30 Days to Understanding the Bible Session 6

Faith Church May 1, 2004

Overview:  This session covers material in Chapters 14-15

 

I.  Hebrew Prophets

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

INPUT:  Why are they some of the most difficult books 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

(May want to read through a sequence like Amos 2-5)

(Review quiz pg. 103)

 

II.  Geography and Structure of the New Testament

Now, we begin a new section in the book telling us about the New Testament.

Just to get us thinking about it and so that we get to know each other even a little better let me ask you some questions.  (May want to ask one or two of these)

INPUT:  What’s your favorite section of the Bible—the OT or the NT?  Why?

INPUT:  What in your understanding is the major difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament?

INPUT:  Which is more important—the Old Testament or the New Testament?

(may want to explain that neither are.  They are both necessary.  The NT is not more important revelation than the Old.  The NT is additional revelation to the OT.  The NT also does not reinterpret the OT.   It simply adds additional revelation.)

INPUT:  Which is easier to understand—the Old Testament or the New Testament?

 

A.  Geography  (Show relief map of NT land)

[May want to talk about “In reference to Israel’s ‘promised land’”  (included at end of this lesson) if you didn’t get to talk about it in lesson.  If you did talk about it you may want to remind them of its features by asking. . .INPUT:  What do you observe about this land that God promised to Israel?]

Again, understanding geography will help us understand the events and stories of the Bible.

(Illustration:  Read about Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30.  Show on map the journey from Jerusalem to Jericho and explain that this journey was treacherous through the mountains where many robbers could hide.  And there was a Samaritan not in his homeland but in a land where he was hated who stopped and helped this man)

 

(Now, put up province and city map and go over the provinces and cities in the book)

A.  The Province of Galilee

B.  The Province of Samaria

C.  The Province of Judea

D.  The Province of Perea

E.  The City of Nazareth

F.  The City of Capernaum

G.  The City of Jerusalem

H.  The City of Bethlehem

(Then review using map on pg. 110)

(Next put of the map of Acts and go over the cities and countries there)

1.  The Country of Galatia

2.  The Country of Greece

3.  The Country of Asia

4.  The Country of Italy

5.  The City of Jerusalem

6.  The City of Damascus

7.  The City of Caesarea

8.  The City of Rome

(Review Quiz pg 113)

 

B.  The Structure of the New Testament

(Display the Arch of Bible Hist)

Note that the Old Testament history features nine different eras covering about 2,000 years, while the New Testament history has only three different eras covering about 100 years. (Point to the three on the arch)

Now, the NT as you can see has three major periods.

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