The Bible: Theological, Historical Narrative

As I watched a video on the Bible being historically accurate, I creatively learned this diagram to make sense of these three descriptors, and why they are important.

Taught to Christian Ed 6th Grade Grace Christian School on May 22, 2019 to

As a way to show it to people, the explanation of the “Snowman” diagram starts at the bottom with just the word “Narrative” in its spot at the start. Each word is put in quotes, it is filled into the diagram.

The Bible is “Narrative” which means it is “Story.” And what does a story have? It has “characters,” it has a “plot,” and it has “meaning.” That part of the story that really gets us. And a story is crafted by the imagination of a man, yes?
Now a lot of people are content to accept the Bible as a wonderful collection of stories for the most part, but the debate will really start to come into the next level up. Because the Bible isn’t just Narrative. It is

“Historical” Narrative. When I say Historical it means that the things in this story, “Really happened.” And in history we don’t have just any characters or plots, or meaning, we have real “People,” “Events” of history, and as we look at history we start recognizing patterns in history. Case in point: Roman Empire’s rise and Fall. This pattern of rising and falling has prevailed throughout history.
A lot of educated people will debate if the things in the Bible really happened, but evidence supports the Bible’s historical account, just like the Senacherib’s Prism. Some people who don’t accept the Bible as God’s word will say, “It is Man’s recording, and Man’s crafting of the story.” The debate may convince them that there is historical evidence, for the story, but the final part of the Bible’s descriptors, is the part that people who are not Christians will not accept at a heart level. Because the Bible isn’t just Historical Narrative. It is

“Theological” Historical Narrative. That means it reveals things about “What is really going on. The Bible gives voice to the part of us that knows this world is more than the world we can see, taste, smell, and hear. There is an unseen “God” and there are unseen “Spiritual realities” which are moving in the world: Angels, demons, blessings, curses, and at this level we actually get to the “Truth.” Now while The Story is Man Crafted, and History is Man recorded, Theological means it is “God revealed.”

The Bible is all three levels, and in order to understand the Bible, you have to accept it at all three of these levels. It is Theological, Historical Narrative. Because The Historical Level is written at the level of “Earth”: The events that concretely happened in time and space here on this planet. But the Bible also accounts for and describes the real of “Heaven.” And because it is story it also speaks at the level of the “Heart.”

Please get this: God has revealed something to Man about Heaven and Earth which He had Man record and craft so that it could reach your heart. This is why the Bible is the best and most all encompassing book ever written. It is Heaven and Earth, and the Human heart all wrapped into one Volume, and it sets all of them back into right relationship with God.

So yeah! The Bible is Theological, Historical Narrative. Isn’t that awesome?!

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6. Wilderness Manual–Fruit (17)

If you saw a stick one day lying on the ground that had no fruit on it and walked past it, you would probably not think much of it. But if you walked by the same stick the next day and it was bearing ripe fruit, you would wonder the source of life: Where did it come from? Jesus said in John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone, but if it die it brings forth much fruit.” At this point of the wilderness, we are coming up from the bottom level. The promise of life is coming through the death of the wilderness stage.

Principle: Numbers 17:8~ “Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” Thus, God proved his choice and validation of Aaron’s ability to represent him. Aaron was far from perfect, he had made plenty of mistakes, but God’s purpose was more important than Aaron’s mistakes. God had chosen him to be a vessel, and the fruit of the wilderness grows on limbs that have been cut off from their worldly supply. Such fruit only God can grow. The principle of the Wilderness is this. Only after a heart is fully set on God does it bear God’s fruit. A tree bears earthly fruit because it is of the earth. But a heart who is planted in God bears heavenly fruit, which is miraculous and is the beginnings of the rewards of the Wilderness.

However, you’re not out yet. The flesh is going to hate this. It will not be satisfactory to your sense of self. When Israel saw what happened, they were fearful for their lives. The Holiness of God had been proven among them in the death of Korah, and the vindication of Aaron. Their sinful hearts were rightly fearful in the presence of a holy God. So will our fleshly nature in light of the holiness living within us.

