THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE BIBLE CAN MAKE YOU A WARRIOR NOT A WORRIER!! Dear Readers, In these 3 parts, (BIBLE STUDY – part 1, 2 and 3) you will find 53 short and simple articles on Bible (courtesy: various sources from the internet). Though, these articles are not arranged in a systematic way or may not be meant for scholarly studies, nevertheless, it would help the readers to acquire some knowledge on the Bible. These articles may be used for personal study or may be published in your parish bulletins or other publications. To encourage your group/parishioners to read these articles, you can even conduct a BIBLE STUDY QUIZ. For further details on how to conduct the BIBLE STUDY QUIZ, please refer to – BIBLE STUDY QUIZ – part 1 of the website. You will also find a sample objective type question set prepared for PART 1 of the BIBLE STUDY articles. So also you can prepare your own question sets for part 2 and part 3. ALSO AVAILABLE 43 SETS OF BIBLE QUIZZES (BIBLE QUEST) IN THIS WEBSITE. For further details go to the title BIBLE QUEST and read the INTRODUCTION. Fr Felix Rebello Email: [email protected] SEE PART 3 ARTICLES CONTINUED IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES Contd from part 2 – article no. 36 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.” ― Mahatma Gandhi BOOK OF LEVITICUS – Introduction What is Leviticus? The Book of Leviticus is a record of the laws which Israelites believed God handed down to them through Moses. They believe that following all of these laws, exactly and precisely, was necessary to retain God's blessings both for them personally and for their nation as a whole. One important aspect of these laws is that they were supposed to set them apart from other tribes and peoples — the Israelites were different because unlike everyone else, they were God's "Chosen People" and as such followed God's chosen laws. The word "Leviticus" means "concerning the Levites." A Levite was a member of the clan of Levi, the group from which one family was selected by God to oversee the administration of all the religious laws. Some of the laws in Leviticus were for the Levites in particular because the laws were instructions on how to conduct worship of God. Facts about the Book of Leviticus: Leviticus is the third book the Bible, the Torah and, the Pentateuch Leviticus has 27 chapters & 659 verses Chapter & verse divisions are of Christian origin Leviticus has very little narrative and no physical traveling Important Characters in Leviticus Moses: Leader of the Israelites, receives the laws from God and gives them to the people Aaron: Moses' older brother, chosen by God to be the first high priest Who Wrote the Book of Leviticus? The tradition of Moses being the author of Leviticus still has many adherents among believers, but the Documentary Hypothesis developed by scholars attributes the authorship of Leviticus entirely to priests. It was probably many priests working over multiple generations. They may or may not have used outside sources as the basis for Leviticus. When Was the Book of Leviticus Written? Most scholars agree that Leviticus was probably written during the 6th century BCE. Where scholars disagree is on whether it was written during the exile, after the exile, or a combination of both. A few scholars, though, have argued that Leviticus may have been written down in its basic form before the exile. Whatever outside traditions the priestly authors of Leviticus drew upon, though, may have dated many hundreds of years prior to this. 37 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.” ― Augustine of Hippo BOOK OF LEVITICUS (contd) – Background and Setting Before the year that Israel camped at Mt. Sinai: 1) the presence of God’s glory had never formally resided among the Israelites; 2) a central place of worship, like the tabernacle, had never existed; 3) a structured and regulated set of sacrifices and feasts had not been given; and 4) a High-Priest, a formal priesthood, and a cadre of tabernacle workers had not been appointed. As Exodus concluded, features one and two had been accomplished, thereby requiring that elements three and four be inaugurated, which is where Leviticus fits in. Exodus 19:6 called Israel to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Leviticus in turn is God’s instruction for His newly redeemed people, teaching them how to worship and obey Him. Israel had, up to that point, only the historical records of the patriarchs from which to gain their knowledge of how to worship and live before their God. Having been slaves for centuries in Egypt, the land of a seemingly infinite number of gods, their concept of worship and the godly life was severely distorted. Their tendency to hold on to polytheism and pagan ritual is witnessed in the wilderness wanderings, e.g., when they worshiped the golden calf (cf. Ex. 32). God would not permit them to worship in the ways of their Egyptian neighbors, nor would He tolerate Egyptian ideas about morality and sin. With the instructions in Leviticus, the priests could lead Israel in worship appropriate to the Lord. Even though the book contains a great deal of law, it is presented in a historical format. Immediately after Moses supervised the construction of the tabernacle, God came in glory to dwell there; this marked the close of the book of Exodus (40:34–38). Leviticus begins with God calling Moses from the tabernacle and ends with God’s commands to Moses in the form of binding legislation. Israel’s King had occupied His palace (the tabernacle), instituted His law, and declared Himself a covenant partner with His subjects. No geographical movement occurs in this book. The people of Israel stay at the foot of Sinai, the mountain where God came down to give His law (25:1; 26:46; 27:34). They were still there one month later when the record of Numbers began (cf. Num. 1:1). 