Story and History

Story and History

Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Job 1:1-12, 1 Samuel 8:7-20
Date: 10/02/2010  Lesson: 1
A look at some Old Testament stories help us understand the purpose of setting and plot in Bible storytelling.

Daniel: A Reader's Guide by William H. Shea

Daniel: A Reader's Guide by William H. Shea
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Good morning and a very Happy Sabbath to those of you who are joining us this morning for "central study hour," coming to you from Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. We welcome you, and we're so glad that you are tuning in, whether you're listening on the radio this morning, live on our website at saccentral.org, or watching on the various television networks. It is a privilege to have you join with us every week. And many of you do because we get your song requests. And of course we're going to sing a couple of those this morning.

I want to introduce you to our visitors that you see behind jolyne and i. This is the capitol city corral. And I thought the angels were singing extra loud this morning, because it sounds wonderful as we were warming up with a couple songs. So we're very excited to have them with us this morning. And I know that you will receive a blessing listening to them.

So let's start our song service with 442, "how sweet are the tidings." This is a request from erica in antigua and barbuda, courage in cameroon, aberdeen in grenada, peta in jamaica, shekinah in the Philippines, vicky, veronica and stephen in trinidad and tobago, nono and joey in england, melanee in North Carolina, susan in Maine, florence in Massachusetts, abdullah in Ohio, ivrose in New York, robert in Oregon and manyoni in zambia. Amen. 442, 1St, 2nd and 4th stanza. [Music] I was really liking that second stanza when it was talking about the millions that sleep in the mighty deep. You know, you think about the resurrection, you always think about the earth opening up and people coming out.

Imagine the ocean, people just popping out. Hey, it's gonna happen. How exciting. Hopefully we will all be ready so that we can meet our loved ones. Our next song, 206, "face to face," 206.

This is from, let's see, matuzalem in angola, ronald in Arizona, stephen, kenyon, felicia, loma and reanna in australia, sterferson in brazil, elbi in California, rsalynn in columbia, karl and maisie in France, kindy in grenada, montina in Indiana, melvin and bessie in Maryland, janice in mauritius, Isaac jr. And rebecca in netherlands, rick and anjelique in New Jersey, cathy, alex and neessa in New York, lo in new zealand, nwolu and obinna in nigeria, mary in Oklahoma, wilson in omen, aida in Pennsylvania, jojo in Philippines, julie in Texas and bronwinn in trinidad and tobago. This is a favorite, 206, 1st, 2nd and 4th stanza. [Music] Let's bow our heads for prayer. Father in Heaven, we thank you so much for loving us and for giving us the assurance that if we are faithful, we will one day see you face to face.

And we know that with what's happening in this world that that will be very soon. And I just pray that each one of us will be ready and that we will each day be converted and that we will live our lives as true Christians, that we believe that you are coming. And we thank you so much for blessing us with the Sabbath. And we thank you so much for giving us this special day once a week. And I pray that we will never forget what you have done for us and that we will honor you by keeping it holy.

In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our youth pastor, pastor steve allred. I thought the choir was going to stay up here behind me. I was looking forward to that. They sound really good, don't they? Amen.

The year was 1485, king richard iii of england was preparing to battle henry the earl of richmond. And their armies were to meet on the field of battle this afternoon. And so the King sent his horse to the blacksmith to have the horse shod. And as the horse there was being taken by the King's groom, they arrived at the blacksmith's shop. And he said, "you're going to have to wait.

I've been taking care of all the King's horses today, and I don't have enough iron to do one more set of shoes. You're going to have to wait just a few minutes. And the groom said, "no, no, no. the King told me he wants his horse ready now." You can even hear the trumpets sounding the troops for battle. the King needs his horse quickly.

So the blacksmith said, "alright, I'll do what I can." And he patiently returned to the job at hand. He took an iron bar from his shop. He began to hammer out shoes that would fit the King's horse. Finally he had the shoes ready, and he began to take his little hammer and nail the shoes onto the horse. But as he got to the last shoe of the horse he realized that he was running out of nails.

And so he said, "you're going to have to wait. I've got to hammer out a couple more nails here." "No, listen, you don't understand. the King is impatient. He'll be angry with both of us. Quickly, you need to do whatever you can to get shoe and the horse ready.

" "Alright, I can do that, but it won't be as secure as the other shoes." And so he hammered the shoe on, the last one with not as many nails as he normally did. The battle started. The two armies met, the horses, the armies, the swords clashed. At one end of the large battlefield, king richard saw his troops falling back and so he spurred his horse across the battlefield. He thought, you know, "if I can rally my troops.

