Walk by faith, not by sight

I want to take a brief moment to discuss with you a personal matter and take a break from the theology for minute. This was a profound realization that i want to share because someone may need to hear it as well:

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to the radio when I heard a teaser for a story about why people want to see miracles. Since I am always fascinated by descriptions of miracles or the supernatural, I decided to stick around another ten minutes to hear this story. Thinking it would be about how God did some miraculous healing or a miraculous escape from attackers or any number of things, I had a certain expectation about hearing a miraculous story.

The radio show host came on and described the title again of why people always want to see miracles. One of the show’s hosts describes how her and her husband were in dire financial needs and needed $1,000. They began praying and all the sudden the husband of the radio host was prompted to check the credit card points. The points totaled the exact need of $1,000. The radio personality begins to talk about how so often Christians fall into the trap of walking by sight instead of faith. We get so fixated on the “what’s next” of life, or the counterfeit gods of money, fame, and power that we put our trust in those things. The point the show’s host was trying to make was that we try to provide our own fixes for the problems, or when we don’t see the solution to the problem we begin to doubt God.

All of this was in relation to Moses, the Israelites and the Exodus. As God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt; Pharaoh and his army began to chase them. Moses and the people were at the Red Sea; they had nowhere to go. Every thought was probably going through Moses’ mind at this point. He is facing the sea, looking at his people, then back to the sea, then back at the people. Moses had no idea what God was doing or going to do. It was an impossible situation. A miracle was needed. There appeared to be no solution. It must have felt like a thousand years in those few seconds and minutes. I can’t imagine the spiritual attacks Moses was probably going through either. Suddenly (possibly), a small, yet peaceful voice whispers in his hear (or speaks into his soul): “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (cf. 2 Cor 5:7).

In a moment when everything was against him, there was no place to turn, and a miracle was needed, the Almighty God reached down and did something amazing that only He could. “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Ex 14:21-22).

We have all heard this before, but I share it with you because maybe someone needs to hear this. It comes from a site called Spiritual Inspiration: “God is saying to you today, ‘Everything will work out. I’m in complete control. I know what the medical report says. I know what the financial situation looks like. I see the people who are coming against you. I know how big your dreams are. And hear me clearly; I will not fail you.’”

So, why do I share this with you? Over the past year and a half, I have attended seminary. Last August, we moved from Chicago to Dallas so I could go to school in person. We didn’t have a place to live, we had a baby on the way, no insurance, and no jobs. The living situation was handled, but the others took time. I wasn’t able to go full time to seminary like I had hoped, because I think God had a different plan. Over the past year, I have worked in a corporate job while taking two classes a semester. I am not doing something I know I was called to do nor am I passionate about it. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for a job. I am thankful that God provided a job that does provide a good salary and insurance. There have been many issues at this job and it has been difficult in many ways that don’t need to be described here. The past few months I have been pulled from project to project, from one fire-drill to the next. It gets frustrating after a while. The work environment is not very good but I have met some good people.

I had a frustrating day yesterday where my boss and leadership are having secret meetings amongst themselves about which way a project should go. There is a power struggle that has a colleague and I stuck in the middle. We receive new direction every few weeks. Yesterday, in fact there were three fire-drill and subsequent new directions that we were given. It becomes confusing after a while and it is hard to determine which way is up. We were made aware of conversations about a how this team should be formed or who should work where and on what. The problem is no one ever consulted us or let us know maybe we need to not proceed in a certain way or direction. Our careers were essentially in the hands of strangers as they moved us around like pawns as they had a power struggle. Their only hopes were to make themselves look better to gain more power or acclaim. After talking with our boss about all this direction, we were informed it simply wasn’t our business and we need to just be good soldiers and wait for the new direction. Some business people will agree with that sentiment saying communication with employees and direction on changes affecting them do not need to be communicated to the employee. Some managers will be more considerate and talk things over with their staff about possible changes or different directions. Do they need to? No, but that is what they will do.

This story of Moses got me thinking about how I have to trust a mortal man about my next direction for a project. The boss may be a good man but at the end of the day, he really doesn’t care about me or my career. I am essentially “trusting” him as he moves me around or puts me on the next project. I don’t get communicated about what is happening; it just happens.

Similarly, this led to exactly what I need to be doing about this time of waiting in my life. I need to be walking by faith not sight. God has no obligation to talk things over with me. He doesn’t need my input no matter how much I give Him or want to give Him. I struggle because I wrestle Him for control. I try to tell Him, “We need to do this,” or go here or do this in this timing. Actually, while I struggle with this, I need to remember that God has an amazing plan for the right thing at the right time. I may want to get to that next stage now, but He still has things to teach me during this time. That my friend is tough.

The difference between my boss and God is obviously numerous but I want to focus on a couple of things. It breaks down to my boss is not invested in me nor does he truly care about me. He is doing what is best for him. In contrast, God has invested in me and truly cares about me. He loves me infinitely. He as a perfect plan for me. He doesn’t need my input, but He allows me to discuss and pray things over with Him. It may not and probably will not change His mind, but I am thankful that He still listens and lets me talk about it with Him.

All this being said, I don’t know what your situation is but God has not forgotten you. He does have a plan. It may take time. You may not see it, it will be difficult, it could take a long time, but God is working things out. Be faithful. Pray for faith and help with the unbelief.


The history and theories of Genesis through Judges

This post concludes our big series on the history of the books Genesis through Judges. We look at the final significant events and different theories that are out there that are associated with these books. This post is not affirming or denying these theories, just trying to provide some background. Again, this is a high-level overview and not comprehensive. This is too encourage further study and knowledge as well as trying to point out the major events and ideas that occur throughout these beautiful books.

Passover-in Hebrew, pesah, “to pass over”. To “pass over” means “to protect”. The Lord himself will block the entry of the destroyer, He will be a protective covering for His people. Exodus 12 outlines the specifics of the Passover and is concerned with the when, why, how, and who. Moses at the original Passover, focuses exclusively on the role of blood-that the blood is to be extracted from the lamb’s body and smeared over the doorposts and the horizontal beam atop the door (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 167-169).

Exodus-After the Plagues and the Passover, Pharaoh allows the Hebrews to leave Egypt, known as the Exodus. We are told in Exodus 12:37, six hundred thousand men, besides women and children, leave Egypt.

Mosaic Covenant-given to administer the fulfillment of Abraham’s promises to his descendants in the time after Moses until the cross; the promises include (1) the possession of the land of Canaan, (2) an innumerable offspring, and (3) world-wide blessing through Israel (Notes for Pentateuch, p 12-13).

Ten Commandments-a summary given to Israel of all the stipulations that God would place upon His people in the covenant which He gave on Sinai and inscribed on stone, Deut 5 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 124).

