ImmerseBeginnings NLT - Flipbook - Page 354
that God primarily makes himself known through his words and actions
in specific historical events. The Bible doesn’t teach about God merely in
the abstract; its historical narratives are intentionally shaped to highlight
key points about God and how he relates to people and the world.
The Bible features two special types of stories-within-stories. Sometimes a person will tell a story to illustrate a point about the larger narrative that person is in. These stories are called parables and were a
favorite teaching tool of Jesus. They usually describe real-life situations
but sometimes can be fanciful, like Jotham’s parable in the book of
Judges, which uses talking trees as the characters. People in a story may
also relate dreams and visions that they’ve had. In this case they’re not
making up a story but reporting one they’ve seen. This subset of narrative speaks in pictures and uses symbols to represent realities.
• Apocalypse. Meaning “unveiling,” apocalypse is an ancient genre structured as a narrative but composed entirely of visions employing vivid
symbols which a heavenly visitor reveals to a person. These visions disclose the secrets of the spiritual world and, often, the future. The book
of Revelation is a complete apocalypse, while the book of Daniel is split
between narrative and apocalypse. Elements of apocalypse also appear
in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah.
• Letters. About one-third of the Bible’s books are letters that were originally written by one person to another person or to a group. Letters in
the Bible, following the form of ancient letters, have three parts: the
opening, the main body, and the closing. In the opening, writers typically give their name, say who they’re writing to, and offer a word of
thanksgiving or prayer. The main body deals with the business of the letter. In the closing, the writer extends greetings, shares prayer requests,
and offers a prayer for God to bless the recipients. Letters in the Bible
are typically used by leaders to present their authoritative teaching to a
community when they aren’t physically present.
• Laws. Also known as commands, these are instructions for what to do in
specific situations in order to live as God intends. Less frequently, laws
are statements of general principles to follow. Many biblical laws have
been gathered into large collections, but sometimes they are placed
within narratives as part of the resolution after a conflict. God’s instructions are most often presented in the Bible as part of his covenantal
agreements with his people, contributing to his larger saving purposes.
• Sermons. These are public addresses to groups that have gathered for
worship or for the celebration of a special occasion. They typically explain the meaning of earlier parts of the Bible’s story for people living