This past Sunday we continued our trek through The Whole Story of the Bible, entering into the world of the Judges. This bit of the story contains stark contrasts.
On the one hand, we continue to marvel at God displaying his power on behalf of his people — lop-sided victories and a magic fleece (Gideon), bandits overthrowing kings (Jepthah), and an ancient superman whose strength breaks the backs of Israel’s foes (Samson).
On the other hand, every one of Israel’s deliverers is revealed as flawed and deeply imperfect, and both people and chieftains continue to devolve into ever-increasing acts of such darkness and wickedness that this tale would receive a parental-advisory warning, even by our culture’s standards.
This darkness is a display of the dehumanization of humanity. And in order to comprehend why this is so tragic, one needs rightly understand the image of God, and how we are meant to reflect that image. Our friends at the Bible Project have created a six-minute video (along with some other helpful materials) that will help you better understand this theological concept, and how it sheds light on the tragedy and significance of the story of Judges.
For further study on the book of Judges itself, I suggest you continue exploring, by means of the following resources:
- Review last week’s sermon on Judges.
- Click here to find a whole page of videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on this remarkable history, Judges.
One important note. This coming Sunday, March 11, we will take a slight break from moving through one book at a time in The Whole Story, as I will be out of the pulpit. But it is just a slight break. Tim Tomlinson, President of Bethlehem College and Seminary (my alma mater), will be preaching. His study and sermon will be on the 23rd Psalm.
So how is this just a slight break?
Well, for those of us reading each book of the Bible every week, as we make our way through The Whole Story (and using the Read Scripture app to do so), you have also been reading one psalm per day. This has been a helpful and encouraging practice, as the Psalter forms a strong foundation to our worship and prayer lives.
Therefore, Tim’s proclamation will serve as a very minor detour on our journey through The Whole Story. And, having spoken with Tim, and hearing how this familiar psalm has been captivating his heart, mind, and imagination in new and fresh ways, I am eager to sit in the gathering alongside you as he preaches. You won’t want to miss it family!
Finally, for those of you who might be a bit behind in your reading along with us book-by-book, the next two weeks afford a wonderful chance to catch up; especially as our next book of study will be Ruth (just four chapters long!). As always, please feel free to email me with questions or ideas for The Whole Story.
Looking forward to our Gathering on Sunday,
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.