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heave above or on earth below.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not commit murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

Tabernacle-place of worship; instructions given for the tabernacle and the priesthood that will be protect the holy Yahweh from the unholy people, Ex 25-31 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 17).

Golden Calf-while Moses received the Ten Commandments, Aaron led in the building of the calf so that the Israelites might have something to worship. Moses pleaded with God not to destroy Israel and returned to their camp. Upon arriving back at the camp, Joshua thought there was noise of war, however Moses corrected him saying that it was the sound of singing. Moses displayed great anger, throwing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments to the ground and destroying the calf. Moses rebuked Aaron for his leading in this corrupt act, Ex 32 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 62).

Ark of the Covenant-After the law was given to Moses, he gave it to the priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, Deut 31 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 143).

The Offerings (Burnt, Grain, Fellowship, Sin, Guilt) Burnt Offering-primary worship and atoning sacrifices, must be male, its blood applied to the altar, the animal burnt entirely on the altar. Grain Offering-might be cooked in various forms but always with oil, salt, and incense, and offered in a memorial portion on the altar, the rest being for the priest to eat as a sign that God accepted the sacrifice. Fellowship Offering-must be as expensive as the worshiper can afford, its fat, kidneys, and liver burned on the altar, its blood sprinkled around the altar since fat and blood are prohibited for human consumption, being holy to Yahweh. Sin Offering-represents the dignity of the person who has sinned unwittingly and has brought defilement into the presence of the Lord, effecting cleansing and atonement with the forgiveness it brings. Guilt Offering-must be offered for defrauding God or man, in addition to restoring 120% of what was lost by the fraud, thus gaining forgiveness by atonement, Lev 1-5 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 68-73).

The Feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles)Feast of Passover-Israel must keep Passover in the month of Abib, sacrificing at Yahweh’s sanctuary and eating it with unleavened bread for seven days to recall the deliverance from Egypt, eating all the flesh on the night of Passover. Feast of Unleavened Bread-provides an opportunity to teach successive generations about Yahweh’s deliverance; it was designed to cause children to ask and fathers to explain Yahweh’s great deliverance from Egypt. Feast of Weeks-Seven weeks from the beginning of the harvest, Israel must celebrate the feast of weeks bringing a free-will offering to the central sanctuary, rejoicing with all the people, including the slaves and poor, remembering their slavery in Egypt. Feast of Trumpts-on the first of the seventh month, Israel must observe a rest, for blowing trumpets as a holy convocation, presenting an offering by fire to Yahweh. Day of Atonement-on the tenth of the seventh month, Israel must observe this feast, doing no work, but humbling their souls and presenting offerings to Yahweh, since it was a day to make atonement, a day of complete rest not to be violated. Feast of Tabernacles-After the final ingathering Israel, including the slaves and the poor, must keep the feast of tabernacles for seven days at the central sanctuary, when Yahweh would bless all they would do and they would be very joyful. Lev 23 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 86).

Year of Jubilee-Israel would acknowledge Yahweh’s ownership of the land by returning any purchased land to its original tenant and by trusting Him to provide their food during the whole period, Lev 25 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 87).

Censuses-The Lord commanded two censuses of the Levites, first as the redemption for Israel’s first born, and second to determine who would tend to the tabernacle on the march, Num 3-4 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 92).

Nazirite Vow-conferred a sanctity on the layman next only to the high priest, requiring separation from all products of the vine, refrain from cutting hair of the head, and from all dead bodies, a new beginning of the vow for the defiled, and very expensive sacrifices, such as the those for the consecration of a high priest, for the consummation of the vow, Num 6 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 94).

Cloud of Fire-As Israel left Sinai, Yahweh’s cloud rose from the tent, leading Israel out of the camp to the fulfillment of His promises, Num 10 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 97).

The Rebellion of Kadesh Barnea-Because of unbelief and rebellious fear, Yahweh drove the generation of Israel and even Moses back into the wilderness as punishment for their unbelief. Israel sent spies in to Kadesh-Barnea, who brought back a positive report of the land, but were frightened and did not want to obey Yahweh by taking the land. Israel thought that God hated them so that He brought them to the desert to die at the hands of the Amorites at Kadesh Barnea, Deut 1 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 119).

Bronze Snake-Israel, afflicted by serpents sent by Yahweh, realized and confessed their sin so that after Moses’ intercession, they set up a bronze serpent as a sign for the people’s healing, Num 21 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 109).

Cities of Refuge-6 cities set aside from the 48 Levitical cities that would be available to protect people guilty of unpremeditated murder from the blood avenger. These cities would not offer refuge to the premeditated murder who must return to his own home to face the avenger, Num 35 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 118-119).

Blessings for Obedience/Curses for Disobedience-Israel was constantly given blessings for their obedience to Yahweh, and curses/punishments for their disobedience and unbelief.

Conquest of Canaan-led by Joshua, Israel crosses the Jordan, defeats the cities of Jericho, Ai, and the region of Gibeon, the conquest of northern Canaan, Josh 6-11 (Joshua Notes, p 4-7).

Gibeonite Deception- Fearful of Israel’s defeat at Ai, the Gibeonites deceive Israel, sending an envoy claiming to be foreigners.Israel enters into a covenant of protection for the Gibeonites and region of Gibeon without consulting Yahweh. As a result of the oath, their land is protected, however the people become enslaved becoming wood cutters and water men for the tabernacle, Josh 9 (Joshua Notes, p 6).


  1. 2000 (Abraham)

1446 (Exodus; Judges 11:26; I Kings 6:1)

  1. 1400 (Conquest of Canaan)

1350-1050 (Period of the Judges)


Enuma Elish-a story from Mesopotamia in which creation is a prominent theme. Varying opinions exist on the origination of the Enuma Elish (either during the second millennium B.C. or not earlier than 1100 B.C.). The primary purpose of this epic is theogonic—to explain the origin of the gods, and especially Marduk; secondary purpose was its composition with religious functions in mind (to be read aloud at an annual Babylonian festival). Third key is to understand the Babylonian concept of gods—origin, character, and destiny in which creation is told in terms of procreation. Fourth, heaven and earth are not spoken into existence, but are formed from the corpse of a slain god and lastly, humankind is created to relieve the gods of the necessity of manual labor (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 35-39).

Gilgamesh Epic-a secular account of the flood from Mesopotamian literature, named after Gilgamesh, king of Uruk dating to approximately 1600 B.C. Key ideas about the epic: it is silent about motive for the flood, it is difficult to discern a reason why one mortal is saved, dimensions of the ship built by the heroes are strange, and it lacks a clear didactic function. Essentially, in the Gilgamesh epic, the storyline is more concerned with the hero Gilgamesh and his search for immortality; the flood is merely a subplot to the overarching theme (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 64-67).

