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Written by Timothy Sexton
The overarching thematic construct that lays the foundation for practically every book in the Bible is the achievement of salvation. Biblical scripture portrays a narrative punctuated with sayings of wisdom and advance as well as allegorical stories clearly not intended to be taken literally that can essentially be said to forward the proposition that the only inarguable purpose of God’s existence for man is to be the vessel through salvation is attained and eternal life is provided. The Bible’s greatest hero is God because God alone holds this power: the power to forgive sins, offer atonement, confer redemption and offer salvation. Salvation in Biblical terms is absolutely equivalent with everlasting existence through entry into the afterlife. Various stories and passages within books running all the way from Exodus through Hebrews and including even non-narrative books like Numbers and Psalms all confirm that God is the final, absolute arbiter of reconciliation, justification, and regeneration in addition to atonement and redemption and, again, this power is all intertwined with the singularity of Biblical meaning: salvation cannot be attained without God.
Not to be confused with the singular purpose of the Book of Revelation, the thematic expression revelation running through the Bible can be pluralized. The Bible is to be taken as a collection of various literary devices designed to reveal to the reader the awesomeness of God. Each particular new insight is intended to be seen as a revelation directly from God of whatever it may be that He wants to made known to man. Many of the most beloved and well-known events related in the Bible are revelations of the power and glory of the supreme being responsible for everything that can ever be known: the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the transfiguration of Jesus. Other stories are revelations or revelatory reminders of the majesty of God’s power to create: the Garden of Eden, the postdiluvian renewal. One effective way of understanding those parts of the Bible that present difficulties in interpretation or even their mere existence (Numbers, Song of Solomon) is to read them with a perspective of discovering how they work to reveal something to man that God wants known.
Covenant between Man and God
Throughout the Bible can be found many examples of God’s wrath being thrust upon man that can be particularly difficult to reconcile with the continual reminder of Him as a loving and merciful being. One way to work through this apparent contradiction to arrive at reconciliation is through the application of the troubling events to the theme of God’s covenant with His creation. This thematic line begins in earnest with the covenant made between God and Noah in the Book of Genesis and traces directly through similar contractual understandings made manifest with Abraham, Moses, David and well into the gospels and other books of the New Testament. The punishment that afflicts individuals, tribes, cultures and the whole of humanity stems directly from and acts as repetitions of a motif firmly established right from the beginning of the Bible when Adam and Eve trespass their terms of the treaty made in the Garden of Eden not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Over and over again, God has revealed a willingness to stand by His terms of the covenant which does include punishment for transgression. And over and over again, humans fail to take heed of these past demonstrations and willfully break their terms of the covenant without seeming to remember what has been the penalty paid by previous partners in the covenant.
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Adam and Eve are banished from the garden and forbidden to ever eat of the tree of life. Eve will now bear her children in pain; Adam will have to sweat and physically labor for their food. These punishments applied not only to Adam and Eve, but...