man dwelling together again).
FOUNDATION SCRIPTURE: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:1-5).
PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: The Beginning
God created, and everything that He made was good. He created man and woman, and they were good. They were naked and felt no shame BECAUSE shame had not yet entered their world. The Lord God created the Garden of Eden and allowed the man and the woman to live there and enjoy all its benefits. He gave them freedom of choice. He gave them freedom of choice. But with the right to make decisions concerning their actions, came a dire warning concerning their future well-being….
Genesis 1:1-2:25 (a very abridged version):
“In the beginning GOD CREATED … God said … AND IT WAS SO…. And God saw that IT WAS GOOD…. God said, ‘Let us make man in our image’ … male and female He created them…. God blessed them. God saw all that He had made and it was very good.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden … And the Lord commanded the man, ‘YOU ARE FREE … BUT you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil [BECAUSE] when you eat it YOU WILL SURELY DIE.
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him…. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep … he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man…. The man and the woman were naked, and they felt no shame.
PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: The Middle
The middle of the story BEGAN one fateful day at the center of the Garden of Eden as the innocent woman was standing near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil admiring its beautiful fruit. The most evil of all the fallen angels (called “the devil” and “Satan”) disguised himself as a crafty snake. He led the woman to believe a lie. AND SHE DISREGARDED GOD’S WARNING. But God did not take away her freedom to make her own decisions….
Genesis 3 (abridged version):
“Now the serpent … said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden?“‘
“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden … or you will die.”‘
“‘You will NOT surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
“THEN THE EYES OF BOTH WERE OPENED, AND THEY REALIZED THEY WERE NAKED; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves….
“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken….”
From that moment until now, the unfortunate decisions made by Adam and his wife (or you might prefer “his wife and Adam”) caused mankind to become victims of SIN — separation from God — and subject to Satan’s rule over the earth. But that’s venturing into theological territory, and the goal of this study is to keep it super simple, so that God’s plan can be revealed to every soul who reads it!
THE REST OF THE MIDDLE OF THE BIBLE extends from Genesis 4:1 to Revelation 19:15. And this is how the middle ends …
…They [THE NATIONS GATHERED FOR THE FINAL BATTLE] marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city He loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. AND THE DEVIL, WHO DECEIVED THEM, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
“Then I [John] saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in them, and death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 19:9-15)
PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: The New Beginning!
The new beginning comes immediately after the end of the middle of the Bible. (Did you catch that?) And that’s where God creates A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH….
Revelation 21-22 (abridged version):
“Then I [John] saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away … I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away avery tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.‘
“He who was seated on the thrown said, ‘I AM MAKING EVERYTHING NEW!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true…. IT IS DONE, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. BUT the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolators, and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.‘…
“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE….” (Revelation 21:1-27)
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Wise pastor Chris Brown, co-teaching pastor of North Coast Church in southern California, has said, “If you want to make your way through a maze quickly, start at the end and work your way back to the beginning.” We can apply that logic to the Bible. By reading the end first, we can find a really good reason for going back and making the rough-n-tumble journey through the rest of the Bible’s sometimes cryptic, often unsettling contents — from its beginning to the end of its middle!
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
If you are a sincere follower of Christ, you already know the answer to that question. And if you don’t believe in the Lord God or His Book (for whatever reason), hopefully you will “get it” by the end of this study. And maybe you’ll come away with some insight on WHY Christians are concerned about the immoral goings-on in the world today. They want YOUR NAME to be written in the Lamb’s book of life, so that you won’t have to spend eternity with your sin nature — which we’ve all inherited from Adam and Eve — separated from the Lord God, who will be residing in the New Jerusalem that’s described in detail in Revelation 21 and 22.
THINK ABOUT IT …
If you do not own a Bible and cannot afford to buy one, please let me know so I can mail a Bible to you. You’re going to need it for our “simple journey” through the contents of “The Middle.” And if you are a practicing Muslim who believes that the Koran is the final authority of God’s Word, please let me know so I can pray for your safety. I understand that the possibility of punishment may deter you from continuing to read through this study. But don’t let that separate you from the Lord God — who by His own words is not known as “Allah.”
“God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, THE LORD, the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of the Isaac, and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you. THIS IS MY NAME FOREVER, THE NAME BY WHICH I AM TO BE REMEMBERED FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION.” (Exodus 3:15)