How does the entire Bible fit together? How do so many individual books connect, despite being written by different people over thousands of years? What does a sweeping aerial overview of the landscape of God’s Word look like?
Bible Gateway interviewed Skip Heitzig (@skipheitzig) about his book, The Bible from 30,000 Feet: Soaring Through the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation (Harvest House Publishers, 2017).
Explain the composition of the Bible and the purpose of your book.
Skip Heitzig: The Bible is actually 66 books written by about 40 different authors from various backgrounds and written over a 1,600-year time period. Some of the authors were shepherds; others were fishermen, military men, and farmers. One was a Gentile physician and another was a Jewish rabbi. You couldn’t find a more diverse bunch. They also wrote about the most controversial subjects ever, like the origin of the universe, the purpose of life, and the destiny of mankind. Yet the cohesion and agreement about these subjects are remarkable. I wrote The Bible from 30,000 Feet so readers could know with certainty what God wanted people to know from every single book of the Bible and how to apply its principles to their daily lives.
Why is it important for readers of the Bible to go beyond reading merely verse by individual verse?
Skip Heitzig: Context is everything. A text separated from its context can become a pretext (a reason or idea that’s not the real reason or idea). When people read their Bibles, they need to understand that the author wrote that book for a reason. The reader needs to know that reason. Before I can determine what the Bible is saying to me personally, I must determine what the original author wanted the original audience to understand. Most false teachings and errant ideas about God come from isolated verses forced into an understanding that wasn’t the original meaning.
How is your book different from, and similar to, a Bible handbook?
Skip Heitzig: In a word—application. The Bible from 30,000 Feet isn’t just a book of facts and details, but rather it’s a book that includes factual information and a few details, because it’s seeing the big picture of the story. Think of it as facts that are leading somewhere—and that “somewhere” is right to your heart. When God’s revelation turns into personal application, at that point, it has value.
What is the “FLIGHT” plan format of your book?
Skip Heitzig: The FLIGHT format is based on an acronym F-L-I-G-H-T that stands for: Facts, Landmarks, Itinerary, Gospel, History, and Travel Tips. So first the basic facts are given: who wrote this particular book and when. Landmarks: a brief overview of major themes of this Bible book. Itinerary covers the key points, distinguishing topics, and memorable moments. Gospel shows how Christ is seen or anticipated in every book. History provides a bit of the historical context for each book. Travel Tips: the big applicational points of the book for personal consideration.
How is it that you say the gospel appears in every book of the Bible?
Skip Heitzig: Because essentially the Bible itself has its own theme. It’s not 66 individual stories, though each book has a major subject and purpose. Yet seen as a whole, the Bible is a book about one Person and two events. The Bible is God’s redemptive plan in Jesus Christ—he’s the one Person that’s threaded throughout the Scriptures. The two events are his first coming (in which he came to deal with sin) and his Second Coming (in which he comes to rule with those who’ve been cleansed of it).
How are the Old and New Testaments intricately connected?
Skip Heitzig: The Old Testament anticipates the New Testament. Augustine put it best: “The New is in the Old contained; the Old is in the New explained.” One is incomplete without the other. To just read the Old Testament is to read a book of promises without a fulfillment. To read only the New Testament is to read a book of accomplished promises without any reference.
Your book offers Bible teaching in a colloquial style. For example, why do you identify Deuteronomy 32 as “the country music song of the Old Testament”?
Skip Heitzig: That’s just my style. The book is meant to be engaging and simple; encouraging and personal. I called Deuteronomy 32 that because I’ve had an ongoing jab at country music. There’s an old joke that says, “What do you get when you play country music backwards?” Answer: you get your wife back, your house back, you dog back, and your life back! The joke highlights the often-recurring theme in many country songs of loss and rejection. Deuteronomy 32 is a long song written by Moses covering all the failures and foibles, losses and longing of God’s people, the Israelites.
Why do you call Isaiah “the Shakespeare of prophets”?
Skip Heitzig: Isaiah has a very eloquent and elegant writing style, revealing that he was probably well-educated. Probably having access to the royal courts of the Judean kings, Isaiah wrote a lengthy poetic document that inspired and influenced leaders and encouraged the masses.
What book of the Bible was the most difficult for you in writing your book?
Skip Heitzig: Well actually, it was most difficult trying to squeeze three Gospels into one of the chapters. The first three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptics because of their similarity in covering the life of Christ. They all deserve their own treatment in a chapter but since there are four Gospels, I decided the first three needed to be together to get a quick view of their similarities and differences and to be able to cover the Bible in 52 weeks. After all, I promised at the beginning of the book, “Give me a year and I’ll give you the Bible!”
What book of the Bible surprised you the most in writing your book?
Skip Heitzig: The most surprising book of the Bible is perhaps the book of Esther because God is not mentioned even once in the book, but his fingerprints are all over it. It shows, perhaps more than any other book, the providence of God—that God often operates behind the scenes, but he moves all the scenes that he’s behind.
How should readers use your book in conjunction with their Bible reading?
Skip Heitzig: Keep it as a companion to your Bible for a year. Just begin reading The Bible from 30,000 Feet and use your Bible to look up the verses referred to. This will broaden your understanding of the big picture of Scripture. A companion study guide is also available asking key questions that will enhance your experience, especially with a group. Give special consideration to the travel tips at the beginning of each chapter and use them as prayer points. If you just go through one chapter in the book in a week, by the end of one year, you’ll have an overall understanding of God’s plan through the ages.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Skip Heitzig: It’s always been 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 because it’s been my life verse. God looks for simple, common, and even weak things (and people) and uses them in a way that gives him fame.
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Bio: Skip Heitzig ministers to over 15,000 people as senior pastor of Calvary Albuquerque. He reaches out to thousands across the nation and throughout the world through his multimedia ministry including the nationwide half-hour radio program, Connect with Skip Heitzig. He’s the author of several books including Defying Normal: Soaring Above The Status Quo, You Can Understand the Book of Revelation, and How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It. Skip and his wife, Lenya, and son and daughter-in-law, Nathan and Janaé, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Skip and Lenya are the proud grandparents of Seth Nathaniel and Kaydence Joy.
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