What is the Bible about?
Right at the beginning, in the first chapters of the first book, we are introduced to a number of important Biblical themes:
- Who made heaven and earth and why
- Who made life and man and why
- Why it is that every human being must suffer, get old, and die?
- How Satan, God’s adversary, and Adam and Eve, the first human beings, rebel against God; How they refuse to submit to His authority and by that injure God’s name and reputation
- God intends to see to it that His name and reputation will be rehabilitated. He will do this through a son of man who will be identified later on in the course of human history – a seed or descendant of Adam and Eve
In the Bible books that follow Genesis, it appears that the Bible deals with the following four great themes:
- The Bible deals with the history of mankind, viewed from the perspective of God’s intention with the human beings He created. Within the context of this theme, the past, present, and the future of mankind are discussed. God can do this because He is sure that He will achieve the ends for which He has created man and He can tell mankind exactly how He intends to do this.
- The Bible gives information on those aspects of the reality that they cannot get to know through their own observations and in which people have to live. Think in this context of matters like the invisible world of God, His Son, the angels, and heaven. Think of matters like the creation and its meaning. Think of the reason why people must suffer, get ill, grow old, and die; and what good people can achieve with their lives for themselves, their fellow humans, and for the sanctification of God’s name.
- The Bible deals with the question “How people who are of good will and who want to contribute to the realization of God’s intentions with His creation should think, talk, and act?” The Bible teaches people to see the distinction between good and evil and calls on them to do what is good and not to do what is bad.
- The Greek Scriptures, which were written after the death of Jesus Christ, deal with the central part which Jesus Christ plays in God’s plan to realize His ends with the earth and mankind. The Greek Scriptures call on people to become followers of Jesus Christ. These books tell people how they should do this and explain to them what great rewards they may expect for their efforts.
People experience their existence as a history – a succession of events that follow each other in the course of time. The Bible perfectly fits in with the way people experience their lives. It discusses the themes mentioned above in the form of a history book. Every event and development is the result of earlier events and developments. In their turn, they give rise to new ones. In this way, there is an uninterrupted chain of causes and effects that take place in time.
What the Bible presents?
People who believe that the Bible was written by God will assume that when God describes the history of mankind, everything He says is true. What the Bible says about the past is reliable history. The Bible presents the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. What the Bible says about what will happen in the future and how the history of mankind will end presents perfect prediction. He will really do what He says He is going to do.
God writes about human history with far greater candor than people have ever done. All history writers of antiquity tended to write as little as possible about the less pleasant sides of the peoples and the kings in whose service they wrote. The failures and the misfortunes that their own kings and people experienced were either made to look much smaller than they actually were or not mentioned at all. The successes and great deeds were fully emphasized and highly exaggerated.
Compare this with biblical history. In the first five books written by Moses, he frankly wrote about his own weaknesses and shortcomings, about failing and sinning. See to what degree all the Hebrew Scriptures constantly describe the serious failures of the people of Israel. See the way the Bible writes about Israel’s kings – much more is written about their failures than about their successes. Even the sins of King David and King Solomon, the greatest kings that Israel has ever known, are described in great detail and with perfect candor.
For sure, when the Bible presents history, this happens with a degree of accuracy and love for truth that far exceeds all non-biblical history. It is not surprising that nobody has ever discovered any contradiction between what the Bible says about historical persons and developments and what is to be read in reliable non-biblical sources.