Faster, faster, almost there!" But as galloped across the battlefield, the shoe flew off the horse, the horse stumbled. the King was thrown off the horse, quickly captured, the battle ended, and henry earl of richmond became the next king of england. And so the little poem that you have undoubtedly heard before was born from this experience. And here's what it was: "for want of a nail a shoe was a lost. For want of a shoe a horse was lost.

For want of a horse," a what? "A battle was lost," right? "And for want of a battle a kingdom was lost. All for the want of a little horseshoe nail." Interesting story, isn't it? Teaches us a lot of things. One little tiny thing can make a big difference, one little element. It also tells us that we, even though we may be insignificant in this vast world with 6 billion other people on the planet that we are still important, aren't we? We are still important as individuals. Now, if I had told you the poem, if I had come up here and just read you the poem.

"For want of a nail a shoe was lost. For want of a shoe a horse was lost. For want of a horse a battle was lost. And for want of a battle a kingdom was lost. All for the want of a horseshoe nail.

" If I had just recited that to you, how many of you think you would have remembered it as well as you now will because you know the story that it was born from? You gonna remember it better you think? The power of story. It's an amazing power, isn't it? And today that's what we're talking about actually. We're talking about the power of stories. We forget so much easier just the abstract facts, don't we? But when we understand it in the context of life, it makes it a lot easier to plug it into our own lives, doesn't it? And so for the next few months, we're going to be delving into our new lesson quarterly here, "background characters in the old testament," background characters in the Bible. And we're going to be looking at a lot of stories, some of which aren't ones that we talk about very much, kind of the more insignificant ones maybe.

Did you know that Jesus taught almost exclusively with stories? In fact, I don't remember very many times when he sat down and said, "alright, let me give you a list of facts here and figures, you know. Let me write some points down on the chalkboard here for you." I mean Jesus didn't teach like that, did he? Most of the time he sat down, he said, "the Kingdom of heaven is like..." Fill in the blank , right? So many interesting stories that he taught. You know, it's interesting. I think one of the reasons why God does this is maybe that truth again, like I just said, is understood better in the context of real life. That's one reason.

It's better remembered. And plus, have you noticed this? If someone just tells you a fact about yourself, especially one that's not very pleasant--and is it true, the truth can sometimes be unpleasant? If someone just comes up to you and splats it right out there, the truth--Jesus, I think, one of the reasons he told stories was so that it would be easier for us to swallow. You know, when we hear the truth, it makes it easier. God wants to do everything he can to help us to accept the truth. And so he makes it as easy as he can.

And yet sometimes even in those stories, the truth comes through so powerfully. It just convicts us, doesn't it? In fact, I'm thinking of one story really quick in the old--in the new testament. Luke 10, Jesus one day was confronted with a question, Luke 10. You know, they were always trying to get 'em, weren't they? The pharisees, the lawyers, the people who were always out to see if they could find a way to trip him and trap him. And so one day this guy came to him and he said, verse 25, Luke chapter 10, "a lawyer stood up and," put to him the test-- "put him to the test, saying, 'teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'" And Jesus said, "well, what do you read in the Bible?" You know, what does it tell you to do? We're supposed to go for truth, right? And so the guy answered, he said, "well, love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.

" And Jesus said, "you're right." And the guy was like, "well that was too easy. I didn't trip him up." So them he came back with another question, "well, who's my neighbor?" Got him there. Because if Jesus had just, you know, recited, "well, everyone's your neighbor," he could have said, "well, what about that despicable, scumbag, samaritan? Those people, are they my neighbor? Do I have to really be nice to them?" That's what the jews thought of anyone who wasn't a jew. And so Jesus didn't even go there. He didn't just recite the facts.

He told a story. And you can't really argue with a story very easily, can you? You can't argue with someone's experience see, 'cause it's like it happened, right? So he told the story. He said, "well there was a man who was going from Jerusalem down to Jericho. He was a Jewish man. He was a good man, one of the saved.

" You know, that's who he was talking to, one of these, a Jewish lawyer here. He said, "he was a jew just like you going down, and on the way some robbers waylaid him and they beat him. They took everything he had, and they left him for dead. And as he's laying there in his own blood dying, some-- a priest comes by. And he sees him, and he thinks: you know, I'm going to be late to my appointment if I deal with this, and I don't want to get my hands dirty; let's keep going.

A levite comes by," same story. Then Jesus says, "finally there was a man who was a samaritan," one of those people. He comes by. He realizes this is going to take some time and effort and money, but he's willing to do that. He stops.

