Randy Frazee teaches us that in the Bible there are two stories going on at the same time. There is the lower story which is how we see life from our perspective. Then there is the upper story which is how God sees things from his perspective. In God the Creator, the chronology from Genesis to Ruth, God is taking what seems like disconnected stories and he’s weaving them all together to tell his one grand story. The Bible, from the Old to the New Testament, is just one grand love story that shows the full extent to which God went to get us back.
God’s vision was to come down and to be with us in a beautiful garden. But the first two people reject God’s vision. Their decision introduces sin into the world and keeps humanity from experiencing community with God. The rest of the Bible is God’s story of how he made it possible for us to enter back into relationship with him.
God’s first step in providing the way back into a relationship with him is to build a new nation. God establishes this nation on the most unqualified couple—Abraham and Sarah—who are old and childless. God chooses this pattern to show that he is behind the writing of this grand story of redemption.
The nation of Israel is growing, but a devastating famine ahead threatens to wipe it out. So God intervenes by using the dysfunction of Joseph’s family to save the nation. God orchestrates the affairs of Joseph so that he becomes second-in-command of all Egypt, where he can prepare for the famine. Through this dramatic event, the people of God are saved from extinction.
God placed the Israelites in the land of Egypt to grow, prosper, and maintain their purity as a nation. He had warned his people that for a period of time the Egyptians would enslave and mistreat them, but he would ultimately deliver them. God used these events to reveal his upper-story plan to redeem all people through the Passover Lamb.
It’s time for the Israelites to move into the Promised Land. In preparation, God gives them commandments on how to love him and their neighbors. Once the Israelites take the land, the surrounding nations will be able to see that God’s redemption plan includes even them. But the Israelites are overwhelmed by the task and refuse to move ahead. So God sends them back into the wilderness, and he will give the next generation another opportunity to enter.
From an upper story perspective, God had been patient with the people of Canaan, giving them more than 600 years to stop the escalation of evil among them. But God would now deal with their evil by calling on the Israelites under Joshua to conquer them. The fertile land of Canaan would now set the scene for God to bless his people and let the surrounding nations know that he was the one true God who desired a relationship with all people.
Once in Canaan, the people repeatedly sin against God, resulting in him allowing them to fall captive to other nations. When the people repent, God raises up judges to free them. He continues to rescue them because he made an unconditional promise that the solution for all people to come back into a relationship with him would come through Israel.
During the period of the judges, a couple and their two sons move from Bethlehem to Moab at a time of famine. When her husband and both of her sons die, Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem, and her daughter-in-law Ruth declares allegiance to her God. Once there, Ruth marries a relative named Boaz. Ruth and Boaz have a son who will become the grandfather of King David in the direct lineage of Jesus.