The Old Testament Template Book: Chapter 5

Learning To Color… Again!

“Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”
Nehemiah 8:12

“He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.”
Psalm 107:20

As the woman boarded the plane and walked through my section, she peered into my open briefcase and asked, “Will we be coloring on the flight today?” There in my bag beside my Bible lay eight colored pencils. As soon as I realized what God was saying to me in the grain field revelation, I knew what I must do. At first chance I must buy colored pencils and a new Bible to study what God’s Word teaches about each area of influence in society – government, economics, family, and so forth. I would start with the books of Moses because it was obviously his job to teach a nation these things. Then I would work my way through the rest of the Bible to see the whole counsel of God’s Word on any given domain. I don’t think I had been this excited about something since the invention of television.

I already had an idea of the domains I would study in scripture because the University of the Nations, where I was Founding International Dean of the College of Communication, had been developed around the concept that certain spheres of influence disciple nations. I chose government, economics, family, science (including technology), arts and entertainment, communication, education and, of course, the traditional work of the church. My thought, as I began, was that the very study itself would confirm whether or not these were primary categories in God’s Word. The nature of the search was to discover how much each category was emphasized and what principles were given. At this same time, I came across a Bible color-coded by the traditional salvation and witnessing themes. It’s a wonderful tool for studying what the Bible has to say about those subjects and I was encouraged that I was on the right track in using different colors for studying each domain. I started coloring.

The Bible Study Headache
From day one, this study was so intense that I could do only twenty or thirty minutes at a time. It required such a radical shift from how I’d been trained to read the Word that it gave me a headache. I felt my eyes were literally being distorted in their sockets. I was so profoundly affected in the reading that I would have to get up, pace the room, and pray for help to absorb all that God was saying, all that I had missed in nearly thirty years of Bible study. My secular/sacred, dichotomized mind kept rising up in rebellion against what I saw in the Word and it accused me of socializing the gospel and secularizing the Word of God. However, as I prayed and studied and sought God’s help, I saw that God was teaching about all of life. God was teaching government. If this was secular, then God was secular. It was not my place to tell God in what arenas He could involve Himself. It was, rather, God’s place to tell me of what His Kingdom was comprised. Day after day for five years, my mind was blown by the lost gospel of the Kingdom. I saw, time and again, where great men and women of God found the principles they had used to change and disciple their nations – principles and values that were clear in scripture, values to which we still gave lip service in so-called Christian nations, principles we no longer taught, no longer understood, and could no longer articulate with the authority of scripture behind them.

I grieved to see how much of the Word of God we no longer use because it does not fit what we emphasize and teach. I realized how much scripture we distort beyond recognition in order to teach our own 40 interests. All of this process was deeply personal as I had spent a lifetime studying and teaching these very distortions. I had traveled to nearly half the world’s nations giving them less than twenty percent of God’s counsel. I had led discipleship programs for more than half of my life that never touched on eighty percent of the nature and character of God and His perfect ways in all of life.

I Will Die Of Splendor
On the other hand, while I grieved that I had only seen a small portion of God’s revelation of Himself, I equally rejoiced and worshiped the God I had never known being revealed to me. I wanted to run from my study and shout from the rooftops, “You have no idea how great God is! You have no idea how great God’s good news is!” My heart literally raced with the revelation of the completeness and unsurpassable greatness of the lordship of Christ and His kingdom. Salvation, and the life that it gave me, was the turning point in my life, but it was nothing compared to the daily revelation of the rest of the gospel and the greatness of His kingdom. As I had thought I would die of need so many years ago in Hawaii, I now felt I would die from the splendor of God’s revelation of Himself.

In reducing the gospel to salvation alone, we had also reduced our revelation of God to Savior. Indeed, He is our Savior. This is a wonderful revelation and it is a revelation essential to entering the gates of His kingdom. However, we have lost the revelation of: the King of Kings, the Lord of justice…Jehovah Jireh, Lord of economics…the Father, Lord of the family…the Creator God, Lord of science and technology…the Living Word, Lord of communication…the Potter, Lord of the arts and beauty…the Great Teacher, Lord of education. We use these names and we worship these images, but we no longer understand the supremacy of Christ in each of these domains and vocations.

We Have A “Miniature” Jesus
Today, we reflect a “miniature” Jesus, by getting saved and then standing inside the door of the Kingdom, calling others to salvation. We do not know how to move past the cloakroom into the greatness of God in all of life. We don’t know how to think about God’s political agenda. We don’t know what the gospel has to say about building our lives and communities economically. We don’t know how to keep our marriages together. We don’t have time for secular activities like the arts. We huddle in the foyer of God’s great mansion and try to define ourselves there because our lives have less and less to do with the outside world. Is it any wonder, then, that we fixate on experiences and feelings, seeking refuge from the world we live in rather than engaging it? If our minds are not challenged and we are closed off from all of life except getting saved, what is left?

For nearly a decade at this writing, I have been looking at the scriptures from the perspective of God’s teaching on the domains. I have colored my entire Bible many times: what God says about government, education, economics, family, the arts, communication, science, and the
church. Daily, my mind, my spirit, and my heart explode with gratitude for who God is and the treasures He has given us in Christ Jesus. I am not ashamed of this gospel because it is relevant to all man’s needs and all the issues we face today.

In Part II, I hope to give you the beginnings of this great revelation of the nature and character of God revealed in all that He has made. These ideas just scratch the surface of the Word. This is a lifetime study, and I am calling you to join me on the journey, the journey back to the gospel of the kingdom – the journey back to the God of all things.

Are you hungry? Join me in the feast!