38 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches. — John Chrysostom, A.D. 347-407 BOOK OF NUMBERS – Introduction The Book of Numbers (from Greek Ἀριθμοί, Arithmoi; Hebrew: במדבר, Bəmidbar, "In the desert [of]") is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah. Numbers begins at Mount Sinai, where the Israelites have received their laws and covenant from God and God has taken up residence among them in the sanctuary. The task before them is to take possession of the Promised Land. The people are numbered and preparations are made for resuming their march. The Israelites begin the journey, but they "murmur" at the hardships along the way, and about the authority of Moses and Aaron. For these acts, God destroys approximately 15,000 of them through various means. They arrive at the borders of Canaan and send spies into the land, but upon hearing the spies' falsified report concerning the conditions in Canaan the Israelites refuse to take possession of it, and God condemns them to death in the wilderness until a new generation can grow up and carry out the task. The book ends with the new generation of Israelites in the Plain of Moab ready for the crossing of the Jordan River. Numbers is the culmination of the story of Israel's exodus from oppression in Egypt and their journey to take possession of the land God promised their fathers. As such it draws to a conclusion the themes introduced in Genesis and played out in Exodus and Leviticus: God has promised the Israelites that they shall become a great (i.e. numerous) nation, that they will have a special relationship with Yahweh their god, and that they shall take possession of the land of Canaan. Against this, Numbers also demonstrates the importance of holiness, faithfulness and trust: despite God's presence and his priests, Israel lacks faith and the possession of the land is left to a new generation. The book has a long and complex history, but its final form is probably due to a Priestly redaction (i.e., editing) of a Yahwistic original text some time in the early Persian period (5th century BCE). 39 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.” ― Charles Dickens BOOK OF NUMBERS – themes and outline Themes in the Book of Numbers: • A census or count of the people was needed to prepare them for future tasks. The first census organized the people by tribes, for their journey ahead. The second census, in Chapter 26, counted the men 20 years and older who could serve in the army. Planning is wise if we face a major task. • Rebellion against God brings bad consequences. Instead of believing Joshua and Caleb, the only two spies who said Israel could conquer Canaan, the people did not trust God and refused to cross into the Promised Land. For their lack of faith, they wandered 40 years in the desert until all but a few of that generation had died. • God does not tolerate sin. God, who is holy, let time and the desert take the lives of those who disobeyed him. The next generation, free of the influence of Egypt, were prepared to be a separate, holy people, loyal to God. Today, Jesus Christ saves, but God expects us to make every effort to drive sin from our lives. • Canaan was the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jewish people grew in numbers during their 400 years of slavery in Egypt. They were now strong enough, with God's help, to conquer and populate the Promised Land. God's word is good. He rescues his people and stands by them. Outline of the Book of Numbers: • Israel prepares for the journey to the Promised Land - Numbers 1:1-10:10. • The people complain, Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses, and the people refuse to enter Canaan because of the reports of the unfaithful spies - Numbers 10:11-14:45. • For 40 years the people wander in the desert until the faithless generation is consumed - Numbers 15:1-21:35. • As the people approach the Promised Land again, a king tries to hire Balaam, a local sorcerer and prophet, to put a curse on Israel. On the way, Balaam's donkey talks to him, saving him from death! An angel of the Lord tells Balaam to speak only what the Lord tells him. Balaam is able only to bless the Israelites, not curse them - Numbers 22:126:1. • Moses takes another census of the people, to organize an army. Moses commissions Joshua to succeed him. God gives instructions on offerings and feasts - Numbers 26:130:16. • The Israelites take vengeance on the Midianites, then camp on the plains of Moab Numbers 31:1-36:13. 40 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God.” ― James Merritt BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY – Introduction Deuteronomy means "second law." It is a retelling of the covenant between God and his people Israel, presented in three addresses or sermons by Moses. These series of three strong sermons by Moses to the people of Israel as they are about to enter the Promised Land. It's one of the most significant books in the Old Testament, often quoted by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, including three times when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Deuteronomy, that is, "second law," contains a restating of the Law given at Mount Sinai. But Deuteronomy goes much deeper, revealing the depth of God's personal love for his people - a love that is at the very foundation of God's purpose in giving the Law. The Law, we see, is God's expression of love and protection toward his people, and our obedience to the Law expresses our response of love