There is a form of music called the “sonata-allegro” format, in which there are three segments—exposition, development, and recapitulation. The concept is that you present a melody called a “theme” in the exposition, perform more-or-less recognizable variations of it in the development, and then restate it almost verbatim in the recapitulation, often a bit more dramatically. The Bible is kind of the ultimate demonstration of the “sonata-allegro” format. Exposition – Man breaks his covenant with God, and God seeks to restore the broken relationship. Development – the rest of the Old Testament—the flood and Noah, the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with Moses, the judges, the prophets, etc. Recapitulation – Jesus reconciles man to God on the cross. What I have written below has probably been noticed before and written about hundreds of times, but you always feel like you’ve got something when you discover it for yourself.
The second paragraph below will mirror the first one. The best way to see the comparison is to read the first sentence in the first paragraph below, followed by the first sentence in the second paragraph below; then the second sentence in the first paragraph, followed by the second sentence in the second paragraph, etc.
It was the will of God for Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah knew that the men on board needed to sacrifice him to calm the wrath of God being demonstrated in the storm. The men did not want to throw him overboard; but the will of God cannot be prevented, so no matter how hard the men tried to row, the storm kept them from reaching shore. So the men prayed, declaring their innocence in the matter. They threw Jonah overboard, and the wrath of God subsided, resulting in the abating of the storm. The men then knew that Jonah’s God is the real God, and they turned to Him. Jonah then spends three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, before being vomited onto the shore.
It was the will of God for Jesus to go to Golgotha (Matthew 26:39-42). Jesus knew the angry mob needed to sacrifice Him to calm the wrath of God, which would otherwise be demonstrated in the final judgment of all mankind. Pilate was hesitant to sentence Him to death (Matthew 27:22-23); but the will of God cannot be prevented, so no matter how hard Pilate tried to avoid sentencing Jesus, the angry mob continued to demand His life. So Pilate washed his hands before the crowd, declaring his innocence in the matter (Matthew 27:24). He handed Jesus over to be crucified (Matthew 27:26), and when this was accomplished, the wrath of God subsided, resulting in salvation for mankind. Upon the signs accompanying His death (the veil rent in two, the earthquake), the guards keeping watch over Jesus knew that He was the real God, and they were frightened. Jesus spent three days and three nights in the tomb before being seen alive on the third day.
The symmetry is amazing. Parallelism is a desired feature in all kinds of artwork, from architecture to music to painting to sculptures to story-telling to dance to fill in the blank. God is the ultimate Artist, and His Word contains beautiful demonstrations of this effect. Should we be surprised? After all, He programmed our brains to search for it. – Joshua Gulley
Josh is a teacher of music at the High School level and a member among the saints at the Smithville Church of Christ