Application: By now, if you’ve gotten this far, and you have learned the previous lessons of the wilderness, you can expect the fruit of your heart planted in God: righteousness, self-lessness, and power to persevere and do good in the face of many tangible evils and difficulties. Walk according to God’s commands, and keep on rejecting anything that vies for space in your heart. Only the heart that is set on God can be whole. Ways to do this: worshipping God, walking with God, going aside for God, fasting, anything that is done purely for the enjoyment of God. The more fully your heart is set on God, the more fruitful for His Kingdom you will become. This will bring no comfort to your fleshly desires to serve yourself. The sin in you will need to be kept at bay in the members of your body.

5. Wilderness Manual–Enough (16)

In the sci-fi movie Ender’s Game, all of the students in the preliminary training program receive a probe in the back of their head that lets the instructors see through the children’s eyes. Before they let a person go to battle school, they take out the probe and send them home, making them think they have failed. It is wisdom to see the quality of a person after they have failed to see what they will do once their opportunity to succeed is removed. In the movie, Ender is discouraged, but he proves that he is still the right person for the job, and he is allowed to go on to the next stage.

Principle: Korah and the Levites are feeling done with this wilderness journey. Not only have they left their comforts behind, but their promised future is cut off from them by their own failure. They are stand against Moses and Aaron in Numbers 16, and Moses and Aaron, very humbly appeal to them, and rebuke them for their opposition against God. The part of this rebellion that grieves my heart is in verses 8-9

“Hear now, you sons of Levi, is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them.” ~Nu 16:8–9.

We are now at the half-way point of the Wilderness and it is here that the deep test must be faced.

The heart of rebellion is rejection of God. The heart of rebellion is hatred of God. The most holy people in the congregation of Israel had been blessed with the chance to be near to God, and how did they respond? “We don’t care. We want the promised land.” The Wilderness is where you learn for real, “Is God alone really enough?” Because in the wilderness, you will have nothing more. This is a decision of the heart one cannot make half-way. Either God alone is enough, or he is not enough. “Not enough” has looked upon the beauty and blessedness of God Himself and counted it as a small thing compared to something else. It is perhaps the greatest insult to God there is. It is the heart’s equivalent to an affair, cheating on God. God is rightly angry, and he swallows up the rebels with earth and fire.

Application: Is He alone enough? This is the foundation. This is the “real question,” “the real test.” Come to grips with the loss of past and future. Lay everything out that is precious in your heart: acceptance, authority, power, hope, relationships, significance, happiness, possessions, all of it! And then ask “If I have just God, and none of these things at all, would that be okay?” Be honest. So long as you cannot say yes, you can’t make it through the wilderness. Your heart is currently like one of those who needed to wander in it for 40 years until their corpses fell in the wilderness. If this is you, do not despair, God is greater than your heart, and he can give you a new heart with a new spirit to want Him alone. Pray and ask Him for it, and keep asking until He is indeed enough. May God give you the grace to be fully devoted to Him.

0. Wilderness Manual: Intro and Foreword

Intro: What is the Wilderness Stage?

In Israel’s life, it’s the time in between their receiving the Law, and their taking possession of the Promised Land. In Jesus’ life, it is the time directly after his baptism where the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, right before his ministry. In the Christian’s life which comes after genuine conversion, and before commissioning to doing ministry in the world. It is a time when the believer learns how to be led by the Spirit, deny the flesh, stand against Satan, and fully enter into the power of the Holy Spirit.T

If there is a Wilderness Stage, why haven’t I heard about it?

There are a couple of reasons I consider for why many Christian’s don’t really consider the wilderness stage as a part of their Christian growth. First, is that it has not been a part of the Church’s way of life for a few hundred years. The Church in America at least has been able to give Christians access to the privileges of Christian ministry without a deep, personal, and stricturing time with God. The results today is many powerless leaders and many disillusioned followers. I am bold, but I believe I am accurate when I say, if you are a Christian and you haven’t gone through the Wilderness stage, you are not yet mature enough as a Christian to call yourself “an adult.” There is no real ripe Christian Maturity until this stage has been walked. After all, even Jesus went through the wilderness after he was baptized. How could we think we are supposed to dodge this bullet?

Second, I believe that the wilderness stage is as crucial to becoming a mature christian, as training up a teenager to become a full grown man. This is something largely lacking in American society, so it would not be any surprise that our culturally conditioned eyes would look for a training period in a believer’s life in the scripture. Many men were not trained by their fathers as I was. I see the Wilderness and its importance. Military men know that you don’t send someone into the battlefield without training. And this training is a lot deeper than just learning how to pray and read your Bible.