and trust back to God. At the end of Deuteronomy, the final book of the Pentateuch, we must say farewell to Moses as we witness the passing of his torch to Joshua and the death of Moses. Written as the Israelites are to enter the Promised Land, Deuteronomy is a stern reminder that God is worthy of worship and obedience. His laws are given to us for our protection, not as punishment. As we read Deuteronomy and meditate on it, the relevance of this 3,500 year-old book is startling. In it, God tells people that obeying him brings blessings and goodness, and disobeying him brings disaster. The consequences of using illegal drugs, breaking the law, and living an immoral life are proof that this warning still rings true today. Deuteronomy is the last of the five books of Moses, called the Pentateuch. These Godinspired accounts, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, begin at Creation and end with the death of Moses. They detail God's covenant relationship with the Jewish people that is woven throughout the Old Testament. 41 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The Bible is meant to be down-toearth. It was written for real people facing real issues.” ― Judah Smith BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY – themes and outline Themes in the Book of Deuteronomy: History of God's Help - Moses reviewed God's miraculous help in freeing the Israelite people from slavery in Egypt, and the people's repeated disobedience. Looking back, the people were able to see how rejecting God always brought calamity upon them. Review of the Law - The people entering Canaan were bound by the same laws of God as their parents. They had to renew this contract, or covenant with God before entering the Promised Land. Scholars note that Deuteronomy is structured as a treaty between a king and his vassals, or subjects, in that time period. It represents a formal agreement between God and his people Israel. God's Love Motivates Him - God loves his people as a father loves his children, but he also disciplines them when they disobey. God does not want a nation of spoiled brats! God's love is an emotional, heart-love, not just a legalistic, conditional love. God Gives Freedom of Choice - People are free to obey or disobey God, but they should also know they are responsible for the consequences. A contract, or covenant, requires obedience, and God expects nothing less. Children Must be Taught - To keep the covenant, the people must instruct their children in God's ways and be sure they follow them. This responsibility continues through every generation. When this teaching becomes lax, trouble begins. Outline of the Book of Deuteronomy: Moses Gives his First Speech About Israel's History - Deuteronomy 1:6-4:43. Moses Gives his Second Speech About Basic Requirements of the Law Deuteronomy 4:44-11:32. Moses Continues his Second Speech on Detailed Requirements of the Law Deuteronomy 12:1-26:19. Moses Gives his Third Speech Relating Blessings and Curses - Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68. Moses Continues his Third Speech with Warnings and Encouragement Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20. Commissioning of Joshua and Moses' Final Words - Deuteronomy 31:1-34:12. 42 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.” ― Abraham Lincoln BOOK OF JOSHUA – Introduction The Book of Joshua or Book of Jehoshua (Hebrew: ספר יהושעSefer Yĕhôshúa) is the sixth book in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its 24 chapters tell of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, their conquest and division of the land under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land. Joshua forms part of the biblical account of the emergence of Israel which begins with the exodus of theIsraelites from slavery in Egypt, continues with the book of Joshua, and culminates in the Judges with the conquest and settlement of the land. The book is in two roughly equal parts. The first part depicts the campaigns of the Israelites in central, southern and northern Canaan, as well as the destruction of their enemies. The second part details the division of the conquered land among the twelve tribes. The two parts are framed by set-piece speeches by God and Joshua commanding the conquest and at the end warning of the need for faithful observance of the Law (torah) revealed to Moses. Almost all scholars agree that the book of Joshua holds little historical value for early Israel and most likely reflects a much later period. Rather than being written as history, the Deuteronomistic history – Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings – was intended to illustrate a theological scheme in which Israel and her leaders are judged by their obedience to the teachings and laws (the covenant) set down in the book of Deuteronomy. Although tradition holds that the book was written by Joshua, it is probable that it was written by multiple editors and authors far removed from the times it depicts. The earliest parts of the book are possibly chapters 2–11, the story of the conquest; these chapters were later incorporated into an early form of Joshua written late in the reign of king Josiah (reigned 640–609 BCE), but the book was not completed until after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586, and possibly not until after the return from the Babylonian exile in 539. Overview The book of Joshua describes the conquest and possession of the land of Canaan and may be divided into three simple divisions: (1) invasion or entrance, (2) conquest, and (3) possession or division of the land. This is the land God had promised Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Here God fulfilled that promise, though not exhaustively since there still remains a rest for the people of God (Heb. 4). Joshua describes the military triumph of God’s people through faith and obedience. However, unlike most military histories, in the book of Joshua the focus is on the commander’s Commander, the Captain of the Lord’s host (5:15). Repeatedly, as Joshua’s name illustrates (Yahweh saves), the book demonstrates that Israel’s victories were due to God’s power and intervention. 