December 3, 2014
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years oldwhen he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan,and they arrived there.
Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Joseph: You know, Mary, when you think about it, that’s really the song of our people– always on the road again it seems.
Mary: God gave them a great garden with all they needed yet it didn’t seem to be enough for them. If only they had trusted and obeyed God we wouldn’t be making this hard trip to Nazareth right now would we.
Joseph: You are right Mary. The human race has sadly become very good at turning God’s Creation into gory chaos. Can you believe there was a murder in the original family; Cain murdering Abel? Still God held out hope for his people.
Mary: It got so dark, it’s like the whole world forgot that God said “Let there be Light.” And then that horrible flood.
Joseph: But remember Noah and his wife and family and the Ark and all those animal families. God saved them.
Mary: Yes, it’s like God reset the whole creation again, starting over with a new family.
Joseph: It does seem like God likes to start with families doesn’t it?
Mary: But Joe, that didn’t work out too well either. Remember them building that God awful tower trying to reach to Heaven; trying to be like gods again.
Joseph: Yep. God hit the reset button again, scattering out those people all over everywhere and babbling on everywhere they went.
Mary: Joe, I’m starting to see a pattern here. Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife and remember who came next?
Joseph: You are onto something Mary. Of course I remember– Abraham and Sarah. God reset things by beginning with a new family.
Mary: Actually they weren’t that new. They were pretty old, and they didn’t have any children either.
Joseph: Maybe that was the point. God started again with a man and a woman, without children and too old to have children, and promised to grow a great nation from them; to bless the whole world through them.
Mary: And the first thing he did was to put them on the road again. Soon after that God promised them a new Eden, a promised land.
Joseph: Years later came the promised child, Isaac. Then came his wife Rebekah and their sons Jacob and Esau and there’s that crazy story about Jacob and Leigh and Rachel and their twelve sons becoming the twelve tribes. God picks the unlikeliest families and often the most unlikely people from those families to accomplish the most impossible things.
Mary: Joseph, I think you and I surely fit that “unlikely” part of the pattern.
Joseph: And we are definitely in that family line– all the way from Abraham to the tribe of Judah to the house of David and here we are on our way to Bethlehem, the city of David himself.
Mary: It’s so easy to get lost in all the crazy twists and turns of this story of ours and yet it’s all about finding ourselves in this storyline over and over again that matters.
Joseph: And we haven’t even talked about Joseph and Egypt and Pharaoh and Moses. This story of ours gets harder and better all at the same time.
Mary: Uhhh Joe, can we save that one for tomorrow? I’m really needing us to pull into that rest stop over there.
Note to Parents and Leaders: Something most of us probably never got in church was a sense of the big storyline of Scripture. We got a lot of the stories (and platitudes and proof texts), but we never got THE STORY. Come to think of it, many of us memorized the names of all the books in the Old Testament in order and yet we missed the Old Testament. As a result, we think of the Bible primarily as two books: the one we “get” (i.e. the New Testament) and the one we don’t get (i.e. the Old Testament). The Bible is one book. Imagine picking up any other book and starting to read it 3/4 of the way through. Who does that? Yet this is what we mostly do with the Bible. The Old Testament is 3/4 of the Bible.
With this “dialogue” approach I am trying to simultaneously give the 50,000 foot view of Old Testament while making key connections with Jesus and the New Testament. Here’s the progression for the week: 1. Creation. 2. Fall. 3. From Abraham to Israel. 4. From Moses to the Promised Land 5. Kings and Prophets 6. Exile 7. A New Hope. (Just kidding– that was a Star Wars reference). 7. Jesus.
If we wanted to take it up to 100,000 feet, we could bring it down to something like a five act play: 1. Creation 2. Israel 3. Jesus 4. Church 5. New Creation. (There it is on one five fingers– one hand) Notice how Jesus is the centerpiece who holds it all together.
Understanding our story and where we are in the story (i.e. Act 4) and where the story is headed is critical to understanding ourselves and the purpose of our lives and the glorious future of forever. Kids can get this if we can get it to them. There’s a lifetime to delve into the mysteries and complexities of it all. Now is the time to grasp the compelling simplicity of this, the only really True story.
PEOPLE GET READY! JESUS IS COMING!
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