Themes in the Bible by Paul Gilbertson
I have been listening to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology class, and he encourages students to look for themes when reading their Bible. I knew of some but there are others that may not jump out at you without doing a little digging. Some of the themes that jumped out at me have to do with the birth of Jesus and even more specifically, the wise men that came to Jesus carrying gifts.
Matthew 2:1-12 1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned win a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
We are not sure who the wise men were but they were wealthy and influential people from the east. They were not Jews but gentiles to come and worship the King of the Jews. First theme is the birth of a special child that is a descendent of David, Abraham, and of Eve. This is the child talked about in Genesis 3:15
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
Throughout the entire Old Testament, the Jews waited for this child and it came to pass with the birth of Jesus. The prophecy was fulfilled for Jesus and he will bruise the head of the serpent.
The second theme is the threat of an evil ruler trying to destroy the chosen people of God. We see it in Exodus with Pharaoh or the Philistines trying to destroy the Jewish people. The evil one is trying to destroy the promise from God that there is a Messiah coming.
The third theme is the promise that God would establish his king on the throne. The wise men came asking where the King of the Jews could be found. They were looking for the true king, greater than any other, who would reign forever.
The fourth theme is the leaders of nations beyond the borders of Israel have come to worship the new born King. God promised Abraham that all nations of the earth will be blessed not just the Jews. Throughout the Old Testament, a few gentiles were blessed but with the birth of Jesus, the wise men from the east (gentiles) have come to worship not only the king of Israel, but the one who will be king of all the nations.
We get a hint that the one who was born will bring salvation to all the nations. They brought with them the wealth of all the nations (the gifts) to the King of Israel. There is a theme throughout the Bible of nations bringing gifts to Israel so they can be used for the glory of God. The wise men’s gifts to Jesus gives us a taste of what will happen in Revelation when all the nations will lay the wealth at the feet of Jesus.
I know there is a lot here, but the main point is that throughout the Old Testament there is a foreshadowing of a coming Messiah that will defeat evil and restore God’s people to God himself. So when reading the Bible, keep in mind how each part is tied together and how each point is tied back to Jesus. Let’s celebrate his birth.