Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Here is the introduction I put together for my Ugandan friends:

Judges:  A Judge in Old Testament times was not just a person who presided over legal difficulties but was one who was raised up by God to correct injustices. We might call them “heroes” or leaders. The Book of Judges tells the stories of some of these mighty people. Judges tells a cyclical story. The people of Israel prosper. In their prosperity they forget God and they chase after other gods (Idolatry.) God permits their enemies to punish them. Under the oppressive thumb of their enemies, they cry out in their suffering to God for deliverance. God sends a mighty hero (Judge) to deliver them. They are delivered from their oppression. The people remember God and they prosper. The cycle repeats. Although many Judges are mentioned, five (5) of them have extended narratives: Elhud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. The book of Judges was written by an unknown author or authors.

Judges can be outlined as follows:

·         Judges 1:1-2:5 The settlement of the tribes and ongoing struggles
·         Judges 2:6-3:6  Introduction that recalls the contribution of individual judges and recounts the death of Joshua, the Israelites’ life thereafter, and the raising up of judges in Israel
·         Judges 3:7-16:31  Stories of twelve (12) judges with five (5) extended narratives:
o   Judges 3:12-20            Elhud
o   Judges 4-5                   Deborah
o   Judges 6-8                   Gideon
o   Judges 9                      Gideon’s wicked son, Abimelech;
o   Judges 10:6-12:7         Jephthah
o   Judges 13-16               Samson
·         Judges 17-18  Tells of the migration of Dan
·         Judges 19-21  The trespass of the Benjaminites and solution

            A vital lesson from the colorful stories of Judges is that loyalty to God brings national success, but disloyalty to God guarantees failure and disaster.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Joshua (and some other history information)

This is from the biblical primer that I wrote for my Ugandan friends. Below is a brief introduction to the "historical books" of the Old Testament as well as an introduction to the book of Joshua.

Historical Books

The next section of the Old Testament contains history books. These books tell the history of ancient Israel from the time of the conquest of the Promised Land; the rise of the Kings; the division of the Kingdoms (North, Israel, and South, Judah); and the fall of Jerusalem and exile to Babylon. Finally, through Ezra and Nehemiah, these books tell of the return to the Holy Land from exile and the eventual rebuilding of the walls around the holy city and the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem. This is “holy” or “sacred” history. The authors of the historical books are not concerned with the political process but with the rise and fall and rise of Israel as evidence of their faithfulness (or lack thereof) to the commands of God.
Joshua takes its name from Moses’ successor, Joshua son of Nun, and tells the story of the conquest of Canaan (the Promised Land) and the distribution of the land of Canaan and the trans-Jordan (the land east of the Jordan River) among the tribes of Israel.  After many years of wandering in the wilderness and the death of Moses, Israel crosses the Jordan River and begins to take possession of the Promised Land. The book ends with the death of Joshua and the reestablishment of the covenant at Shechem. In the book of Joshua, God is seen as closely involved as a “God of Battles,” whose power is clearly manifest in the conquest. Joshua was written during or shortly following the time of Joshua by an unknown author or authors.
Joshua can be outlined as follows:

·         Joshua 1-6    Crossing the Jordan and the destruction of Jericho.
·         Joshua 7-10  The conquest of the South (Negev) through battles and alliances
·         Joshua 11     A final battle at Hazor in the North completes the conquest.
·         Joshua 12     A summary of Joshua’s triumphs.
·         Joshua 13-22   Tells of the division of the land among the tribes of Israel.
·         Joshua 23-24   Joshua’s farewell discourse and the renewal of the covenant at Shechem

            A vital lesson from Joshua, as well as from all of the historical books, is that the nation of Israel’s faithfulness to God leads to security and prosperity. Their unfaithfulness to God leads to destruction.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Deuteronomy introduction

Here is the introduction I wrote for my Ugandan friends . . . .

Deuteronomy: This name means “second law” and is appropriately named because much of the book repeats legislation found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. This book also contains three speeches given by Moses that constitute his farewell to his people. The point of these speeches by Moses, just prior to his death, is meant to speak to future generations of the descendents of Abraham about the nature of God and the uniqueness of their relationship with God. Deuteronomy contains the heart of the Old Testament faith. This heart is summarized in Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” This passage, called in Hebrew the “Shema,” is what Jesus says is the greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:37.) Deuteronomy was written during or shortly after the time of Moses by an unknown author or authors.

The Book of Deuteronomy can be outlined as follows:

·         Deuteronomy 1 – 4 Moses’ first address on the plains of Moab. The first address exhorts the children of Israel to be faithful before the invasion of Canaan.
·         Deuteronomy 5 – 28 Moses’ second address. This address contains the repeat of previous legislation (chapters 12-26).
·         Deuteronomy 29 – 30 Moses’ third and final address. This address includes the renewal of the covenant and looks to the future.
·         Deuteronomy 31-34 resumes the narrative from the end of Numbers.

            A vital lesson of Deuteronomy is that God is a moral God. The commands and laws are not arbitrary but are necessary for the purpose of setting God’s people apart from the rest of the world.