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Lesson 7: Language, Text, and Context *

Introduction: Assume that you have a child you have never met. You have the opportunity to contact that child through a letter. What would you tell that child? How would you go about deciding what is most important to say? Would you use language that is easy to understand? Would you worry that your child might not understand the context of your writing? These are considerations that God faced when He inspired the Bible. Perhaps proving that a letter alone is not enough, He sent His Son to help us to better understand. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to better understand God's thinking in giving us the Bible!

  1. The Goal


    1. Read 2 Timothy 3:16. When you consider the words "teaching, rebuking, correcting and training" what common element comes to mind? (Growth and change.)


      1. What does that teach us about God's intention for His letter to humans?


      2. What assumptions does it make about humans? (God intended the Bible to bring about a change in humans. We need to correct our course and to learn more about God's goal for our life.)


    2. Read 2 Timothy 3:17. What is God's goal for our life? (To do good works and to do them competently.)


      1. Notice the phrase "thoroughly equipped." How do you feel when you are creating or fixing something and you do not have the correct tool?


        1. Have you considered that God wants to give you the best tools for doing good? A better understanding of the Bible makes us more effective.


      2. How does that inform our belief in righteousness by grace alone? (God clearly aspires to have us do good works and to do them well. Our actions matter to God.)


    3. Read Deuteronomy 32:46. We looked at this text recently. What is one of the most important works for us? (To teach our children the will of God.)


      1. How do we do this? One of the most Godly men in my life has a son who, I think it is fair to say, is an enemy of the gospel. His grandchildren seem to have slipped even further away from God.


        1. After the death of this Godly man, I decided to "fix" this. I determined to convert this son. I failed miserably! The son went from being neutral about me to hating me. I think I lacked the right tools. What do you think?


      2. Many parents paid a lot of money to send their children to church school. The result for a percentage of them is rebellion against the church. What went wrong? What can we learn from this?


    4. Read Deuteronomy 32:47. What is at stake in teaching our children Biblical principles? (It affects their lives here and it is critical to eternal life.)


      1. One of the complaints about church school is that it enforced many arbitrary rules. If the goal of teaching our children is to help them have a better life, should we test our rules by asking whether the rule is important to right living? Is this an area in which we need better "tools?" Let's turn to that next.


  2. Teaching Attitude?


    1. Read 1 Kings 3:5-6. What attitude does Solomon say that God had towards David? (God was kind.)


      1. How important is it to teach kindness to our children?


        1. If you are a parent, what are you doing to teach kindness to your children?


      2. How did God teach this to King David? (When we consider the life of David, kindness is not the first word that comes to mind.)


        1. How do you explain this - that David's life does not reflect the kindness of God? (Two possible answers come to mind. First, that God's kindness tolerated some bad behavior on David's part. Second, we might not have a correct understanding of David.)


    2. Look again at 1 Kings 3:6. Solomon does not call his father "kind," but he describes David as "righteous and upright in heart." Does that seem correct to you?


      1. Is there a difference between our actions and what is in our heart? (Consider Romans 8:5.)


      2. Should we be teaching our children heart lessons? If so, how do we do that?


    3. Read Numbers 6:22-23. Who are Aaron and his sons? (The priests. Those who were the intermediaries between the people and God.)


    4. Read Numbers 6:24-26. What is God saying to His people?


      1. What positive attitudes should result from this blessing? (Trust that God will "keep" us. Encouragement that God will smile ("face shine") at us and be kind to us. Confidence that God is looking at us so that He knows everything that happens in our life.)


        1. Is this your view of God? Are these attitudes reflected in your life? Have you taught your children that this is His attitude towards them?


          1. Notice that the last thing mentioned is "peace." If you understood the previous things said about God's attitude toward you, would the natural result be that you would be at peace?


      2. Are these attitudes "tools" that better equip us to teach our children heart lessons?


      3. What do you think was God's goal in writing about these attitudes?


    5. Read Numbers 6:27. What does it mean to put God's name on the Israelites? (I think it means they will reflect God's character, which will result in blessings to them.)


  3. Notice This


    1. Read Genesis 1:26-27. What concept is repeated three times in these verses? (Two things are repeated. First, we are made in God's image. Second, God made us, He "created" us.)


      1. Why are these repeated? Is Moses a writer who simply cannot get to the point? (Repetition is a way Bible writers place emphasis on something.)


      2. What is God teaching us by this emphasis? (God intended us to be like Him! Humans are unique in that they have the ability to create things through their higher reasoning ability.)


        1. What does that suggest about the way that we should live?


    2. Let's go back and read Genesis 1:25. Consider the three verses here: Genesis 1:25-27. Is there something in the way that these three verses are ordered that teaches us more than what is written? (The context shows us relationships. Humans have more God-like qualities than animals, and therefore have a higher place in the world. God only made humans in his "likeness," therefore we have a special status, but it is below that of God.)


      1. What significance do you place on the statement that God created "male and female?" Is God making a point about His creation? Is there a lesson to be learned from the context?(This is God's master design.)


      2. I've been a vegetarian all my adult life. I believe the Bible teaches us to be kind to animals. See Exodus 20:10. There is a view among some vegans/vegetarians that animals should not be eaten or treated differently than humans. Is this consistent with God's master design? What attitude should we have towards fellow humans? (Humans are made in the image of God, animals are not. We need to understand this order of things because without it we do not properly respect our fellow humans.)


    3. Friend, do you have a better understanding of God's message to you? Have you the desire to acquire better tools to advance the Kingdom of God? Why not invite the Holy Spirit to help you move forward in reflecting God's attitudes?


  4. Next week: Creation: Genesis as Foundation - Part 1.
* Copr. 2020, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2020 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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