He takes care of the man. He puts him on his own donkey. He pours in his own oil, his own wine. He takes him to an inn. He pays for his accommodations and his care.

And then Jesus posed the question. He said, "so who was the neighbor? Who was the neighbor in this story?" I mean what are you going to say to that, right? You can't argue with-- I mean that story, it just, it hit home. And the lawyer said, "well, I suppose the man who, you know, cared for him." Yeah. He couldn't say the word, "samaritan," you know, that would--but Jesus was okay with that. He said he got his point home.

He got his point home. And so stories are hard to argue with. The truth is embodied in stories in the Bible because God wants us to understand how it relates to us in our everyday life. He wants us also to be able to accept it in our everyday life. And so that's why so much of the Bible is written in narrative or story form, story form, real life examples of how those abstract rules affected people's lives.

So--but I'm getting ahead of ourselves. We're talking about the old testament here, so let's go back. Let's go back to the old testament. In just a minute, I want to read with you from the book of job. So you can open up to job 1, and we'll be ready to read there in a moment.

This week's lesson, lesson number 1 in our quarterly is kind of a helicopter flyover of the old testament stories that we'll be looking at this upcoming quarter. So we're looking at just the big pictures. We're trying to see what the landscape looks like here. And to do that, we need to understand the elements of story. What are the elements of story.

When you have a good story, my friend, steve case, says that there are at least three main components to a story. He teaches a preaching class that I take some of our youth to. And he says three different components. Number one, every story has to have a situation. Right? Every good story then has to have another element.

The second element is complication. What's a story without some complication, right? I mean people who produce movies and tv shows know this. And so they always end on a, you know, something's going to happen. You don't know what, so you've got to watch the next show, right, complication. And then every good story, unless you want it to really just leave people hanging, it has to have resolution.

Right? If you don't have resolution, you kind of feel like, "that was unfulfilling. Where did that go?" You know? So situation, complication, and finally resolution. Well, today we're going to look at the situation part of the old testament stories. So we're looking at the--the lesson calls it, "the setting." And we're going to look at some of the settings. You might be like, "well, today's lesson is kind of scatterbrained.

And it is. We're going to jump around a lot, but understand that we're looking at the big picture here today. So let's go to job, job 1. This is an interesting story, because right here in the first 12 verses we see, you could say, two dimensions to this story. Okay? Let's see if we can find out what those are.

So it says, verse 1, "there was a man in the land of uz, whose name was job," this is verse 1, "and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil." Here's job. This is him, right? So he has, look at verse 2, "seven sons and three daughters were born to him. His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, and the man was the greatest of all the men in the east." This guy is just, he is powerful, he's rich, he's got everything going for him. That's pretty remarkable. "The greatest man in the east.

" So it goes on, talks about his sons. It says his sons used to go and have a feast. And they would eat and drink and invite their sisters. In verse 5, it says, "and when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, job would send and consecrate them." And he was a good father. He would have worship with his kids.

He would present a sacrifice, it says, "a burnt offering," for all of them. "For job said, 'for perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' Thus job did continually." So that's the first dimension of the story. Now if I were to tell you a story, if you were to tell me a story about your life, this is the dimension, the human horizontal level that we would be able to tell. But then the story of job, verse 6, tells us another perspective. Look what it says.

"Now there was a day when The Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord." Wait, suddenly we've switched scenes, haven't we? You know, that's what good tv shows do for you, right? I don't recommend watching tv. Not all tv is bad. But a tv show that keeps your attention, what does it do? They're here for a minute and then you're back in time, or you're in another place, another situation. That's exactly what the Bible does here, this story. Look what it does, verse 6, "there was a day when The Sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord.

Satan also came among them. the Lord said to satan, 'from where do you come?' And satan answered the Lord and said, 'I've been roaming around on the earth, walking around on it.'" Sounds kind of evil, doesn't it? I mean just, yeah, roaming around. "the Lord said to satan, 'have you considered my servant job, there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil?' Then satan answered the Lord, 'does job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge about him and his house, and all that he has on every side? Have you blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But God, I'm going to show you that it's just because he likes the benefits, that's why he's your friend.'" That's been satan's argument all along, hasn't it? He's like, "listen, take your hand away, remove your hand and touch all he has, and he will surely curse your face!" "Then the Lord said to satan, 'behold, if you really think that's true, all that he has is in your power; only do not put forth your hand on him.'" And so it says, "satan departed from the presence of the Lord." Boy, I wish we could talk about the story of job today, but we really can't with all we have to talk about. But the setting of the story of job is so enlightening, isn't it? If we didn't know that second dimension, that second part where it tells us what was going on up there, we wouldn't understand most of the book of job, would we? But did you know that most of the Bible has this second dimension? You know, human stories just talk about what we can see, what we experience down here.

