The Picture Puzzle of God’s Word

Erin Davis
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I learned to love puzzles from my grandma.

Every time I went to visit her, I found a puzzle in process on a card table in the corner. She started with the edge pieces and then patiently filled in the interior, piece by piece, until a completed image emerged. Whether it was a watercolor portrait of the Eiffel Tower or a vibrant photograph of a deep sea reef, what started out as a pile of jumbled fragments transformed into something more as she patiently interlocked each piece.

Picture the Bible like a boxed puzzle. Inside are sixty-six pieces that vary in shape and size. Why sixty-six? Open your Bible to the Table of Contents to find out. The Bible is a big book, composed of many smaller books. Put your finger on Genesis and count all the way to Revelation and you’ll discover how many exactly. (Sixty-six, of course.)

The Old Testament holds thirty-nine books, beginning with Genesis and concluding with Malachi. This is where we find familiar favorites like the garden of Eden (Gen. 1–3), Noah and the flood (Gen. 6–10), and Jonah and the whale (book of Jonah). It’s also where we meet Moses, Esther, David, and Daniel. The Old Testament is older than the New on the timeline of human history, but there is another important distinction that separates these books from everything that comes after them on the pages of God’s Word; the Old Testament includes the parts of the Bible that were written before the birth of Christ.

Are your eyes starting to roll back into your head right now? Does all of this feel a bit like the first week of school, when you’re forced to review all that you’ve already learned?

Maybe you already knew there were sixty-six books and you’re as familiar with the structure of Scripture as I am with my favorite coffee mug. Stick with me. We are heading somewhere. Scout’s honor.

The remaining twenty-seven books of the Bible are found in the New Testament. Don’t you just love the New Testament? It’s where we find the Gospels and Paul’s letters, along with practical gems like James and 1 John. My very favorite passages are found in the New Testament. If you could peek at my Bible you’d see books like John, Ephesians, and Revelation well marked.

“We study our Bibles to know God.”

I bet you have some favorite places in your own Bible. Take a moment and flip through. Where do you see signs of wear? Where does your Bible fall open easily out of habit? Maybe you love the hopeful poetry of the Psalms or the wisdom found in Proverbs. Perhaps you resonate with Paul’s conviction in the book of Romans or Peter’s righteous reminders in 1 and 2 Peter.

Familiar is good, especially when we’re talking about familiarity with God’s Word. The more we know the Bible, the more we are sure to love it. Saturating yourself in familiar passages and themes is a profitable habit.

The purpose of Scripture is . . . drum roll please . . . to reveal who God is. Though God is certainly mysterious, He has chosen to reveal His character clearly through the pages of His Word. Lean in. Listen closely. This is important. We study our Bibles to know God.

Back to the puzzle. If God’s Word is a sixty-six piece puzzle, and there are parts of it we avoid, the result will be an incomplete picture of God. Even if you know several books of the Bible inside and out, you’ve only turned over a corner of the picture God chooses to reveal of Himself in His Word.

Only when we commit to becoming lifelong students of God’s Word, to patiently flipping over each piece and looking for how it interlocks with the rest of Scripture, do we learn how to see the whole picture.

For Further Reading:

7 Feasts

by Erin Davis

What’s the story behind all those feasts? It’s hard to know when you read about the Feast of Booths why exactly it matters for your...

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