JEDP Theory-a theory regarding the style of passages in support of the scholarly position of the Pentateuch. J-the Yahwist, a neutral, undefined document, in traditional historical criticism. It is what is left over when each of the other documents have been subtracted from the text of the Pentateuch; has been defined as being a lively, imaginative style. E-the Elohist, containing less continuous narratives than J and is more restrained in its narrative style than J. D-the Deuteronomist, most interested in legal material, contained a religious evaluation of Israel’s history (obedience yields divine blessing, disobedience yields divine curse; demonstrated the necessity for a prounounced sense of social justice under the provisions of the covenant relationship) and is marked by exhortation. P-uses the same terms for deity as E, but uses a style described a prosaic, precise, formulaic, repetitious; lacking in metaphor and simile; P includes genealogies, ritual directions, and various lists (Notes for Pentateuch, p 2-3).

Dating of the Exodus 1440 or 1290

Use of Treaty Language in Deuteronomy Suzerain-vassal treaty: Overlord or emperor rules over other nations, with client kings as vassals, or servants. Structure is: Preamble (1:1-4; historical prologue 1:5-4:49; stipulations, 5-26; sanctions, 27-30; dynastic disposition, 31-34). Covenant of grant treaty: rewards a faithful servant; territory and vassals; continuity of rule to his sons; protection; vassal obligation treaty: king has acquired a people by warfare; treaty protects the king from the possible disloyalty of the people.

Significant Events in Genesis through Judges

As we near the end of our series on Old Testament history, today we look at the first part of the major events that are described in Genesis through Judges. This is a very brief, high-level overview of just some of the events. The rest will be covered in the next post.


Creation-As His first saving work for Israel, God created the world with mankind as its ruler, to worship Him functioning as His image, blessing them and the whole earth.

  1. God created all that exists
  2. On the first day, God created it light, separating it from the darkness
  3. On the second day, God separated the waters to form the sky by an expanse so that both heaven and ocean are creatures of God.
  4. On the third day, God caused dry land to appear and vegetation to sprout from the heart to provide food for His creatures.
  5. On the fourth day, God banished total darkness, created the sun, moon, and stars to guide the worship seasons and signal the passage of time.
  6. On the fifth day, God created water dwelling creatures and birds
  7. On the sixth day, God created land dwelling creatures and made mankind
  8. On the seventh day, God contemplated His work, deemed it good, and sanctified the seventh day.

Fall/Punishments-Unbelieving sin of Adam and Eve with their disobedience to God’s command to not eat from the tree of knowledge. As a result of disobedience, God imposed punishment on humankind. As a result God condemned the blame shifting people to travail, the woman in childbirth and subservience to her husband, and the man to travail in work and finally death, and cursed the serpent to be crushed by the women’s seeds .

Proto-evangelium-literally, “the first good news”, evidence of God’s mercy and grace, concern and compassion for Adam and Eve in the provision of coverings for them following the Fall. Important to note that this precedes their expulsion from the garden (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 43-44).

The question of Gen 6:1-2-“When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” There are several interpretations to explain the “sons of God” and “daughters of men”. The first, and most popular is that the “sons of God” is a reference to the descendants of Seth, and the “daughters of men” is a reference to the descendants of Cain, referring to the mingling in marriage between the godly Sethite line and the ungodly Cainite line. The second interpretation suggests that the “sons of God” are ancient dynastic rulers, and the “daughters of men” are their royal harems; this interpretation moves toward an ambiguous reference potentially to a group of regal individuals whose existence has not yet been mentioned. The third interpretation suggests that the “sons of God” are angels and the “daughters of men” are humans wherein the sin is cohabitation between supernatural and natural beings (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 61-63).

Flood-as God inspected the earth, He found it corrupt and filled with violence. God told Noah of His plan for a life destroying flood and of His plan to deliver Noah and his family with a remnant of animal life through an ark Noah should build. God repeated that He would bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all flesh under heaven, but He promised to make a covenant with Noah and his family who would enter the ark. After brining a year-long flood in which all flesh died, Yahweh delivered Noah, his family, and the animals with them .

Noahic Covenant-After the waters receded, Noah waited on God’s command to eventually leave the ark to fulfill the creation blessing to fill the earth. God renewed the creation blessing by granting an everlasting covenant to all flesh promising not to destroy the whole earth by flood ever again. God gave the rainbow as the covenant sign to remind Himself that He would not again make war with the earth by a flood .

Canaanite Curse-Ham broke loyalty with his father Noah when he found Noah drunk with wine, “uncovered”, and reported this to his brothers. Shem and Japheth maintained loyalty by not looking on their father’s nakedness, but proceeding to cover him. Noah cursed Ham’s youngest son Canaan (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 73-74).

Tower of Babel-captured in Genesis 11, the story of the tower opens with the migration of people from the east to the plain of Shinar. Men rebelliously determine to build a city to prevent their scattering over the earth and to make a name for themselves. The sin of the people does not lie in the desire to build a city, which is a neutral, amoral act; it is the motivation behind the undertaking-the concept of immortality. The Bible reports that God intervenes when learning of their motives and he confuses the language of the people; God’s punishment is directed at both the instrument of sin that made the building project possible, the one language, and at the intention of that sin, to avoid being scattered over the earth (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 75-76).

Abrahamic Covenant-God leads fearful Abraham to understand and trust His promises, especially of descendants by giving him a covenant with a covenant sign to mark those who may share in covenant fulfillment .

Covenant of Circumcision-God grants Abraham promises of a son by Sarah and innumerable and royal offspring, calling him to live faithfully in covenant, especially giving him the sign of circumcision to mark those who may share in covenant fulfillment. .

The Binding of Isaac-Abraham proves his radical covenant loyalty to God in facing the most stringent of the threats to the promise, God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, Gen 22 .

The Transfer of the Birthright-Jacob in unbelieving faith in the covenant promises, seeks to grasp God’s promise by buying the birthright from Esau who despised his birthright, Gen 25

The Transfer of the Blessing-God provides twin offspring to Isaac, choosing the younger, Jacob to receive the blessing, Isaac offers to bless Esau, scheming against God; Jacob and Rebekah scheme to get the blessing for Jacob against Isaac and Esau. Rebekah sends Jacob to Isaac, he appears before his father and receives blessing. Esau appears before Isaac and receives antiblessing. Rebekah protects Jacob by sending him away, Gen 25 .

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel-Jacob has a dream in which he sees a stairway to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. God grants the Abrahamic blessing to Jacob who in response vows to worship Yahweh at Bethel giving a tithe tribute offering, Gen 28 .

Joseph’s Dreams-Joseph experiences two dreams in which he and his brothers were binding sheaves of grain when his sheaf rose and stood upright while the others bowed down to it. In the second dream, he retells that the sun, moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to him, Gen 37 .