But the Bible has this other layer, this other level, this dimension that tells us what's going on in the supernatural around us, tells us what's going on up in heaven. And that's what makes the Bible such a unique book. And as we look through the stories this quarter, we're going to see that that other dimension brings so much meaning. And it will help us to understand God even better. So we look at the story of job.

Job was a man who feared God, he shunned evil. You know, it's interesting. The lesson points out that, to draw a couple of lessons out of this, that these characteristics to fear God, to shun evil, these aren't things that we consider important in our culture and our world today, are they? Not things that we'd consider important. In fact, you've heard the saying, "nice guys finish last." Right? I mean hey, come on. You're not going to get up that corporate ladder unless you trample on somebody else.

You've heard the--you've seen the expression that--or you've heard and seen the reality that people lose their careers for being honest and standing up for what they believe. Happens all the time. And yet the story of job presents a completely different picture. Here's this guy who stands up for what's right. He loves God.

He fears God, and yet he's the greatest man in the east. He's the richest, the most successful. What a neat story. What an inspiring story, isn't it? Wow. And yet, in all of this job didn't let it get to his head.

He knew where it all came from. He feared God. And he honored God in even the minor things, even blessing his kids and making sure that they were right with God. Wow, powerful story. Alright, so let's see.

They take us next in our lesson to the book of 2 Kings. I told you we'd be jumping around a bit, and we will be. So 2 Kings is before the book of job in your Bible. It's in the old testament there still, 2 Kings 22. And this verse, verse 14 brings to light a very obscure person.

In fact, I think this is the only place in the whole Bible where this lady is mentioned. Let's read about it. 2 Kings 22:14, very interesting little verse here. It says, "so hilkiah the priest, ahikam, achbor, shaphan, and asaiah--" those are some fun names-- "went to huldah the prophetess, the wife of shallum The Son of tikvah, and The Son of harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. Now she lived in Jerusalem in the second quarter.

And they spoke to her. And she said to them, 'thus says the Lord God of Israel,'" dot, dot, dot. Here was this lady, she was a prophet, or prophetess if you want to call her that, who lived in Jerusalem. And huldah was respected and her word was--people believed that God spoke through this lady. And so in this case, the priest and some of his buddies went to visit this lady huldah to see what God's Word was.

Pretty amazing, huh? Now we don't know much about huldah. All we know is what this verse tells us. She was the wife of a man who in Bible times, genealogy was reckoned through the male side of the family usually. It was a patriarchal society. And so they said, "okay, this is who she is.

" We're going to identify her by who she's married to." And look what it says. "She lived in Jerusalem in the second quarter." It tells us what her address was, kind of interesting. So here's this lady that we don't know much about, but we realize from this story that just like every tv show has a lead actor, you also have to have what? Supporting actors, don't you? And you could say that huldah is one of the supporting actors in the Bible stories. She is someone who is kind of behind the scenes, and yet she's important. The Bible narrative usually tends to be very concise and brief and not very much fat or detail is there.

Right? And so that's why we need to pay attention to all the details of the story. Alright, so now we're going to skip on to something else. So we just wanted to introduce you to huldah there. And I guess we'll talk about her later in the quarter maybe, okay? Alright. One thing the lesson brought out I thought was important was, so you have the situation, or the plot.

But if you just had a plot with no actual characters, the story wouldn't be interesting, would it? It wouldn't even really exist. And so the point is that people make plots really. Characters make plots. And for example, huldah is one of those characters in the Bible that it helps to make the plot. Now I have a question for you, if your story was written in the Bible, what would that story look like? How might your story read in contrast to how it ought to read? Have you ever thought about that? What would the second dimension, you know, the God-supernatural level of your story look like? Do you know what's going on behind the scenes in your own life? We lose a job, sometimes we think, you know, I lost this job and I have no idea why.

Why did God let this happen to me? If we could see behind the scenes, I bet we'd be amazed at all of the details that we have no idea that are happening, that are going on. I'm looking forward to that when we get to heaven, aren't you? Finding out more about what went on behind the scenes in each of our lives. So don't forget that your story is important too, that you have a part to play in this world, just like the story we started out with. The very small things matter. You might feel like you're small, you're insignificant.

But God has a place for each of us in this world that's very important. Alright, skipping on. Monday's lesson now, here we go. I've got someone out here in a minute who's going to read 1 Samuel 24 for us. 1 Samuel is there before the book of 1 Kings, 1 Samuel 24.

