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The Rest of the Story

The late Paul Harvey was known nationwide for his radio news commentary and his daily feature called "The Rest of the Story.”  In this feature, Mr. Harvey would tell a true story about a well-known person or event, but he would give the familiar story a new perspective by providing the unfamiliar details.  Usually he would conceal the identity of the person or the event until the end of his feature so that the listener was surprised.  The usual result was that the familiar story was given a new depth of meaning and the listener had a new appreciation for the persons involved.

Many times, I find myself wishing that I could know the rest of the story in regards to certain Bible characters.  For example, I wonder what happened to Jonah.  The book of Jonah closes with him being rebuked by God somewhere east of Nineveh, and that is the last we know of him.  I also wonder about Melchizedek.  I know he was a priest and the king of Salem, but where did he come from, and what happened to him after he blessed Abram (see Gen. 14:17-24)?  Another story I would like to know is that of Micaiah, whose was last recorded as being in prison because of his prophecy of disaster for Ahab (1Ki. 22; 2Chron. 18).  Was he ever released?  These are just a few of the people for whom I would like to know the rest of the story.

I am especially curious about persons found in the gospel books and the book of Acts.  It seems that in these books more than in any other books of the Bible characters tend to appear on the scene for a short time and then disappear.  Consider a few examples: the demon-possessed man of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:1-20); the blind man whom Jesus healed and who defended Jesus to the Pharisees (John 9); the rich young ruler, who walked away from Jesus sorrowful (Matt. 19:16-26); Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who joined together to bury the body of Jesus (John 19:39-42); Cornelius, who was the first Gentile converted to Christ (Acts 10); Lydia, who was the first recorded convert to Christ on the continent of Europe (Acts 16:13-15, 40).  These are just a few examples of the many Bible characters whose stories are briefly given.  In fact, even among the Lord’s apostles, there is very little detail given about the final works and whereabouts of most of them.  All of these leave me very curious for the rest of the story.

However, as I think about it, I already know the rest of the story for all these people.  I don’t know the exact details, but I should be satisfied with what the Holy Spirit chose to provide.  Through the Scriptures, the Spirit has given us a distinct impression about each one of these characters regarding whether they were faithful to God or not.  For those who were faithful, their stories all end in the same way, which is with the rich reward of Almighty God, for God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him through faith (Heb. 11:6).  In fact, as I read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews and notice the role of faith in the lives of many Old Testament characters, I notice that verse 32 says, "For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson,” etc.  This teaches me the lesson that the stories of people recorded in the Scriptures have not been preserved to satisfy my curiosity or to provide for my entertainment.  The Bible is not just a book of stories, but instead it is a book of instruction.  The Bible stories are "written for our instruction, that through the perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).  There is not enough time or space to tell every detail of every person recorded in Scripture, but there exactly enough written to give us what we need.  We don’t even know all there is to know about Jesus, but there is enough "written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

So then, I know the rest of the story for those who were faithful to God, but I don’t know the rest of the story for you and me.  That is because our story is being written right now, and the end has yet to be determined.  God allows us to choose the ending to our own stories by choosing between faithful service to Him in righteousness or rebellion in sin.  Many before us have already made their choices: Moses set the choice of life and death before Israel (Deut. 30:19); Joshua called upon Israel to "choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15); Elijah asked Israel, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions?” (1Ki. 18:21).  Those people were given a choice of how to write the rest of their stories, and now we have the same choice.  The Lord has said, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).  Will we choose faith in Christ and a crown of life, or will we choose sin and eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46)?  What will be the rest of your story and the rest of my story?

Stacey E. Durham



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