Pharaoh’s Dreams-Pharaoh experiences two dreams that he asks his wise men and magicians to interpret. In the first dream, Pharaoh was standing by the Nile and seven cows came up out of the river who were sleek and fat and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven ugly cows came out of the river and stood beside the seven sleek cows. The cows that were ugly ate the seven sleek cows. The second dream was of seven heads of grain, healthy and good growing on a single stalk. After them seven other heads of grain sprouted and they were scorched by the sun and wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy heads of grain. Joseph interpreted through the power of the Lord that there was to be a famine coming, with seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. Joseph instructed Pharaoh to gather stores for the country during the seven years of plenty so that when the famine came, there might be food, Gen 41.

Pharaoh’s Infanticide Program-God’s blessing on Israel caused fearful Pharaoh to enslave the people. Israel was fruitful and continued to increase while living in Egypt. Pharaoh declared to two Hebrew midwives that when a Hebrew woman gives birth to a son, he must be killed, but that all girls might live. The Hebrew midwives feared God and could not carry out the order; God blessed the midwives and the people of Israel continued to increase. Then Pharaoh gave the order to his people, that “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live”, Ex 1.

Burning Bush-Moses was tending the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro at Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire within a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but did not burn and went to inspect it further. The Lord spoke to Moses, telling him that he was on holy ground, to remove his sandals, and that He had seen the plight of the people of Israel and that Moses would be the one to deliver them from Egypt. Moses spoke with God concerning Israel’s deliverance, God revealed His name to Moses, provided a sign to him, and Moses claimed he could not speak well and God gives Aaron to assist Moses, Ex 3.

Ten Plagues-Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh to release Israel from the slavery of Egypt. God has hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he refuses and increase the workload of the Israelites. As a result, God shows His power to Pharaoh and all of Egypt through ten plagues.

  1. The Plague of Blood-the Lord tells Moses to use his staff (that had become a snake), to stretch it over the river and all the water will become blood, even water in vessels and stones, Ex 7
  2. The Plague of Frogs-after seven days, Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh and say that if Israel is not released, that frogs will come over the Egyptians, Ex 8
  3. The Plague of Gnats-the Lord tells Moses and instructs Aaron to take his staff, strike the ground, and the dust will become gnats that will afflict Egypt, Ex 8
  4. The Plague of Flies-Moses and Aaron visit Pharaoh again, this time to make a distinction between Israel and Egypt in the affliction of the plague. Swarms of flies then only affect the people of Egypt, Ex 8.
  5. The Plague on Livestock-the Lord brings about an affliction on all the livestock of the Egyptians and their cattle, horses, donkeys, camels, sheep and goats all die, Ex 9
  6. The Plague of Boils- the Lord brings about a plague of boils, instructing Moses and Aaron to take handfuls of soot and to toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh so that it becomes festering boils that afflict people and animals, Ex 9.
  7. The Plague of Hail-the Lord brings about a plague of hail that destroys crops of the Egyptians, Ex 9
  8. The Plague of Locusts-the Lord brings about a plague of locusts, they are intentionally sent to destroy what was not destroyed during the plague of hail, Ex 10.
  9. The Plague of Darkness-the Lord brings about darkness over the land for three days, Ex 10.
  10. The Plague of the Firstborn-for those who do not follow the Passover ceremony, the firstborn from every household is killed, Ex 11.

Summary of the Main People in Genesis through Judges

To finish up our study of the Pentateuch, I would like to provide a list of the key people, places, events, dates and background that are found in the Pentateuch and Joshua and Judges. These are the important items that happen in these books. Hopefully, this brief study will provide a small help in knowing where something occurred in the Bible and be provided a very brief summary of that person, event, or date. Obviously, I cannot be comprehensive with every person like Moses or Adam, as (1) that would be a giant book, (2) there are already many great books out there on them, and (3) this is a brief high level overview. This is just scratching the surface on some of these items and you will probably see that there are many details that are not included for sake of time and space.

Really, the purpose of these posts will be to help bring some stories back to mind and provide any help in the form of study. Today, we will focus on the main characters that are seen from Genesis through Judges.

Adam-the first man, formed from the earth’s dust to be a living being to inhabit the earth that God furnished. God placed mankind in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it, commanding him to eat the fruit of the trees freely, but promising death if he should eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Gen 1-5

Eve-the first woman, a completer for Adam made by God; one that corresponded to his nature, taken from his own body to become one with him, his wife. Deceived by the serpent and failing to recognize the goodness of God and His commandment, disobeyed the command and ate of the fruit giving it to Adam as well Gen 2-4

Cain-son of Adam & Eve, twin to Abel, brother to Seth. Cain murdered his brother Abel because of religious envy. God forced Cain to acknowledge his act, driving him from the ground, making him a wandered in the earth though protecting him from blood vengeance Gen 4 . The line through which secular culture is advanced (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 60-61). Tiller of the fields

Abel-son of Adam & Eve, twin to Cain, brother to Seth. Murdered by his brother Cain. Gen 4. Keeper of the flocks

Seth-son of Adam & Eve, brother to Cain & Abel. It is through the line of Seth that God’s plan of redemption will move, Gen 4-5 (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 61).

Enoch-father of Methuselah, lived 365 years, walked faithfully with God and then was no more because God took him away, Gen 5

Noah-walked with God, escaped the purifying wrath of God to become the new head of mankind, worshipping in the day of salvation in the gift of covenant under God’s blessing though sin was still at work. After inspecting the corruption and violence in the earth, God told Noah of His plan for a life destroying flood and that He would deliver Noah and his family with a remnant of animal life. Noah was directed by God to build an ark to carry them through the flood. Gen 6-9

Shem-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Sons of Shem included the descendants of Aram and Arphaxad, the father of all the sons of Eber (the line through which the blessing flowed); lived in the eastern hill country, Gen 10-11

Ham-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Ham broke loyalty with his father Noah when Noah became drunk, and then cursed Ham’s son Canaan. Sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan from whom the lands of Arabia, including the Assyrians, Africa, and Canaan were settled, Gen 10-11

Japheth-son of Noah, populated the earth following the Flood. Sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras and were the peoples who spread into the maritime territories of the earth, Gen 10-11

Abraham-a man of faith, receives God’s covenant promises and models for his heirs covenant loyalty to God in the face of threats to the fulfillment of the promises; fearful Abraham, seeks to aid God’s promises by fathering a son through Hagar causing division in the family. God grants Abraham a son through his wife Sarah and she delivers Isaac, the line through which God will fulfill his promise of multitudes of offspring, Gen 11-25

Sarah-Abraham’s wife; despite her unbelief in God’s provision of a child, she gives birth to a son, Gen 11-25

