From a Biblical perspective, the primary arena of God’s activity is the arena of world history. This does not imply that Biblical history is world history; neither does it negate the possibility. The Bible is the “written Word of God” but is not to be taken as literal history, science, biography, or even context. Nevertheless it contains events which align perfectly with the historical records from time to time.
While Holy Scripture is written by persons who saw themselves as part of the “People of God”…and while important events do, in fact, take place within that community of faith (the people who identify as Jewish or Christian)…it is also true that the Biblical witness in no sense restricts the divine activity to the community of faith. The proverbial example encased in the skeptic’s question, “What about the lone person on an island far away from everything who never had a chance to hear about God? What about that person’s ultimate destiny?” comes to mind. Divine activity WAS before the existence of the world as humankind knows it; Divine activity IS in the world as it is known by humankind. And that “community of faith” expresses in countless ways beliefs that Divine activity WILL BE beyond human cognition of the world (Earth).
Consider this, if you are still reading: God is portrayed as Creator of the universe, and God’s actions his history — including the claims of special revelation within the community of faith — are intended for the whole inhabited earth. Think about God for a moment:
God is grieved and offended by human arrogance and pride, and by the disruption of harmony and order which were foundational to Creation. At the birth of a “chosen people” as understood in the tradition of “the call of Abraham” it was clear that the blessings promised to Abraham were means to the greater end — THAT ALL
THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH MIGHT BE BLESSED, whether or not they claimed an Abrahamic heritage. Think about the Biblical prophets for a moment:
Again and again the prophets proclaim the scope of God’s redemptive work as embracing the whole world, and again and again those same prophets perceived the activity of God in the fullness of human history — in no sense was the redemptive activity of God ever restricted to Israel, even though some erstwhile victors of certain conflicts may have attributed such restrictions to themselves. The victors frame “history.” Think about Jesus for a moment:
In a similar sense, Jesus found evidence of God’s presence and activity within the full spectrum of the world of HIS life, his family, his friends, his hopes and dreams…and sacrifices. The most poignant teachings of Jesus arose not out of following some pre-determined plan of teaching OR some liturgical or ecclesiastical calendar — though he clearly OBSERVED the teachings of his community and the seasons and feasts and memories. BUT THIS: Jesus lived his life, however any student or skeptic or seeker or servant may view it, in response to unforeseen events in the world about Him. Think about the Church for a moment:
The Second Vatican Council states: “Therefore the Council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the minds of which that family lives. It gazes upon that world which is the theatre of man’s history, and carries the marks of his energies, his tragedies, and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker’s love..” (1)
In the ebb and flow of history are to be found the “signs of the times” which reveal to the discerning the presence and the will of God.
- GAUDEM ET SPES – PAstoral Constituion on the Church in the Modern World Preface, paragraph 1 ” THe Documenst of Vatican II, 1966). Guild Press.
What better place to discern the “signs” of the times and the “signs” of the Bible than in our personal study and prayer. Learn more about both at http://www.biblicaltraining.org/lp/thedisciplescollege Or contact Dr. Bob Harris for more opportunities in Biblical Literacy, Understanding and Living. 770-815-9078 (EST)