And let's see, verses 1 through 6. Now so the setting gives us an idea of the atmosphere and the mood of the story that we're talking about. If you were to hear a story that took place inside of an airport terminal, would you think that the story was a Bible story or one that happened back in martin luther's day? No, they didn't have airports back then, right? So the setting makes a difference. It tells us what's going on. Now this passage that Michael's going to read for us is the setting of a particular story that really sets the stage for what happens next.

And we'll talk about what happens next in a minute. So let's read it. 1 Samuel 24:1-6, nice long passage. Go for it. "Now it happened, when Saul had returned from following the philistines, that it was told him, saying, 'take note! David is in the wilderness of en gedi.

' Then Saul took 3,000 chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the rocks of the wild goats. So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. David and his men were staying in the recess of the caves. Then the men of David said to him, 'this is the day of which the Lord said to you, 'behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.'" And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul's robe. Now it happened afterward that David's heart troubled him because he had cut Saul's robe.

And he said to his men, 'the Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.'" Thanks Michael. Alright, before we talk about what's happening here in this story, I want to go to another passage. Go keep your finger there. Go back to Genesis 39. And we're going to read this passage.

And then we're going to compare the two. So Genesis 39, back there the first book in your Bible, verses 6 through 12. Now here's another setting for a story, a different story, completely different. Alright, Genesis 39:6, starting in verse 6. It says, "so he left everything he owned in Joseph's charge," he being potiphar, "and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate," Genesis 39, now in verse 6.

"Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. It came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, 'lie with me.' But he refused and he said to his master's wife, 'behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than i, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?' And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or to be with her. Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there.

She caught him by the garment, saying, 'lie with me!' And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside." Setting. Without this setting, without the setting that we just read, that Michael just read, neither story would be half as meaningful as they are now that we know what was going on that led up to the next events that we'll talk about. Going back to the story of David now. So the details described in the story of David there in the cave, his men, they were hiding out in the cave. Here they are.

Saul is chasing them. And it just so happens that Saul steps into the very cave that David and his men are hiding in. Talk about providential, right? I mean your enemy is right there, do him in. Get rid of this guy. I mean he's been hunting you down like a wild animal.

Come on. You're justified in doing this, but David said, "no, I can't do this. I can't touch the Lord's anointed. I'll let God deal with my enemies for me. Does that show you anything about David's character? What was his character like? I mean no one would have known.

Where did our king go? You know, they'd be looking for him and then finally they'd find him, maybe, later after it all was said and done. He could have just very quickly silently done away with him, bam! And yet his character was such that his integrity would not allow him to do that. That's powerful. You know they say character is what you are in the dark, right? No one's looking. Well, go back to story of Joseph, same thing, here he is.

Here he's a good-looking guy, you know. This lady's like, "come on, man, no one's here. My husband doesn't care. And no one's around, no one will know." I mean come on, Joseph could have covered this up. No problem, right? No problem.

And yet again we see his character shining through. It says here he is, nobody was in the house. She probably arranged that. And then suddenly bam! "Come on." "Nope," wouldn't do it. "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" Recently someone came and shared a similar situation like what happened in the story of Joseph with me.

Except for in this case, I guess both you could say were willing participants. The lady was married; the guy wasn't. And he said, "it's just so hard to resist. We're good friends. I like her.

I love her. I want her. But she's married." And I said, "but it's wrong." That's the issue. It's wrong. You know, at some point you just have to stand up to yourself with God's help and say, "no.

It doesn't matter how I feel. It doesn't matter if I feel this so strongly. It's wrong." And that's really where these stories of the Bible come through and they help us, because we see that there are people in the past who have experienced what we experience today. Human nature is the same, friends. It's not like it was easier for them back them.

I mean, yes, we are bombarded with more media and things like that today perhaps. But, it's the same human nature we're dealing with. Aren't you inspired by these stories? So how easy it would have been for both David and Joseph to rationalize away what they were doing, what they felt like doing maybe, what people around them were telling them to do. And how easy it is for us to rationalize our wrong actions, but we do not want to get caught into that trap. Well, moving on to the next lesson, Tuesday's lesson.

We're going to kind of skim through this here. But again it sets the setting. So after king David--I'm sorry, not after king David. This is after Israel came from Egypt. Now they've been in the wilderness and they come into the promised land.

They cross over the Jordan river. Remember the Jordan river parts for them to walk through on dry land. Yet they could have waded across, depending on the time of year. Sometimes the Jordan is very low. Other times it's quite high.

