Understanding the biblical story as a whole is what enables us to understand the cycles within that story. If the Bible were just a grab bag of illustrations and anecdotes, to be applied by us willy nilly, then any fool could justify any situation at any time. But there is a logic to these things, and you have to be steeped in the story to be able to discern it.
Who are you? What should your response be? Are you Joseph waiting patiently in prison? Are you Daniel refusing to eat the king’s meat? Are you Jacob, having had his wages changed ten times, packing up in the middle of the night? Are you Gideon, preparing to liberate your people? Are you Jeremiah, telling your people to stop fighting for their liberation?
Who are you then? If you act like Joseph when you should be acting like Jacob, you are missing the point. If you act like Jeremiah when you should be acting like Gideon, you are likewise missing the point. But we are to read the story rightly.
When Nancy and I were privileged to spend the night in Wittenberg, our hotel was right next to the Augustinian monastery where Luther first saw the gift of faith alone. That monastery was later given to him and Katie, and was their teeming home for many years. We walked through the room where all the Table Talk was spoken and recorded. The place was striking. But more striking still were the quotations from Luther on the displays. That man understood story at the right level.
For example, here is one. “Where Christ is, there He always goes against the flow.” And when someone gets this, really gets it, he can count on the flow all around him not getting it. For Luther did not just go against the flow of medieval Europe, in that role for which he is so justly famous. He also had the right kind of suspicions about the Protestant flow. I believe that this misled him at times (e.g. his views of Calvin), but I believe that Luther was frequently misunderstood by both his fan boys and his enemies. He had a larger vision, and his heart was large as well.
So when Christ is going against the flow, He will be the measurement of the story. He measures the resistance, and He evaluates the flow. He is the one who tells you whether you are Jacob or Jeremiah, Daniel or Joseph, Luther or Karlstadt. Interpret the story with Christ at the center, because when Christ is the hinge of the story, the story always fits. Even when the story involves rusty hinges.