Lot-relative of Abraham, Lot fathers nations, as does Abraham, but through the breach of family to nations who themselves will breach family loyalty, Gen 13, 18-19

Hagar-Sarah’s maid, mother of Ishmael, fathered by Abraham, Gen 16

Ishmael-son of Hagar and Abraham; under God’s blessing, becomes a nation with twelve tribes, fulfilling God’s promise that he would live in defiance of all his relatives, Gen 16, 21

Abimelech-Philistine king whom God controls his actions in order to protect Abraham, Gen 20 Abraham lied to him that sarah was his sister and not his wife. Abimelech spoke to God and God spared him. Abimelech gave Abraham all sorts of servants and gifts. He was healed and his wife was able to have children as Abraham prayed for him. Covenant with Abraham over a well that Abraham dug and gave 7 lambs for

Isaac-son of Abraham and Sarah; the line through which God will fulfill His promise of multitudes of offspring. In contrast to Abraham, Isaac fails to lead his sons to respect God’s gift of the blessing. God provides Isaac with twin offspring and Isaac chooses to Jacob, the younger to receive the blessing. The Lord calls Isaac to the land of Canaan, renewing the Abrahamic promises to bless him and make him a blessing to all the earth because of Abraham’s obedience, though Isaac endangered the family by following the bad example of Abraham (lying about her being his sister) at Gerar, Gen 25- God fulfills His plan of blessing Isaac even through the unbelief and disobedience of the family.

Rebekah-wife of Isaac; Rebekah schemes with Jacob to get the blessing for Jacob against Isaac and Esau. Was also barren but Isaac prayed and she gave birth, she was 60 years old when she gave birth.

Jacob-son of Isaac and Rebekah, younger brother of Esau, husband of Rachel and Leah. Jacob exhibits unbelieving faith in the covenant promises, and seeks to grasp God’s promise by buying the birthright from Esau who despised his birthright. Jacob’s sin fulfills the plan of God to bless Jacob, but requires the discipline of flight to protect himself from his wronged brother, but also to find a proper wife.

Esau-son of Isaac and Rebekah, older brother of Jacob. Esau despised and sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob. Also called Edom because of the red stew.

Laban-uncle of Jacob, father of Rachel and Leah. Laban allowed Jacob to live with him in Paddan Aram, for Jacob’s compensation for working for him, Laban offered his daughter Rachel in marriage. Laban deceived Jacob and gave him Leah as wife first because she was the older daughter. Jacob loved Rachel however and worked for Laban another 7 years so that he might make Rachel his wife. After Jacob’s family increases, Laban’s attitude toward Jacob changes—Jacob’s household and flocks increase, he requests leave, flees from Laban, who then pursues him.

Rachel-wife of Jacob; mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Barren; stole Labans idols.

Leah-wife of Jacob; mother of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah

Reuben-firstborn of Jacob and Leah; disqualified himself from leadership of the family by committing incest and slept with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah Gen 35

Simeon-second son of Jacob and Leah; sought revenge for Dinah’s rape by killing every male in the city in which they lived

Levi-third son of Jacob and Leah; sought revenge for Dinah’s rape by killing every male in the city in which they lived

Judah-fourth son of Jacob and Leah

Joseph-first son of Jacob and Rachel; Jacob’s favorite son and choice to manage the family. Joseph experiences two dreams that indicate that he will lead their family, inciting jealousy in his 11 brothers. They sell him into slavery, telling Jacob that he is dead. Joseph thrives in Egypt, works in the household of Potiphar, but is then put into prison after claims that he seduced Potiphar’s wife. Joseph through the power of the Lord tells the meanings behind dreams of fellow prisoners, and after two years is connected to Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of Egypt. During famine, Joseph has the opportunity to reconcile with his brothers and father who visit Egypt to purchase grain for their family, Gen 37-50.

Benjamin-second son of Jacob and Rachel; God completes His promise to Jacob by giving him twelve sons, ending with Benjamin’s birth and the death of Rachel, Gen 35.

Dinah-daughter of Jacob and Leah; experienced rape at the hand of Shechem a Hivite, who then requested that Dinah become his wife. Shechem and his father Hamor spoke to Jacob and his sons about this request and agreed that Dinah might be given to Shechem in marriage if the men of the region become circumcised. The men agreed, and were circumcised, three days after, Simeon and Levi sought revenge for the rape of their sister and killed all the males in the region Gen 34

Tamar-daughter-in-law of Judah; Tamar was married to Judah’s son Er, who was wicked in the sight of the Lord and was killed. Tamar became pregnant through her father-in-law when he refused to give his other son Shelah to her as husband, Gen 38.

Potiphar-when Joseph was sold into slavery, Potiphar purchased Joseph from the Ishmaelites. Joseph was blessed by the Lord and Potiphar saw this, and elevated him to second in command of his household, Gen 39.

The Cupbearer-offended Pharaoh and was put into the same prison as Joseph; Joseph was assigned to attend to the cupbearer. The Cupbearer experienced a dream in which a vine grew in front of him, and it grew three branches. On the vine, the branches grew into clusters of grapes which he squeezed into the cup of Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted his dream through the power of the Lord to mean that in three days, the Cupbearer would be restored to his prior position. Once Joseph interpreted the dream, he asked that the Cupbearer remember him to Pharaoh so that he might be released from prison. Just as Joseph had interpreted the dream, so it came to be; however the Cupbearer did not remember him to Pharaoh, Gen 40.

The Baker-offended Pharaoh and was put into the same prison as Joseph; Joseph was assigned to attend to the baker. The Baker experienced a dream in which three baskets of bread were on his head, and on the top basket, all types of baked goods were there for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating the bread out of the basket. Joseph interpreted his dream through the power of the Lord to mean that in three days, the Baker would be killed by Pharaoh. Just as Joseph had interpreted the dream, so it came to be, Gen 40.

Manasseh-firstborn son of Joseph, Gen 48

Ephraim-second son of Joseph; received blessing from Jacob (Israel) even though he was the younger son, Gen 48.

Moses-a Levite through whom which God uses to deliver Israel. God uses many mighty signs and wonders, showing that He is God, causing Moses to trust in Him.

Miriam-sister of Moses, she hid among the reeds to watch what would happen to the papyrus basket that Moses was placed in as an infant. Miriam watched as the basket floated to Pharaoh’s daughter and offered to provide her with a wet nurse (her mother), Ex 2.

Pharaoh’s daughter-bathing in the Nile, found the papyrus basket in which the infant Moses was floating. Pharaoh’s daughter took Moses and he became her son, Ex 2.

Jethro-Moses’ father-in-law, a Midianite priest, Zipporah is daughter

Aaron-brother of Moses, mouthpiece of Moses through which Israel is delivered.