So it wasn't like it was impossible for them to get across. What was the reason, do you think, that God had the river part for them like that? Just to kind of show a cute magic trick, you know, they'd be excited? Do you think it was maybe it was because God wanted to show them again, "hey, I brought you through the red sea, and this is kind of like a reenactment of that miracle. And I want to show you that it's about me. I'm taking care of you. You didn't get yourself through the wilderness all these years.

I fed you, you know. You're not the ones who were going to conquer the promised land. I'm going to do that." So God begins this conquering of canaan with a miracle. But of course, you know what happened. Israel, as they conquered some land, they became-- they settled down and they failed to continue to conquer.

And as a result they began to intermarry with the canaanite people. And you know, whenever you're in that close a relationship with somebody, it's really hard to not be influenced by them. You know what I'm saying? You're married to someone who's not a believer in God and obviously if someone's married to someone who's not a believer in God and they come to the knowledge of the truth, that's a different story. But here these people were, they were believers in God and they made that choice. And they were influenced.

And the Bible says they began to do things that were not Godly like worshipping idols and things like that. So someone else has Judges 17:6. And I want to get us to read that here just one short verse. It kind of gives us a picture of now what the climate, you could say, was like in Israel at this time. Here we are.

Judges is in your old testament there, chapter--what did I say? 17, And verse 6. And jan is going to read that for us. "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." Interesting isn't it? Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. It was a free-for-all.

Whatever you want to do you can do it. There was no law enforcement around. Nobody was there to keep the peace. It was just like whatever you wanted to do. And so what happened now in Israel is you read the book of Judges from this point out is that there was a lot of yo-yo religion going on.

They'd get close to God, and then they'd fall very far away from God. And it would get really bad and then somebody would come along and say, "listen," you know, "do you really want to live like this?" And they'd say, "no, we want to go back to God." And then they'd go back to God for a while and then, you know, it just repeated itself. It was this vicious cycle that they were in. "Religious practices were fused with personal convenience," the lesson said, "and compromise with the surrounding cultures was widespread." What's so dangerous about compromise is that it comes quietly and almost imperceptibly. It's something that we don't detect often times.

And so the lesson asks this question. It really--I'm asking myself this question; how do you live differently now from when you-- from a few years ago? How do you live differently now? And is some of that difference in your lifestyle, could it be related to compromise in your own life? Might some of those changes be the result of compromise? You know, we come to God, we're fired up, we're on fire for God. But sometimes that fire begins to grow dim and we start to become Lukewarm and that is the definition of compromise right there. And we start--our lifestyle begins to change even. So it's not about keeping up a frenzied legalistic lifestyle of, you know, I gotta, you know--no, no, no.

It's about where's our heart? Are we, like-- I like what the book, "steps to Christ," says. It says if you want to know whether you're converted or not, ask yourself what do I talk about the most and what do I think about the most? That's really a simple test, you know. If you're thinking about Jesus, then you're in love with him. If you're thinking about a lot of other stuff a lot more than you're thinking about Jesus, then maybe you're not. That's a really simple test.

Now out of that our lifestyle flows. Whatever we do comes from what's in our heart. Ask yourself those questions, the hard questions. We need to be asking those right now, don't we? At this point in our world's history. Alright, next phase.

We're going to skim through this as well. Wednesday's lesson, Israel now. Here they are. They've been living this yo-yo religion for centuries and so finally one day the prophet Samuel comes along. I love this story, 1 Samuel 1-2.

I've been reading through it with some of our youth. We have some midweek Bible studies. And they're like, "hey, let's read through 1 Samuel." So we've been reading through it. Samuel, here he is, this young man. His mom brings him to the temple as a kid and he serves God as just a baby almost.

That's amazing, isn't it? The mom gives her kid up at, you know, 5 or 6 years old. That's pretty remarkable. Anyway, Samuel brings about-- God uses him to bring about reformation in Israel. And yet towards the end of his life, Israel says, you know what? We've been looking around at the Kingdoms around us. And we just kind of like the way they do stuff.

We'd like to have a king like they do. Okay. Samuel is just--it's like a knife to his heart. He feels like, you know, what's going on? They've rejected me from being their judge and their ruler. And so he goes to God, he says, "God, what's going on?" And God says, "listen, it's not you they've rejected.

It's me. They want to be like the nations around him? Alright, I'm going to give 'em what they want." Because you ever notice that that's what God does often times? We ask long enough, you know, and God says, "you really want it? I'm going to give it to you." It's like a parent. Sometimes you have to do that for your kids, don't you? So they'll figure out, "hey, it's not just mom and dad telling me not to do this, it's for real. I shouldn't have done this." You know, and so God says, "if you want a king, I'm going to give you a king." So they get a king. He's tall, he's handsome, he's good-looking.

