All the World’s a Stage…

…and the Men and Women but Players!


Now that our Stage is ready for God’s One Big Story to get underway, our Cast Members are eagerly waiting in the wings, we’ve learned the Story’s Theme and have a basic understanding of the Plot, the important questions of Where, Who, Why, and What of the Story have all been answered.  However, the all-important question of How still remains a mystery—just How is God going to tell us His Story?  Being that the Story He wants to share is a Spiritual One—one involving Spiritual Beings that we cannot see and Spiritual Truths that the natural man cannot comprehend—how does He plan on revealing these things to us?

William Shakespeare, 1564-1616

Probably the best way to explain that would be to draw upon what may seem like a rather unusual resource for instruction in Bible study, which is the works of William Shakespeare. As surprising as it sounds, there are at least two things that we can appropriate from Shakespeare’s works that will help us greatly in our understanding of the How of God’s One Big Story. 

The first of these is Shakespeare’s view of or observation on life, something he makes known to us through the words spoken by Jaques, one of his characters in the comedy, “As You Like It.”  Jaques is the somewhat melancholy and philosophical traveler who pops up here and there in the forest of Arden where much of the action of the story takes place.  On one such occasion, we find Jaques in the company of his lord, Duke Senior, a nobleman who is living in exile in the forest and someone who—after meeting a hungry young man named Orlando—comments to his forlorn companion:

Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy.  This wide and universal theater presents more woeful pageants than the scene wherein we play.

It is in response to this statement that Jaques waxes his most philosophical and mouths the now famous, and probably one of the most often quoted of Shakespeare’s lines:

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…

Jaques then goes on to elaborate on these “many parts” by describing, in the monologue which follows, the roles in life that men (generically speaking) play as they go from birth to old age.


“Jacques Discovered by the Duke” by John Chapman — Act II, Scene 1 of “As You Like It”


However, when these words were spoken, I am not sure if Jaques—actually Shakespeare—knew of the real implication or importance of his remarks.  Certainly, being the student of human nature that he was, he was well aware that each of us, upon birth, makes an entrance into life on a small, very limited stage where we play a variety of roles—those of son, daughter, sister, brother, grandchild, niece, nephew, or friend—only to have these roles reversed with the passage of time, until we find ourselves acting out the roles of father, mother, grandparent, aunt, or uncle to the next generation of players who are rising to take their places on their very own stages in life.

But was it these smaller stages and roles in life that Shakespeare was referring to; or was he really speaking about the larger cosmic or heavenly stage upon which we all, at various times, play a contributing part?  While we may never know the answer to that question, what we can be certain of is this—when we begin to view the world of the Bible as an Earthly Stage upon which the people within its pages become very real human actors, God will open up levels of revelation to us that we never would have considered.

As for the other item that we can borrow from Shakespeare’s works, it is his often-used theatrical device of a “play-within-a-play,” or a “story-within-a-story.”  Although this device originated with God–not Shakespeare, it was a tool that he used to great effect in many of his plays, including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” and “Hamlet.”  Sometimes he used the scheme of inner plays and stories for the sole purpose of entertaining his audiences, while at other times using it to provide his characters with examples or object lessons about life.  In still other instances, the play-within-a-play motif was used to convict consciences or as a commentary on the many inconsistencies in life.

In a similar but vastly superior way, God has used this “story-within-a-story” device to reveal the greater cosmic drama that He wants us all to know.  While we are witnessing the very human drama taking place on the Earthly Stage before us, God is drawing upon or emphasizing certain elements from it to illustrate the very real but invisible Spiritual Drama of love and redemption that is being acted out on the Heavenly Stage above us.  Then, using these very same elements, God goes on to teach us some valuable Life Lessons while giving us some priceless clues or insight into His own Person and Nature!

As we continue on our journey through God’s One Big Story, we will discover that there are actually three stages or Levels of Revelation that we need to consider…


We Will Be Looking for These in Every Part of the Story


So, as we approach each part of our Story, we will be asking ourselves these all-important questions…

…what is going on at the Earthly Level, what does it teach us about living a godly life, and what contribution does it make to God’s Unseen Spiritual Story;

…what do we know about God’s Plans for Man, the Earth, and God’s Enemies that we didn’t know before; and,

…how has God been revealed to us in this part of the Story?

Now that we understand the How of God’s One Big Story, we can move onto the Story itself—with a Preview of Act 1, Scene 1


Until then, here is a little video which sums up what we have learned so far…





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