Joshua-Moses successor as leader of Israel, Josh 1-18

Bezalel-chief craftsman and overseer (along with Oholiab) of the construction/building of the Tabernacle, Ex 31, 33

Nadab-son of Aaron, attempted to worship Yahweh by his own device (along with Abihu) by offering unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command and was destroyed by God with holy fire from the sanctuary, Lev 10

Abihu-son of Aaron, attempted to worship Yahweh by his own device (along with Nadab) by offering unauthorized fire before the Lord contrary to His command and was destroyed by God with holy fire from the sanctuary, Lev 10

Caleb-one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, from the tribe of Judah. Upon the spies’ return from their exploration, contrary to the other 11 spies, Caleb encouraged Israel to invade that they might overcome the land (the other spies brought back fruit telling that the land was good, but were intimidated by the inhabitants and well fortified cities), Num 13. Caleb, for his faith in Yahweh’s provision, was spared during a plague and was allowed to enter Canaan, Deut 1

Korah-along with Dathan and Abiram led Israel to rebel against Moses and Aaron, but Yahweh vindicated their leadership by great judgments against them and all Israel. Moses warned them that Yahweh would show the next day who should lead Israel, who was holy, by choosing the censer of the man He honored. Moses rebuked Korah for presumption beyond the good gifts of God to Levi, seeking the priesthood also. Moses interceded with Yahweh against them, commanding them to be present the next day bringing a fire pan and censer, which they did along with 250 other community leaders. Yahweh commanded Moses, Aaron, and Israel to separate themselves as a result of Moses’ intercession. The power of the Lord was shown then who should leave Israel when the earth was opened and swallowed alive Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with the 250 men and their households validating Moses’ leadership, Num 16

Balak-king of Moab, fearing Israel, sent for Balaam, God’s prophet to curse Israel. Balaam sternly warned by Yahweh, reminded Balak that he could speak only what Yahweh had said, Num 22-24

Balaam-a prophet, hired by Balak to curse Israel; Balaam prophetically proclaimed Yahweh’s blessing on Israel. The Balaam narrative shows that God had begun to fulfill His promise to Abraham and that his seed had become a “great nation”. It showed that God was about to fulfill His promise to give Abraham’s seed the land. The narrative also shows that the curses of the nations could not thwart God’s promise to bless the nation of Israel, Num 22-24

Rahab-prostitute of Jericho who hid spies sent from Israel and lied to the king, urging him to send after them to the Jordan, leaving him to think they had fled. Rahab hid the spies under the flax on the room. Knowledge of God and all that He had done for Israel had come to Rahab, her response showed her faithfulness to God and she requested that God honor her and her family when Israel came to take Jericho. The spies gave an oath and escaped via a cord through a window; it was through the sign of the cord that Israel would know to not destroy Rahab’s house, Josh 2

Achan-upon the defeat of Jericho, Israel was instructed by the Lord to keep away from all “devoted things” and that the silver, gold, bronze, and iron from the city were to be put into the Lord’s treasury. Achan brought about Yahweh’s wrath against the people when he stole some of the things from Jericho, Josh 7

Eleazar-son of Aaron, priest during the time of Joshua’s leadership of Israel, Josh 14

Deborah-prophetess, judged Israel in Ephraim to settle disputes of the Israelites; worked alongside Barak, Jud 4

Barak-Recipient of the Lord’s command through Deborah to take 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun to Mt. Tabor to defeat Sisera’s army at Kishon. Barak displayed cowardice and refused to carry out the Lord’s command unless Deborah would go with him. Deborah agreed to go, however Barak lost honor because Yahweh would kill Sisera by the hands of a woman (Jael), Jud 4

Gideon-because of Israel’s rebellion, they were given in to the hands of the Midianites. Yahweh commission Gideon to deliver Israel, by returning to Yahweh worship in Ophrah. Upon being commissioned by God, Gideon requests that a sign be performed to confirm that he was hearing from God. Gideon prepared unleavened bread and boiled goat that were miraculously consumed in fire on a rock. Gideon built an altar to the Lord at that place and named it Ophrah, Jud 6 (Judges Notes, p 17). Israel battles against Midian and Gideon displays wavering faith in God’s deliverance by asking for additional signs (a dewy fleece on dry ground and the next day a dry fleece on dewy ground). God uses a dream to reveal to Gideon that He will deliver Israel, Jud 6-7

Jephthah-was given the direct promise of Yahweh that victory will come over the Ammonites, but he will try to secure the victory by a foolish and unnecessary oath. The judgeship of Jephthat is characterized by ignorance and negligence of divine things and his manipulation of Yahweh, Jud 10-11

Samson-The judgeship of Samson is driven by his appetites, negligent of his Nazirite vow, selfish and uncaring about the face of his people, Jud 12-16.

Delilah-the person responsible for the downfall of Samson’s strength. Delilah seduced Samson to tell her the secret sources of his strength for a bag of silver from the Philistines, Jud 16

Research Process

I recently thought about how much research it takes to write a 7-10 page paper. There are some topics that you can find so much information on that it is really difficult to condense that down into a short and concise paper. This is especially true when you may have a broad topic and 30 pages worth of research material that you have to go through. Then, having to take all of that information and make it into something that is short, concise, and readable all the while showing the audience the author has some level of understanding about the subject. 

One difficulty is taking the research, learning about the subject (there are many things that a general knowledge may be known, but not an in-depth knowledge to where you feel you are a expert or even novice on the subject), putting it all together and finally trying to even put your original thoughts into it. After writing a number of papers this past year and a half, I have found such a greater respect for all writers but especially those that pour out articles and documents every month. I can’t even imagine how many hours of research they invested. For a small paper like the Jubilee paper, I think I invested around 10-15 hours because not only is it about finding articles that touch on the subject, but then it is reading and re-reading. Some times it is trying to condense their thoughts into something smaller all the while still doing justice to the author’s intent.

Even after writing on a subject, you may think you have an intermediate amount of knowledge until one day you read something, watch something or hear something and that author or subject blows you out of the water spouting off things about that subject you never knew. Or you may have already forgotten even though you researched it only a week ago! This is one of the most amazing things about God and Christianity. He is infinite that no matter how much knowledge we ever gain in this world studying Him, or how much He blesses us with about Him; we can never fully and completely understand or know Him. It is mind-boggling and awe-inspiring to belong to a God (the only God) that loves us so much, has a plan for us, wants us to know Him and have a relationship with Him, yet is still a mystery. It is humbling. We could spend our whole lives on one characteristic or attribute of the Father and still never truly or fully grasp that concept.

Over the next few days, I would like to share with you some of the research I found on the year of Jubilee (just a couple of more post then, Jubilee will be over!). My hopes for this are to bring a little more enlightenement to what this special year meant. It has been a fascinating study for me and I hope these post help with either your own research or with a closeness to the Great Mystery, Our Heavenly Father.