43 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “Burn God's words into your heart, His thoughts into your mind and His ways into your actions; and you'll have a Spirit-filled life.” ― Alisa Hope Wagner BOOK OF JOSHUA – Themes For 40 years the Israelites journeyed to make it to the promised land, but after they refused to obey God and conquer Canaan they were left wandering. Joshua was chosen to be Moses successor and the one to finally lead the Israelites to the promised land and that is what the book of Joshua is about. These are some of the themes in the book of Joshua. Themes of the Book of Joshua: 1] Success In the book of Joshua God tells us two things about success. The first is that we will not find success until we follow God. When the Israelites disobeyed God they were left wandering but when they finally obeyed God is when the were finally led to the promised land. The second thing God teaches us about success in the book of Joshua is that the success we will receive is God's idea of success not necessarily what the world's idea of success is. 2] Faith God eventually led the Israelites to the promised land through Joshua and the reason was that when they finally obeyed God they were finally showing that they had faith in him. Sometimes when we want something we forget to look back and remember the times that God did provide for us. When we do that it is easier to be faithful again. 3] Guidance All the themes of Joshua can be linked together. We have success when we have faith in God and when we have faith in God he guides us. Fortunately today we have even more guidance than the Israelites did at the time because we have a book of instructions in the Bible. 4] Leadership Joshua isn't talked about as much as other people in the Bible like Moses, Noah, Paul, David and others but Joshua was one of the best examples of a leader in the Bible. Joshua was courageous, strong and confident. Joshua was willing to seek God's advice and to act on it immediately. 5] Conquest God instructed the Israelites to conquer the Canaanites and to take their land but they never finished the task. We will probably never be told to conquer anybody like the Israelites were but it is important to carry out the tasks that he gives us. It is not enough to simply believe in God. 44 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” ― D.L. Moody BOOK OF JUDGES - Introducing Judges Despicable people doing deplorable things. That pretty much sums up the book of Judges. Why would the Bible even contain such trashy tales about dysfunctional characters? As I read the book, I find it difficult to find any sympathy for those—even the heroes—involved in these violent and abusive accounts. Who can love people who maltreat others? Who would care about people who complicate and sabotage their own lives and then refuse the hope that is offered? Who would have patience with people who refuse to learn from their mistakes but instead pass them on as a legacy to the next generation? The answer is that only God could care about creatures such as these. So the book of Judges is not really about the judges who held court in Israel. It is about the God of mercy and patience who loves even the most dysfunctional and resistant among us. The book of Judges covers the history of Israel between the death of Joshua and the appearance of Samuel (approximately 1220-1050 B.C.). For Israel this was a time without a formal government. The people were supposed to look to God for leadership, but when they failed to do so, they were doomed to a continuing cycle of disobedience, suffering, cries for help and deliverance. How can you benefit from the book of Judges? You will learn of the great depth of God's love and mercy as you see it continually offered to people who do not deserve or appreciate it. You will be able to learn from the mistakes of others. Perhaps you will be able to break cycles of dysfunction which persist in your own life or home. Most of all, the study of Judges should help you to hand the throne of your life over to God, the true king. The writer of the book of Judges often uses the phrase "in those days Israel had no king." Without God reigning in our hearts, our lives are destined to become as disastrous as the characters of this book. To gain these benefits, it is important to study the book of Judges correctly. If you look to the characters of these stories as role models, you will be sorely disappointed. Even the judges whom God uses to save Israel are depraved and fallen creatures. The point of these stories is not the character qualities of the judges, but the fact that God works through people such as these. The only true hero of this book is God. It is also important that you refrain from becoming smug about your own enlightenment. As you read Judges, you will encounter characters who treat women as possessions and who settle problems with angry outbursts of violence (and these are supposedly the good guys!). These are stories of people in a much more primitive time who were struggling to understand God, themselves and forgiveness. Although they acted out in a much more dramatic and childish way, their passions and their rebellion against God were the same as yours and mine. So as you read, look for the sins you have in common with the characters and ask yourself what would happen if you were to give full reign to every passion. In your quiet times, may you come to understand the condition of humankind and the mercy of God with new clarity and depth. 