Opening Up the Bible1

3. Old Testament Overview

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Cambridge ON
Sunday May 4, 2008
10:00 a.m.

Children's Message:

- Last week I mentioned Noah's Ark.
- Noah's Ark is about God saving Noah and his family,
and God is always working to save us.
-Today I thought it would be fun to sing a funny song
about Noah's Ark!

Noah’s Ark

1. The Lord said,

Noah, there’s gonna be a floody, floody!” (2x)

Get those animals out of the muddy, muddy,

Children of the Lord.

Refrain: (rise)

So, rise, and shine, and give God the glory, glory,

So, rise, and shine, and give God the glory, glory,

Rise, and shine, and (clap) give God the glory, glory,

Children of the Lord.

2. The Lord told Noah to build him an arky, arky (2x)

Build it out of hickory barky, barky,

Children of the Lord.


3 The animals,

they came, they came, by twosies, twosies (2x)

Elephants and kangaroosies, roosies,

Children of the Lord.


4. It rained and poured for 40 daysies, daysies (2X)

Almost drove the animals crazies, crazies,

Children of the Lord.


5. Now Noah sent Dove to find a twiggy, twiggy (2x)

Dove came back with a twig in his beaky, beaky,

Children of the Lord.


6. The sun came out and dried up the landy, landy (2X)

Everything is fine and dandy, dandy.

Children of the Lord.


-I have some more pages for you to add

to your Bible books.

-Who didn't get one last week? (hand out extras)

-Last Sunday I mentioned

that the Bible looks like one book,

but it's really many books in one – a bit like a library,

so here's a page about that ....

-And when the Bible was first used,

it wasn't put together into a book like now,

it was written on a long scroll like this (show handout).

-So here's another page to put in your Bible book ....

Prayer: Thank you God, God for helping the church put together the Bible. Help us to want to learn about it and read it, so that you can meet us through the words of the Bible. Amen.


-Two weeks ago we began a sermon series
called “Opening Up the Bible.”
-We noted that the Bible was formed
through a long process of discernment and inspiration.
-Over centuries,
Jews and Christians
gradually sifted through various writings,
eventually choosing the best,
which would be considered Scripture.

-Last week, we looked at the first 2 chapters of Genesis,
and noted that there were clearly
two different accounts of creation!
-There are two different orders
in which things are created.
-The Creator is known by two different names,
and is presented in two very different concepts.
-We also looked at the biblical account of Noah's ark,
and noted two different versions again.
-We learned that scholars believe
that there were four different documents
behind these early Old Testament books
J, E, D, and P –
documents compiled at different times
-Whenever there were differences in the accounts
from J, E, D, or P,
rather than choosing one,
the editors simply included both versions.
-And so, we have two creation stories,
and differences in how many of each kind of animal
Noah took on the ark.

-Reading Scripture carefully,
and noting these differences
allows the Bible itself to show us
how it's meant to be read:
not as a history book or science book,
but as a narrative which speaks deep truths
about our relationship with God,
and the reality in which we find ourselves:
as creatures who are imperfect,
but have been endowed with god-like powers
and put in charge of creation.

-Thanks to Veggie Tales, Hollywood enactments,
and Hanna Barbera, cartoons,
many of us are familiar with dramatic tales
from the 1st Testament,
such as the Exodus, David and Bathsheba,
David and Goliath,
Daniel in the Lion's Den, and so on.
- “But few us us are very familiar
with the sweep of history
that is the background to the Hebrew Bible,
and how the various biblical books
fit into the historical picture.”
-Today we'll begin an overview2 of the 1st Testament,
so that we are better equipped
to take account of the context
in which various stories are told.

-Jewish history
begins with the story of Abraham and Sarah,
the ancestors of the Israelite people, about 2000 BC.
-God promises Abraham and Sarah
that they will become a great nation
which will be a blessing to all.
These foundational stories
are in the book of Genesis.

-The book of Genesis ends
with the story of Jacob and his sons,
descendants of Sarah and Abraham.
-Jacob eventually has 12 sons
for whom each of the 12 tribes of Israel will be named.
-One brother, Joseph,
seems to think that he's destined for great things,
so the jealous other brothers sell him as a slave.
-Joseph is eventually tossed into prison
on a trumped-up charge.
-Just when it looks like God has deserted Joseph,
Joseph gets an opportunity to interpret Pharaoh's dream
which warns of an impending famine.
-As a result, Joseph is released from prison
and put in charge of the programme to store-up food
to prepare for this famine.
-Eventually Joseph's brothers hear that there is food
in Egypt,
and appear – unbeknownst to them – before Joseph.
-Joseph acts forgivingly;
his family moves to Egypt,
and Joseph gives them the best farm land.

