30 Days to Understanding the Bible Session 5

Faith Church May 1, 2004

Overview:  This session covers the material in Chapters 13-14

 

I.  Israel’s Poetry

 

INPUT:  When you think of poetry what do you think of?

(Hard to write?  Only for “different” kind of people, only for those “feeling” people

 

INPUT:  When the book on pg. 91 says poetry is the “song of the soul” how does that impact you?

 

INPUT:  What are the “songs of the souls” of our culture?

 

INPUT:  How might this assessment betray “souls” that lack a passion for God?

 

During times of great “civilizations” and passions for God there is an outpouring of “songs of the soul”  look at Israel.

 

INPUT:  Can you give examples of this?  Israel’s poetry under David and Solomon, the great hymns through the 18th& 19thcenturies.  (give some examples)

 

I do believe that the lack of good sound theological song and poetry writing today is an indication of the spiritual lethargy of American Christians.  We, for the most part, have lost our passion for spiritual things.  If poetry is the song of the soul, our poetry these days reflects a bad state of the soul.

 

I was greatly encouraged that out of the Biblical Counseling movement came a song called “Thy Word is my Sufficiency” (May want to sing it).  But that is just one song!  We have got a ways to go!

 

Now, in Hebrew Poetry. . .

Summary:  The Poetical Books fall into three major types of poetry within which the poets used a number of different literary techniques to communicate god’s message.

 

1.  Lyric poetry—to be accompanied by music, like a song. (Which are these—Psalms may want to add the brief descriptions of these books on pp. 97-98 as you go through this section)

2.  Instructional poetry—to teach principles of living through pithy maxims (Proverbs/Eccl)

3.  Dramatic poetry—a narrative that tells a story in poetic form (Job/Song of Sol.)

 

Now with in those types of poetry, the Hebrew poets used two main literary techniques called parallelism (which we rarely used today) and figures of speech (which we still use today)

 

(Go over Parallelism quickly and them have them apply what they learn to Psalms 103:8-22)

Neighbor Nudge:  As you go through Psalms 103 8-22 ask of each verse or section of verses what kind of parallelism is here and how does this help me understand more of what the writer is communicating

 

(Next go over figures of speech quickly)

(Read Psalms 23 and talk about the visual imagery conveyed)

INPUT:  Why is it hard sometimes to “get into” the Psalms

(we are lazy, we want to be told what to do and where to do and how to do it, we don’t take the time and try to visualize and think about the imagery the author is trying to covey. 

INPUT:  If we did understand the imagery of Psalms 23 how would this help us practically?

(various answers)

 

INPUT:  Any questions at all about Hebrew poetry?

 

(Review quizzes on pp. 95 & 98)

 

II.  Hebrew Prophets

 

Now, the prophetical books are probably some of the most difficult to understand?

INPUT:  Why are they some of the most difficult to understand?

1.  They don’t necessarily tell a story in context

2.  They have future predictions, which we may or may not be entirely sure on what they mean exactly

3.  The context of the book is often lacking (need to place them using helps)

4.  Even within the books, sometimes there is not a chronological sequence of events (prophets spoke in oracles sometimes and the are not meant to be in a sequence)

5.  Sometimes the metaphorical symbolism is lost in our world today.  We don’t always understand the literal meaning behind the metaphorical symbolism.

 

Now, let review a little bit about what the book says to help you understand prophecy better.  But then I’m going to add some more information to help you as you read this genre of literature.

 

Overview summary:  Prophecy is proclaiming the Word of God both for the future and in the present. 

 

I’m going to give an expanded definition of that in just a moment.

 

INPUT:  What is the difference between Major and Minor prophets?

INPUT:  What is does it mean when we classify some prophets as “pre-exile”, “exile,” or “post” exile ?  (review chart on p. 101)

INPUT:  What is the distinction between “Foretelling” and “forthtelling”

INPUT:  What criteria had to be met in order for one to be considered a genuine prophet of God

Deuteronomy 18:21-22

21 “And you may say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’22 “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

 

Now, with all that in mind let’s flesh out even a little more precisely the prophets’ role.

Even though we say prophets are both Foretellers and forth tellers, we often think primarily of them as guys in the foretelling roles (i.e. predicting the future).

 

However, to see the prophets as primarily predictors of future events is to miss their primary function, which was to speak for God to their own contemporaries

 

  • The prophets were primarily covenant mediators

The Law that Moses gave to Israel was a covenant between them and God.

This covenant contains not only rules to keep, but describes the sorts of punishments that God will apply to his people if they do not keep the Law, (the d’s—death, disease, drought, dearth, danger, destruction, defeat, deportation, destitution, and disgrace)

It also describes the benefits that he will impart to them if they do keep it

The benefits were called “blessings” and the punishments were called curses

(May want to peruse Deut. 28)

 

Now, when you read through the prophets, you must always bear in mind that the prophets did not invent the blessings or curses they announced.

They may have worded these blessings and curses in novel, captivating ways.

But they were reproducing God’s words not their own

Through them God announced his intention to enforce the covenant, for benefit or for harm depending on the faithfulness of Israel, but always on the basis of and in accordance with the categories of blessing and curse already contain in the Law

Thus they were in a sense “enforcers of the covenant” or “covenant mediators”

If you take the time to learn these chapters (esp. Lev. 26, Deut 4 and Deut 28-32) you will be rewarded with a much better understanding of why the prophets say the things that they do.

Examples:  Compare Deut 28:49-57 with Jeremiah 14-16,

                        Deut 28:18 & 38 w/ Joel  1:1-7; 14-20

                        Deut 28:1-13 w/ Joel 3:18-21

 

Deut 4:25-32—Sequence

As you read the Prophets look for this simple pattern:  (1) an identification of Israel’s sin or of God’s love for her; (2) a prediction of curse or blessing depending on the circumstance

 

(Review quiz pg. 103)

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