The third reason why the church doesn’t seem to know much about the Wilderness stage is the Bible doesn’t seem to talk about the wilderness except in vague details. There are stories of Israel, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus in the wilderness, but why should we take these as prescriptive? It’s not like there’s a book of the Bible called “Wilderness” for us to read to get an idea of how to handle this time in a believer’s life. This is a sad result of English book names being two steps away from their Hebrew originals. (First the Hebrew names, then the Latin names, then the English names.) “Now, hang on,” you might say.

There’s a book called “In the Wilderness” in the Bible?

Yes. The 4th Book of the Old Testament, the 4th book of the Torah, the 4th book of the Law, the book most of us know as Numbers has the Hebrew title, B’midthbar. Which in English translates to “In the Wilderness.” This alone would not be enough to validate such connections being drawn. The content would need to match up with the rest of Scripture.

First of all, which of the two titles befits the book better? Consider this list of chapters and their contents of the 4th book of the Torah, and you decide if “Numbers” or “In the Wilderness” is a better title.

  1. Census (Lots of Numbers)
  2. Arranging the Camps (Organization)
  3. Levites as Priests (Instructions)
  4. Specific Duties (More Instructions)
  5. Marriage Instructions (More Instructions)
  6. Vow Instructions; Aaronic blessing (More Instructions)
  7. Offerings of the Leaders (Lots of Numbers)
  8. Lamps, Cleansing Levites, Retirement (More Instructions)
  9. Passover and the Cloud (More Instructions and story)
  10. Silver Trumpets, and the people leave Sinai (Instructions and story)
  11. People complain; Moses gets 70 elders to help; people complain (Story)
  12. Miriam and Aaron vs. Moses (Story)
  13. Spies check out the land; 10 bring bad report, 2 bring good report. (Story)
  14. People reject God; Moses intercedes, God punishes for 40 years, Israel still tries and fails (Story)
  15. Laws of Canaan, and sojourners, and Sabbath Breaking (More Instructions)
  16. Korah’s Rebellion; more rebellion (Story)
  17. Aaron’s Rod buds (Story)
  18. Duties and portion for priests/Levites (More Instructions)
  19. Ordinance of Red Heifer (More Instructions)
  20. Death of Miriam, and Moses’ sin, Aaron dies (Story)
  21. Conquering Arad, Bronze Serpent, Sihon and Og (Story)
  22. Balak sends for Balaam (Story)
  23. Balaam’s First two prophecies (Story)
  24. Balaam’s Third prophecy (Story)
  25. Sin of Peor and Zeal of Phineas (Story)
  26. New Census (Lots of Numbers)
  27. Law of Inheritance, Joshua Succeeds Moses (More Instructions)
  28. Law of Offerings (More Instructions)
  29. Offerings of seventh Month (More Instructions)
  30. Law of Vows (More Instructions)
  31. Slaughter of Midian and Division of spoil (story and lots of numbers)
  32. Reuben and Gad Settle in Gilead (Story)
  33. Review the Journey, laws of possession (Brief Story and more instruction)
  34. Instructions for apportioning Canaan. (More Instructions)
  35. Cities of Levites, Cities of Refuge (More Instructions)
  36. Laws of Marriage and Inheritance (More Instructions)

As can be seen by this rough outline, there are 4 chapters abounding in lists of numerical values, and 19 with lots of instructions, and 15 devoted to stories. The Numbers and the Instructions are important. The word for the first 5 books of the Old Testament “Torah” means “Instruction, so of course we would expect to see lots of instructions here. And when it comes to an approach to studying the book, “In the Wilderness,” I welcome any biblical scholar to dive deep into the instructions and numbers and their fascinating insights into the character of God and history of His people. I have decided to write about some of the stories, because I desire others to see the significance of what goes on “In the Wilderness” on a principle level, while exploring ties to the rest of Scripture, and hopefully bringing to bear the importance of this stage in the believer’s life today. I have emboldened those chapters I will examine more closely in this series, which I will list here.

