Monday, September 6, 2010

Bible Stories

Evangelical Christianity has a huge problem with understanding Scripture in its proper context. Example A - any self help book or kitschy art in a Christian bookstore.

I think a lot of this is seen in how we approach teaching Bible stories to our children. In fact, we need to stop right there. Pick a random Sunday school class in any church in America, and chances are, while they can give you a myriad of "Bible stories," they have no idea how these stories fit together in one overarching meta-narrative or even that the Bible is one story.

How can we ever hope that these kids grow up with a Biblical worldview to be World Christians if they don't even understand the context and purpose of Scripture?

Here are just a couple examples of kids' popular Bible stories that we jerk completely out of context, both in the Biblical narrative of One Story and in the global context of Scripture. Often we look at Israel, and we equate God blessing Israel with God blessing me. To be sure, He blesses Israel, and He wants to bless us, BUT it is not for the reasons we think it is.

The Exodus

The Exodus is never just about Israel. Through the ten plagues, Yahweh is systematically destroying the Egyptian gods, ending with Pharaoh's own household. Yes, God rescues Israel, but it is much bigger than just Israel. Egypt is the world power at the time, and God displays His power that He might save Egyptians (a mixed multitude leaves with Israel - 12:38) and that the whole world will see His glory. God speaks to Pharaoh and tells him:

"But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my Name may be proclaimed in all the earth." Exodus 9:16

David and Goliath

This is perhaps the most famous Bible story of all time. Many popular books have been written about how you can face your giants if you have faith like David. While this may be true, it's not the point of the story. David boldly faces down Goliath with confidence that doesn't come from target practice, but knowing the power of the Living God.

This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand." I Samuel 17:46-7


The book of Daniel is a mixed bag. It has a couple really great Sunday school stories, and then some stuff that's hard to understand, so most people really pick and choose what they like here. The story of Rack, Shack, and Benny is one of the popular chapters, but almost everyone quits reading before the end of the story. The end is the best part: Nebuchadnezzar literally writes a decree to the entire world!

Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way." Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar to allpeoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation. Daniel 3:29-4:3

The same thing happens with Daniel and his lion den incident, but by now, the Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians has conquered Babylon and the rest of the world. So this time, it's King Darius who addressed the entire world!

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: "Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. Daniel 6:25-6

Amen. As Habbukkuk 2:14 declares, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea"

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