-As the book of Exodus opens,
we learn that the Hebrews
are becoming such a large group within Egypt,
that they come to be seen as a potential threat.3
-Pharaoh therefore enslaves them
in order to keep them under control.
-God then calls Moses –
a central character in the story of the Hebrew people –
to lead the Hebrews out of slavery,
out of Egypt,
to the Promised Land, where they remain to this day.
-On the way from Egypt to the Promised Land,
God gives Moses the Ten Commandments,
written on stone tablets.
-During their 40 years in the wilderness,
God instructs the people in the way they should live
and forms them,
by giving them the Law.
-The story of the Exodus from Egypt
and the return to Canaan
occurs from about 1300 to 1200 BC
and is told in the books of Exodus, Joshua, Judges,
and Ruth.

-Once they've settled in Canaan,
these 12 tribes relate
as a loose confederation of nations
under the leadership of a series of judges.
-Amazingly enough,
at least one of these leaders was a woman: Deborah.
-But it isn't long until
the people eventually beg God to let them have a king,
just like other nations.
-God reluctantly allows this,
and the first kings are Saul, David, and Solomon,
about 1000 years BC.
-Together these first 3 kings reign for 120 years.

-But after King Solomon,
the single, united monarchy became divided into
the Northern Kingdom of Israel,
and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
-These divided kingdoms, these 2 nations,
are ruled by a succession of less-famous
and less-faithful kings
for just over 200 years.
-These stories are recorded in the biblical books
of 1 and 2 Samuel, Chronicles, and Kings.

-Then the kingdoms run into trouble with world powers.
-In 722 BC,
the northern kingdom Israel falls to the Assyrians.
-The southern kingdom, Judah,
continues on for another 135 years.
-But in 587 BC, Judah is taken over by the Babylonians,
and Solomon's magnificent temple is destroyed.
-After that, no independent Jewish nation exists
until the 20th century.
-After 50 years in exile,
the Persian king Cyrus
allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem,
and they begin rebuilding the temple.
-When nearby residents ask if they could help,
they are harshly refused.
-The returning Jews
did not consider these inhabitants
to be true Israelites –
neither by race,
nor by religious observance.
-That distaste for these local Samaritans
cans still be seen centuries later
as Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
-This return to Jerusalem
is told in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

-So, about 2,000 BC,
stories of the Patriarchs took place
and are recorded in Genesis.
- The Exodus and wilderness wandering
occurred about 1300 BC,
and is recorded in the books of Exodus, Joshua, Judges,
and Ruth.

-The united monarchy
under kings Saul, David, and Solomon,
is recorded in the books of Samuel, Chronicles,
and Kings,
and took place about 1000 BC.

-Then the Israelite nation
became a divided monarchy –
each having their own king.
-Eventually both kingdoms fell
and the Jews lived in exile.
-Many of the writings of the prophets
came from this period.

-In 538 BC, thanks to King Cyrus of Persia,
the exiles of the southern kingdom Judah
were allowed to return to their land
and rebuild the Temple.
-The story is told in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

-Those are the overarching historical settings
of the 1st Testament.
-Throughout this long story,
God's people continually turn away from God,
and are then brought back by God.
-In the relatively short timespan
covered by the book of Judges, alone,
this cycle is repeated 7 times.
-Throughout this long story,
God uses imperfect, sinful and disobedient people
to accomplish God's purposes.
-From Abraham to Moses,
through judges like Samson to King David,
through the kings of the divided monarchy,
and even when the Jews were in exile,
God continued to work with them
remaining faithful to the covenant promise
that they would be a blessing
to all nations of the earth.

-Next week, we'll turn to the beginning
of the Jewish people,
as we recap in more detail
the story of Abraham and Sarah.
1242 words at 115 wpm: 10 ¾ minutes

#522 As We Gather at Your Table

Sending Thought: Apocalyptic Literature

The Benediction follows ....

1Jackie Nunns: Opening Up the Bible. 2004.

2Jackie Nunns: Opening Up the Bible. 2004.

3The Story of the Bible. Editor Alyson Huntly. Wood Lake Books 1998. Page 8.

4Daniel 3.17-18