Advice to novice writers is that Acts One and Three should take no more than 25% each of the novel, with Act Two comprising 50-80%.
The Bible is once again right on target with Act Three significantly shorter than the other two acts. Act One is about 15 chapters in length but covers about two thousand years in time. Act Three is about 3-4 chapters and covers just over a thousand years. Act Two covers the rest (a conservative estimate is about four thousand years).
Let's take a look at the Climax, Dénouement and End of Act Three.
As we left it, by the end of Act Two, God has resolved the inner problem: humans finally love him back and worship him wholeheartedly. He has fulfilled the promises he made to Abraham at the end of Act One and Abraham’s descendants are living in the Promised Land and are becoming as numerous as the stars and all the nations have had the chance to respond to the message of reconciliation.
The only problem left to resolve is the outer one—Satan, his adversary, is only locked up for the time being. But God’s in no hurry, and the devil will moulder in the Abyss for a thousand years while peace and righteousness are allowed to flourish under Christ’s watchful reign.
Even though Act Two’s war and divine judgments have nearly destroyed the planet, for the first part of Act Three,
…they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid…
CLIMAX ACT THREE
But at the end of the thousand years Satan is released from his prison. Incredibly, he still thinks he stands a chance against Messiah and God’s people. He organizes an international army and comes against the holy city, only to see his army destroyed by fire from heaven in an instant and find himself thrown into the lake of fire.
And that’s the end of that.
OBSTACLES & DENOUEMENT—There are a couple of knotty issues still to undo (dénouement is French for unknotting or untying).
First, what to do about the fact that not everyone has put their faith in Messiah?
Messiah’s first order of business after throwing the devil into the lake of fire is the judgment of the dead according to what they have done and whether their names are in the book of life. Everyone who has ever lived comes back to life to have their deeds examined. The righteous are granted eternal life and the wicked are cast into the lake of fire, a second death.
Second, is the planet even fit for habitation anymore? Humans have been fouling and despoiling the once “very good” creation for millenia and the divine judgments of the end of Act Two have left things in a pretty sorry state. So God causes the first heaven and the first earth to pass away and creates a new heaven and a new earth.
And they all lived happily ever after. No joke.
From this point forward, God dwells in the New Jerusalem with his people. It’s a place of almost indescribable beauty. Its foundations and walls are made of jewels, glittering and colourful. Its streets are like transparent gold and its twelve gates are enormous pearls. There is no longer any sun or moon for God and the Lamb are its light. A river, bright as crystal, flows from the thrones of God and the Lamb through the middle of the city, lined on either side with trees of life that produce twelve kinds of fruit and whose leaves heal the nations. Death, crying, mourning and pain are no more. Humans have new, immortal bodies that are as different from our present bodies as a seed is from the mature plant.
This blessed state continues forever and ever for everyone who has put their faith in Christ.
So there you have it. The Bible from beginning to end with its key plot points. I’m still amazed at how perfectly the Bible lines up with this tried-and-true formula for plotting a story. Everything we love about happy endings can be found here: the hero and his love are united, the bad guys get what’s coming to them and things end better than they began. Again I suggest that art is imitating life.
My hope is you, personally, will experience this happy ending. As interesting as it is to explore the literary structure of the Bible, how we respond to its message has eternal consequences.
For a lot of people, the Bible is either art or truth. For me, it's both, and I hope to persuade readers in both camps to see the other perspective.