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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Judges: Background Context

As we study the Bible it can be difficult to force ourselves to look beyond the immediate portion we're reading and make ourselves step back to determine the larger context. But if we don't, we can make grave errors in our understanding of a passage. It's important to know the Book as a whole. Each book has a specific Purpose, is written to a particular Audience and exists in a particular Culture and Time period. But we shouldn't stop there. There is an even larger context - the Bible as a whole. We often forget that the Bible is ONE book, written by one ultimate author, the HS. It's also a progressive revelation from God, so if we isolate a book from that greater context, we're likely to miss significant things.

I've been preparing the Book of Judges for SS class and thought it would be a good idea to back up a little, so the kids might appreciate the bigger picture concerning where God is going in the Book of Judges. I came up with 5 main points I think it's vital for them to understand. Here are the first three:

1. God's Original Intention for Man [Gen.1:26-28; 2:15-19]

According to the opening chapters of Genesis, God created man (and woman) to be Vice Regents of His creation. They were to exercise dominion over creation, be fruitful & multiply and fill the earth. As a bonus, they had an open, personal relationship with the Regent, God. When they disobeyed their Sovereign, that purpose became horribly corrupted. But God immediately set about to restore His original plan and bring Himself glory by doing so.

2. The Abrahamic Covenant [Gen.12:1-3; 15:5-21; 17]

God chose out one man and from him created a people as His own, to represent Him to the rest of Creation. You could almost look at Israel as a microcosm of God's original plan for man. [This is an unconditional covenant, completely reliant upon God. Israel may fail to be faithful, but God will always remain faithful.]

3. A Nation of Priests/Mediators [Ex.19:4-6]

Going a step further, God intended Israel to be a kingdom of Priests. What's the function of a Priest? To be a Mediator between God and man. Israel was to Mediate between God and His creation. They were to represent Him in such a way that the nations would flock to Him.

[You'll notice that this Covenant is a Conditional one (if../then..). That's significant to having an understanding of 1Pet.2:9-10, where the very same verses are addressed to the church.]