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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Book Review: The Epic Story of the Bible: How to Read and Understand God's Word by Greg Gilbert

BOOK review
Started on: 1 September 2022
Finished on: 9 September 2022
Title: The Epic Story of the Bible: How to Read and Understand God's Word
Author: Greg Gilbert
Publisher: Crossway Books
Pages: 176 pages
Year of Publication: 2022
Price: Rp 265,873 (

Rating: 4/5
*This e-book was received as a review copy from Crossway
"A trek. That's exactly what it is when you decide to read the entire Bible. After all, it's sixty-six different books with thirty-some different authors, written over the course of a millennium and a half. And it's long—almost 1,200 chapters and three-quarters of a million words, meaning that if you decided to read the entire thing aloud, all at once, it would take you just under three days to do it—about seventy hours and forty minutes if you're an average-speed reader."
Each year, many Christians set out to read through the Bible using one of many reading plans, only to eventually abandon these plans after the detailed narratives, seemingly antiquated laws, and confusing prophecies leave them feeling lost. How can we make sense of a book written thousands of years ago? This book serves as a guide for readers embarking on a journey through Scripture. Written in an easy, conversational style, Greg Gilbert examines major themes woven throughout the Bible and shows readers how to understand its various genres, illustrating how the Bible is meant to be understood as one sweeping story. This book hopes to help both new and seasoned Christians to feel better equipped to read the Bible from beginning to end.

"That's not the story, and that's not how the Bible should be read—not out of order, not as a bunch of little morality tales, certainly not with ourselves and our concerns at the center of our consciousness of it—but rather as the sweepingly epic story of God's heroic rescue of mankind from our deadly rebellion against him. That's what I hope this book will help you learn to do."
As one of the many Christians who strive to read the Bible once a year, I am always on the lookout for helpful guides to help me read and understand the Bible better. That's why upon reading the title of this book, I immediately decided to dive into it. Even though it's the first time I'm reading a book by Greg Gilbert, I found myself enjoying the casual, conversational writing style. I love how he started off by sharing his two-week trek to Mount Everest and explained how the briefing that he received from the guide is what he's aiming to do with this book. Considering the complexity of the Bible—sixty-six different books written over the course of a millennium, I understand why the author compared reading the entire Bible to a trek. Most importantly, he emphasized that the key to reading the Bible is understanding that all the authors and books in the Bible are telling one overarching story about God's action to save human beings from the consequences of their rebellion. I think the introduction part of the book sets a good foundation for readers before moving on to the next chapters.
"Even when considered to be just historical artifacts, the collection of books we're talking about here is extraordinary. Sixty-six books, thirty-five authors, fifteen hundred years—all collectively and harmoniously telling one epic story of God's relationship with humankind, a story that culminated in a single saving act so unexpected, so breathtaking, that it permanently changed the course of human history."
In the next few chapters, Greg Gilbert provided the outline of biblical history—which is extremely helpful and can give readers a beneficial perspective on the whole experience and not lose sight of what's truly important. After getting familiar with the narrative's course which consists of ten high points, the author introduced some of the main themes that we will encounter as we read the Bible: God's presence, covenant, kingship, and sacrifice. I personally learned a lot from the last three themes. The chapter on covenants allowed me to understand the nature of covenants better, especially its customs back in the ancient days that are unfamiliar to us. I marveled at the fact that when God made a covenant with Abram, God took sole responsibility to carry out the provisions and to do for Abram exactly what he promised. God only expected Abraham to keep believing and remain loyal to him. This revelation definitely helped me see the covenants in the Bible from a new perspective.

Chapter 6 covers the theme of sacrifice, which is my favorite part of this book. I was astonished when the author stated that the theme of sacrifice began when God made garments of skins to clothe Adam after the Fall—it's obvious that there can be no skins for clothing unless an animal died, but I've never really thought deeply about it. Another thought-provoking passage is about the time when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. The author acknowledged that most Christians tend to put themselves in Abraham's shoes, wondering whether they will obey God or not under similar circumstances. However, Greg Gilbert invites us to see that we are in Isaac's position—who's doomed to die, about to be executed, and yet rescued in the nick of time by one who dies in our place. It's the first time I read this kind of interpretation of this part of the Bible which makes me appreciate what God has done for us all the more. This chapter led me to realize that we are able to live another minute only by the grace of God and because of the Jesus's ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
"And yet again, none of those themes stands alone. They all weave and fold together into the one grand and epic story of the Bible."
"Ultimately, stand in awe at God's mercy and greatness. Be astonished at all he did—though he was obligated to do none of it—to save his people from their sins.
Finally, and above all, let the experience of reading the Bible teach you to see Jesus more clearly and therefore worship him more deeply."
I think this is a great book for those who might feel overwhelmed by the many different kinds of literature in the Bible and want to grasp the story as a whole. I really liked how the author use examples that are easy to understand, such as comparing the storyline of the Bible with the Lord of the Rings. As I reached the end of this book, I finally recognized that all the themes of the Bible are deeply interrelated and mutually reinforcing. I also appreciate the author for reminding us of the four dangers that we need to watch out for as we read the Bible: 1) Don't go it alone, 2) Never forget that it's a story, 3) Don't panic when you run into things that you don't understand or don't make sense to you at first, and lastly 4) From start to finish, never lose sight of the goal of the whole story—Jesus Christ. I think those are important precautions before we begin our trek of reading the Bible. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience reading Greg Gilbert's writing and will pick up more books by him in the future! 😊
"And so, off we go. With joyful anticipation and beating hearts, let's set off on this grand adventure of experiencing the epic story of the Bible!"
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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