It says he stood head and shoulders above everyone else in Israel. He's what they want, someone who's regal. But come to find out his character is rotten, sad to say. Really sad story actually, the story of Saul. Could have been so much different.

He just made some really bad choices. And so our story goes, and you can read it sometime, 1 Samuel 8:7-20. We're not going to read it today, how basically Saul eventually is rejected by God. You can read the book of 1 Samuel there. And then God chooses David.

David comes along. David is not perfect, but at least David's heart is towards God. He wants to serve God so he makes some big mistakes. He repents. He has some successes and some failures.

And then he dies. His son comes along. His name is Solomon. Solomon's reign is characterized by peace and by plenty. And yet at the end of his life, Solomon marries women who are not converted basically and his life goes off course.

He begins to worship idols and sacrifice his children to idols, very despicable sins. So after Solomon's death, another epoch in the history of Israel we could say, another dividing line begins. Solomon's son, rehoboam, starts to reign. I'd like to take you now to 1 Kings 12. Let's look at this story here quickly, 1 Kings 12, back there in your old testament.

So here he was. Solomon had a very strong-handed approach you could say. He had conscripted a lot of people to come and work on different projects. He had taxed the people quite heavily. And then of course he had apostatized in his later years.

And so at the beginning of the reign of rehoboam, his son, after Solomon had died, there was a lot of tension in Israel, understandably. People were not really following God, and they were kind of unhappy with what was going on. And so here's what happens, 1 Kings 12, it says, "then rehoboam," Solomon's son, "went to shechem, for all Israel had come to shechem to make him king." So they were coming. It was the coronation day. "Now when jeroboam The Son of nebat heard about it--" jeroboam is a different guy than rehoboam.

You gotta make sure you circle that there. "He was still in Egypt, for he was yet in Egypt where he had fled from the presence of king Solomon." Someone had told jeroboam that he was going to be king some day. Solomon found out about it and had tried to kill him. It says, "then they sent and called him. And jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and spoke to rehoboam, saying," verse 4, "your father made our yoke hard; now therefore, lighten the hard service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he hath put on us, and we will serve you.

Then he said to them, 'depart for three days, and return to me.' So the people departed." Remember we're looking at setting here today, okay. So here's the setting now for this next, this next period of Israel's history. Verse 6, "so king rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, 'how do you counsel me to answer these people?'" "What should I do?" "Then they spoke to him, saying, 'if you will be a servant to these people today, and will serve them, and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.'" Treat 'em nice, buddy, and they'll be good to you. Right? Makes sense. But it says, verse 8, "he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.

" Well, there are a couple lessons here so far, aren't there? Verse 9, so he said to them, "what counsel do you give me? That we may answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, 'lighten the yoke which your father put on us?' The young men," verse 10, "who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, 'thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, 'your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us,' but you shall speak to them: 'my little finger is thicker than my father's loins! Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions!'" Wow. I think rehoboam was missing out on a lot of his father's famous wisdom, right? Tell you what, something else I learned from this. You know, it's easy to surround ourselves in many areas of life with people that agree with us. Isn't that true? I don't necessary--it's human nature not to really be around people that are different than us. We just like to be around people that are like us, whether it be in our philosophy or the way we look, or the way we, you know, like to do certain things.

Whatever it is, it's natural. But it's not always the best thing, according to this story. Because he had his buddies there, and their counsel was not wise, was it? The lesson I'm learning from this is learn to listen to people that have perspectives different from your own. Learn to listen to people who might even disagree with you, because it's good for you. It challenges you.

And even though you may come to whatever conclusion you come to, it's always good to be able to see a different perspective. So skimming through the end of this story, basically what happens here is Israel began to apostacize. Judah began to apostacize. King jeroboam won, the first jeroboam had two golden calves made, because see the northern kingdom, the ten tribes, they received the northern part of the territory of Israel. That's where they lived.

And rehoboam had the southern part that included the temple. And so of course after the split of the two kingdoms, where do you think people were going to go to worship every year at the annual feast? To the temple. And so jeroboam thought, "man, I'm going to have all my people going down south. I don't want that, because if they go down there their hearts might be turned, and they might begin to, you know, feel like they like rehoboam. And so he set up two golden calves that he made as a counterfeit worship, center for, obviously not for God, but as a counterfeit worship center.