  • Introduction
    • The basic principle of Sabbath years is found in verses 3–4: every seventh year, the people of Israel were to refrain from cultivating the land as a “Sabbath to YHWH” (v. 2). Following this explanation, the rest of the chapter presents a general principle for the practice of the Jubilee year, followed by a series of specific instructions.
      • Every fiftieth year, on the Day of Atonement (see note below), Israel was to sound the trumpet and declare a year of Jubilee. The Jubilee command, at its simplest, is found in verse 10. Israel must consecrate the fiftieth year in order to “proclaim liberty throughout the land.”
        • The “year” of Jubilee actually begins in the seventh month of the year. Therefore, it seems likely that the year began in the seventh month of either the 49th or 50th year and extended until the seventh month of the 50th or 51st year. Allen P. Ross summarizes three major options for the chronology of the Jubilee: (1) the Jubilee took place at the end of the seventh Sabbath year, so that the land was not worked for two consecutive years; (2) the Jubilee and the seventh Sabbath year were simultaneous, and “fifty” is a general way of speaking about the 49th year; (3) the Jubilee began in the first month in the civic calendar but the seventh in the cultic, so that whether one considered it the 49th or 50th year depended on which calendar was being used (Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002] 459)
      • Description of the year:
        • The singular institution of the Jubilee year had more than one purpose. As a social and economical arrangement it tended to prevent the extremes of wealth and poverty. Every fiftieth year the land was to revert to its original owners, the lineal descendants of those who had ‘come in with the conqueror,’ Joshua. Debts were to be remitted, slaves emancipated, and so the mountains of wealth and the valleys of poverty were to be somewhat leveled, and the nation carried back to its original framework of a simple agricultural community of small owners[1]
        • This was the most illustrious Sabbath, since the state of the people, both as to their persons and their houses and property, was renewed; and although in this way God had regard to the public good, gave relief to the poor, so that their liberty should not be destroyed, and preserved also the order laid down by Himself; still there is no question but that He thus added an additional stimulus to incite the Jews to honour the Sabbath. For it was a kind of imposing memorial of the sacred rest, to see slaves emancipated and become suddenly free; houses and lands returning to their former possessors who had sold them; and in fine all things assuming a new face. They called this year Jobel, from the sound of the ram’s horn, whereby liberty and the restitution of property were proclaimed; …its main feature was the solemnity which shewed them to be separated from other nations to be a peculiar and holy nation to God; nay, the renewal of all things had reference to this, that being redeemed anew in the great Sabbath, they might entirely devote themselves to God their Deliverer. [2]
        • a joyful shout or clangour of trumpets, the name of the great semi-centennial festival of the Hebrews. It lasted for a year. During this year the land was to be fallow, and the Israelites were only permitted to gather the spontaneous produce of the fields (Lev. 25:11, 12). All landed property during that year reverted to its original owner (13–34; 27:16–24), and all who were slaves were set free (25:39–54), and all debts were remitted. [3]
        • the fiftieth year occurring at the end of seven sabbatical cycles of seven years each, in which all land was returned to its ancestral owners and all Israelite slaves were freed. The jubilee is described in Lev. 25:8–17, 23–55; 27:16–25; and Num. 36:4. It was proclaimed with the blowing of the shofar (a trumpet made from a ram’s horn) on the Day of Atonement. The land was also left fallow in the jubilee year. The jubilee was observed in the seventh sabbatical in Second Temple times, so that there was a forty-nine-year cycle.[4]
        • Freedom or liberty is a central notion in the Jubilee year, and God’s liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt is the critical theological background (Lev 25:38, 42, 55).[5]
        • The counting for the year was “seven sabbaths of years.” Most probably the year after the seventh sabbatical year was the Jubilee year, though some scholars have argued that the Jubilee year coincided with the seventh sabbatical year counting the years inclusively (e.g., Chirichigno). However, the provisions for the Jubilee year do not totally coincide with those of the sabbatical year. Certainly Josephus, Philo and rabbinical scholars were unanimous in regarding the Jubilee as the fiftieth year. Also, Leviticus 25:21 seems to say that one year’s harvest would suffice for three years, implying that the Jubilee year was successive to a sabbatical year.[6]
          • Others suggest that the Jubilee may have been a short year, perhaps of forty-nine days, functioning not unlike modern leap days.
        • The 50th year after seven cycles of seven years (Lev. 25:10) in which Israel’s land and people gained freedom. It was begun with a blast from a ram’s horn on the Day of Atonement[7]
        • this was also called the year of liberty (Ezek. 46:17).[8]
        • “The Jubilee legislation found in Leviticus 25 presents a vision of social and economic reform unsurpassed in the ancient Near East.”[9]
        • The word “jubilee” probably comes from the Hebrew yabal, meaning “to bring [forth],” as in the bringing forth of produce. The year of jubilee did for the land what the Day of Atonement did for the people. This year removed the disturbance or confusion of God’s will for the land that resulted from the activity of sinners eventually. During this year God brought the land back into the condition that He intended for it. The fact that the priests announced the year of jubilee on the Day of Atonement (v. 9) confirms this correspondence. [10]

[1] Alexander Maclaren, “Leviticus 25,” Expositions of Holy Scripture, Internet, available from http://biblehub.com/commentaries/maclaren/leviticus/25.htm, accessed 22 November 2014.

[2] Calvin, J., & Bingham, C. W. (2010). Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony (Vol. 2, p. 451). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Easton, M. G. (1893). “Jubilee,” In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

[4] Schiffman, L. H. (2011). jubilee. In (M. A. Powell, Ed.)The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated). New York: HarperCollins.

[5] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 702

[6] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 702

[7] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers. 1694

[8] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Festivals. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[9] Robert Gnuse, “Jubilee Legislation in Leviticus: Israel’s Vision of Social Reform,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 15:2 (April 1985):43.

[10] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf, accessed 22 November 2014.

A Visual Synthetic Chart of Leviticus

In the past few posts, we have discussed the key themes to Leviticus and I showed how I would breakdown the book by sections. For this post, I want to provide you a visual tool of what my synthetic chart of Leviticus looks like. This will hopefully provide greater clarity on the two previous posts. Note, will many charts and outlines there are some small and minor variances, so others may see something different than I do.

First, at the top of the chart is the theme. This is a very short and concise statement on the book, almost think of it as a headline. Second, the Message Statement. This can come from the thematic outline that we did not too long ago. Basically, this expands the headline into a complete sentence about the books main message. To go with the message statement, we include the key verse for the book that supports our theme and message statement. For this example, since our theme was holiness, I used Leviticus 20:26 which says, “You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

Next, we try to break down the book into sections. These are the parts of the book that seem to go together, are continuous and do not touch on a different topic. For this book, we have seven different sections. As part of the sections, we want to do another message statement. This time we don’t have to include a key verse, but we do want to provide a good summary sentence that captures the main idea for that particular section.

