Route 66 Introduction
Posted by Josh Kirby on January 3, 2012
United States Route 66 was a highway within the U.S. Highway System from November 11, 1926 to June 27, 1985. It covered a total of 2,448 miles and ran from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA. It served as a major path for adventurers and those who migrated west, especially during the 1930s and 1940s. Part of the allure of Route 66 was that it allowed adventurers to experience much of the landscape and many of the attractions of America without having to change roads. To migrants after World War 2, it offered hope and a fresh start away from the eastern industrial machine. The romance of Route 66, and its promise for adventure, continues to captivate people around the world. A taxi driver in London, England once told my wife, Katie, and me he wants to visit America so he can just get in a car and drive. Route 66 first created the opportunity to just get in a car and drive across America. This is its legacy. It first allowed travelers to conveniently experience a cross-section of the beauty and adventure America has to offer.
We are inviting you to take with us a spiritual journey down another Route 66 – the 66 books of our English Bible. Over the next two years, we will be presenting essentially one message from each of the 66 books of the Bible, allowing us to experience a cross-section of the beauty and adventure the Bible has to offer.
Our Route 66 series has several objectives. I’d like to share two of them with you.
One objective of this series is to present a “big picture” view of the Bible. The “big picture” view of the Bible helps one see how the various parts of the Bible fit together. The Bible is an anthology, a library, of 66 books. It was written by about 40 different authors over a period of more than 1,500 years. The most recent books were written almost 2,000 years ago; the oldest as many as 3,500 years ago. The Bible contains many different literary genres and writing styles. Each book of the Bible was written first to a specific audience. These factors sometimes make it difficult to see how the various parts of the Bible fit together. Some parts of the Bible are especially hard to understand, impossible, perhaps, without context, without the “big picture.” Understanding the “big picture” of the Bible can help one fit together all its various pieces into a cohesive whole. Fundamentally, the Bible tells one great story. It is the story of God’s first making, then redeeming and restoring the world. It is the story of God’s rescuing, forgiving, and restoring a relationship with his creation. The central idea of the Bible is the often repeated promise, “I will be your God and you will be my people” (Genesis 17:7-8; Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 31:33; Revelation 21:3).
Another objective of this series is to give attention to the often neglected books of the Bible. Some books of the Bible tend to receive more attention than others. Readers gravitate toward the books that are most relevant and most easily understood and applied. And yet, if we believe the entire Bible comes from God, we must also believe the entire Bible is important and relevant. Our journey through the Bible will allow us to give attention to the more neglected books of the Bible. We need a word here about the Old Testament, in particular. The Old Testament was the Bible of Jesus, the apostles, and the earliest Christians. The apostles, specifically the apostle Paul, recommend to Christians the study of the Old Testament. Christians believe Jesus fulfilled the old law of commandments when he died on the cross (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14) and instituted a new covenant (Hebrews 10:9). But the Old Testament, as we commonly think of it, and the old law of commandments, are not one in the same. The Old Testament contains the law of commandments, but the Old Testament is not only law. It is narrative, poetry, philosophy, and prophecy. Christians should believe portions of the Old Testament were fulfilled and superseded by the revelation of Christ, but should not believe the Old Testament, as a whole, holds no value to us today. Rather, the Old Testament introduces us to God and prepares us for Christ. Jesus himself testifies to the value of the Old Testament. In his encounter with two individuals on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection, Jesus uses the Old Testament to teach about himself. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27, ESV) Giving attention to the often neglected books of the Bible allows us to capitalize on all the Bible has to offer – its riveting stories, its beautiful poetry, and its thought-provoking philosophy. Different books of the Bible, and different sections within books, have different purposes. No two carry exactly the same emphases or lend themselves toward exactly the same applications. Yet every book of the Bible fits into the one great story of God and his people. Understanding this basic general rule will help us appreciate every part of the Bible.
With our objectives before us, allow me quickly to enumerate a few expectations for our journey. From 1926-1985 travelers embarked down Route 66 with a number of expectations. Adventurers embarked expecting a cross-section of American scenes, from the golden sands and sunshine of Los Angeles, past the Grand Canyon and the Native American communities of the desert Southwest, to the gritty streets of Saint Louis and Chicago. Hopefuls embarked expecting to find jobs, freedom, and a fresh start at the end of their journey. As we embark on our journey down our Route 66 – the 66 books of the Bible – what can we expect to see?
First, we can expect to see God, his work, his nature and character, and his various roles. In the Old Testament we will see God the Father, preparing his people for the coming of his Messiah. In the Gospels, we will see God the Son, conducting his saving ministry. In the book of Acts, the New Testament letters, and Revelation, we will see God the Spirit, working to spread the gospel and working in the hearts and lives of people. The Bible reveals the nature and character of God – his power, majesty, wisdom, love, grace, justice, wrath, goodness, severity, and more. The Bible reveals the various roles of God – creator, provider, sustainer, father, mother, shepherd, husband, king, and others. God once said to his people, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV). In the Bible God is waiting to be found in all his glory.
Secondly, on our journey down Route 66, we can expect to see people. The Bible teaches people were created in the image of God, animated by the breath of God. The Bible reveals roles of people – to seek God, to obey God, to glorify God because he is the greatest good, to be sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children, workers, and more. The Bible also speaks of the moral responsibility of people. The Bible reveals people were created good and innocent, in the image of God, and yet have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The wise man wrote, “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29, ESV). The Bible shows people to be weak, sinful, and needy on their own, yet having the potential for great good when in relationship with God. The Bible speaks about people in general, but also tells stories of fascinating individuals. In them we see ourselves – our desires, our failures, our successes, our hopes.
Additionally, on our journey down Route 66 we can expect to see great theological themes – sin, salvation, justification, redemption, restoration, sanctification, and many more. We can expect to see the wonderful opportunity of man to be in relationship with God and the great lengths to which God has consistently gone to make this possible, to the point of subjecting his own son to death. The Bible has much to recommend.
With our objectives and expectations before us, let me conclude by introducing three crucial questions we intend to ask at the end of each of our Route 66 messages. After hearing a message on Leviticus, Chronicles, or Malachi, you may shrug your shoulders and ask “so what?” That’s exactly the question you should be asking! We will address the “so what?” question by use of three questions of our own. These questions are: 1) What are the keys to understanding this book? 2) What does this book say about God and how he deals with people? 3) How can a Christian apply this book to life?
Our Route 66: A Journey through the Bible promises to be a major undertaking, but one that instructs and builds up. Thank you for joining us on this journey.