45 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The Bible is useful because it opens our eyes, and because it’s highly impractical to walk through life with our eyes closed.” ― Peter J. Leithart BOOK OF JUDGES – THEMES There are five major themes in the book of Judges: a. The vacuum of leadership. The giants have passed from the scene, to be replaced by a series of ad hoc Spirit-inspired deliverers. These men (and women) emerged from obscurity, exercised their God-given gift of power, then vanished into anonymity with no trace, no heritage. b. The time of conquest was over, and was followed by a period of uneasy co-existence and incessant conflict. Enemy nations included: Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Amalek, Mesopotamia and Midian. c. At the same time, the Israelites fought amongst themselves: Abimelech murdered Gideon's sons, Gileadites killed Ephraimites, and everyone slaughtered Benjamin. d. It was a time of religious compromise. Idolatry was rampant, affecting even some of the judges (Gideon). e. The Holy Spirit revealed Himself in a new way, as an empowerer of individuals for specific tasks in unique ways. The entire pattern of the book is given in Judges 2:11-23: a. The Israelites forsook their God and served the gods of the local people, Baal and Ashtaroth. b. The Lord gave them into the power of their enemies, who plundered them. c. God raised up judges to deliver them from these oppressors d. Israel was secure and obedient during the life of that judge. e. The judge died. f. repeat a. through e. This cycle evoked two emotional responses from the Lord. First, He was angry (Judg 2:12-14, Judg 2:20; Judg 3:8; Judg 10:7), as idolatry always provoked His anger (Deut 4:25; Deut 31:17; Ps 78:58). Then, surprisingly, He had “compassion” each time Israel groaned under oppression (Judg 2:18). "He could bear Israel’s misery no longer” (Judg 10:16; "His heart became impatient over the misery of Israel" Amplified). There are no new racial teachings in Judges, rather the dire predictions of Moses came to pass: if Israel disobeyed the covenant, God would give them into the hands of the surrounding nations. These nations were hostile to God, and not a part of His plan other than as a scourge to Israel and an executor of divine punishment. 46 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “First and foremost, God is the true hero of the story. No matter how captivating the other characters may be, our top priority is to discover what the Bible reveals about God.” ― Carolyn Custis James BOOK OF RUTH – introduction The book of Ruth tells the extraordinary story of God’s faithfulness to Israel in the life and work of three ordinary people, Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. As they work through both economic hardship and prosperity, we see the hand of God at work most clearly in their productive agricultural labor, generous management of resources for the good of all, respectful treatment of co-workers, ingenuity in the face of necessity, and the conception and raising of children. Throughout everything God’s faithfulness to them creates opportunities for fruitful work, and their faithfulness to God brings the blessing of provision and security to each other and the people around them. The events in the book of Ruth take place at the time of the festival of the barley harvest (Ruth 1:22; 2:17, 23; 3:2, 15, 17), when the connection between God’s blessing and human labor was celebrated. Two passages from the Torah give the background of the festival (emphasis added): You shall observe the festival of harvest, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. (Exodus 23:16) You shall keep the festival of weeks for the Lord your God, contributing a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing that you have received from the Lord your God. Rejoice before the Lord your God—you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female slaves, the Levites resident in your towns, as well as the strangers, the orphans, and the widows who are among you—at the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and diligently observe these statutes. (Deuteronomy 16:10–12.) Together these passages establish a theological foundation for the events in the Book of Ruth. 1. God’s blessing is the source of human productivity (“blessing that you have received from the Lord”). 2. God bestows his blessing of productivity through human labor (“fruits of your labor”). 3. God calls people to provide opportunities to work productively (“remember that you were a slave in Egypt,” an allusion to God’s liberation of his people from slavery in Egypt and his provision for them in the wilderness and the land of Canaan) for poor and vulnerable people (“the strangers, the orphans and the widows.”) In sum, productivity of human labor is an extension of God’s work in the world, and God’s blessing on human labor is inextricably linked to God’s command to provide generously for those without the means to provide for themselves. These principles underlie the Book of Ruth. But the book is a narrative, not a theological treatise, and the story is compelling. 