  1. The Cloud (9)
  2. The Elders (11)
  3. The Siblings (12)
  4. Fear of Failure (13-14)
  5. Enough (16)
  6. Fruit (17)
  7. Contention and Holiness (20)
  8. Three Victories but One Redemption (21)
  9. Sin and Zeal (25)
  10. Coming up Short? (32)

Furthermore, Deuteronomy 8:1-6 further describes what was happening in Numbers as a training time for Israel. I will devote a post to the different areas of the wilderness and the principles they teach us about our walk with the Lord, and close with some thoughts in conjunction with Deuteronomy 8. Now that I have introduced what I’m talking about and why, let me introduce some preliminary considerations.

Foreword: The Torah and the Human Heart

The [Torah] of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul; 
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple; 
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart; 
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes; 
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether. 

More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold; 
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb. 
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me! 
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression. 
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, 
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. 
~Psalm 19:7-14

The purpose of the first 5 books: the Torah, containing the instructions, testimonies, precepts, commandments, fear, and rules of the LORD, is to expose and change the heart of sinful man. It points out the difference between God and Man and calls Man to return to the God who made him in His image. This is also the purpose of the Wilderness stage in a believer’s life. What better overlap of a book subject, and practical experience? What better way to really train the Believer in this new life he has just begun? May this time studying the Torah be helpful to reveal God’s heart, and your own as you come into deeper intimacy with Him.

Encouragement

If you are finding yourself in the wilderness, you are going to be made aware of things you did not really know before. I want to offer you these two immediate encouragements.

  1. You are not alone.
  2. There is reason and purpose to everything. You may not like the reasons, but I hope that Israel’s time in the wilderness will give you some insight into what is currently going on in your life.

Inside the Drum

Pum, Pum, Pum
Came the beat of the drum
Thick, full echoes shaken, quaken

Bum, Bum, Bum
All through the enclosed room
The air reverberated and faded

True, True, True
All is in clear view
Nothing is hidden, naught is forbidden

Bole, Bole, Bole
Hear His thunder roll
There is only sound all around

Thwack, Thwack, Thwack
The wall inside, I stifled the whack
Now two partitions split the transmissions

Pap, Pap, Pap,
The stick went slap
The words were broken, a dream half-woken

Still, Still, Still
Eerie restlessnesses fill
The empty recesses of my newfound trusses

“Pum,” “Pum,” “Pum”
My noises sound dumb
The echoes malformed are not warmed

“Bole! Bole! Bole!”
My voice is droll
The echoes die; it is I

Lies, Lies, Lies
My mimicking cries
The room I split, a dark pit

“No! No! No!”
With all my might I throw
The walls collapse with a crash

“Bum, Bum, Bum”
I shout in the drum,
It rings soundness, and profoundness

Ring, Ring, Ring,
I listen for something
Anything to be known, and blown again

Bow, Bow, Bow
The sound returns now
Tear wells are open at new words spoken

Boom, Boom, Boom
The presence in the room
All fullness no dullness

Broll, Broll, Broll,
Welcome thunders roll
The instrument is His

Math Myth

At lunch today I told this story to some 5th grade kids.

Once there was a division between the Sum and the multiplication. There was also a guy named Minus, who wasn’t very good at doing things. He wanted to remove the division between the Sum and the multiplication.

Minus had one problem. He didn’t have a heart big enough.

So he drank a lot of milk to make himself stronger.
But his heart didn’t grow any bigger.

He went to school and learned everything he could about the division between the Sum and the multiplication.
But his heart didn’t grow any bigger.

After school he gathered as many numbers around him as he could: all kinds of possessions.
But his heart didn’t grow any bigger.

Finally, he prayed and asked God to give him a bigger heart.
And God gave him a bigger heart.

After this, Minus found Sum and multiplication still divided.
And because his heart was bigger now,
He applied himself to the division between the Sum and the multiplication
And Viola! He “subtracted” the division from between the Sum and the multiplication.

The Sum and the multiplication had a party and celebrated with cupcakes.

Then they all made an equation to remember how a Minus is always able to remove the division between the Sum and the multiplication.

That is why there is a minus sign used in the Division symbol.

The Peach

From depths untold the Warmth was baked
Into the hardened crust ‘neath waves
And gathered into land, He seeded
The tree to bear the fruit we needed.

