Friday, August 1, 2014

Three Themes of Scripture: Some Insight from Driscoll

I recently taught through the book of Esther at our church and used Mark Driscoll's sermon series on Esther as a resource in my study. His ninth sermon, titled "Jesus is a Better Missionary" begins with an interesting hermeneutical note that I found extremely helpful when understanding Scripture. Driscoll argues that in Scripture there are three basic themes: sin, suffering, and stewardship. Driscoll said:
Different books deal with different aspects of this three-fold narrative. Certain books like Romans are going to deal a lot with our sin, and certain books like Job are going to deal a lot with our suffering, and certain books like Proverbs are going to deal a lot with our stewardship. And what happens is if you’re a prophet, you read the Bible, you’re going to immediately see all the sin parts just jump up, and if you’re a priest, you’re going to see all the suffering parts jump up, and if you’re a king, you’re going to see all the stewardship parts jump up, and they all bring us to the Lord Jesus.

And I would say, as you’re studying, be consciously thinking, “Where am I weak? Do I tend to gravitate towards certain kinds of Scriptures, or as I study are certain things more obvious to me and I need to pay careful attention to those things that I’m more prone to overlook?” But they all bring us, invariably, to Jesus Christ. The whole Bible is ultimately about him, and he died on the cross, in our place, for our sins, and on the cross, he identified with our suffering, and on the cross, God so loved the world that he gave, and he was stewarding. So, it all brings us to Jesus.
He then applies this to the book of Esther which, he argues, includes all three themes.
As we open the book of Esther, I see these three themes working together. Early in the book, it’s a lot about sin. We see King Xerxes, the great Persian king, and Haman, his right-hand man, and they’re sinful men. I mean, Xerxes, we’ve seen he’s a drunken man, he’s a perverted man, he’s an irresponsible man, and then he delegates his authority to Haman, who’s a godless man, and a violent man, and a proud man. A lot of sin.

And then the storyline shifts to really focus a lot on suffering. Esther’s married to a horrible man that sometimes she doesn’t see for, in so far as we can tell, upwards of thirty days at a time because he’s got a harem, and a bunch of other wives, and he’s worshiped like a god, and he’s a drunken powermonger. So, she’s suffering, and Mordecai, her adoptive father, who, to some degree, is complicit because he didn’t fight her marriage to this godless king, he’s suffering as he’s trying to keep an eye on his daughter that he’s handed off to be in a dangerous situation. And Haman sends out a decree that he decides he’s going to murder all of God’s people, and the death sentence is set, and the date is put on the calendar, and the clock is ticking, and God’s people are emotionally suffering, and they are about ready to suffer physically through genocide of a whole people group.

And then today, in Esther 8:1–17, where we see that Jesus is a better missionary, a lot of the focus shifts to stewardship. What are Esther and Mordecai going to do with the power that they now have, with the money, and the influence, and the affluence that they now steward? What are they going to do? Because Haman, in a great reversal in chapter 7, he built an enormous gallows in his yard and he was going to hang Mordecai on it, seventy-five feet high in the air, and in a great reversal, Haman was crucified in his own yard, and he is put to death, the enemy of God’s people.
This, I believe, deserves some exploration. Certainly it is a bit simplistic, but offers some helpful insight into understanding Scripture more clearly.

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