By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org
Responding to God According to His Word
One of the main lessons from Nehemiah 9 and 10 — indeed from all the Bible — is that God does not exist for the sake our enjoying Biblical stories; biblical stories exist for the sake of our enjoying God.
The reason I make a point of this is not only because it stands out amazingly in Nehemiah 9, but also because in our time there is great fascination with tracing out the storyline of the Bible. And I simply want to wave a flag in all this fascination with story and narrative to say: There is a point to the story; there is a point to the narrative. And the point is a person.
Biblical stories are no more ends in themselves than history is an end in itself, or the universe is an end in itself. The universe is telling the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). And the history of the world is what it is, to show that God is who he is. God writes the story of history to reveal who he is—what he is like, his character, his name.
Consider Nehemiah 9:10. The Levites are praying:
You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day.
What was God doing as he brought ten plagues on Egypt, and split the Red Sea, and delivered the people of Israel from bondage? What was he doing as he acted the story that would be told ten thousand times?
The answer is at the end of verse 10: You were making a name for yourself. Then notice these key words at the end of the verse: “*As it is to this day.” What day? The day of Nehemiah — about 400 BC. When were you making this name for yourself? At the exodus, about 1400 BC. One thousand years!
What is the point of history? God is making a name for himself — a name that will last a thousand years. God is making a name for himself that his people can know, and bank on, and exult in, for thousands of years. A name — a character, a revelation of who he is and what he is like — so that we can know him and trust him and enjoy him. That’s why there are stories in the Bible. Continue reading