Have you ever gotten lost in a book or a movie because you couldn’t figure out the plotline? If you can’t follow the plot of a story, nothing in the story makes much sense to you.
That’s what it’s like when you start watching a movie in the middle of it. Until you can see the plot, the story seems like a random string of events.
What is a plot? A story is more than a sequence of events. To be a proper story, the events in the story need to be connected together by a plot. Every story has a plot—that is the narrative sequence of conflict and resolution that describes how a character in the story must accomplish some task, overcome some difficulty, or achieve some goal. An important step in understanding any story is understanding the plotline. This is especially true for the Bible.
The story of the Bible contains a lot of stories. It’s important to see how they work together. Without a clear view of the larger plot, it’s possible to miss the point or come to wrong conclusions.
For example, a typical Star Wars movie has a simple plot in which our heroes must blow something up to thwart galactic evil, but all those simple plots are part of a bigger Star Wars plot about repentance and redemption. (That’s why Darth Vader saves Luke in the end of Return of the Jedi.) A Hunger Games book seems to tell a simple story about a futuristic gladiatorial competition, but those simple plots are part of a bigger plot about individuals defying corrupt regimes for the sake of civil liberties and the preservation of human rights and dignity.
The Bible also contains stories with simple plots that are part of a much larger plotline.
Take just five quick minutes out of your day to learn some Bible, and get the big picture about biblical plotlines. In this example from thebibleproject.com, we see how the story of Gideon laying out a fleece to test the LORD needs to be interpreted within the larger plot of the story of Gideon.
This episode in our series, “How to Train Your Bible,” uses some great comic-book style artwork to illustrate the concept of following a plotline through the narratives of the Bible. It takes some effort, but once you have trained your Bible, you will find that the stories in the Bible are every bit as engaging as the plotlines of action movies and adventures, and a lot deeper, too.