You Would Have Been Proud . . .

. . . of your Good Shepherd team in India today.

James-Michael Smith and Chris Thayer had their opening teaching sessions today.

After I gave the opening talk in which I spoke about Sunday sermons not as disconnected pieces but as parts of an integrated whole — in other words, it’s better to preach in series rather random messages week by week — we settled down into the meat of the day. James-Michael on the Old Testament and Chris on the intertestamental period between the Old and the New.

Here are some of the nuggets I got from their talks:

In the Old Testament, God is active outside of Abraham, but the focus within the bible is how God uses Abraham and his family to rescue the world.

Abram means “exalted father.” The name change to Abraham means “father of many.”

Early on this was Abraham’s crisis: how could he be the father of many when he wasn’t the father of any?

God says to Abraham, “I will keep my promise to you at the cost of my life.”

When Jacob wrestles with the angel in Genesis 32, God changes his name to Israel which literally means “one who struggles with God.”

As a nation (the ancient people, not the modern state), Israel is how God will reach the world.

The old covenant was written on stone tablets; the new is written in human hearts.

Jesus was a descendant of Abraham who kept the Old Covenant perfectly and brought it to a close so the New Covenant can now reach the nations.

Jacob (Israel) had 12 sons. Jesus had 12 disciples.

Israel came out of Egypt as an infant nation. Jesus came out of Egypt as an infant.

Israel crossed the Jordan on the way to the promised land. Jesus crossed the Jordan in his baptism.

Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years. Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days.

Jesus takes on the identity of Israel and walks it out . . . if you know the story of Israel you know the story of Jesus.

There are three parts to the context of Scripture: 1) Behind the text which is the the history of authorship and audience; 2) Inside the text which involves the purpose of the writer and the kind of literature involved; 3) In front of the text which is what WE bring into the reading of it.

In between the testaments, God was supposed to bring a king to Israel but instead Roman kings like Pompeii walked into the temple and made fun of God.

The people longed for a king who would deliver them from their oppressors.

When he first performed miracles, villagers expected Jesus to be their military king. That’s why he often told them to keep his miracles quiet . . . it was his way of telling them, “I’m not THAT kind of king and this won’t be that kind of kingdom.”

After that rich teaching, we sat down with some of the pastors who speak English.

The most poignant moment came in response to the question, “have you ever been persecuted for your faith here?”

“My father was killed and I was beaten,” one man answered softly.

“Did it ever make you want to give up since it would obviously be easier on you not to follow Jesus?” I asked.

“Of course not,” he said. “I will keep preaching to the end.”

And we’re trying to teach them?