The Bible is beautifully written with a coherence and cogency that is awe-inspiring considering that it was written over the span of a millennium and a half. Awe-inspiring is not a synonym for surprising, though. The Bible is the divinely inspired word of God. Please take note, I did not write “contains the word of God,” I wrote, “is the divinely inspired word of God.” Defending the inerrancy of the Bible is another article, though; for now, I want my readers to know that I am an honest-to-goodness fundamentalist who believes in the inerrancy of the Bible. That being said, while defending my position requires a separate article, it’s not disconnected from this article. The passages that I’ve chosen for my list are first and foremost beautiful because God is revealing Himself in and through them. And that applies to the entire Bible.
While the entire Bible is authoritative for all life and practice, my list is not. In fact, I desire disagreement; I would love to hear which Bible passages that others find beautiful and why.
7. Genesis 3:15
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
After God created the universe and everything in it, humans joined in rebellious league with the Serpent-Satan. Attempting to overthrow God’s just and righteous rule, Adam and Eve sinned. Squashing the attempted coup, God pronounces judgment on His rebellious creation, starting in Genesis 3:14. The curses reveal that because of sin humans are ethically separated from God and must suffer the just punishment of death. Right off the bat, the story of the Bible looks bleak.
Except, graciously and mercifully, in Genesis 3:15, in the midst of pronouncing judgment on the fallen human race, God promises to fix the problem that rebellious, sinful humans created. God promises to send a Redeemer into the world to defeat the Serpent-Satan. Genesis 3:15 reveals God’s plan to redeem His people back to Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
6. The Book of Ruth
On the surface, the Book of Ruth is a beautiful love story with themes of humility, self-sacrifice, devotion, and generosity. As such, Ruth and the story of her marriage to Boaz stand among the most beautiful love stories ever told. However, God’s revelation of how He preserved the line that would one day lead to the “seed of the woman” from Genesis 3:15 is what pushes the Book of Ruth onto this list.
The key to understanding God’s revelation of how He worked in history (specifically in the story of Ruth) to bring about Jesus is found in the book’s conclusion. Ruth 4:21-22 closes the book with, “Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.” Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman promised in Genesis 3:15, is the descendant of King David and the final King.
5. Psalm 2
One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 2:4 – “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” The entire chapter is about how God’s anointed (who is ultimately Jesus) will crush the rebellious and the wicked. It ends with the promise that, “Blessed are all who take refuge in [Jesus].”
In Psalm 2, the reader is confronted with how God’s justice and His mercy work together. Because God is holy, sin must be punished. If God didn’t punish sin, He would not be God. Those who reject God’s solution for the problem of sin demonstrate that they are still in rebellion against God. That’s where Psalm 2:4 comes in; God is not threatened by the continued rebellion, because as verse 5 explains, “he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury.” To escape God’s wrath, sinners (all humans) must, “Kiss the Son,” to use the language of Psalm 2.
4. Luke 2:1-20
Luke 2:1-20 is probably the most familiar passage on this list. The Christmas story told in Luke 2 is beautiful because the promised seed of Genesis 3:15 has arrived! God took on the form of human flesh, left His home in heaven, and came to earth in order to redeem His people unto Himself.
As the Old Testament closes, it appears that God’s promise found in Genesis 3:15 has been undone. God’s people have rebelled and were subsequently punished, driven out of God’s land just like Adam and Eve had been driven out of the Garden of Eden. It’s true that God brought some of the Israelites back to the Promised Land, but the kingdom was still undone; foreign powers and kings continued to subjugate them. God’s people were basically pilgrims in their own land.
About four hundred years later, a group of shepherds outside of Bethlehem were astounded to see and hear an angel declare, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” God had not forgotten His promise.
3. John 17
Referred to as “The High Priestly Prayer,” John 17 brings tears of thankful joy to my eyes every time I read it. In his agony and dread as he faced his coming crucifixion, King Jesus’ concern was for those whom the Father has given him. Opening the prayer with the glorious confession that he accomplished on earth “the work that you gave me to do,” Jesus then asks God the Father to “glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
The rest of the prayer is Jesus’ plea for the Father to protect those who repent of their sins and place their faith in him. The prayer ends with Jesus asking the Father to ensure that his followers will spend all of eternity with him. What an assurance for Christians, knowing that God the Son intercedes for us before God the Father in the power of God the Spirit.
2. Matthew 27:45-54
Shortly after his high priestly prayer, Jesus is arrested, undergoes a sham trial, and is nailed to a cross. Matthew 27:45-54 detail the final moments of his crucifixion.
As painful as the whippings and crucifixion were, those sufferings paled in comparison to when God the Father turned His back on God the Son. Taking on the eternal weight of the punishment that God’s sinful people deserve, Jesus was separated from God so that we don’t have to be. In that moment, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The amount of eternal love that compelled Jesus to undergo that kind of torment is beautifully yet painfully rendered in Matthew 27:45-54. Jesus died so that his followers might live.
1. Matthew 28:1-10
If Jesus had remained dead, the faith of Christians would be useless, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 15:14. Thankfully, vindicating Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God and the promised seed of the woman, the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. Matthew 28:1-10 succinctly and beautifully describes the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
From its beginning to its end, the Bible tells the story of how God redeems His people unto Himself. The Bible confronts the reader with the question of whether he is under God’s wrath because of his personal sin or has he been given forgiveness and eternal life through repentance of sins and faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.