And of course things did not get better after that. Of course in the southern kingdom with David's dynasty there, rehoboam, things were not good as well. There were some Kings who were good, jehoshaphat, hezekiah, josiah. They tried to turn Israel back to God. But eventually both the northern kingdom eventually was taken off into captivity by the assyrians.

And the southern kingdom eventually was taken into captivity and destroyed by the Kingdom of Babylon. And so the lesson said this. They said in 586 b.c. Jerusalem falls to the Babylonians. The leadership and much of the city's population are taken to Babylon.

The temple is destroyed. The royal experiment had come to an end, the royal experiment. The experiment with having an earthly king had come to an end. If you would like to read a really clear and enlightening expose on this whole idea of theocracy and how it came to an end there after Israel had apostacized and at the Babylonian captivity, I recommend taking the book, "Patriarchs and Prophets." Most of you probably have that. If not, you can go online and you can find this.

And in the very back of the book is an appendix. It's called, "on the question of theocratic government." And the reason I bring this up is because today this is a current news topic. Have you heard people saying that we need to bring America back to God and make it a theocracy once again. You probably heard these kinds of things going on. But I have some news for you, friends.

And that is that the theocracy ended when Jerusalem was taken off to Babylon. There has been no theocracy since. Let me give you a couple of Scriptures just to show you really quickly why that's true. If you go to Ezekiel 21, I'll read it to you real quick. You may not have time to turn there.

Ezekiel 21:25-27, write these verses down. I'll throw out a few to you. Speaking about the last king of Israel. His name was zedekiah, the last king of judah. Here's what Ezekiel the prophet had to say from God.

"Remove the diadem and take off the crown." In other words, we're taking this king off of his thrown. No more kingdom. And then he said this. "I will overturn," overturn, overturn, "it. And it," the Kingdom, "shall be no more until he come whose right it is.

And I will give it to him." Who was the one who was going to come whose right the Kingdom of God is? Jesus, absolutely. And so God overturned the Kingdom of Israel three times. If you read, Israel was taken into captivity by Babylon. And then Babylon finally was conquered by another kingdom. Who was it? Medo-persia.

Then finally medo-persia was conquered by another kingdom. What was it? Greece. And then greece was conquered by rome three times overturned. And then Jesus came. When Jesus came look what Luke 22:29-30, write this down, Luke 22:29-30.

Here's what he said to his apostles. He says, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my father hath appointed unto me; that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." When are the apostles going to judge the 12 tribes of Israel, friends? You want to know when? Alright, let's go. I'll show you right here. Matthew 25:31-32, write it down. Matthew 25:31-32, "when The Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.

And before him shall be gathered all the nations." And I could give you many more verses here again. Read this whole expose in the back of "Patriarchs and Prophets." It's excEllent. Finally when Jesus comes, Revelation 19:16 says, he will be given, he will be called, "king of Kings and Lord of Lords." Daniel 7:27 and verse 18 says that then the Kingdom will be given to the saints of the most high. And then God's kingdom will reign over all the world once again. So the theocracy ended there at the end of the captivity when the Israelites were taken to Babylon.

There is no more theocracy until Jesus comes back. And then there will be a universal theocracy. And one would think that at the end of Israel's reign, when Babylon was taken, came and took Israel captive, you would think that God's patience with them as a nation had ended, but it hadn't. God continued to be patient with Israel. They were eventually brought back to Babylon, not to have their own kingdom anymore.

But they were there in Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. And finally the Messiah came in that place and to those people. God is patient. God is gracious. In this quarter, we're going to be looking at some of those stories of God's patience and God's grace.

And the question I have for you is, has God been gracious to you in your life? Have you seen his patience with you? We don't want to presume upon God's patience or his grace, do we? We don't want to say, you know, "I can continue on in this sin habit that I have. God will always be patient with me." Because listen, there is a time coming, friends, when if we continue on in sins in our lives, if we continue on sinning, the Bible says that that at some point we can silence the voice of the Holy Spirit. I don't want that to happen in my life. And you don't want that to happen in your life. But here's the thing.

Today take advantage of that grace. Take advantage of that patience and go to God and say, "God, I want my relationship with you to be one that's guided by you, just like you guided those people in the old testament. I want the story of my life, as I look at the second dimension some day when I get to heaven to be one where I see your overriding providence in my life. And I want to follow your will. I want you to be involved in my life.

" Our free offer today is one that you can call in for. It's offer number 714. And it's a little booklet entitled, "do you really believe?" Offer number 714. Call the number on your screen, 1-866-788-3966. God bless you.

If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at amazingfacts.org. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including "Amazing Facts presents." One location, so many possibilities, amazingfacts.org.

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