47 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “First and foremost, God is the true hero of the story. No matter how captivating the other characters may be, our top priority is to discover what the Bible reveals about God.” ― Carolyn Custis James BOOK OF RUTH – Author, outline and themes Author of the Book of Ruth: The author is not named. Although some sources credit Samuel the prophet, Samuel died before David's kingship, which is alluded to at the end of the book. Date Written: The book of Ruth was written sometime after 1010 B.C., since that was when David took the throne of Israel. It also refers to a "former time" in Israel, indicating it was written years after the actual events occurred. Written To: The audience of Ruth was the people of ancient Israel but eventually became all future readers of the Bible. Outline of the Book of Ruth: • Ruth returns to Judah from Moab with her mother-in-law, Naomi - Ruth 1:1-22. • Ruth gleans grain in the field of Boaz. The law required property owners to leave some grain for the poor and widows, like Ruth - Ruth 2:1-23. • Following Jewish customs, Ruth lets Boaz know he is a kinsman redeemer and that she is eligible to marry him - Ruth 3:1-18. • Boaz marries Ruth; together they care for Naomi. Ruth and Boaz have a son who becomes an ancestor of Jesus, the Messiah - Ruth 4:1-28. Themes in the Book of Ruth: Faithfulness is one of the key themes of this book. We see Ruth's faithfulness to Naomi, Boaz's faithfulness to Ruth, and everyone's faithfulness to God. God, in return, rewards them with great blessings. These characters' faithfulness led to kindness toward each other. Kindness is an outpouring of love. Everyone in this book showed the type of selfless love toward others that God expects from his followers. A high sense of honor also dominates this book. Ruth was a hardworking, morally chaste woman. Boaz treated her with respect, while fulfilling his lawful responsibility. We see strong examples of obeying God's laws. A sense of safekeeping is emphasized in the book of Ruth. Ruth took care of Naomi, Naomi took care of Ruth, then Boaz took care of both women. Finally, God took care of all of them, blessing Ruth and Boaz with a child they named Obed, who became the grandfather of David. From David's line came Jesus of Nazareth, Savior of the world. Finally, redemption is a underlying theme in the book of Ruth. As Boaz, the "kinsman redeemer," saves Ruth and Naomi from a hopeless situation, he illustrates how Jesus Christ redeems our lives. 48 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “the bible gives me a deep comforting sense that (things seen are temporal, and things unseen are eternal.” ― Helen Keller 1 AND 2 BOOKS OF SAMUEL - INTRODUCTION 1 and 2 books of Samuel describe the rise and development of kingship in Israel. Samuel is a pivotal figure. He bridges the gap between the period of the Judges and the monarchy, and guides Israel’s transition to kingship. A Deuteronomistic editor presents both positive and negative traditions about the monarchy, portraying it both as evidence of Israel’s rejection of the Lord as their sovereign (1 Sm 8:6–22;12:1–25) and as part of God’s plan to deliver the people (1 Sm 9:16; 10:17–27; 2 Sm 7:8–17). Samuel’s misgivings about abuse of royal power foreshadow the failures and misdeeds of Saul and David and the failures of subsequent Israelite kings. Although the events described in 1 and 2 Samuel move from the last of the judges to the decline of David’s reign and the beginning of a legendary “Golden Age” under Solomon’s rule, this material does not present either a continuous history or a systematic account of this period. The author/editor developed a narrative timeline around freely composed speeches, delivered by prophets like Samuel (e.g., 1 Sm 15:10–31; 28:15–19) and Nathan (2 Sm 12:1–12), who endorse Deuteronomistic perspectives regarding the establishment of the monarchy, the relationship between worship and obedience, and the divine covenant established with the house of David. These books include independent blocks (e.g., the Ark Narrative [1 Sm 4:1–7:1], Saul’s rise to power [1 Sm 9:1–11:15], David’s ascendancy over Saul [1 Sm 16–31], the Succession Narrative [2 Sm 9–20; 1 Kgs 1–2]), which the editor shaped into three narrative cycles, the last two marked by transitional passages in 1 Sm 13:1and 2 Sm 1:1. Each section focuses on a major figure in the development of the monarchy: Samuel, the reluctant king maker (1 Sm 1– 12); Saul, the king whom the Lord rejects (1 Sm 13–31); David, the king after the Lord’s own heart (2 Sm 1–24). A common theme unites these narratives: Israel’s God acts justly, prospering those who remain faithful and destroying those who reject his ways (1 Sm 2:9). Along with the rest of the Deuteronomistic History, the Books of Samuel become an object lesson for biblical Israel as it tries to re-establish its religious identity after the destruction of Jerusalem and the loss of its homeland (587/586 B.C.). 49 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them.” ― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions 1 AND 2 BOOKS OF SAMUEL – THEME The Book of Samuel is a theological evaluation of kingship in general and of dynastic kingship and David in particular. The main themes of the book are introduced in the opening poem (the "Song of Hannah"): (1), the sovereignty of Yahweh, God of Israel; (2), the reversal of human fortunes; and (3), kingship. These themes are played out in the stories of the three main characters, Samuel, Saul and David. Samuel Samuel answers the description of the "prophet like Moses" predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15–22: like Moses, he has direct contact with Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, acts as a judge, and is a perfect leader who never makes mistakes. Samuel's successful defence of the Israelites against their enemies demonstrates that they have no need for a king (who will, moreover, introduce