The planet much like to the fruit
It’s pit the core, round-pressure formed
The meat the fiery mantle surging
Through cracks in skin here on the surface

The land locked secrets not for mortals
The Maker made the fruit for eating,
But one tree he kept for His own
The seed of which was deeply sown

The very heart of Eden there,
Two trees stood at the river’s spring
One with juices invigorating
The other only the skin was for beauty.

And now the Tempter comes to toy
“You will be like gods! enjoy!”
And with a bite, the lady sought
The core knowledge not meant for her.

O! Leave the blessed fruit alone
And let replanting take right place
Of the tree of life, whose seeds take root
Not the seed of death, and weeds un-tame.

So the world once lost, will rise
At the core unveiled, it’s glory dies
And the surface rebellion is swept away
For the seed of the New Earth in the soil of Day.

 

I’ve Glimpsed Him. (Poem)

It takes faith to believe that God is.
Once you have this, you can see him.
I do not promise that you will
Because He must decide to reveal Himself.
It takes a pure heart, with no guile.
Some believe that this is impossible,
But all things are possible with God.
How will you recognize him?
You won’t be able to ignore.
No more than a stick can ignore an all consuming flame.

How did I see Him?
I waited.
He spoke.
I looked.
He stood.
I bowed.
He is.

Music purged my heart of unexpressed filth.
Writing arranged my thoughts according to biblical specification.
Love set my heart on fire for another.
Joy surged in my creative freedom and pleasure of wisdom.
Peace quieted me in His approval.
Translation laid sticks of explosive dynamite end to end.
The Holy Spirit’s voice was the match.
The prizing and valuing of His own personal being.
And Jesus the Living one of all my life came.

T. Austin-Sparks~ “God’s answer to strengthen His people for Suffering.”
Is a new unveiling of the glory of the person of Jesus Christ.”

“What is the answer?
A new grasp of His greatness
That’s all.
And then if we are suffering
If we are knowing adversity, trial
And the clouds seem to be gathering, Accumulating, increasing.
How will we get through?
Only thus: by this:
Getting away
And asking
And seeking
And pursuing
In prayer
A new heart revelation–unveiling
of Jesus Christ.
And I am sure that will do it.
God give it to you.”
~T. Austin Sparks

 

Wind, Tongue, Heart

Wind
Tongue
Heart

Churning
Burning
Yearning

Tempest tossed
Flame-brands crossed
All feels lost

Rivers eddy
Warmth is steady
Always ready

Clouds raging linger
Pyres point the finger
Please dull the stinger

Storms are slackening
Fires are blackening
Soul is flattening

Hush! Little wind and be calm
Brush! Feed the fire and keep warm
Thrush! Shells crush, but do no harm

Sea of glass as flat as a plate
Soft embers blown by love not hate
The strength of words now marked in slate

I’m
at
rest.

A Prayer of Victory

Skiddish Little millipede
Your cyan shell is easily penetrated
I do not seek to break it
I seek only to teach and lead

Oh Room of watchful souls
Your eyes see truth more readily
Than those who bear weight steadily
And see their heart is full of holes

Now comes to tempting trials
That beckon sons to cast their life
Away for what only laziness brings: strife
But can the bars withstand the files?

Fear not, your heart means more
Than countless hours of death and dying
Though my own heart is used to lonely sighing
I will not let this emblem vain be bore

The power of the chronicle to tell
A story that reaches from the body to the soul
Will carefully instruct the wisdom’s role
Lest the story end up half way down to Hell.

A week of peeling self-lessness
That pries the very heart of all things sacred
And spits out everything that desecrates it
And renders those with no time a useless mess

Prickly sticky fingers grab the sword
Where fire leaps upon the drying brush
And carries up the anthem to a hush
And beckons the returning of the Lord

Yea! Battle cry ye sing forth words of old
And bring the AdamSon to heart the break
Of thunder clapping lightning splitted skies
Which echo with the carnage of love’s choice bold

“The battle is accomplished!” Says the son.
The rain has landed on the thirsty ground
The heart is open, and is not made unsound
By the devices of the accusing Evil One.

Nay! For the battle is for the heart of grace
The heart with a single voice to be discovered
May the Lord the Savior grant my whole recovered
So there may be a full light in our face.