Lesson 1

Story and History

(2 Timothy 3; 2 Samuel 12, Joshua 3, Judges 17)
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Introduction: Put yourself in the place of God. Imagine that you just created humans, and that you wanted to give them some sort of operator's manual. What would you write? What would be your main goal in writing? Would you give them a list of rules? Would you tell them stories about living? Would you tell them stories about you? This quarter our study is the background figures in the Old Testament. They are part of the story that God is telling us about how we should live. This week we consider the general goal of God's storytelling. Let's dive into our study and find out more!

  1. God's Goals


    1. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What do you think "God-breathed" means?


      1. What else do you think about when you consider the breath of God? (Read Genesis 2:7 - God breathed life into Adam. Genesis 1 reports God speaking the world into existence. Clearly, the power of God is in the Bible.)


      2. What does 2 Timothy 3:16-17 indicate are God's goals in communicating to us through the Bible? (To equip us for God's work.)


        1. What equipment do we need? (We need to be taught, trained, rebuked and corrected.)


          1. Did you ever consider that getting rebuked and corrected are good for you? (Read Proverbs 12:1. If we love correction we love knowledge. If we hate correction we are stupid.)


    2. Read Hebrews 4:12. What other valuable benefit do we find in God's word? (Scriptures cut through the nonsense in our lives and reveal to us our true thoughts and attitudes.)


    3. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-4. What do you think about the rich man?


    4. Read 2 Samuel 12:5-6. What was David's verdict on the rich man? (That he deserved to die!)


    5. Read 2 Samuel 12:7. Do you think that David would have come to this same conclusion if he had just been shown some rules?


      1. How did a story help to cut through the nonsense in David's life and reveal his true thoughts and attitudes? (If you do not know this story, Nathan gives a thumbnail sketch in 2 Samuel 12:9-10.)


  2. Story Lines


    1. As we have seen, a story helps cut through our defenses and reveals our sinful actions and attitudes. How many stories go through your mind each week?


      1. Does this have something to do with how much you read? (Not necessarily. We see stories all around us. When we observe people, we are taking in a story.)


      2. Consider the weakness in your life. Common weaknesses are dishonesty, infidelity, pride, and addiction. When you see a person who has the same weaknesses as you get into trouble because of it, what is your reaction?


        1. Let's say that you are considering stealing or being unfaithful to your spouse. You see someone who is arrested for stealing or a family destroyed by an affair. What does that "story" teach you? (It shows your future if you continue on your present course! If you are not stupid, you will turn away and avoid that future.)


    2. Read Job 1:1-3. Imagine that you are sitting around a campfire and someone begins telling this story. Put out of your mind what you already know about the Job. Would you like to be Job? (He sounds like the most blessed perfect person!)


    3. Read Job 1:4-5. What kind of attitude did Job have towards his children? (He loved and cared for them. He was concerned about their eternal destiny.)


    4. Read Job 1:6-8. How would you characterize the relationship between God and Satan based on what you learn from these verses? (Competitive. Satan is bragging about his kingdom. God is bragging about one of His subjects in Satan's kingdom.)


      1. What is Job's attitude about God and about Satan? (God says that Job "fears" (respects) God and he "shuns" (dislikes) Satan.)


        1. How would you react if you were Satan? (Who likes to be told that someone does not like them?)


    5. Read Job 1:9-12. What plot do we find? (That God and Satan are in a contest, and Job is at the center of the contest.)


    6. Read Job 1:18-19. What other plot do we find in the middle of the larger plot? (That the man to be most envied is now the man to be most pitied. How will he react? What will be his future?)


    7. Why is God telling us this story?


      1. What "operator's manual" lessons can we learn from it?


  3. An Uncertain Road


    1. Read Joshua 3:9. Where are we in the history of Israel? (They have left slavery and Egypt, have crossed the desert, and are about to enter the land that God has promised to them. It is a new beginning and a time of great opportunity.)


    2. Read Joshua 3:10. What challenges and problems lay ahead? (The land is occupied by other people who are not interested in moving.)


      1. What solution does God offer to that problem? (God says that He will drive these people out of the land.)


        1. What do you think God means by that? Would He literally do it Himself?


    3. Read Joshua 3:11-17. This is a story for all of Israel to see. What is the point of the story?


      1. What does the story say about driving the inhabitants out of the land? (Look again at Joshua 3:11. The symbol of God's presence led the way and overrode the laws of nature. All the priests had to do was lead, and all the people had to do was follow. I would conclude that God could drive the people out of the land with only minimal "help" from me.)


      2. What does this story teach us about the faith of Israel - or at least its leadership? (The priests had the faith to walk into "flood stage" waters!)


    4. Read Judges 17:1-2. What do you think about Micah? (He is a thief. He would steal from his own mother. Perhaps he became concerned about the curse uttered by his mother, so he returned the silver.)


      1. Notice that Mom now says, "Lord Bless you, my son." Is that what you would say when your son stole money from you, but ended up giving it back? (You don't want to curse your own son - so I guess this puts him back on neutral ground.)


      2. How much silver did the mother have? (Eleven hundred shekels of silver.)


        1. Read Judges 16:4-6. Is this unnamed woman Delilah? (The flow of the story and the amount of the money suggest that it is possible.)


    5. Read Judges 17:3-4. Is the mother a spiritual woman? (When the text says "Lord" it means "Jehovah." This woman intended to worship the true God.)


      1. What is wrong? (Read Exodus 20:4-6. God had expressly prohibited this kind of worship.)


    6. Read Judges 17:5-6. What does this suggest is the problem? (When we studied Romans 13 in our last series of lessons, we learned that God is the author of established authority. Israel had no king. People did what they thought was best. Apparently, this was without even the most basic understanding of God's will.)


    7. What does this story teach us about church leadership?


      1. What does it teach us about the road the Israelites had taken? (They started out crossing the Jordan river in faith. Somehow, their organization and their knowledge of God had so deteriorated that they thought making silver idols was the best approach to worshiping God.)


      2. Read Judges 8:27. Gideon is a great warrior for God. What do we see here? (That he is corrupting the worship of the true God.)


        1. What does this teach us? (That even great faith warriors can get off track. We need to constantly be alert to God's will.)


    8. Friend, will you continue with us as we study the stories God has placed before us in the Old Testament?


  4. Next week: Caleb: Living With the Wait.

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Lessons on Background Characters in the Old Testament

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