inequality), yet despite this the people demand a king. But the king they are given is Yahweh's gift, and Samuel explains that kingship can be a blessing rather than a curse if they remain faithful to their God. On the other hand, total destruction of both king and people will result if they turn to wickedness. Saul Saul is the chosen one, a king appointed by Yahweh, and anointed by Samuel, Yahweh's prophet, and yet he is ultimately rejected. Saul has two faults which make him unfit for the office of king: he carries out a sacrifice in place of Samuel (1 Samuel 13:8–14), and he fails to complete the genocide of the Amalekites as God has ordered (1 Samuel 15). David One of the main units within Samuel is the "History of David's Rise", the purpose of which is to justify David as the legitimate successor to Saul. The narrative stresses that he gained the throne lawfully, always respecting "the Lord's anointed" (i.e. Saul) and never taking any of his numerous chances to seize the throne by violence. As God's chosen king over Israel David is also the son of God ("I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me..." – 2 Samuel 7:14). God enters into an eternal covenant (treaty) with David and his line, promising divine protection of the dynasty and of Jerusalem through all time. 50 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “All that I am I owe to Jesus Christ, revealed to me in His divine Book.” ― David Livingstone INTRODUCTION – BOOK OF 1 KINGS Ancient Israel had such great potential. It was the promised land of God's chosen people. King David, a mighty warrior, conquered Israel's enemies, ushering in an era of peace and prosperity. David's son, King Solomon, received extraordinary wisdom from God. He built a magnificent temple, increased trade, and became the richest man of his time. But against God's clear command, Solomon married foreign wives, who led him away from singular worship of Jehovah. Solomon's book of Ecclesiastes details his mistakes and regret. A series of mostly weak and idolatrous kings followed Solomon. Once a unified kingdom, Israel was divided. The worst of the kings was Ahab, who along with his queen Jezebel, encouraged the worship of Baal, the Canaanite sun-god and his female consort Ashtoreth. This peaked in a colossal showdown between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. After their false prophets were slain, Ahab and Jezebel swore revenge against Elijah, but it was God who exacted punishment. Ahab was slain in battle. We can draw two lessons from 1 Kings. First, the company we keep can have a good or bad influence on us. Idolatry is still a danger today, but in more subtle forms. When we have a solid understanding of what God expects from us, we are better prepared to choose wise friends and avoid temptation. Second, Elijah's severe depression after his triumph on Mount Carmel shows us God's patience and loving kindness. Today, the Holy Spirit is our comforter, bringing us through life's valley experiences. Author of 1 Kings: The books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings were originally one book. Jewish tradition credits Jeremiah the prophet as the author of 1 Kings, although Bible scholars are divided on the issue. Others attribute a group of anonymous authors called the Deuteronomists, since language from the book of Deuteronomy is repeated in 1 Kings. The true author of this book is unknown. 51 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” ― D.L. Moody BOOKS OF 1 AND 2 KINGS Who wrote the book? Like the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings originally were one book. In the Hebrew Bible the book of Kings continued the narrative started in Samuel. The Septuagint separated them into two parts. We derive our English title “Kings” from Jerome’s Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible. No one knows the author of 1 and 2 Kings, though some commentators have suggested Ezra, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah as possible authors. Because the entire work encompasses a time period of more than four hundred years, several source materials were used to compile the records. Certain clues such as literary styles, themes woven throughout the book, and the nature of material used point to a single compiler or author rather than multiple compilers or authors. This person assembled the manuscript while God’s people were in exile at Babylon (see 2 Kings). But he didn’t complete the work until the Babylonians released King Jehoiachin after thirty-seven years in prison (560 BC), most likely completing it within another twenty years. Where are we? First Kings opens describing the final days of King David (around 971 BC) and the conspiracies surrounding his succession. When David died (1 Kings 2:10), Solomon ascended the throne and established himself as a strong and wise leader. In the early years of Solomon’s reign, Israel experienced its “glory days.” Its influence, economy, and military power enjoyed little opposition; its neighbors posed no strong military threat. Shortly after Solomon’s death in 931 BC (1 Kings 11:43), the kingdom was divided into northern (Israel) and southern (Judah) entities. First Kings follows the history of this divided kingdom through the year 853 BC. Why is First Kings so important? Those kings who reigned under God’s authority—who remained faithful to the Law—experienced God’s blessings. But those kings who deviated from the Law experienced curses. First Kings reveals Solomon’s relationship with Yahweh, emphasizing Solomon’s divinely given wisdom and wealth. Solomon’s reputation reached far beyond Israel’s borders to modern-day Yemen, the queen of Sheba’s likely home (1 Kings 10:1–13). Solomon’s numerous marriages and extensive harem are the stuff of legends, but they led to his wandering faith in later years. Solomon did, however, build the temple, God’s permanent dwelling place among His people. First Kings also introduces the prophet Elijah, who pronounced God’s judgment on the evil northern king Ahab. In addition to performing other miracles, Elijah won a dramatic confrontation with false prophets on Mount Carmel (18:1–46). 