My first impression of the book was – “huh?” I’m not sure if you felt the same, but it went over my head. I knew the premise of the book was to point towards the local church as heart of the Bible’s story by highlighting the theme of scattering and gathering. But as I started reading, I failed to grasp how this theme came about and why it was important.
According to my previous (perhaps naïve) understanding, the main goal of Bible overviews is to track the salvation plan from creation to new creation. Imagine my surprise when little mention was made of sin or death in the story of Adam & Eve (Chapter 1). Instead, it was mainly about the destruction of harmony and alienation from God.
At the tower of Babel (Chapter 2), again my views were challenged. I had previously thought the event was simply about human’s rebellion against God, which resulted in God forcing them to scatter and fill the earth (cf. original command to mankind). But I had not considered that part of God’s purpose in confusing their language was to frustrate man’s harmony and demonstrate that harmony is not possible without Him.
As I continued reading, however, I was persuaded. I realised that the destruction of harmony, either between God & man or man & man, is a direct result of sin. Without God’s merciful intervention, sinful people will always be separated from Him and scattered from each other. Gathering in harmony is only possible when God is accepted as Lord. (Not an earth-shattering revelation perhaps, but it took me awhile to grasp.)
Thus, this Bible overview isn’t really all that strange. God’s people have indeed been scattered or gathered at crucial points in salvation history. It’s merely a different angle that puts the church into main focus. I now look forward to learning more about this theme through the rest of the book!
So if any of you are struggling just as I did, I encourage you to persevere with me! It’s well worth it.