Thursday, January 26, 2012

What are the 10 most important events in the Bible?

I've tossed that question out in a couple different pastoral contexts over the course of the last few months as an introduction to discussions of biblical theology. Obviously, one of the first questions you have to answer is, "What makes one event more important than another?"

The way I've chosen to answer that, at this point anyway, is that some events have broader implications on or stronger interrelationships with the rest of the Bible than others. Some events are also more pivotal in the development of God's purposes and with mankind.

So just for fun, here are my top ten (chronological order), with limited explanation. I'll save the supporting arguments for when y'all start shooting back.
  1. Creation
  2. Fall
  3. Flood
  4. Establishment and reiteration of the Abrahamic Covenant
  5. Exodus
  6. Establishment of the Davidic Covenant
  7. Incarnation of Christ
  8. Death and resurrection of Christ (I realize I'm cheating pretty badly here so I don't have to cut elsewhere.)
  9. Pentecost
  10. Second coming/final judgment/New Heavens & New Earth (Cheating again, though it wouldn't be quite so egregious if I were Amillennial.)
For what it's worth, the next five or so after these strike me seem fairly clear, but after that it gets quite a bit more fuzzy. Feel free to post your own list and make the case for why you'd include something I omitted.


brian said...

Ben, you need to cheat some more and add the giving of the Law to #5 and the Exodus. Of course, you're missing big events/themes like kingdom, temple, and exile; but I don't think you could do any better than the 10 you have.

You should do a top ten in Church History list.

Josh said...

1. Creation
2. Fall
3. Abrahamic Covenant
4. Mosaic Covenant
5. Incarnation
6. Crucifixion/Resurrection
7. Pentecost
8. Destruction of Jerusalem (final break with Israel as God's covenant community)
9. Close of the canon (Jude)
10. The Age to Come

Ultimately 10 is a pretty arbitrary number . . . as well as the word "event" in and of itself. :)

Chris Anderson said...

Expand it to 12 and I'd say you would need to include Exile & Return and some allusion to the inclusion of the Gentiles on equal footing with the Jews...perhaps the conversion of Cornelius or the conversion & call of Paul.

Interesting that so much of this list comes from Genesis. I was thinking that while listening to Packer's Knowing God earlier this week. He spends a great deal of time in Genesis in chapter after chapter of his book. No wonder.

Last thing: You sound like a dispensationalist.

Jim Peet said...

I can't improve upon previous posts on the 1-10 (or 12), but how about this for # 164:

Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. (1 Chronicles 11:22)

Ben said...

Yeah Brian, the Mosaic Covenant is my #11, but I couldn't justify lumping it in with the Exodus because their function in the development of God's plans is so different.

Josh, by destruction of Jerusalem, do you mean the prophecy of its destruction? Because it's actually not "in" Scripture, so far as I can remember. (Crucifixion/resurrection/Pentecost accomplish similar functions related to the shift in the covenant community.) And I'd make more or less the same argument about the canon.

Ben said...

Chris, I have exile as #12, the return right around there too. Nice catch on Cornelius. Hadn't thought of it, but if you squint just right you could make it fit with Pentecost.

Same thing on Genesis struck me. It helped that I was doing this as an intro to a SS class on Genesis.

And what sounds so dispensational? (I was shooting for biblical.)

Bruce said...

Before I read the other comments, I had thought, "I think I'd trade in the Flood for the Exile." I can certainly see larger themes of final judgment and the salvation of a remnant and all that within the flood narrative, but really, how much attention does the flood get later on? I know, I know, it's critical for Young Earth Creationism, but not as much for biblical theology.

You sound dispensational because you're using terminology like "Abrahamic Covenant" and "Davidic Covenant." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Bruce said...

Of course, you would have sounded more dispensational if you would have said

Pentecost: The Birth of the Church
The Age of Grace
The Rapture

Chris Anderson said...

"I was shooting for biblical."

Now you really sound like a dispensationalist.

You may be making more of the flood than is warranted. Just it's scope would lead to its inclusion, of course. And it teaches a great deal about God's judgment of sin(!). But so do Sodom and Gomorrah, Babel, Satan's fall, etc.

Since I'm being contrary...

Your #10 is kind of like summarizing Creation/Fall/Noah/Abraham as #1. :)

Robert said...