52 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The reason you don't like the Bible, you old sinner, is because it knows all about you.” ― Billy Sunday BOOK OF 2 KINGS Author: The Book of 2 Kings does not name its author. The tradition is that the prophet Jeremiah was the author of both 1 and 2 Kings. Date of Writing: The Book of 2 Kings, along with 1 Kings, was likely written between 560 and 540 B.C. Purpose of Writing: The Book of 2 Kings is a sequel to the Book of 1 Kings. It continues the story of the kings over the divided kingdom (Israel and Judah.) The Book of 2 Kings concludes with the final overthrow and deportation of the people of Israel and Judah to Assyria and Babylon, respectively. Key Verses:2 Kings 17:7-8: "All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced." 2 Kings 22:1a-2: "Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left." 2 Kings 24:2: “The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.”2 Kings 8:19: “Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.” Brief Summary:Second Kings depicts the downfall of the divided kingdom. Prophets continue to warn the people that the judgment of God is at hand, but they will not repent. The kingdom of Israel is repeatedly ruled by wicked kings, and even though a few of Judah's kings are good, the majority of them lead the people away from worship of Jehovah. These few good rulers, along with Elisha and other prophets, cannot stop the nation's decline. The Northern Kingdom of Israel is eventually destroyed by the Assyrians, and about 136 years later the Southern Kingdom of Judah is destroyed by the Babylonians. There are three prominent themes present in the Book of 2 Kings. First, the Lord will judge His people when they disobey and turn their backs on Him. The Israelites’ unfaithfulness was reflected in the evil idolatry of the kings and resulted in God exercising His righteous wrath against their rebellion. Second, the word of the true prophets of God always comes to pass. Because the Lord always keeps His word, so too are the words of His prophets always true. Third, the Lord is faithful. He remembered His promise to David (2 Samuel 7:10-13), and, despite the disobedience of the people and the evil kings who ruled them, the Lord did not bring David’s family to an end. 53 BIBLE QUOTE OF THE MONTH “The Bible will teach you, correct you, instruct you, and give you hope.” ― Elizabeth George Introduction to 1 Chronicles A flood devastates a community. Houses that were not swept away are filled knee-deep with mud. As the waters recede at last, the residents return and look at the damage. At first they're numb, then grief-stricken over their losses. Finally, they take courage and tackle the job of rebuilding, and soon a renewed community emerges from the wreckage. That's the sort of situation that faced the Jews on their return to Jerusalem after their exile to Babylon. Their city and temple had been ransacked by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C. (2Ki 25:8-12). After Persia took over Babylon, King Cyrus gave the Jews permission to return and rebuild. Nehemiah made an inspection tour and found massive destruction (Ne 2:11-17). It was enough to dishearten even the most loyal Jew. Enter Ezra, the priest, traditionally considered the author of the Chronicles. (They were originally written as one book but later divided, probably because the single scroll was unwieldy for reading aloud in the synagogue.) Ezra was a man with a purpose. He made the journey back to Jerusalem to help rebuild the temple and restore the worship of God (Ezr 7:6-10). With everything in ruins, surrounded by unfriendly non-Jews who had been imported by Nebuchadnezzar, the people needed encouragement to begin—and finish—the work. They also needed admonitions to stay faithful to the Lord. The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles were apparently written to provide that encouragement and admonition. At first glance the Chronicles don't look very encouraging! First Chronicles begins with one of those dreaded "name" lists: genealogies beginning all the way back at Adam. While it's not very interesting for us to read nine chapters of someone else's family tree, it must have been fascinating for the returning Jews to reestablish contact with their broken history. After the genealogies, 1 Chronicles briefly sums up the life of Israel's first king, Saul, then begins a lengthy account of the life of King David. Skipping over David's sins and failures—we have to go to 2 Samuel to find those—it relates in adventure-story style the conquest of Jerusalem, triumphs of David and his warriors, the bringing of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, and David's dying in honor and high regard. Throughout the book the Lord's hand is seen, blessing obedience and faithfulness with success. Our circumstances are different, but we still need encouragement to continue the work God has given us. What needs to be renewed in your life? During your quiet times in 1 Chronicles, you will discover those places where you need to seek renewal—and the courage you need to begin the process. You can praise God along with David: "In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all" (1Ch 29:12).