Daily Archives: March 2, 2012
Thank you all who commented on your favorite Old Testament story that pointed you to Jesus. We received loads of great comments and the overall story that most people felt pointed them to Jesus was The Present – 31% of you. The second favorite story was the Exodus – 13% of you. Other favorites were Ruth, David, and Noah.
The 3 random winners of the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum kit are:
- Taraleigh: “Son of Laughter for sure ~ about God keeping his promise to Abraham and how he would bring another baby. “…this baby would be everyone’s dream come true.””
- Kelly F: “My favorite is David and Goliath! David knew that only God could save him…and in the end…only God/Jesus can save us! One big difference between David and Jesus though is that David risked his like for his people. Jesus GAVE his life for the world! Love, love, love the Jesus Storybook Bible!”
- Lisa: “Israel’s restoration in Ezekiel 36 – God would remove Israel’s stony heart & replace with heart of flesh. “And I will put my Spirit in you. . . . I will save you from all your uncleanness.”"
In honor of the wonderful story of The Present, Abraham and Isaac, I want to share a great piece from the curriculum of the Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum: notes based on material from Timothy Keller for teachers of this story. This is taken directly from the curriculum. I think you will find it helpful as you teach children, adults, and yourself. And be sure to visit www.jesusstorybookbible.com for samples, review lessons, and more.
Some readers will have understandable objections to this story, especially as it is often interpreted. Some people have interpreted this story as: “God called Abraham to murder his son, and Abraham showed his faith and submission by getting ready to do it. So we should do whatever God calls us to do.” But this is to misunderstand the meaning of the firstborn son in Jewish thought and symbolism. God over and over again told the Hebrews that because of their sinfulness, the lives of their firstborn are automatically forfeit. The only way to change this was for the firstborn to somehow be redeemed with sacrifice or ransomed with payment.
When God said that the firstborn child’s life belonged to him unless ransomed, he was saying in the most vivid way possible that every family on earth owes a debt to eternal justice — the debt of sin. The firstborn was, in traditional cultures, the bearer of all the family’s hopes for a prosperous future. That is why God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his son was enormously painful; it appeared that he was abandoning his promises to Abraham. But the charge was not incomprehensible. God was not asking him to murder his son. He was calling in Abraham’s debt.
It is hard not to notice the resonance of this call to Abraham with all the others, especially the first one in Genesis 12. Then and now he was called to “go,” leaving all his security, comfort, and everything his heart rested in. Then and now he was called to make his heart’s dearest objects into an “offering” to God. In Genesis 12, those things were more general. He was giving up his friends, most of his family, life in a civilized, safe place. These are major sacrifices. God was asking Abraham to trust in God’s promise as his security and significance, not these other things. That is what God is doing again
now, as Abraham is called to offer up Isaac, the dearest thing in his life.
In every case, God is saying, “Don’t look to anything but me. Make me your ultimate security, worth, and hope. Don’t trust in anything but me. Don’t rest your heart in anything more than me for your significance and acceptability.”
But the ultimate nature of this test is summed up in the term God deliberately uses with emphasis in Genesis 22:2: “your son, your only son.” It is not literally true that Isaac is Abraham’s only son. But Isaac is Abraham’s only son in that all his hopes are focused on Isaac: he is the promised son, the one through whom God promised to rescue his people.
Did Abraham push himself up the mountain simply saying, “I have to obey God perfectly! I can do it! I must do it!” and so on? No, Genesis 22:8 shows that Abraham had decided to cling to the goodness and promises of God despite all appearances. He says, “God himself will provide the lamb.” Abraham could not have known exactly what God would do, nor does it seem likely he believed specifically that a ram-substitute would be discovered. He was simply saying, “God will provide . . . somehow.” Verse 5 also seems to be an indication of Abraham’s hope, because he tells his servants that “we will come back to you.”
In other words, he did not go up the mountain saying, “I can do it”; rather, he went up the mountain saying, “God will do it . . . but I don’t know how.” Somehow God would remove the debt on the firstborn and keep the promises he’d made.
Abraham had his eyes fixed on a provision that he could not even imagine, but he knew was there. We, this side of the cross, can truly see the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
We’re excited to announce the Love is an Orientation Blog Tour! During the week of March 12 Zondervan will be sharing blog posts of reviews and thoughts on the new DVD curriculum from Andrew Marin, Love is an Orientation: Practical Ways to Build Bridges with the Gay Community.
Marin aims to equip Christian communities to find peaceful, productive ways to build bridges with the gay community. In the introduction, Marin writes:
Rooted at or near the center of the constant social unrest and political culture wars that cover our landscape today seems to be the disconnect between the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, evangelicals, and conservatives in general. Each group has become subhuman to the other; a mere voting bloc that is preyed on and pressured by extreme activism tearing the fabric of our churches and government apart. It’s our time, right now, to step up and lead our culture forward by practicing what it means to build bridges among division, letting our surrounding world know that impact and authority are earned through those who know what it means to have love as their orientation.
It’s a topic that generates a lot of strong opinions on both sides. Marin has lived his message in his Chicago neighborhood, and his lessons are demonstrated in the DVD curriculum. The stories of lives that have been transformed by love are significant and the possibilities for further transformation in cities across the country are endless.
Keep an eye out for the blog tour coming in just a couple weeks. In the meantime, you can view a trailer for the curriculum here and watch the first session from the DVD below: