Old Testament readers…Judges is quite a book, isn’t it? I did a Jen Wilkin Bible study on Judges a year or so ago, and this became one of my favorites. So much food for thought and so much relevance to our own day. Have you noticed the pattern? Israel sins, they cry out to God, He rescues them, and then they fall into sin again? You might note the number of years for each as the pattern continues.
A few more Old Testament reflections…
- We read in the book of Joshua that God showed His power to Israel so they would gain confidence in Him. He stopped the Jordan, much as He had created a path through the Red Sea, and then the Israelites created a memorial as a tangible reminder of God’s power and faithfulness. How has God taught you to gain confidence in Him? To trust Him more fully? Do you have any tangible reminders of God’s faithfulness?
- What aspects of God’s character do you see throughout the book of Judges?
- What results do you see of “every man doing what is right in his own eyes”? In what areas are you tempted to rely on your own wisdom instead of God’s? How does the “wisdom” of our culture contrast with God’s wisdom?
New Testament readers…we’ve had lots of parables this past week. I think parables can be a little tricky to interpret sometimes. I’ll share some notes from the “How to Study the Bible” class we did at church last year. (The class was based in large part on Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word.)
I hope the notes are helpful!
But first, a few reflection questions…
- What main points does Jesus make about the kingdom?
- What do we learn from the parables about God’s nature? About what He values in His servants?
- What does Jesus teach about the use of our resources? What resources has God blessed you with? (Finances? Time? A home? Anything else?) Which of your resources do you have the most difficulty stewarding? Are there changes you’d like to make?
Notes on Parables:
- Brief story with carefully crafted characters
- An illustration that teaches a lesson or makes a point
- Culture-rich; everyday examples to the original audience
- Meaning takes some thought and desire to learn; deeper than face value.
- Stick to the big ideas.
- Don’t look for obscure meanings hidden in the details.
- Identify the main lesson or point.
- View the story from the perspective of the original hearers.
- Note any clues to interpretation given by Jesus
- What part of the “Big Story” of the Bible do parables address?: Fall-Redemption-Restoration
- Books: Found in the gospels
What are parables?
- 2 types:
- Brief stories
- Comparisons (Metaphors or Similes)
- A story with a point
- Focus: Kingdom of God; Kingdom Living
- Designed to evoke a response from the hearer (like the punchline of a joke)
How do we recognize parables?
- Most often identified directly: “He put another parable before them…” (Matthew 13:24)
- May set up a direct comparison: “The kingdom of God is like…” (Matthew 20:1)
- Use of stock figures, such as:
- Vineyard owners
- Religious leaders
Why are parables challenging to us?
- Culturally-based; cultural gaps trip us up
- The reference points are sometimes unfamiliar.
- Like a joke, you need to understand the reference points in order to “get” the punchline.
- Need to identify with the hearers; hear what they heard, as they heard it. (A study Bible or other resource may be helpful here.)
- Not due to “mystery” or obscure allegorical meanings.
Tips for Interpreting:
- Use “archaeological questions” to guide understanding.
- Who is the audience?
- What reference points would they have been familiar with?
- How would the audience identify with the story?
- Where is the twist that evokes a response from the hearer?
- How is the point different from their assumptions about the Kingdom of God?
- Try to hear what they heard as they heard it.
- Fee, G.D. & Stuart, D. (2014). How to read the Bible for all its worth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
- Harmon, M.S. (2017). Asking the right questions: A practical guide to understanding and applying the Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
- Krejcir, R.J. (2016). What are the types of literature genres in the Bible? http://www.discipleshiptools.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=39932
- Roberts, V. God’s big picture: Tracing the storyline of the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.
- Wilkin, J. (2014). Women of the Word: How to study the Bible with both our hearts and our minds. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Are you still with me? (If you skipped a few parts, it’s really ok. Sometimes the teacher in me just gets a little out of control! Haha!)
Blessings to you, dear friends!
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