I think based on 2 Peter 3 the flood really is that important. The two events Peter said the scoffers would deny are that and the creation. It's a pattern--to remove the Creator and Judge--that goes together, and needs to be confronted. So I'd vote to leave it on the list.

Josh said...


I would approach your question two ways:

First, the fall of Jerusalem and the final divorce of God from the Jews as His covenant people is foretold all through the Gospels, particularly Matthew, such as 21:43 "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits." and many others. Without getting into a long discussion of eschatology, I think that it is pretty clear that the final divorce is seen in great detail in Revelation, particularly when the same hermeneutic that we use with the OT prophetic literature. "Coming on the clouds" as a symbol of divine judgment, Jerusalem as the great harlot who crucified Christ, etc. One of the longest books in the NT is devoted in large part to the fall of Jerusalem and the carrying out of God's wrath against the people with whom He formerly covenanted.

The second answer to your question is that by your standard, you have also included and event that technically does not take place "in the Bible". That of the end of the age . . . it hasn't happened yet, although to leave it off a list like this would be a mistake.

I agree with Chris that you sound a bit like a dispensationalist here. ;)

Ben said...

Bruce, I'd rather think that I sound non-CT because I use those terms, but I see where you're coming from.

And to pull Chris in too, I can see an argument for Exile over Flood, but I'd like to hear you make your case for why. To me, Flood is clearly paradigmatic for the demonstration of justice and mercy in the same cataclysmic event–salvation through judgment, as Hamilton's put it.

It does come up again explicitly in the gospels as well as 2 Peter, but there may be allusions in places like Job, Psalms, Jonah, Daniel, and Revelation where the seas and floods in particular are metaphors for divine abandonment or judgment. Reading something elevated my view of the flood. Might've been Dempster's Dominion and Dynasty.

Ben said...

By the way, my arguments aren't at all related to young earth creationism, and only minimally to the scope.

And by the way #2, I recently read a second-hand quote attributed to S. Lewis Johnson in which he said that his dispensational hermeneutic led him to covenantal conclusions. Might be something to that.

Ben said...

Transfiguration or wilderness temptation, anyone? Conquest? Great commission/ascension? Genesis 3:15 promises?

Chris Anderson said...

I'd actually concur with the significance of the flood. Genesis not only has epic events; they're also "table-setting" events. Just make it 12. :)

Andrew Suttles said...

Why a top 10? If you were a Scofield dispensationalist, you would have a top 7 list.

Were you a Jew, you may have had a top 12!


I can't disagree with what you have. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

1. Creation
2. Fall - JUDGMENT
3. Flood
4. Abraham Covenant
5. Exodus
6. Mosaic Covenant
7. Davidic Covenant
8. Death/Resurrection of Christ
9. New Covenant and beginning of things being made new
10. Kingdom

I would include judgment at the fall, which necessitated the rest.

I would include the MC because the vast majority of God's revelation was during this time and is also a substantial contrast to NT theology.

I would replace Pentecost with New Covenant. Pentecost did not bring in the Samaritans, gentiles, or John's disciples, but the NC was the basis for their inclusion.

I would replace 10 with Kingdom. The 2nd coming, judgment, NH and NE, and eternity are all in the Kingdom category.

Anonymous said...

Josh, if you cut off inspiration at Jude, then we wouldn't have Revelation. Revelation wasn't written until AD 95.


Ben said...

James, what's the event you refer to as the "New Covenant"? The promise? I'm not sure what you have in mind as an event that's distinct from the crucifixion, resurrection, and kingdom.

christopher said...

The Tower of Babel, which resulted in the end of a common language for the entire world. Think about all that would not be were it not for this event--Pentecost (?), Wycliff Bible Translators, Hebrew/Greek classes in seminary, High School foreign language requirement, the KJV, the ESV, certain ethnicities, 4 gospels...

Anonymous said...

The NC was cut at the time of the cross, but I separated it as separate because of its fulfillment of the AC and DC and end of the MC.

Recognizing the importance of the death/resurrection does not mean the NC is understood. That is why I made it its own number.

Christopher, hilarious.

Ben said...

To say nothing of the unending revisions of the ESV and the (x)NIVs.

Babel's interesting. Thought of it for top 15. Many argue that Pentecost reverses it, but someone of theological weight (Carson?) is suspicious that the connection is valid.