Next, are the subsections which are the various different parts that make up the whole of that section. Many times this will be the paragraph headings in your Bible. With this, you will be able to focus on one certain topic and see how the other parts of that section all ties together. The next part of the synthetic chart is the verses that make up that subsection. Within that paragraph or subsection, the writer will pull together the ideas that make up that subsection. Think back to diagramming a sentence in your grade school days, this is essentially diagramming a subsection. For example, if we look at the first subsection under section 1 (Laws concerning offerings and sacrifices), which is titled “laws of burnt Offerings”, we see there are two parts to this. There is Moses being called by God, and God describing the burnt offering. Yet because they are cohesive, they are part of that subsection. This is one of the hardest things for me to do because I don’t always see a very clear distinction, or I think something should be a subsection on its own. This takes a lot of practice but will be very beneficial in seeing how the book ties together. Part of this, is also providing paragraph titles in your own words for that section of verses. This will help to see what those verses talk about and provide a short headline that describes that section.

Finally, the last phase of the synthetic chart is the various themes that are seen throughout the book. Not every chapter and verse will have the same theme and not every theme will be in all the chapters and verses.  This tool provides a way to see the various themes throughout the book, where they appear and the frequency at which they appear. To do this, simply identify a theme for a particular passage, and note it under the paragraph titles and verses that are above. For example, Holiness seems to be predominant in chapter 2, verses 1 to 3 and verse 10. So we note it under the two verse sections that make up chapter 2. But, the Atonement them goes from chapter 4 to chapter 6 verse 7, so we have a long section that is noted under all of those verse sections. Part of doing the subsections, verses and paragraph titles is to help one see the themes that keep surfacing.

This is a very tedious and laborious process, but it is one that is so beneficial. It can really take your Bible study and community group teaching/Sunday school teaching to another level. This is a really great practice for getting more out of your Bible reading and helps to provide understanding to what you just read. Here is what the chart will look like:

synthetic chart of leviticus


Teach me Your ways!

If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people. (Exodus 33:13, NIV)

What a beautiful request! Today, I have made this my prayer. I pray that God would teach me His ways that the desires and longings of my heart may find joy as it drinks from the Fountain of Living Water. I echo what Moses said that I may know the Lord and may I know Him better. I pray that all of us would stop settling and being content with the “mud pies” this world offers and truly enjoy the fullness of God.

I think about the relationship that Moses had with God. I think of all the things Moses got to do and see. What is amazing is that while Moses had his faults and his struggles, he still longed for God. And He desired to know Him more and more. This man only a few verses later asks to see the glory of God (“Now show me your glory.” v. 18) and God shows him.

Throughout this section, Exodus 33:12-23, we see Moses showing his dependence and need for God. We see Moses even say to God “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (v.15) What I love about that is that God just told Moses in the previous verse the “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” But Moses didn’t want to leave without God. He wasn’t willing to go out on his own. He knew that the only way he could leave; the only way the people would be taken care of; the only way he could lead was if the Lord went with him. He was dependent on God to take him to where they needed to go.

That brings me to what Mary and Joseph did when they left Jesus at the temple (Luke 2:41-52). I understand that times were different and they were in a caravan and other factors, but THEY LEFT THEIR CHILD AT THE TEMPLE! Let alone they left the Son of God. They went on with their journey while leaving Jesus behind. And He was left behind for several days.

How often do we do that? How often do we leave Jesus at the temple? How often do we feel like God told us to do something and we go try to do it on our own only to fail? How often do we think we are doing God’s Will, but don’t rely on God to get it done? Every stinking day! Moment by moment I do this. I leave Jesus at the temple.

Another analogy, not that you need anymore, but I think about Jesus coming to my house and I say hello but I head off to work. I leave him at the doorstep. I don’t invite him in to change me. I don’t wait on Him to tell us when to go. I just head right off to my daily routine and leave Him there. Then I come home and there He is. But, I never let Him lead me. I never stopped and said, “If you are not with me, I can’t go do this.” I can’t even walk to the doorstep of work. I can’t do this task. I can’t love my wife like I should. I can’t lead our family. I can’t enjoy your ministry. I can’t even eat. I can’t even breathe if you are not with me. I lose focus of just how much I need God with me at all times.

There are times when I can recognize my independence, but the sin of hurriedness gets in the way. I recognize that I am not dependent on God, yet I don’t wait on Him. I don’t do as Moses did and simply say if you are not with me then don’t even move me from here. And Moses was willing to wait. He was wasn’t going to move until the Presence of God was with them.

Moses also knew what set him and the Israelites apart. He knew that the only thing that “distinguished them” was God (v. 16). That is true for us. We go to work, we go to school, we go to the store and how does anyone know how we are different than they are. Simple, it’s God. The only way people can see a difference is if we let God in, let Him change us, mold us, shape us and transform us. And let Him shine through us. I desperately want non-believers to see a difference in me and the Christian brothers and sisters. That is why I need God with me that I may be different in the way I act, the way I talk, the words I use, the example I set, the way I work. That is hard to do. But, I want to set that example that God can change a wretched sinner like me. While Moses asked God to remember the nation was His people, we need to remember we are God’s children and let God work in and through us.

I really like verse 17 as well, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’” How beautiful is that? I love the reminder of how it applies to us this very day. That while we have failed, while we have made countless mistakes today, God is pleased with us. And all because of Christ, we are His children. He knows us by name and has a plan for us. No matter how little our lives will matter in this world, God calls us valuable. He says we are important and we can make an impact on this world. This verse has reminded me of John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” God did the very thing Moses asked by showing him His glory (v. 23), and God reminds us through Jesus that He will still give us whatever we ask. Because Christ is our mediator and representing us, what an awesome promise Christ made to give us whatever we ask for.

God is pleased with me and us because of Christ. And because of Him we can be found in His favor. But we cannot settle just to know Him or to know Him by name. Then, we will never be satisfied or fulfilled. But, if we seek God and ask Him what Moses asked by saying “…teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you…” then what a beautiful thing will happen when God shows us and teaches us more about Him. What a beautiful joy to know more of the Almighty and have our relationship with Him cultivated in new and exciting ways.

The only way that we can do anything, lead these people, lead at school, lead at work, lead our families, lead at church, lead in our ministry is by waiting on God and not leaving without Him. The only way is if God is with us. He is with me on this journey to know Him better and have these verses take root. The only way they will take root and bear fruit is Him. I am the first to admit I need greater dependence. I need to not leave without Him. One way to know the Father better is to let Him work, let Him lead, let Him teach us and change us. I am willing. God help me be more willing. Help me to know You better.